Have you ever found it challenging to convince your boss or other stakeholders to make a change? This is a common complaint, especially in corporate corridors and it often leads to potentially game-changing adjustments not being made as quickly as they could be.
A/B testing is one of those things that people often find themselves having to convince others to approve of. Sometimes management will take a view that testing is more “work” when you should be focusing on deliverables.
Conversion optimization as an industry is still relatively young, so it can suffer from an overall lack of knowledge and experience in the area. This can mean that you may need to convince management of the value of A/B testing in the first place.
Here are some tips for doing just that:
Always come back to the business case
Your boss tends to primarily be worried about one overarching issue – the performance of the company against key goals. For this reason, keeping the business case for A/B testing at the forefront is always important.
If they’re concerned that you should be working on “key deliverables” rather than testing, it might help to put case studies in front of them, showing how A/B testing has helped other companies. How do they know that the deliverables you’re working on are the right thing for the company? Sometimes testing will reveal that there is value in things that haven’t been considered before.
You can make an even more convincing case if you’re able to show how your examples are relevant to the business. What specific value can your company get from testing? You’ve got to be able to show how ROI is possible with testing – after all a proper testing setup involves considerable time and investment.
Have the business case for A/B testing clear, and be able to explain it Click To Tweet
Talk about how testing can mitigate risk
There are two types of risk when it comes to changes on a company website – the risk of making the change and the risk of not changing anything. Sure, customers might not like a change that may lead to a dip in sales, on the other hand, your company has no idea how many sales it is missing by not making changes to optimize for conversions.
Many of the world’s innovative companies run constant programs of A/B testing. Facebook, Google, Netflix, Coca-Cola and more are always testing before they make changes. You’ve probably been part of their tests and may not have even known it.
Testing helps you to mitigate risk by making more measured decisions too. We’ve used the example of Netflix making a major site layout change before. They implemented the drastic change to all users only after months of testing indicated that their new design was preferable. What followed was an outcry from unhappy users. Did Netflix backtrack and reverse the changes? No – A/B testing had provided them with the confidence that they’d made the right choice. Over time, that initial outcry died off and their testing proved to be right. What could have happened if they’d had a knee-jerk response to negative feedback?
You could also highlight the importance of making clear, data-based decisions. Many ideas thrown around in business are subjective, or based on someone’s “gut feeling.” You can turn these ideas into data-driven science through testing. This can potentially save the company a lot of time and money devoted to ideas that don’t work.
Do your research
Firstly, you’ve got to understand the person or people whom you need to convince. Learn as much about them, their preferences and their business goals as you can. This helps you to tailor your argument to better target what interests them.
Secondly, research the company competitors. What are they doing that seems to be working for them? Has anything obviously not worked? How does the website flow, layout and overall look compare to your company? You’re not trying to directly copy them, but if you share a target audience, they may be onto something that resonates with those people.
Thirdly, know the numbers for your company. Where do you see any conversion challenges? You can present a much more powerful argument if you’re able to say “currently, our cart abandonment rate is 60 percvent. We think we can reduce that by X percent by testing a different flow.”
Here are some ideas for numbers you might include in a presentation:
- The typical (or a projected) ROI from investing in A/B testing.
- Forecasts of how much money the company is losing by not investing in A/B testing.
- Current conversion rates vs. projected conversion rates after A/B testing.
- A comparison with how much money is spent on paid search. For many companies, this is a major part of their budget – it makes no sense to spend up large on driving traffic to a website if that website is not optimized for the best results.
Explain in clear terms
One objection to A/B testing among the C-suite can be that they simply don’t know enough about it. You might need to explain how it works, but keep your explanation simple. Throwing in acronyms such as “CRO” or any other excessive use of jargon can reduce the impact of your message.
You should obviously know what you’re talking about when it comes to testing, but trying to impress with your knowledge of technical terms hardly ever gets results. There’s a famous quote from Albert Einstein that applies here: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
Be sure to emphasize the key benefits of A/B testing, preferably in relation to core company objectives. For example, “we can improve revenue” or “we can grow the number of qualified leads in our funnel” are bottom-line points that are important to the company.
Begin with smaller tests
Your boss might be concerned with whether or not testing will be disruptive, along with whether it’s worth doing. One thing you can do is come prepared with some ideas for smaller tests that may produce significant wins. This is a good way of starting to build up an “experimentation culture” within a company.
As you start to see results, you might move onto bigger, more significant tests. It’s important to always be transparent about testing though. You can expect that not every test is a winner, in fact, most likely more will lose than win. That’s why testing should be a constant process that is engrained in a company’s DNA.
The point is if you keep going, and if you have a solid methodology, you will make improvements through experimentation. You can learn from tests that are unsuccessful and take that information to improve future testing. The more you experiment, the more you understand your audience and the better you become at delivering what appeals to them.
If you need to convince your boss or management team of the need to A/B test, the key lies in your preparation. They need to know the value for the company and understand that testing should be an important part of the budget, just as paid advertising is.
Be prepared to answer any questions and always be able to tie A/B testing back to a strong business case. Demonstrate how adopting testing practices can help the company to improve revenue and achieve other important goals.
You might need to start out small, but with persistence and the demonstration of results, you can prove the worth of A/B testing to the company. Developing an experimentation culture will help your company to join the ranks of the most innovative.