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12 Questions You Should Be Asking Your Prospective (or Current) Online Testing Vendor

Guest Author

Whether you’re entering a POC or assessing your current customer experience optimization solution, leave no stone unturned. Just as you urge your customers to get the facts before making a purchase, you should be discerning when considering this (or any) kind of cxo solution. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to an online testing vendor, which is why these questions may vary between retailers and B2B organizations. But the overall goal of your assessment remains the same; to be as informed as possible about your current or prospective cxo provider.

[I’m calling out B2B for a reason - optimizing the customer experience on B2B poses a unique set of challenges and your testing vendor should have experience with this unique strategy. If you’re a B2B marketer or testing practitioner, we recommend checking out our partner, Risetime’s new B2B-focused blog series. This week’s post: In B2B, One Size Does Not Fit All]

We tried to make our list as comprehensive as possible, because each marketer will have their own set of priorities, but here’s the basic run-down of must-ask questions:

1. First and foremost, what is the cost? What kind of ROI can I expect?

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Licensing fees are a key consideration for any business and ROI varies by site and program. Any reasonable ROI expectation should take into consideration your website, your team’s agility, the availability of internal resources, and your initial roadmap.

2. How long does it take to integrate with your solution and how quickly can I get my first test into market?

You should make a point to find out what the start-up requirements and costs are for the first test--something you can expect your testing vendor to have a firm grasp on. Onboarding requires time and resources, and IT will want to know what to expect during the initial integration. Ask your vendor to give you an accurate timeline based on their assessment of your test design/complexity, the skillset and experience of your team lead, as well as the testing platform itself. When entering into a new partnership, pay close attention to how your first test unfolds, this sets the stage for test throughput/volume and illustrates the ease-of-use of your solution.

3. What service solutions are available? Can we drive some of the testing ourselves?

This question will get you answers about whether the solution is just a software or if there is an actual support structure behind it. Services can be a critical level of support for organizations with varying internal resources at their disposal, but marketers need to ensure they’re empowered to do some of the testing on their own.

4. Which brings me to your next question, do you have a marketer-friendly solution bundled within the overall user interface?

Get an idea of who will need to manage the program, whether it’s IT, marketing or e-commerce. Find out how user-friendly the solution is and if you can obtain an accelerated test volume by combining managed service with your marketer-led campaign efforts.

5. What does your training program look like for our various marketing and development team members?

Can they offer support to all the team members involved in your cxo program? From project management to IT to merchandisers, what courses are available once we’ve signed on? Good training is a key factor any cxo program, no matter what solution you choose. Make sure you’ll have no only the support, but the self-empowerment of excellent training.

Now for some more technical considerations...

6. Can the solution integrate with my CMS?

You must ensure that your content system can work seamlessly with your testing solution.

7. What does the integration look like with my current analytics platform?

Make sure you can pass testing data into your analytics platform for crucial added insights.

8. What is your system security like? Is PII collected at any point?

Especially for B2B and financial services organizations, you need to make sure your testing solution complies with internal IT and government guidelines.

9. Can you import external CRM data into your platform?

This is important as it will give you the ability to leverage your existing customer database and personalization for your known audiences/customer personas.

10. How robust is your reporting and can the data be exported?

As your prospective vendor if you can generate the bulk of our reporting through the cxo user interface/reporting engine or if you will need another system such as SPSS. Robust, accurate, and well presented reports are not just key to your own insights, they are your means of demonstrating the success and findings of your optimization program to upper management or invested parties.

11. What does your product roadmap look like?

It’s easy to leave this one off, but you want a vendor with a clear product vision who commits significant resources to evolving its suite. See how their vision for a bundled solution that includes optimization, personalization, recommendations, targeting, and testing stacks up against their key competitors.

12. How do you suggest we build out a testing roadmap? What factors should we be considering?

This will help you get some perspective as far as the approach your potential professional services team will bring to the table. If you don’t have a plan or your plan needs refinement, you’ll want to see the thought process your vendor goes through to define a customized approach to meet your specific objectives. A generic plan won’t do!

It’s never a bad time to take a long, critical look at your testing vendor to find out if they are the comprehensive cxo solution you need to significantly improve your customer experience across channels. Whether you’re just starting out with testing or looking to take your program to the next level, use our questions as a guide in your decision making, and prove to your management teams that you’ve done your homework.

Did we miss anything? I’d love to hear what you all think about when considering the value of your cxo solution. Feel free to get in touch on LinkedIn and let me know what other questions come into play during your assessment.

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