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by Katelyn Fogarty
In today’s marketing world, buzzwords like automation, user experience and custom content fill the pages of every blog post for customer experience and lead generation. It’s no wonder, given the wealth of data available on every prospective customer. With digital footprints growing exponentially, marketers and website managers have the ability to develop unique experiences for every visitor, but they often get a little tongue-tied when it comes to explaining how content development and targeting decisions are made.
The reason for this issue is simple and straightforward–testing strategies are often left out of the development and execution phase, leaving marketing strategies lacking when analyzed for improvements and modifications. If you want to avoid this glaring hole in your site development plan, you should have an action plan for creating a living, breathing testing strategy. You need one that will accompany your current and future site developments–and you need to own it.
Step 1: Get Your Goals Together
You can’t make a solid testing strategy without first establishing your goals. Goals will vary from company to company, but you need to establish both macro and micro goals to help define your complete strategy. For example, your macro goals will likely be to increase conversions on your site. For B2B companies, this should mean increasing leads, while for B2C companies, this may mean increasing online sales.
Micro goals will reflect smaller action items that will ultimately support your macro goal; these might be increasing downloads of a particular ebook or white paper. You will likely have many micro goals, and testing the components that lead to these goal completions will make up a significant portion of your testing strategy. After all, you created all of these resources and conversion points for a reason–to drive traffic along your sales pipeline and ultimately lead to conversions and sales.
Make a list of all of your micro goals. This will likely closely follow your marketing content and strategy since it will reflect engagement with your site at all touch points.
Step 2: Outline Your Options For Each Micro Goal
Every micro goal requires certain elements to create an opportunity for conversion. A landing page, which is comprised of text, pictures, call-to-action buttons (CTAs) and forms, might be one of the elements, and a piece of content to download may be another. Each one of these lends to the conversion, and not all versions are created equal.
To fully optimize your site to meet your macro and micro goals, you need to outline all the elements required for each goal, and then test variations in color, content, layout and design. If you include this in the development process, your testing strategy will be integrated into your overall development and implementation process, making analysis and review a seamless process for future marketing efforts.
Step 3: Start Testing
A best practice is to build tests as you build content or elements of a page. If you already have a lot of pages to test, you will need to approach this differently and choose a starting point, such as CTA button text. Also, future content should be created alongside testing. This means creating A/B or multivariate tests for each element, broken down into the simplest of modifications. For example, a single CTA button can test text, from “Submit” to “Get Information” to “Try It Free.” It can also test color, showing visitors a green button or a red button at random. However, you should keep these simple tests separate and distinct so you don’t muddy the data with more than one variable.
Create alternate versions for each and every element and test upon launch. You will be able to compare data immediately and take steps to pivot as required without delay. This can save valuable time and money that could be better spent on developing new content.
Step 4: Own Your Results
If you’re creating meaningful tests as you develop new content, you are already owning your testing strategy. Now all you have to do is own your results, and this means being prepared to accept what the data reveals and make modifications as the data reveals. It also means accepting that the orange CTA button you supported might not perform as well as the green version you weren’t thrilled about.
Own your testing results today to reach your marketing goals tomorrow. With lofty yet achievable goals and smart testing, you’re on your way to hitting and possibly even exceeding your numbers.