Kim Ann King

Planning a successful optimization program depends on defining and refining your strategy.

In this post, we will explore ways to create your testing strategy, techniques for identifying key optimization opportunities, and best practices for developing a metrics-driven testing roadmap.

Let’s begin. An Optimization Program that is based on a digital measurement framework is the best place to start. This framework will make your goals and their measurement explicit as well as keep you focused on what’s important. Almost every website has goals related to one or more objective: reach, acquisition, conversion, and retention (RACR). You’ll want to create a framework for each of your goals.

So, what makes up a digital measurement framework? Here’s an example:

  • Business Objective – How your business makes money
  • Site Goals – Reach, Acquisition, Conversion, Retention
  • KPIs –Key success metrics usually characterized as numbers, dollars, or percentages.
  • Targets – KPI goal (e.g., 12 million visitors, $238 average order value, 17% bounce rate)
  • Segments – Typically grouped by Visitors, Behaviors, or Outcomes

One of the ways we deploy this framework with clients is through a Test Design Guide, which asks clients to consider the following:

  • Why do you want to run this test? (What is your hypothesis?)
  • What do your success metrics look like (what are your KPIs?)
  • What on the site will be tested to track your success metrics?
  • Who are you targeting?
  • How much traffic will be assigned to the test?
  • What external factors could affect the test and under what conditions should the test be stopped?
  • Who will be affected internally?
  • Do you have a key stakeholder?
  • When do you need results?

With this framework we now have enough information to create a Test Plan that specifies which site elements and factors to test in order to understand which of them influences visitor behavior. Obviously you'll want to track those pages and areas of your site where users click that best support your KPIs  — e.g., the "Buy Now" button and resulting "Thank You" pages, and if that’s the case, you’ll also want to track and test micro conversions along the way, such as product details page views, or videos watched, for example.

Let’s look at some of the things you could test and measure in support of an e-commerce website:

  • What elements of the website led to the most "Add to Cart" clicks, followed by successful order completion pages (e.g., "Thank you for your order")?
  • Which combination of product information such as graphics, descriptions, layout and color increased average order value?
  • What combination of factors relating to site search most successfully brought users to pages from which they ultimately purchased products?

Also consider testing coupons and promotions, including the following:

  • free shipping and/or financing;
  • credibility factors such as logos denoting secure credit card processing; and
  • the availability, placement, and look and feel of customer reviews and testimonials (does it make a difference on purchase decisions?).

These are just a few things to think about. You’ll want to start with the factors you believe are most important to your KPIs then decide what experimental design is best. With A/B testing you test one factor (e.g., a call-to-action button) against one or more variations to see which is most persuasive. While A/B testing allows you to test just one factor at a time, multivariate testing enables you to test multiple factors simultaneously. Evaluating the impact of combinations of factors and variations often reveals significant interaction effects that can have a dramatic impact on your conversion goal.

As you are identifying what to test, ask yourself:

  • What’s working and why? What should we do more of?  – and test it.
  • What’s not working and why? What should we do less of? – and test it.
  • What must we change right now? Test it!
  • Am I optimizing the entire funnel in terms of reach, acquisition, conversion, and retention?

A continuous optimization program makes the most of a “test-learn-repeat” approach that maximizes your KPIs. Along the way towards creating a culture of optimization, you’ll want to adopt some best practices, such as forming a great team and identifying what success and failure mean to you. We often tell our clients that there really is no such thing as failure when it comes to optimization. Even if a test campaign fails to yield the expected result or improvement, as long as you’ve learned something, you have not failed!

If you aren’t already testing, start today by considering your business’s RACR objectives, digital measurement framework, and related site factors to test. It’s a strategic and comprehensive way to get started in the right direction. What are you doing to plan your optimization program?

Tags: Best Practices