Making the Most of Conversion Testing

By Pete Olson, vice president of enterprise solutions at Amadesa 

As merchants work to create more effective and more measurable ecommerce marketing strategies, website testing is often at the top of their to-do lists. It seems that nearly everyone today believes in the inherent value of website conversion rate optimization, and yet, retailers continue to struggle in realizing the potential of such solutions. In order to capture the higher conversion rates they seek, e-businesses need to do more than just implement testing products. They need to look at testing as a central part of a wider, informed marketing effort.

That requires a number of actions, including:

Make sure you're ready for testing. Determine the values of your business and staff, and consider whether website testing is likely to be embraced. If the answer is "yes," you're far more likely to succeed. That probable success can justify an initial investment and help you develop performance expectations as the company embraces your success. As you create a testing strategy, consider how in-depth you want to go and exactly what you want to achieve. This information will be essential later on as you measure return on investment.

Start small and grow incrementally. Starting small is smart, since initial success can build momentum and enthusiasm for more advanced initiatives. Once you log a few successful efforts, start a list of testing ideas and let all stakeholders contribute to it. Don't get overwhelmed by all of those possibilities, but choose one at a time, creating a plan for each and dedicate appropriate resources as time and traffic permit.

Put your Web analytics data to work. An effective process to build momentum often starts with existing Web analytics information. Look for poorly converting or underperforming pages on your website, or identify those with high bounce rates. You can then target previously tested ideas as a logical follow-up to compound gains. Share results internally to create support for future optimization efforts.

Build your ecommerce marketing strategy on a testing foundation. Start to look at testing as the means for measuring all marketing programs. Rather than an add-on to a separate strategy, testing should become a primary means of informing all critical marketing decisions, such as tailoring and targeting merchandising and promotions to lucrative segments via your best performing pages. This mindset will aid in building a long-term testing vision, which is essential to the success of such investments.

Website testing is on the minds of most marketers today, as it should be. In order to reap the greatest return on testing investments, e-businesses need a clear understanding of their goals, as well as internal dedication to pursuing those ambitions. The organizations that boost conversions and improve user experience through website testing are generally those who follow the above strategies and embrace testing as a culture, rather than an isolated tool.