How to Create a Culture of Experimentation

By ​Marifran Manzo-Ritchie

March 13, 2012

"Almost any question can be answered, cheaply, quickly and finally, by a test campaign. And that's the way to answer them—not by arguments around a table. Go to the court of last resort—the buyers of your product."

–Claude Hopkins, Scientific Advertising, 1923

For generations, marketers have been longing to identify those secret levers that make their customers drool the way Pavlov’s dogs did when a bell rang. They hope their creativity illuminates the “next big idea” and gets their customers to open their wallets and make their money disappear.

Advertising legend David Oglivy correctly pronounced, “If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative.” Take a few moments to listen to Mr. Oglivy’s impassioned speech, “We Sell or Else,” that he gave to a group of direct marketers in the 1960s to see if what he said doesn’t still resonate with you and your organization.

About 15 years ago, along came the World Wide Web and technology that allows us to measure everything customers do online. We also acquired the ability to derive insights that has eluded marketers for generations. A few years later, the first generation of A/B and multivariate testing tools hit the market. Marketers were excited by the prospect of being able to test millions of permutations in their battle to find the irresistible offer.

Nevertheless, for numerous good and bad reasons only a few elite marketers make this illusion a reality. First-generation technologies didn’t make this easy and developing a testing culture was hard without experienced people such as the “Website Testing Stakeholders” mentioned in the infographic below.

Several years later, some free and low-cost tools hit the market. Again, marketers became enamored about the possibilities so they signed up to start testing. Many launched a test or two—or ten—and then their enthusiasm waned. I won’t go into the reasons why in this post, but suffice it to say businesses were not creating cultures of experimentation.

If you’ve been searching for a way to unlock the mystery of the irresistible offer, if you need to “sell or else,” then make sure you spend some time reading my new Buyer’s Guide to Testing & Optimization Tools for the Enterprise and my book "Always Be Testing."

In the meantime, there’s some very useful information in this infographic, which references the Buyer’s Guide as well as the informative Conversion Rate Optimization Report released last year by Econsultancy.

• There’s a great overview of the different pages of your website that you should be testing and what elements on those pages you can test. But what very few people explain is what appears in “Types of Testing Solutions,” the different architectures of website testing tools, how they influence the number of campaigns you can run simultaneously, and how they impact our understanding of website testing best practices.

• In the “What Should You Consider…” section, notice that in just one year fewer marketers are relying on free testing solutions while more are choosing a tool they have to pay to use. In addition to great new technology and professional services that come with many A/B and multivariate testing products, just the idea that you’re paying for something will give you enough reason to do more testing.

Some people have asked if I’m biased because I’m a Monetate advisor. In fact, I’m a Monetate advisor because I’m biased.

My brother and I have been advocates for conversion optimization and testing since the mid 1990s. We’ve helped many companies succeed at becoming data driven and leveraging testing to improve their marketing efforts. Study this infographic and take a look at the new buyers guide and you’ll be on your way to establishing a culture of testing within your organization and having your customers salivating to spend more with you.

Bryan Eisenberg is a widely followed thought leader in online marketing, and he is the Wall Street Journal and New York Times bestselling author of “Call to Action,” “Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?” and “Always Be Testing.”

As a professional marketing speaker, Bryan has keynoted corporate events and conferences such as Search Engine Strategies, Shop.org, Direct Marketing Association, MarketingSherpa, E-consultancy, Webcom, SEM Konferansen Norway, and the Canadian Marketing Association.

Bryan is the co-founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Web Analytics Association and serves as an advisory board member of Search Engine Strategies, the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, and several other venture capital backed startup companies. He is on the board of trustees of the Direct Marketing Education Foundation. Bryan is also a member of the Monetate Strategic Advisory Board.

Marifran Manzo-Ritchie is the former Director of Corporate Communications at Monetate. She has over 12 years of experience in helping companies create and share the messages that resonate with their target markets. In a previous life, Marifran worked as a radio news writer, producer and occasional on-air talent. She is always trying to learn the Italian language and the piano.

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