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Why Building a Culture of Experimentation is Vital to Your Online Business

In this technologically-driven age, we glorify innovations and success in every sector: electric car manufacturers rising from the pits of pessimism, virtual assistants that are practically indistinguishable from people, and neural networks trained to imagine. But the most innovative companies rely on their culture of experimentation to drive those innovations. In the world of digital marketing, for instance, testing website designs can save costs, improve user experiences, and optimize conversion rates, ultimately leading to a higher return on investment for your web properties. If you’re struggling to convert visitors into leads, there may be many reasons why this is the case, and it can be hard to pinpoint these factors. Website experimentation can help. By employing website testing services, you can create hypotheses about your website design that you can then put to the test. The results of these test will tell you which design increases the number of conversions and help you make informed, data-driven decisions on how to sculpt your customer’s online experience before you’ve committed to your design change.

Tiny Changes Can Have a Big Impact on Your ROI

Common sense tells us that you reap the biggest rewards from the biggest investments, but sometimes our intuitions can betray us. This is often true in website testing. Sometimes the simplest changes to your website can increase conversions more than you would expect. This was the case for Cosabella, a leader in the lingerie business. Leveraging the power of Sentient Ascend’s AI-powered website testing paradigm, they determined that small adjustments, like changing the color of their buttons from black to pink, actually increased conversions. Together, all of these changes yielded a tremendous 38.4% increase in conversions.

This goes to show that your website doesn’t need a complete facelift to perform better. It’s easy to get trapped in the cyclical mindset that your website needs to be radically updated to keep up with trends and emerging web technologies, but consider Amazon’s website. Since inception, their website design has remained largely the same, with minor tweaks and slight web element readjustments over the years, which were done to either introduce new features or highlight existing ones. While they are exemplars in this respect, we can still take lessons away from their success.

Data Driven Decisions Save Time and Money

For online businesses, website testing can not only increase conversions, but also provide you with detailed data about your website, which can help inform your future decisions. This enables you to remove human bias from your business’ decisions, which are often made by a HiPPO (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion). Even if an idea sounds great to everyone, if the data doesn’t back it up, then it might hurt the company rather than help. Testing first, rather than trusting your gut, can be uncomfortable, but numbers don’t lie. Bad results tell us when we are wrong, and can sometimes lead us to the right path. While testing might feel like it would slow down productivity, it’s better to be wrong while testing than being wrong in implementation .

For example, perhaps you want to determine if it’s worth it to hire a new team dedicated to developing widgets on your website with a new web technology. You can perform a website test to determine the cost efficiency of this: if you run a test exposing one group of visitors to the normal website and another group of users to a version of the website with a new, test widget, then you can see if the website that makes use of the new technology experiences an increase in conversions. If that is the case, you can use this information to quantify how much extra money this would net your company, and then decide if it would be worth the cost of hiring additional staff to capitalize on this technology.

With Testing, Prioritization is Key

When experimenting, you need be clear about the specific issue that you want to solve. Perhaps you have a landing page that is not performing as well as you anticipated. In order to accurately track progress, you’ll need to be specific about which metric you wish to improve. In the case of the landing page, maybe the metric is the conversion rate from visitor to lead. Here is where you get creative: what do you think needs to change on your landing page in order to increase conversions? Perhaps your hypothesis would be “if I show less content on the page, customers will be less distracted and convert more.” You can then use quantitative data from tools like Google Analytics as well as quantitative data that you can get from user surveys like SurveyMonkey in order to inform your hypothesis. Once you’ve identified and solidified your key hypothesis, you are ready to begin testing.

With website testing, you will often come up with a number of changes that you think will improve your metrics. Unfortunately, with traditional A/B tools you can only test one hypothesis at a time, and in the case of multivariate testing, your site would require a large volume of traffic to achieve significant results. This usually leads to a backlog of ideas that need to be manually prioritized. Here is where solutions like Sentient Ascend come in: with Ascend, you can test all of your ideas at once and let AI do the prioritization for you. Ascend automates most of the testing process for you — using evolutionary algorithms to prune underperforming designs and breed winners. Ascend also combines winning design variations so that you not only get the best elements on your page–you get the best combination of winning design elements, all across your entire website funnel. For more ideas on how to perform full-funnel website optimization, we’ve compiled a Big Book of Ascend Ideas that you can use to design future website tests.

User-Based Testing Yields Real-Time Results

Innovation is the product of experimentation, but it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. A product or service is only innovative if the users of the product or service can use it in a way that distinguishes substantially from its competition. This is why user-based testing is important — it allows companies to shift their product, in this case website design, to the needs and preferences of their users in real time.

With Sentient Ascend, for instance, companies can shift to the changes and fluctuations of the season, serving different versions of the website to different segments based on their demographic, device, or conversion habits. This allows companies to stay relevant to the times and tailor their website to each customer, providing the most seamless personalized experience. And since you are able to test all of your website designs at once, Ascend can find the best website design for your users faster than other forms of website testing. By incorporating website testing platforms like Sentient Ascend in your marketing strategy, you are better able to innovate your website design with respect to your users’ preferences.

Scale Your Testing Efforts

When implementing a testing culture, you won’t necessarily have the budget or infrastructure in place to start testing at the scale you want immediately. This is why AI-powered testing automation will really make a difference for companies in the future. Ascend automates the conversion optimization process, which means all kinds of companies — big and small — can benefit from testing. Rather than having to hire a whole new team or creating a convoluted testing architecture that will take your engineers weeks to learn, you can use Ascend to work alongside your pre-existing testing infrastructures to enhance the benefits of testing. Start experimenting today and watch your online business evolve.