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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