So testing has been a major part of e-commerce and lots of things in the enterprise, and it’s going to continue to play a really big role. But its role is going to change over the next few years and in a really meaningful way.
I think we’ve all heard a lot about how important it is to get to know our customers and how important it is to be relevant and important to the things that they need from us, and that’s where testing is going to change. So up until now, testing has really been about swapping out content, changing banners, changing navigation, making alterations to the colors of things on a website. And a lot of that has been driven by the fact that we know how to make changes on our websites.
Content is something we’re very familiar with. And honestly, when all you have is a hammer, every problem starts to look like a nail. What’s going to change over the next couple of years is that as we increase our focus on getting close to our customers and knowing more about our visitors and being relevant to them, we’re going to shift from just testing random content to actually making tests relevant and viable to our individual users.
One of the things that’s really important as we evolve as digital marketers is understanding our audience, and some of that begins with breaking our audience down into segments. And segment discovery is a word you’re hearing a lot of buzz about in the press lately and in all the online conferences. But oddly enough, segment discovery and segmentation has been around forever. Direct marketers have been using that for years. Direct mail pieces are segmented to the nth degree. There’s hundreds of thousands of versions of catalogs that go out.
In the past, it’s always been hard to get to know your customer and understand your segments online because people either haven’t kept cookies or because they come at you from different browsers and different devices. It’s been very difficult to segment. But we’re entering an era now where segmentation is much more practical, and you’re going to see a change in a very, very big way online towards segmented experiences to individual pieces of the audience.