Five Things Every CMO Must Know About Web Analytics, Part 6

Part one of this series outlined the five critical things every CMO must know about Web analytics. In this, the final column in this executive series, I’ll discuss the increasing trend toward optimization and how savvy marketing organizations are realizing measurable gains through A/B and multivariate testing.

Optimization: Moving From Concept to Reality in 2006

This week, hundreds of marketing executives representing some of the top retail and consumer brands in the world are attending eTail 2006, where optimization is one of the show’s key topics. No surprise there. Research shows optimization and testing are gaining momentum as an emerging marketing strategy. A MarketingSherpa survey published last month illustrates over half of U.S. marketers surveyed will invest in A/B landing page comparison tests this year.

In the same vein, JupiterResearch identified testing as one of the top growth areas in context to advanced analytical tools and processes in a 2005 report. A combined 57 percent of marketing executives surveyed said they were currently using or planned to use A/B split-path testing in the next 12 months to improve Web site ROI (define).

Optimization: Old Concept, New Potential

On the surface, optimization is a very simple concept. You test different variables, analyze the results, toss the losers, and optimize on the winners. Easy, right? Actually, no. In practice, optimization has historically been very manual, time-consuming, and complicated to manage online. Thus, marketing organizations have struggled over the past few years to take optimization from being just a buzzword to putting it into practice.

Conceivably, every variable within your site and online campaigns can be tested, creating an overwhelming number of possibilities. Pricing, promotional offers, headline copy, visual design, body copy, color palette, call to action, button style, and so on — if you can name it, you can test it.

The most common challenges I see companies struggle with include understanding what to test, in what order to test them, and how to measure results. So before you jump into testing mode, take the time to create an optimization test plan that incorporates these four key areas:

  • Identify. What are your specific testing opportunities?

  • Monetize. What’s it worth to your business?
  • Prioritize. Which opportunities should you pursue first?
  • Realize. How much did it yield? What are the key metrics?

I recently asked Matthew Roche, CEO of Offermatica, why he feels there’s such strong optimization momentum this year. He noted, “Now we have real testing and optimization solutions for making the entire Web experience more relevant and more effective, and most importantly it’s now under the marketer’s control.”

Where does optimization fit within your priorities this year?

That’s a Wrap

This is the final column of this six-part series. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. I’ve enjoyed reading all the reader comments I’ve received in response.

If you have questions, comments, or your own story to share, email me and let me know your insights on Web analytics, optimization, or anything else you find relevant to the world of digital marketing.

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