It’s accepted wisdom that testing and optimizing your website is crucial to creating relevant and seamless experiences for your customers and increasing conversion rates. Something as straightforward as search keyword testing can result in as much as a 67 percent increase in conversion.
But whether it’s testing your landing pages, keywords, navigation or design, doing testing right requires convincing senior management to invest the resources and the time to do it effectively.
Unfortunately, quite often your plans won’t be met with open arms from your senior executives. And even if you’ve already begun testing, you’ll often find that you need additional budget and buy-in to secure better testing tools and more internal resources to help you test more efficiently with better results.
So how do you convince management to support your testing efforts? Here are several ways to find solutions to get the budget and buy-in you need.
Borrow From Those With The Deepest Pockets
Getting visitors to your website is, of course, critical, but it’s often overemphasized at the expense of figuring out how best to engage, retain and convert those visitors once they arrive. Organizations tend to spend a disproportionate amount of marketing budget on acquiring visitors compared with converting visitors and are then surprised when their bounce rate is uncomfortably high.
Recent reports have shown that for every $80 dollars spent on driving visitors to a website, only $1 is spent pro-actively converting them once they have arrived.
My advice: balance out your spending a little better. Your senior management’s knee-jerk reaction to such an adjustment may be a flat-out no, but see if you can temporarily use a small percentage of the marketing acquisition budget spent on SEO and SEM for two business quarters to get your optimization program off the ground.
This will give you enough time to get a few testing wins under your belt, report back with clear metrics on the gains and ROI realized from the investment, thereby proving the need for an increase in optimization-related dollars.
Where to start? Set up a basic testing tool and bring in an optimization consultant if you lack the in-house expertise. If this isn’t possible, try to see if you can also borrow a small percentage of the SEO/SEM team’s time and resources to get some tests going.
Stay focused on driving results during this trial period. If you can report clear positive gains, you’ll have a better chance of extending that temporary budget into ongoing executive support and dedicated financial and personnel resources solely for testing and optimizing your digital properties.
Prove That “All The Cool Kids”—i.e., The Competition — Are Doing It
The quickest way to rally management behind your cause is to show them how some of your competitors are using testing strategies to increase online revenue and visitor engagement and satisfaction. Check out sites such as www.whichtestwon.com and www.abtests.com. Adobe also publishes testing success stories on our website.
Look for success stories that most closely fit your needs and opportunities. Once your senior executives have a sense of the benchmark for testing in your sector, they’ll be more likely to support your efforts.
Demonstrate Projected Returns
Management isn’t going to jump at the chance to hand over budget and resources to you, so you need to give them a good reason to start a testing program when it’s something your organization hasn’t done regularly in the past.
Create that sense of urgency for them by conducting an audit of your website in which you outline areas that fall short and share some proposed hypotheses to address them through a low-risk/high-return strategy: testing and optimizing them.
Capture images of poorly-performing web pages or areas and tie-in data from your analytics tool showing high bounce rates by pages, different locations on specific pages and traffic segment. Be sure to point out potential impact on revenue that your proposed hypotheses could help address.
Consult a third-party expert for an objective review of your digital properties and to help you brainstorm ideas of where and what to test. With the added credibility of an external consultant’s opinion, the management team may be more likely to support your proposal than if you were to present it as a solo and internal undertaking.
Get A Heavyweight In Your Corner
Just because the person holding the purse strings is skeptical about testing doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t have a peer in senior management who understands the importance of it.
Look for a senior marketing or IT executive who is influential among and well-respected by the broader management team to be an advocate for your efforts. This is also critical because you won’t just need the budget for a testing application – you’ll need a dedicated resource to help manage the testing.
A senior sponsor who can help prioritize and advance the cause will be key to getting you the budget, backing and personnel resources you need.
So Now What?
You know you need to test and optimize. So will your senior executives… they might just not know it yet. If you can find creative ways to divert acquisition marketing budget to your efforts, prove why you need to keep up with your competition, and demonstrate the potential pay-offs, you’ll have a much better chance of getting the budget and buy-in you need to improve the performance of your website.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.