During an election year, I think we’re all the more keenly aware and frankly tired of marketing messages that are all hype and lack substance. We’ve witnessed political debates where impressive figures are thrown out, but the next day they are quickly debunked by fact checkers.  I’m all for a healthy discussion, but marketers need to hone in on the truth behind sensational claims and the real data and metrics that matter.  Unfortunately, the online testing market is not immune to such rhetoric, and I feel compelled to help sort out fact from fiction and refocus the debate on what really matters about testing.

Are you identifying the real return on your testing investment? Here’s what you should focus on:

1)     Goals of a testing program

What are the business goals you want to achieve through using a testing product? In addition to driving more conversion and revenue, most businesses want to gain a better understanding of who their online audiences are and learn what their audiences are looking for through the process of online testing. The next step is being able to quickly determine, target and deliver the right content to the right customer at the right time. The testing product you select must be held accountable for delivering on these goals.

Adobe Test&Target already delivers on this promise for our customers today, while in contrast, targeting is still just a goal on the roadmap for many other basic testing products in the market. Test&Target also efficiently provides deep segmentation of an audience population and the ability to rapidly test variations of content for these segments. This includes testing and bridging offsite content including emails, display ads, social and mobile applications with onsite experiences to drive greater conversion among a diverse audience on an ongoing basis.

2)     Scale

Organizations that adopt testing and a true optimization culture think of testing as an ongoing and disciplined program, not a coin-operated process to just set and forget about. So, the ability for a testing product to scale and build upon initial results and successes to continue driving business value is tantamount.

Test&Target serves over 1.2 billion test page optimization requests each day. Wow. Compare this to one startup who has bragged about serving up 1.3 billion over the course of a few years. And Test&Target long ago (while still part of Omniture) celebrated the milestone of running 100,000 A/B and multivariate tests, which other testing products are just beginning to reach now.

3)     Integration with best-in-class digital marketing tools

Test&Target’s built-in integrations with the analytics in SiteCatalyst and the products within Adobe’s Digital Marketing Suite enable marketers to measure, optimize and personalize the customer’s full website, social media campaigns, mobile site and mobile app experience, including elements such as search results and automated recommendations. This is a big differentiator as most of the basic testing products cannot deliver targeted content to discrete audience segments, but rather provide only minimal targeting based on the results of simple tests. They also lack the flexibility to adapt to a website’s more complex needs, or the ability to scale and react in real-time to the changing trends and preferences of an audience base.

4)     Enterprise experience and support

Did you know that a large majority of the top 100 websites in terms of traffic as ranked by Alexa use Test&Target? While other vendors may claim to have a certain percentage of the Alexa top 10,000 websites as customers, this is terribly misleading when you consider the websites’ rankings. In fact, the Alexa top 100 websites account for more than 70% of Internet traffic so there is a big difference between the breadth and reach of the top ranking sites than all the rest.

Many other basic testing products also lack access to full-service consulting services, support, or best practices for their clients, which can be essential to growing an optimization program over time. Our rich expertise in optimization and unparalleled enterprise-level service drives incremental value for our customers every day.

And while we really like to showcase the impressive horsepower of Test&Target, even basic testing is very easy to learn and to deploy – I’ve witnessed optimization managers learn to run basic tests within the tool within an hour’s time. But emphasizing ease of use is just not enough. Marketers and businesses need to be focused on impacting their business and revenue goals through their testing program. At the same time, they need to keep an eye to the future in terms of how to build upon initial test results to scale toward a sophisticated optimization system that can target content to their key audience segments automatically.

So, I encourage you to dig deeper than the rhetoric you’re hearing this election year and demand the facts when looking at the future of your testing program. Don’t settle for short-term simple point solutions, but look at which vendor can provide the best partnership for growth and scalability to meet the optimization and revenue goals of all of your digital properties. The future of your business depends upon it.

But, don’t just take my word for it – here are a few recent examples of Adobe customers who have seen great results from their Test&Target investment.

Caesars Entertainment boosts online conversion by 79%

USGA increases revenue per visitor by 26%

Nautilus drove a 13% uptick in overall site conversion through testing

I’d love to hear about your successes with Test&Target, please share them in the comments!