I ended last week with a drive to Adobe’s new Optimization Maturity Model, an interactive tool designed to benchmark your organization against others, assessing its sophistication across six core dimensions: culture, strategy, execution, leadership, organization, and reach. When factored together, these weighted dimensions paint a comprehensive picture of your organization’s testing and optimization maturity. The higher the score, the more embedded these essential best practices are within your digital initiatives and, likely, the greater the ROI you’re experiencing from your efforts.

Like I said in part 5 of this series, most organizations fall somewhere in the first three stages: incidental, expanded, and disciplined. But don’t think of this as a problem. The ceiling’s high, and there’s plenty of room for your brand to grow and plenty more you can achieve in terms of engagement and, of course, profitability.

Got your scorecard in hand? Let’s head down the maturity path.

Company A Wants to Expand

Company A is testing, but mostly when their marketing manager Bob has a “good feeling” about something. Maybe consumers will like the blue ad better than the red, or an email with a funny subject line more than an informative one. Bob tests, but beyond the guy he runs into at lunch, no one’s involved, and there’s no alignment with greater business objectives. Bob’s testing to test—and that’s perfectly fine at the incidental level. But it’s time to expand.

Step 1: Talk, talk, and talk some more. Get colleagues and superiors excited and be the evangelist for testing and optimization. Did blue really outperform red? Did the edgier call to action yield a higher clickthrough rate? Shout it from the rooftops, Bob!

Step 2: Bob’s got the excitement, which he now needs to channel into further action and, hopefully, an optimization roadmap he can sell to his stakeholders. Company A stakeholders should be involved in the evaluation and conversion stages to create the deep connection that drives future support.

Step 3: Oh, and about those stakeholders? Now would be a great time to ask them to throw out some testing ideas of their own. Just keep fanning the ownership flames … but it’s up to you to help them prioritize. It’s your job to make sure they know the difference between KPIs and mere FYIs.

Step 4: Measure and share, share and measure. Share successes stakeholders helped create and share what moved the needle, with real data that all business units can dive in to. Be sure to measure the average and cumulative revenue lift as a result of what is maturing into an optimization program.

Result: Company A graduates to the expanded level, marked by greater organizational enthusiasm and support for optimization efforts and less of an ad hoc approach to the process.

Expanded, But It’s Time to Get Disciplined

Startup X tosses “optimization” and “personalization” around, and they’re certainly on the radar of Digital Marketing Director Janet. But she’s in a marketing vacuum of sorts, rolling out her stealthy initiatives as she sees fit and sharing some of her successes with management—getting an occasional “Great job!” email in response. It’s time for startup X to get disciplined.

Step 1: Janet needs to step back and determine the “who” of it all. Who can be tapped for testing and optimization work in this resource-limited environment? Will it be their only task, or will they combine it other line-of-biz responsibilities? Likewise, can Janet carve out dedicated time and incentives—and can her superiors?

Step 2: Once established, Janet needs to organize her team (dotted line or otherwise) and processes, while ensuring she’s got the buy-in she needs for success. Two-way communication is key.

Step 3: Someone or something holding up your progress? Remove them. Okay, not literally. But kick that thinking to the curb. Sometimes all it takes is a little re-education or quick “101” to turn that “nay” into a “yay.”

Step 4: Success! And because the company’s still in lean-and-mean mode, Janet, there should be no issue disseminating the positive news across all corners of startup X. Raise a glass to the victories—together.

Result: Startup X can get to the disciplined level, even with limited resources. However, to break through that barrier they need to not only follow these steps, but Janet has to get her digital marketing ducks in a row. Use the info emerging from these tests to make data-driven decisions as the company grows and expands efforts.

Be Strategic

Brick-and-click Q is pretty good at testing and optimization. Decisions are data driven based on tests performance analytics manager Dave is running much of the time. He’s doing well, seeing the benefits of growing Q’s optimization maturity—but how?

Step 1: Dave needs to get in line with the company’s overarching objectives. No surprise, this aptly named category is all about being strategically aligned. This is a great opportunity for Dave and his team to gain visibility, share knowledge, and communicate opportunities across the business.

Step 2: Sell executive leadership on the growth and expansion of optimization efforts. Dave’s got tons of wins under his belt, and nothing speaks louder than numbers. Now comes the evangelizing. He hits every corner office and boardroom, touting the value in real terms, and helping management see beyond the lowest hanging testing fruit.

Step 3: Although Dave’s using testing data to inform upcoming initiatives, those same reports need to wield even greater power across brick-and-click Q. A long-term roadmap should be drawn (with all of those great stakeholders weighing in!), and incentives and goals need to come into alignment.

Step 4: Stop! Through his conversations, Dave discovers some competing internal goals, initiatives, and resources. Fear not, this is common and not necessarily a bad thing. By now, Dave and his team are well-respected testing pros, and rather than feeling threatened, business teams across the organization are welcoming the input and, naturally, throwing in their support—and budgets.

Step 5: To build on this momentum and ensure future alignment from start to finish, Dave creates a steering committee comprised of cross-departmental decision makers. This group can help prioritize testing, ensure consistent evaluations, and review metrics from various perspectives.

Result: If Dave and his team are working with a few business units to tap into optimization technology and best practices, implementing more structured, more sophisticated, and more diverse approaches to testing and optimization—think A/B and multivariate testing, segmentation, automated, and rules-based behavioral targeting—then he’s steered his organization into the strategic alignment level.

The embedded stage comes next. Here, optimization leadership spreads and expands throughout all facets of the organization, guiding all elements of decision making, delivery, and strategy. But keep in mind, it’s not about getting to the embedded level—or any specific level for that matter. It’s about maximizing what you’ve got and reaching for that next level. Many Adobe partners fall squarely in the expanded and disciplined stages and stay there—lucratively—for months or even years.

Organizational shifts take time, comprehensive buy-in, and a level of commitment that simply may not be realistic. This exercise is more about taking a step back, understanding where you are and where you could be—and seeing clear-cut steps to get there.