Organizational Requirements to a Successful Optimization Program

Analytics Project Success

Our work in both analytics and optimization gives us a unique perspective on a broad range of client objectives, organizational structures and engagement models – from self-service to full service. Client maturity and objectives range from just starting to explore site optimization with simple A/B testing to extremely sophisticated teams moving from multivariate testing to personalization. One consistency we have observed is that organizations that dedicate talented resources and give them time and latitude to take chances see the biggest gains from testing and targeting.

Site Optimization Requires Marketing Process Changes

In addition to adding the right resources, organizations need to evolve their marketing approach to consider integrating testing into the overall marketing strategy. Testing is a discipline that requires planning and process to successfully execute, so organizations that are looking to get into testing need to evolve their marketing campaign and creative processes to consider building the assets and setting up the site to test. Think of swimming as a metaphor as you’re either wet and in the pool or dry and out of the pool.
Site Optimization Continuum

Site Optimization Continuum – Ongoing

Organizations that move beyond organizational inertia are the ones that are well positioned to capitalize on the broader opportunities afforded by testing. Those that are challenged with marketing teams that refuse to evolve should strongly consider hiring an external services partner, or deferring the activity until it can become an organizational priority.

Marketing Should “Own” Optimization

Although some pundits in the industry view optimization as an extension of web analytics, we advocate that optimization is owned and fully integrated into a company’s marketing team. Offers, audience, UX and creative is at the heart of what needs to be optimized and given marketing’s ownership of these areas, key optimization roles need to exist within a marketing team. Insight into broader marketing efforts and investments help to inform areas of opportunity and focus for optimization making the alignment even more important.

Organizational Requirements

Assuming your company’s website plays a strategic role in your marketing mix and receives sufficient resources and your team has achieved a basic level of competency with a web analytics, you are now ready to consider the team members required to build a successful program. Here’s a breakdown of the high-level key roles that need to be aligned with optimization if you’re going to have the foundational resources to succeed.

Analytics requirements for success

Organizational Requirements for Success

The Sponsor

Executive sponsorship should be viewed as an organizational prerequisite to building an optimization program. This person is typically the VP of Marketing, CMO or Director of Digital Marketing. The sponsor is responsible for:

  1. Evangelizing the value of optimization
  2. Owning the budget and resource commitments
  3. Defining the overall KPIs and success conditions

The Optimization Analyst

Of all the team members, this role is the most critical as they serve as the overall project lead and owner. Again using sports as a metaphor, this is the QB, center midfielder or point guard of your team. The experienced person tapped to own this role should have the following characteristics:

  • Experience with digital marketing and web analytics
  • Insatiable seeker of continuous improvement
  • Strong cross-departmental collaborator

The Optimization Analyst is responsible for:

  1. Strategy and planning – e.g. the optimization road map
  2. Analysis and reporting
  3. Project management

The Creative Lead

Optimization creative is more specialized and considered than general creative design as they need to develop conversion focused layouts and creative assets with an objective of driving a desired action. The creative lead is responsible for:

  1. Creative strategy for testing
  2. Asset generation
  3. Usability

The Web Developer

This individual is on point for technical implementation. They should possess a solid understanding of X/HTML and JavaScript and have a good grasp of the site architecture and design as well as a strong understanding of tagging methodologies. The web developer is responsible for:

  1. Test build
  2. Page or site optimization tool setup
  3. QA across browsers and devices

Project Management

When your organization clears the initial stages and sees increasing demand from different areas of your company, it is time to consider adding a project management resource improve the efficiency and focus of your team. The project manager is responsible for:

  1. Scheduling
  2. Resourcing
  3. Workflow and overall coordination

Need Help?

If your company is like most companies, you could benefit from leveraging external expertise. As this document highlights, testing is not a solo activity and requires an organized and dedicated cross functional team to achieve success. According to Forrester’s The State of Online Testing 2010 in a survey of 79 respondents who use an online testing platform, “Only 47% manage their online testing programs entirely in-house” and, “users’ first priority when selecting an online testing solution is a vendor’s ability to service their firm’s business needs.”

I hope you found the former helpful. I’m always interested to get input from other folks in the industry, so please do chime in with your thoughts. Lastly, here’s a link to a recorded Webinar I did earlier in December that is on a related topic – Optimization is a Team Sport.

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Bryan Coe | January 2011

This is a very interesting post. Most people/companies don't understand that site optimization often requires a new mindset in the way they produce their content. I even see this marketing firms as well. Pretty does not mean optimized or even functional.

Todd Barrs | January 2011

Bob hit the nail on the head with this article. It can be very difficult for organizations to make the organization and functional changes that are critical to CRO success. Particularly, because of stakeholders or investors that are revenue driven and often focused on short-term revenue strategies (e.g. quarterly revenue goals). The key is to spend the time upfront developing a robust process that is flexible enough to balance the needs of executives, marketing, optimization, analytics, designers and developers.

Shameless plug #1 -- Bob and I are actually co-presenting conversion optimization strategies & implementation at the 2011 Conversion Conference.

Shameless plug #2 -- There is a fast-growing community dedicated soley to conversion optimization that has all kinds of CRO resources and forums. Come join the conversion conversation: VisitorCentric.com

Dr. David Nickelson | January 2011

Quick note to say that this article is right on point; so much so that I included it as a reference in my first blog post for the firm I just joined. See: http://www.siteworx.com/blog/2011/01/11/interactive-customer-experience-...

Keep up the great writing, and hope we connect in person sometime soon.

Dr. David Nickelson

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