Website A/B testing can be a marketing superpower—the fastest way for us to test new positioning, creatives, offers, and even fonts. But it’s only a superpower when marketers can hear about and remember the findings.
In other words, we need to market our testing program.
The Power of A/B Testing
Experimentation is a valuable process that uses hypothesis-driven and evidence-based approaches to drive informed decision-making. Business decisions are often based on opinion rather than data, but experimentation allows us to use data to understand customer behavior and industry trends to remain competitive in the market.
As more businesses transition into the digital market, it’s more important than ever for marketing teams to leverage experimentation and to remember what’s learned. How can organizations take steps to foster a culture of experimentation? How can we utilize management platforms to enable widespread test logging and archive insights? The two go hand-in-hand.
Attitudes Towards Testing
While experimentation is widely accepted as a critical component of growth, creating and maintaining a culture of experimentation presents a unique challenge to many organizations. For example, attitudes toward testing and the risk of failure cause many businesses to take a hesitant approach when scaling experimentation practices. As a result, the business will conduct fewer tests and risks increase for experiments to fail. Likewise, if experimentation is siloed, stakeholders won’t be able to see or understand the value of scaling test infrastructure.
So, before we can begin to market our programs, we must find ways to combat these attitudes. The key lies in building a culture of experimentation.
Experimentation Culture: The Key to Innovation
Fostering a culture of experimentation begins when we prioritize testing and take steps to scale, support, and expand experimentation programs. This includes being willing to ask the right questions and accepting that with data in the driver’s seat, findings might clash with opinions. When organizations develop a culture where testing is supported and encouraged, they can expect to make significant strides in their strategic innovation.
However, consequences for innovation can be severe if brands fail to step out of their testing comfort zone. When programs focus on familiar solutions rather than welcoming new methods, company growth is stifled and innovation wanes. In a market that relies on strategic innovation, a company’s failure to foster and maintain its experimentation culture can result in its falling behind or, in some cases, dropping out of the market entirely.
We know that experimentation culture is the foundation needed to market a program, but what steps can we take to build it?
Testing must be prioritized from a high level to build a culture of experimentation, so experimentation programs require a senior-level advocate who understands the program’s business value. This senior stakeholder can act as a liaison between experimentation specialists and the rest of the organization.
How does a program get a senior-level advocate on board? Communication. This means the experimenters must collaborate with leadership to promote experimentation’s value on all levels, beginning with illustrating ways testing can be leveraged across the organization.
Senior leadership must play a key role in their organization’s experimentation state.
Fostering Curiosity & Embracing Risk
Another critical component of establishing a healthy experimentation culture is fostering curiosity and embracing risk. Creating an effective culture of experimentation requires that data and findings be valued collectively. This means eliminating restrictions to testing and encouraging team members across all departments to take an active role in experimentation.
While executive buy-in is a key part of establishing a healthy experimentation culture, integrating other parts of an organization is critical to the longevity of that program. Programs have to break down data silos and market the process of experimentation to the organization as a whole.
Think of this like the ‘Trojan Horse’ of experimentation. It is not enough for experimentation to simply be accepted by engineers and developers. But, if testing is embedded into the engineering process, it not only integrates experimentation into the engineering work flow, but makes it a priority as well. By establishing buy-in from engineers and developers, experimentation is rolled into the engineering pipeline and becomes an expected part of the process when developing new features and updates to a website or app!
By integrating experimentation across all levels of an organization, you are able to foster a program that is sustainable regardless of turnover and organizational changes. By cultivating a team that understands the value of experimentation and how to test, you are only left with understanding what to test.
Before we can market the power of testing externally, we have to draw the interest of our colleagues and prioritize marketing the impact of testing internally.
The final essential step required to foster a culture of experimentation is to democratize experimentation. This entails expanding access to experimentation infrastructure and eliminating barriers to testing. Organizations can achieve this through the careful process of practicing autonomy and providing guidance and resources to those who want to get involved. These resources include, but are not limited to:
- Placing experimentation specialists throughout different business units to oversee testing opportunities and act as a sounding board.
- Providing access to experimentation training, learning sessions, and including experimentation throughout the onboarding process.
- Providing access to tools and resources, such as testing records, to all team members
Strategic Documentation: Experimentation's Best Friend
To be successful, we must pair experimentation culture with thorough and intentional testing documentation systems.
Program documentation should be a predominant practice in an organization’s experimental process, from ideation to the final result. Unfortunately, many organizations commonly resort to disorganized and uninformed documentation processes. This results in patchy data insights, the loss of historical testing data, and methodology notation that only makes sense to a small group. The holes created by passive documentation have massive consequences on the state of an organization’s testing department and its ability to remember past learnings.
As organizations expand their experimentation capabilities and run more tests, they risk forgetting what they’ve learned. Holes in data archives and the lack of accessible sharepoints prevent team members from referencing past test plans. Without a systematic and intentional documentation process, organizations risk forgetting past learnings, stifling their ability to innovate and expand.
The good news is that this problem has a simple solution! Enabling an effective platform to document ideas, data, and learnings allows companies to preserve valuable insight and perspective.
Steps to Enabling Testing Sharepoints
The first step in implementing documentation practices is finding a sharepoint that works best for your company’s needs. Platforms like Effective Experiments allow users to break down experimentation silos within their organization and provide a way to organize documentation to reveal insights and opportunities for innovation.
After identifying the platform that best suits your needs, senior executives should work closely with experimentation specialists to develop an informed company policy on documentation protocol and best practices.
Documentation systems should be streamlined and consistent. Researchers must understand that documentation is not solely for those working on a project, but should be recorded in a way that is detailed and accessible to others. Implementing a documentation standardization strategy will assist in maintaining records that are accessible to all and can be understood by those not directly involved.
Conclusion: Pair a Culture of Experimentation with Communication
Marketing experimentation programs is an integral part of scaling testing and prioritizing data. But to effectively do so, we must ensure we set the right conditions for testing to thrive. Building a culture of experimentation provides the foundation for this, but it falls short without robust documentation platforms and sharing. For the best results, the two components have to go hand-in-hand.