While optimization testing may provide a framework to validate or disprove a hypothesis, there is no substitute for real listening.
The immediacy of the data. The stark nature of the results. The ability to select a "winner." For many, this allure of A/B and multivariate testing has elevated the practice of site optimization to a Holy Grail. Content, offers, creative imagery, pricing, device, and time-of-day are all fair game for optimization. For better or worse, with a few simple mock-ups and some readily accessible software, just about everything can be tested. And when all goes well, a clear option emerges.
But what happens when the data gets a bit murkier? When it's not completely clear why one version is surging to the top? When it's not just one variable that drives the decision? Why what seems like the obvious winner is, in fact, losing? In a world of data-driven marketing, where everything must have a root cause and scientific correlation, this lack of clarity can send marketers into a tailspin.
What About Listening to the Customer?
While optimization testing may provide a framework to validate or disprove a hypothesis, there is no substitute for real listening. Yes, actually asking customers directly for their opinion and point of view. And listening to what they have to say, good or bad. In this era of testing and automation the thought of reaching out and listening has become an anathema to modern marketers. And while not all marketers have the luxury of time or budget to create elaborate focus groups or live customer tests, basic listening and survey tools are available to support marketers of all sizes.
Options for Listening
A wide spectrum of engagement tools makes customer listening - active or passive - a necessity for a truly informed decision-making cycle.
Whether you are looking to validate your testing strategy, validate internal points of view, or even clarify ambiguous data, all conversations need to start and end with the customer. Without knowing your audience, and their evolving needs, you cannot truly optimize your marketing impact.
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Andrea Fishman, VP of strategy and a partner at BGT Partners, leads BGT's Chicago office and has extensive experience in marketing and management consulting. She and her team drive value to BGT's clients through the development of behavioral marketing programs, web analytics, measurement programs, industry benchmarking, competitive assessments, and the design of integrated marketing programs.
Andrea has been with BGT since 2003 and is credited with strengthening partnerships with such clients as ADT, Sony, ADP, and Avaya. Prior to joining BGT, she served as global vice president at divine, inc. She's also held strategic positions within marchFIRST, The Lewin Group, and the office of U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy.
A graduate of Brandeis University, Fishman was awarded the Wasserman Scholarship for academic achievement and was named a 2010 Stevie Awards Finalist as Best Executive in a Service Business. She is a frequent judge for the eHealthcare Leadership Awards and is involved with the Special Olympics and Chicago Cares, a community service organization.
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