September 10, 2013
In my first blog post on website optimization governance, I covered the foundational steps to build an internal structure for website optimization. Those initial steps are essential for everything that follows—regardless if your organization has been optimizing and personalizing online for years, or if you’re just starting out.
Once you have a steering committee or central point of ownership in place, it’s time to take this optimization program out for a spin. But remember, like any finely tuned machine, you won’t get very far without gas in the engine. Here are three steps to help you get up and running:
Your optimization program will be fueled by ideas. Those ideas should come from a diverse set of stakeholders and participants. You can get guidance by outside sources, but ideas that come from within the organization inherently possess an important attribute: internal buy-in. Here are the typical key inputs for idea-gathering:
Reach out to diverse teams in the company, such as Marketing, Creative/User Experience, Merchandising, Technology, Operations, and more.
Leverage datasets that provide voice to the customer, such as on-site surveys and feedback collected by customer service.
Look to optimization blogs for concepts that might spark new ideas specific to your site and customers.
Assuming all of these avenues provide new test ideas, it will also be important to stay organized. As you gather ideas, assemble some framework or documentation for tracking all the ideas received, with room to follow that test throughout its lifecycle. This will also help you retain learnings, celebrate wins, and call out counter-intuitive or interesting findings.
Vet Ideas into Tests
While there are benefits of casting a wide net when gathering optimization ideas, casting a wide net also means that you gather ideas of varying launch readiness. To work through and refine the gathered ideas, it’s time to put the Steering Committee discussed in the first post in this series to work. Here are a few things the Committee should consider:
Determine what’s the expected business impact and size of audience affected? What might be the complexity of executing the test, as well as coding the change if it’s successful?
Try to define the goal of the test, preferably a single measurable KPI. While optimization findings may surprise you on unexpected findings in other KPIs, it’s still important to have a focused theory coming into the test.
Examine the page or pages that the test covers. Test concepts that spread across a user-experience should normally be tested into by examining each component separately first.
Determine if the customer segmentation (if any) is attainable through the currently available tools, or if some additional work or exposure of data is necessary.
Look for tests that can be cleanly structured to ensure the learnings will match the theory. If the tests can use pre-existing delivery mechanisms to the site, it makes the development step (below) much easier.
This step can vary widely based on what the test user-experience is, as well as the tools you’re using to make the intended change(s). After the code or campaign is in place and ready for QA, try to examine the tested experience so that both standard and non-standard avenues into the experience can be considered and examined. Where possible, also bring the original requestor of the test concept back in for the QA of the test. Those stakeholders can often bring a key perspective on ways that the experience will be triggered and navigated.
Once you have determined how test/optimization ideas will be developed, vetted, and prioritized, you can then move on to the final step of the testing lifecycle. In my next post on website optimization governance, we’ll discuss actual test launches, monitoring and analyzing the results, and documenting the learnings and iterations.
Will Harries is a Strategic Services Director at Monetate. He is an ecommerce specialist with substantial experience in end-to-end retail operations, consumer market research, strategy development, and P&L improvement.
Team working on an idea image courtesy of Shutterstock.