Testing Is More than Just Data: 3 Critical Steps for Inspiring Your Team
At Schedulicity, a Montana-based online scheduling company, executives enable their team to find answers to key business questions through testing. This method has yielded some unexpected results – and a formative career experience – for one rising star on her way to college. Learn how Sarah Click took her optimization initiative to new heights with her mentor’s help.
It’s an understatement to say that the conversion optimization community loves numbers. A more accurate assessment is that we live and breathe data. We’re competitive about results, think in terms of click-through rates and are relentlessly committed to speed.
Outside observers may think we’re a little bit crazy, but we prefer to call ourselves “passionate.”
The fact is that your first split test will change how you think about online marketing forever–when you see a 2% lead gen bump translate into $10,000 in revenue, you see firsthand how one tiny change can make a world of difference. This is one of the most inspiring moments in a marketer’s career.
We keep practicing and testing ideas, and eventually some of us become testing experts. We measure our professional worth by the incremental revenue that we drive. We land highly visible roles at Fortune 500 companies and impressive early stage startups. And then? It’s our turn to inspire the next generation of testing champions. We become conversion-centered mentors.
Schedulicity, a Bozeman, Montana-based online scheduling company, is a role model organization that has made mentorship part of its core business operations. A/B testing is crucial to the company’s revenue operations. The company’s strategy? Give the responsibility of A/B testing to its most intelligent, inquisitive, and knowledge-hungry team members – including high school interns. Here are some of the biggest takeaways that we can learn from Schedulicity’s experience:
Step 1: Invest in People as Much as Your Data
A/B testing requires careful attention to detail. Marketers need to learn how to scratch beneath the surface, think critically, and establish systems for continuous improvement. It’s hard work, and it’s a job that requires extreme determination. You have to be prepared for inconclusive results, moments that catch you off guard, and findings that challenge your core assumptions.
At the end of the day, A/B testing is about perseverance. It doesn’t matter how experienced your marketers are – they need to love what they’re doing. From day one, Schedulicity challenged their high school intern Sarah Click to explore, experiment, and personally grow.
“I told Sarah to test anything she thinks would make sense and to go for anything that she thinks she could improve upon,” says Steve Cannon, VP of Sales and Business Development at Schedulicity. “She was given freedom and the complete ability to not hold back.”
Here’s what happened, in Sarah’s words exactly:
“Honestly, I wasn’t expecting too much to come out of this, but my projects just grew exponentially. I had never used or heard of Optimizely or A/B testing before. This whole experience gave way to what I want to do in college – business and marketing. It just really opened my mind to how the online world works and how different it is compared to the regular retail or regular business world, just how much everyone else can learn from it, and how it’s going to be a huge part of our future.”
The experience of website optimization became more than just a job for Sarah – it empowered her to see her future and career with more clarity.
Step 2: Make Testing a Part of Your Business Process
Website testing is important to all of your marketing functions and business operations. Online marketing is becoming increasingly diverse – more so than ever, we see marketers specializing in different stages of the conversion funnel.
Some marketers enjoy working on branding campaigns while others are interested in user acquisition. PR experts, for instance, are interested in promotion, communication, and distribution – and then there are PPC experts who are obsessed with marketing attribution and lifetime user value.
Conversion rate optimization is a key part of all of these business processes. A powerful way to inspire your team about A/B testing is to make this strategy a part of all your company’s marketing touch points.
A major initiative for Schedulicity is to build a testing culture around all of the company’s marketing initiatives.
As Steve puts it:
“My goal is to continue to take Optimizely from the top of our funnel and take it deeper and deeper into our platform, integrating lessons learned to increase engagement, conversion, and retention.”
Step 3: Build a Culture of Learning
Testing is frustrating. Every smart marketer will, at some point, encounter negative, confusing or inconclusive results.
This isn’t a bad thing.
What ultimately matters is that your company and team are always learning. Encourage your peers and direct reports to take risks – even to make mistakes. It’s how we become smarter marketers.
Steve incorporates this philosophy into Schedulicity’s marketing operations: “There’s always a great learning that comes from any test, regardless of whether the results are positive, negative or inconclusive. It’s awesome.”
Employees are passionate about learning, growing and exploring new directions in their career paths. Testing can help them navigate this process.
And remember – your team members are the lifeblood of your organization.
“Without testing our company wouldn’t be what it is today,” says Steve. “I’m always excited to see our Customer Support team collaborating with our Product and Marketing teams regarding a new experiment they would like to see deployed. Results are guaranteed.”
Conversion optimization will empower your business’s people to push their limits and perform their best. To get started – as Schedulicity and its interns exemplify – all you need to get started are a curious mind and relentless commitment to learning. Your company’s A/B testing strategy is just as much about people as it is about revenue.