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​.mar​keting​ex​per​i​ments​.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.