Fearless Testing: When to Come Out SwingingPOSTED ON 23 August 2012
At Brooks Bell, our testing philosophy is usually centered around incremental, measurable tests that allow us to identify data points, make strategic decisions that inform the next test and build upon each one consecutively. Though this can sometimes be frustrating, because everyone wants to see huge lifts and wins, it’s a smart way to go.
Sometimes, though, you want to come out swinging.
So when is it appropriate, and what are some good rules of thumb for fearless testing?
Be Fearless for a Reason. If you have a conversion page that’s not performing well, you may be tempted to scrap it and start over from scratch. Don’t. The best time to swing for the fences is when you’re at a high confidence level. If you’ve been testing the same page for a while and you’re itching for a bump out of your conversion plateau, go for it.
Always take backup. Fearless doesn’t mean foolish. If you’re going for a whole new test cell, have a midline (more conservative) option to throw into the mix. That way if your control (A) tests flat, and your “out there” cell (B) totally bombs and the midline (C) wins, you have a reasonable point to work from.
Don’t be afraid to charge ahead. If you’re going to go for a fearless, completely different design and messaging then do it whole-heartedly. In other words, you should commit to changing everything. If you change only a few elements, you won’t really be able to pinpoint which one pushed the needle. Starting with a clean creative slate resets the baseline. And if it wins, you can then start element testing the new control.
Put Away the Ego. Some companies get attached to their controls. “It’s worked for a year, so why change it?” How about more money? That’s a good reason. Even the best control is beatable, and if you’ve exhaustively tested every element on the page, it might be time to go big. There’s always room to improve and get more conversions.
The benefits of fearless testing aren’t limited strictly to potential revenue lifts. Going outside of the box keeps your team thinking outside of the box, too. And if your creative team is in-house, it gives them a chance to flex their creative muscles, which makes room for new, bigger ideas.
Though it’s a best practice to approach testing in smaller, more conservative steps, sometimes there’s occasion to really leap fearlessly into the testing arena and go for broke. The key is knowing when to do so, and not letting impatience get in the way of good learnings.
Brooks Bell is the industry's leading online conversion firm. We help large online retailers and subscriber-supported companies maximize their online sales funnel by testing and optimizing all points in the conversion path.
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