Often one of the biggest challenges to testing and optimizing your website is making that initial leap and convincing senior management that you need budget and buy-in to do it effectively. Unfortunately, quite often though your plans won’t be met with open arms from your senior executives.  And even if you have already begun testing, you will quickly realize that you need additional budget and buy-in so you can obtain better testing tools and more internal resources.

To help you overcome challenges from senior executives and obtain more budget for your testing efforts, here are five great ways you can consider trying:

1: Use 10% of your SEO/SEM budget for a short period

Unfortunately there is still way too much focus on driving visitors to websites, and too little focus on engaging and converting visitors once they get to websites. As a result of this, budgets are often significantly higher for acquiring traffic than converting traffic. You can try and capitalize on this by making a request to your senior executives to share some of this acquisition online marketing budget and use it to make a jump start for your website optimization efforts instead. Tell them all you need is to use just 10% of this acquisition budget for 6 months, and then you will report back on the gains and ROI made from this investment.

This ‘borrowed’ money should be invested into setting up a good testing tool, and into hiring some temporary testing help if you don’t have expert internal resources. You could also try requesting 10% of the SEO/SEM time resources to help you create, run and analyse tests too.

After this six month period has ended, you should have hopefully gained some good results that you can use to help you gain buy-in and a budget solely for testing and optimizing your website.

2: Show proof that your competitors are testing

A simple yet effective way of trying to gain more buy-in and budget is to obtain testing case studies that show your competitors (or websites in your industry) are also doing testing and having good results with it. These testing case studies can be found by looking on websites like www.abtests.com and www.marketingexperiments.com. You can also find some great testing case studies on the Adobe Digital Marketing website. Once you have found some relevant ones you can present these to your senior executives to try and convince them of the need for budget – they will often want to keep up with their competitors are doing, so this should help.

3: Give a presentation to your senior execs showing potential of testing on your website

Don’t just tell your senior executives that you need to test and that you need a budget. Give them solid reasons why. A good way to do this is by reviewing your website to find key areas that need improving, and then create a presentation for your senior executives showing them your findings. This should include screenshots of problematic pages and also key insights from your analytics tool revealing pages and flows with high exit rates. In this report you should always mention the likely impact on revenue (and not just conversion rate lifts) as this will resonate better with this senior level audience.

To increase the chances of this presentation being effective, you should consider getting a third party consultant to help review your website and come up with test ideas. This is because you may find that your senior executives are more likely to listen to someone external like this rather than an internal person.

4: Find an optimization executive sponsor to help

Finding and using a testing executive sponsor will help you gain more buy-in and budget for testing. This person will help champion the benefits and reasoning for testing at a senior level and help you obtain budget and further buy-in. You will find it much harder to obtain budget and buy-in without someone like this on same level as your senior executives. Having this executive sponsor will also help you improve your ability to get tests prioritized and launched at a senior level. An ideal candidate to play this small but important role would be someone senior from the marketing or IT department, and someone that is well respected by the senior executives.

5: Go ‘under the radar’ to do a test (risky)

If you are new to testing and are really struggling to gain buy-in and budget to obtain a good tool and start testing, as a last ditch attempt you should consider ‘going under the radar’ to create a few tests. These unofficial tests will then hopefully get you some good results that you can then present to your senior executives as proof of ROI.

This involves setting up tests quietly by drawing as little attention to them as possible from senior executives. To help you do this, you will need to find a sympathetic web developer who understands the benefits of testing and can devote some time to your efforts.  And if you don’t currently have a testing tool to use, you can use a cheap or free testing tool. Then once you have ran some simple tests and proved ROI to your executives, you can request higher budget level to use a tool like Test&Target and more resources.  Bear in mind this method is risky, so you should ensure you pick something to test with low potential negative impact, and to do this as a last ditch attempt if all else fails.

Remember that you also need more than just a testing tool, so when requesting budget, you should try and allocate budget for at least one dedicated testing resource.


Valuable and to the point. Further question on #2: Is there a way to get a hint whether a particular site's particular page is using some kind of testing tool? Something visible in the Source or using a debugger like Fiddler? Also, I feel that you emphasized risk too much in #5. In some organizations, yes. But many organizations would feel this kind of entry-point POC is something that individuals and departments should be doing anyway, and it should be a sign of taking initiative rather than something "last ditch." Hopefully the reader will know how their organization thinks and hopefully many readers will know that their organization is actually hoping they'll do something like this to get started.