In the last few weeks, we’ve been talking a lot about what it takes to build an organization’s testing and optimization efforts. Likely, you’ve implemented a few of these practices in one form or another over the last year, even unintentionally. Now we’re all firmly planted in 2014, staring down what many are touting as a significant “digital transformation” period. In the coming months, companies are expected to go completely gangbusters, pushing toward what could ultimately become a seismic digital shift—and we’re already hearing the buzz from those investing heavily in their companies’ marketing and integration efforts. They’re pushing harder, farther, faster and driving innovation we couldn’t have anticipated even months ago. But it takes more than that.

With so many resources deeply invested in this digital transformation, it’s critical to keep in mind that the most successful marketers, companies, and brands coming out the other end are going to be those who align their testing and optimization initiatives in a meaningful way. Those who can shore up their efforts and leverage key learnings and fundamental knowledge across all platforms will be uniquely primed to truly transform.

It’s not that simple, though. There’s such a tremendous range in optimization maturity, from the ad hoc and almost incidental beginners to the mature, integrated organizations who think of testing and optimization not as a nice to have, but as a critical component to everything and anything—and have the top-down support to back it up and get it done. They’re rare and, equally, they’re wildly successful in their marketing and personalization efforts.

Reading this you’re likely thinking about your organization and how it stacks up. That’s a good thing. Comparing your efforts with your peers, competitors, and innovators is essential to expanding and enhancing testing and optimization efforts, as is clearly identifying both realistic options and long-term objectives. It’s great to say optimization will be a cornerstone to everything, every day, in every way. It’s another to say, “I want to expand, I want to improve, and this is what I can get buy-in on.” And that’s infinitely more valuable, though perhaps a little less sexy.

Although it’s not easy to grow and expand, as your organization moves through stages of optimization efforts, stakeholders will undoubtedly begin to understand the benefit—increased ROI—that comes with maturity. Beyond that, however, testing velocity will increase, the value of individual tests will increase, and the proliferation of these benefits just won’t stop, increasing and expanding while the flow becomes more organic day after day.

It’s important to remember that the optimization experience is continuous, with companies typically starting in a beginner state then moving through various phases of organizational commitment and alignment for weeks, months, or even years. As an organization continues familiarizing itself with and engaging in a host of best practices, their efforts almost naturally expand as they pick up lots of valuable qualitative and quantitative benefits along the way. They’re testing, they’re personalizing, they’re optimizing, and they’re feeling good—so, understandably, most are compelled to do more.

Here’s where it can get a little fuzzy again. A lack of understanding, support, and cohesion may cause many to fall into a paralyzing stagnancy, especially early on, despite the benefits of expansion dangling not too far in the distance.

So where does that leave you? More on that in the next few days. But wouldn’t it be great to be able to get a comprehensive assessment of your organization, based on testing and optimization supports, efforts, and initiatives? Not to give anything away just yet.

In the meantime, think about your organization and your optimization strategy as you prepare to “transform” in 2014. What’s your strategy—do you even have one? Is it a one-man show or a one-off wonder? Are you leveraging the full breadth and depth of your capabilities, resources, data, and knowledge base, or is yours more of a “let’s see what happens” approach to maximizing communication and relevant ROI? Are you incidental or disciplined? Expanded—or maybe expanding—or are you strategically aligned through and through? Somewhere in between?

Think about it. With a true maturity assessment comes an invaluable understanding of what you’re leaving on the table by not striving for your full optimization potential. Hint: ROI. Lots of it. Check back, though. We’ve got your first step toward that ROI queued up and ready to help you get primed for success.

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