Overcoming those pesky operational barriers to optimization
One of the final sessions at the Optimization Summit was a panel on the operational barriers to optimization. Surely we can solve all these problems in an hour, right?
I love this topic and it’s a driving force behind the creation of our Day2 optimization program. Helping organizations get aligned to successfully deliver on optimization is hard, but necessary work.
Ad hoc testing is one thing, but a sustained commitment to optimization as a program is a much bigger nut to crack. Good optimizers are in the change management business.
The panel was moderated by Boris Grinkot of Associate Director of Product Development at MECLABS and featured Rita Brogley, CEO of Amadesa, Jeff Eckman, CEO of BigGiantConversions and Adam Lapp, Associate Director of Optimization at MECLABS Conversion Group
They dug into the heavy topics of getting organizational buy-in, gaps in internal expertise and the technology necessary to drive the change.
All the panelists agreed on the need to get company-wide buy in for optimization. Which means going up the ladder to the C-Suite.
Jeff recommends starting the process with an ROI impact assessment. You’ve got to be able to tie the testing to the bottom line and get beyond the tactical nature of an individual test. At the same time, Rita says it can be smart to start with the low hanging fruit to get early wins that you can run up the flagpole.
“You have to look at optimization as an investment area, not a line item in the budget,” says Jeff.
Adam agrees with thinking about it as an investment because not all tests are going to win an you have to be in it for the long haul to get the learnings. Dr. Flint hit on this same theme yesterday when he said the goal of a test is the learning, not the lift.
The expertise gaps for successful in-house optimization are significant.
Marketers are now being asked to perform very analytical tasks that require expertise in test design, data analysis, quantitative research, usability and statistical analysis.
These aren’t household skills for most marketers and require a lot of ongoing training and professional development, or outside help. Part of the vision for our Day2 program is to bring these skills into organizations and operate as an embedded part of their in-house teams. It’s simply unrealistic to think organizations can get up to speed by themselves overnight. But over time we can help to teach and train the in-house teams to take over more and more of the responsibilities.
Jeff sees a lot of analogs to what’s happening in software development with agile development. These same principles are being brought into testing and marketing optimization.
Bigger operational and governance challenges include the coordination between marketing and IT internally. This is an age old problem that only been magnified with marketing’s rise as the strategic owner of the web and very often the strategic owner of the marketing technology.
Most of the folks I talked to here at the conference had figured out ways to completely circumvent IT for their marketing technology needs.
But this is easier said than done as much larger pieces of technical infrastructure are enabling marketing and content delivery. Case in point the evolution of web content management into marketing automation, targeting and analytical suites.
I was glad to see this panel at the inaugural Optimization Summit. It’s a hairy topic and one of the less glamorous areas to figure out. But the reality is that operations, governance, culture and change management are foundational parts to getting optimization to work over the long haul.
It’s exciting to be in a room full of change agents working to make this happen.