Over the last week, I’ve encouraged you to start assessing your organization’s testing and optimization efforts and to begin benchmarking yourself against high-performing companies and brands. In my last post, I took a deep dive into culture and leadership, two critical dimensions of optimization maturity. You need to have a culture that not only supports, but also embraces optimization and makes data-driven decisions across all levels. In that vein, your organization also needs top-down leadership to push the envelope and propel efforts forward.
As I mentioned in part 2, the most successful organizations seamlessly integrate testing and optimization across all corners of the business. But, like I said last time, some organizations can increase their maturity levels and gain valuable ROI without being an A+ in all six—and that’s okay. Your organization may have scored well in culture and lower in leadership or vice versa. Or you may be thriving (or lacking) in both. The critical piece of this six-point scoring system is just that—it’s a multipoint system with ample opportunity to excel. So don’t get discouraged if you came up short and, likewise, don’t get ahead of yourself if you’re head of the class when it comes to culture and leadership.
Here are two more dimensions for your maturity assessment: strategy and organization. They have some good natural alignment with culture and leadership in that you need strategy and organization to actually set the testing and optimization balls in motion. To get started in assessing these dimensions, ask yourself how well everyone involved understands optimization and your respective approach. Think about the tools you have in place—or could have in place. Are they the right ones, and are they available? Likewise, do you have the people in place to get it all done? Let’s see how you stack up.
Buy-in is great, but how well do the parties involved in your current and upcoming testing and optimization efforts actually understand what needs to get done? More importantly, can they tap into the existing tools and best practices already in place to improve users’ digital experience? Are they approaching it effectively and efficiently, with the proper strategy in place to keep efforts going in both the short and long term?
Last time, I looked at Lenovo, and with its revolutionary testing and optimization best practices, it’s no surprise that the company is a strategy all-star, too. Senior Manager for Optimization & Personalization Siping Roussin notes that, at the end of the day, Lenovo’s strategy is simple: make optimization a line item in every marketing effort, and be your own cheerleader day in and day out. The company does this by building a cadence of communication that permeates key areas of the organization and enables two-way dialogue between everyone involved, at all levels.
Tactically speaking, the optimization team carries out two merchandising initiatives, each designed to spur conversation. A biweekly newsletter is sent to internal employees detailing optimization results, followed by a monthly forum enabling global staffers to connect and confer on a host of themes and topics via Web conference. This two-stage approach encourages discussion of successful tests as well as an opportunity to glean strategic tactics to improve on those initiatives that left elements to be desired.
This global shoring up enables Lenovo to ensure truly universal alignment on all optimization efforts. Whether your organization is hyperlocal or international, think about your cohesion. Is there a deep level of strategic understanding and alignment? Healthy, productive chatter happening in the office or online, inspiring both an understanding of and syncing with efforts, followed by an appropriate utilization of resources? It’s a challenge, for sure. Although your organization may be gung-ho to get started, making sure everyone is speaking the same language and going through the same motions with the same strategic mandates in mind is critical—and challenging.
Culture, leadership buy-in, and an effective strategy are great, but without the right people and the right skill sets to run those high-value initiatives, you could find yourself holding the proverbial optimization bag. This one’s simple to assess. Do you have the talent, the bandwidth and the tacit knowledge to execute your strategies, from the pie-in-the-sky to the everyday?
It’s important to remember that you don’t need to be at the helm of a massive international business to excel in this dimension. Adobe partner Smart Furniture started out as a small company with a two-person marketing team. Within just two years that team had grown significantly, with individual marketers focusing on unique aspects of the promotional business, including social media, paid search, and more.
Smart Furniture recognized this as a core optimization dimension and one in which it could excel. The company appointed eight product managers for each Adobe Marketing Cloud solution and encouraged employees at all levels to learn from and collaborate with one another—not just to review specific solutions, but also to learn the integrations between those solutions, enabling them to tell a richer results-driven story and determine actionable next steps to propel the business forward.
What’s unique about this example—and encouraging for small and medium businesses—is that Smart Furniture knew the “right people” didn’t necessarily need to be the most experienced within this realm. One standout product manager was initially an accountant who showed a keen interest in analytics and marketing.
The end result of Smart Furniture’s organization efforts? The company has grown and thrived and, naturally, become even more interested in testing and optimization at all levels. At this point, it’s routine to see top-ranking executives raise their hands and ask, “Why don’t we test this?” Check and check.
Like culture and leadership, these two dimensions are critical in assessing and improving optimization maturity. Having the will, the drive, the buy-in, and the environment is all well and good, but without the people, the resources, the tools, and the know-how to get it done, it really doesn’t matter. Look internally and see what you’ve got—and plan to look in some unexpected places.
Two more dimensions are coming along, with some recommendations to gain that critical maturity your organization needs to maximize the digital transformation we’re in—and likely one in which you’re already investing heavily. Stay tuned, and in the meantime, give yourself and your organization a thorough, honest assessment on these two dimensions so you’re ready for what’s next. Trust me, you’ll love what’s coming up.