5 Tips to Transforming Optimization from Sideshow to Main Event (Part 3)

5 Tips to Transforming Optimization from Sideshow to Main Event (Part 3)
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In this final post on transforming your optimization program from sideshow into part of the main event, I’ll discuss tips 4 and 5 shared by Debra Adams, my colleague in Adobe Digital Strategy consulting. (Read post 1 and post 2.) These tips address the timing of getting your seat at the decision making table, as well as tactics for keeping that hard-won seat.

Sometimes it’s difficult to know when you’ve succeeded in this transformation. Just as I first shared a true story that helped you determine if your program was a sideshow, I’ll describe what it looks like to when you have successfully achieved the transformation.

Tip 4: Get your seat at the table before big decisions are made.
When testing comes into the decision making process after the business units and leadership have already decided where they want to focus testing efforts, your sway over those decisions is severely limited. As an optimization lead, you and certain members of your team need a seat at the table as these discussions and decisions about what tests to run and priorities are being made—not after.

You need a forum in which to share and explain why certain tests aren’t useful, how certain success metrics don’t really indicate success, and what tests to run or metrics to use instead. You also need to be able to share the testing roadmap and strategy so that priorities can be discussed and set relative to the broader optimization program goals. Finally, you need a place and means to demonstrate the business value of using data, not marketer’s intuition, to determine and deliver the experience the customer wants.

Tip 5: Reinforce the value of your testing program.
Once you’ve earned your seat at the table, you’ll need to periodically remind the organization and its leadership why you’re there by sharing how your program contributes to business success. You’ll also need to share your test results with colleagues and senior management so that they see the value of and learn from individual tests.

You can do this in a number of ways:

  • Create a year-end summary that outlines all the tests run, how many moved the needle, and how many didn’t. Describe the program’s formal goals for the year and show how it measured up against them. (You should have formally established and articulated the program’s goals when developing your testing strategy and roadmap.)
  • Regularly communicate to the organization what your program is doing. Try gamifying optimization, letting employees guess which test experience won and giving prizes for guessing correctly. Show designers the impact of their creative to inspire them and help them learn what types of creative work.
  • Engage stakeholders in submitting ideas. Tap into the knowledge and creativity of stakeholders and employees by soliciting test ideas from them, giving credit and recognition when ideas produce big wins.
  • Create a document of key learnings. Use it to justify applying successful test results to other relevant areas of the site to immediately multiply the impact individual tests. Also use these learnings to avoid repeating changes already proven ineffective or detrimental.
  • Plug into marketing campaign teams. Get in front of new campaigns. As a side effect you may spur greater adoption of and involvement in testing.

Activities like these engage employees in testing and build up organizational knowledge of what works and what doesn’t on digital properties. It also helps the concept of optimization permeate the fabric of the company to create the attitude that “of course we optimize.”

Recognize when you’ve succeeded
You’ll know you’ve transformed your optimization program from a sideshow to part of the main event when your company believes this about testing:

  • It’s valuable and necessary
  • It should have dedicated resources
  • Development schedules should accommodate it

Getting to the point where optimization is simply part of the company culture takes work and determination. It’s well worth the effort, though, when you repeatedly demonstrate how your testing prevents the business from implementing poor features and changes and helps them deliver the customer experiences that positively impact the business bottom line.

Let the experience of others guide you
You don’t have to undergo this transformation alone—many others have gone through it and have advice and experience to share, like these two companies who shared their stories at Adobe Summit:

In addition, experienced consultants like Debra Adams have helped numerous companies build and transform optimization programs into an integral part of the company’s success. Consider learning how an Adobe Target consultant can combine his or her expertise with your industry knowledge to help your business build a powerful optimization program with Adobe Target.

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