When you have people around you that understand and support your goal, it makes the process of generating and executing tests (well, actually any business activity) so much simpler. It reduces ideation time, increases the number of meaningful suggestions, and enables you get to market faster.
Here are some ways you can foster a culture of testing and personalization in your organization.
Assign (or Become) a Champion
It is likely that multiple team members will be involved with getting the process of testing up and running within an organization. Even if one person is responsible for all development, coordination and management of digital tests, others would have been involved with getting it off the ground – for instance, allocating resources.
Turning a concept into a company-wide initiative requires someone that is going to promote the program, entices others to participate, and defends its value – in other words, a champion. A point of caution, the person responsible for executing tests is not necessarily the person that is best equipped to become a champion. After all, their head might be so far down in the weeds (so to speak) with process, they don’t have the capacity to take on champion-like activities.
Speaking of which, the next items will help you with championing.
Develop an Internal PR Program
This is such an overlooked concept in many organizations. Too many people will share test results or outcomes on an ad hoc basis, but we know from years of research on advertising effects that frequency is an important ingredient in increasing the likelihood that people will remember your message (e.g. ever heard of the Rule of Seven?).
Do not overlook the power of consistency as well. The longer the time between messages, the more difficult it is for someone to piece them together.
An internal program could utilize multiple techniques – internal emails, lunch and learns, for instance – but should be done on a regularized basis. We would typically recommend at least once per month – going beyond that risks losing momentum.
Develop Testing Stories
If you operate in the digital world, you know that storytelling is an incredibly effective technique for communicating messages that resonate. This is due to multiple factors, such as:
- Neural Coupling – storytelling results in the synchronization of the communicator’s brain and the receiver’s brain, which empowers the receiver of information to virtually experience the event the communicator is describing
- Brain Activity – stories activate multiple regions of the brain, which impacts how information is processed (stating facts only activates two parts – Wernicke’s Area and Broca’s Area)
- Emotionality – a strong story generates emotions within the listener, which help build empathy with the communicator
When providing communications regarding tests, consider providing a linear narrative that touches on at least the following:
- Test Context: the friction or challenge that the test was trying to overcome (or conquer!)
- Test Methodology: the steps and parameters to execute the test
- Test Outcome: find at least one outcome that will create excitement. Even if the numeric results of a test did not achieve what you hoped it would (e.g. you did not boost conversion rates), you can still find one positive emotional outcome from the test (e.g. what did you learn?)
Every test has a story – bring that story to life in your communications.
Grow Team Member Familiarity with Tools
One of the barriers to building a culture of testing is team members’ lack of knowledge around an organization’s testing tool of choice (e.g. Google Optimize). The number of times where the reaction “wow, it can do that” has occurred once people we are working with are given the knowledge of a tool’s capabilities, is countless.
Note – this is not just about exposure. Knowing something exists is one thing, but knowing the capabilities of that something is a whole other story.
And once those capabilities are understood, the ideas and excitement start to flow.
So start considering how you are going to introduce those capabilities. It could be the simple addition of a ‘Did You Know’ section in an internal email that starts to get the ball rolling. The most impactful approach that we have observed is finding a way for people to play with the tool directly.
Be Consistent with Experimentation
We like to use the “Always On” approach to testing at Cardinal Path – meaning, that we are always working to find ways to generate important learnings while improving business outcomes through the process of experimentation. The results of one test inform subsequent tests and the process continues.
The “Always On” approach has a secondary effect – it enables you to provide regular communication around tests, whether they be in the ideation phase, currently running or have completed. After all, implementing an internal PR program won’t be that helpful if you have nothing to share, will it?
Position Testing Activities Around Business Outcomes
Finally, when you are communicating test ideas or results, always be iterating the business outcomes. Too often have we seen people stop their communications at something like “we achieved an increase in conversion rates of 40%”.
People have difficulty mapping back a concept as generic as conversion rates to a tangible business benefit. The (often internal – you might never hear it) responses will range from “what’s a conversion rate?” to “how does this help to grow our business?”.
You can quell all that by constantly focusing your test-related outcomes on business metrics (e.g. sales, revenue, average order value, costs). Chances are, when you were formulating a test you were considering the impact to the business as well, so this step may not to be too challenging.
Where we have seen challenges is when the positive outcomes are focused on learnings as opposed to tangible business metrics (e.g. you ran a split test between two pages and observed no difference in conversion rates). Don’t be dissuaded though – learnings can be converted into business outcomes, they just take a little more sophistication. For instance, learnings can help you get to market more quickly with future tests, increase the likelihood that you will create a more meaningful test in the future and reduce time creating assets for future tests.
Testing and personalization is a growing practice across organizations of all shapes and sizes. If you want to kickstart your testing program, or have your current program evaluated, Cardinal Path can help! Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org