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4 Steps to the Best Roadmap Ever

If you want to make optimization easier and more profitable for your organization (and let’s face it—who doesn’t?), you have to build an effective roadmap for testing. A successful roadmap isn’t built overnight, though. Before you build, you have to take four steps into consideration: goal setting, KPI selection, barrier identification, and prioritization. I’ll explain each of these four steps below.

1. Set Your Goals

Every roadmap has a destination. What’s yours? Why are you testing? What are your end goals? It’s crucial to answer these questions before you start roadmapping. Always remember: You can have multiple goals! While revenue is often a key driver behind roadmap creation, there are many factors that drive dollars—and it’s not always sales. Good customer service, for example, helps many organizations stay profitable; the longer a customer is a customer, the better.

Think about your business’s goals beyond the obvious. Dig deep into the smaller elements that make up those goals. Your brand, for instance, may want to optimize the online experience it gives a certain segment of customers—but why does your brand want to optimize in the first place? Why that segment? These are common questions for companies to grapple with, and their answers vary from sector to sector (and, of course, business to business).

Retailers might see their goal as increasing sales. Airlines may want to increase upsells, like trip add-ons (e.g., car rentals or hotel rooms). Banks might be optimizing to raise the number of savings accounts that customers open. Online brokerage firms may want to boost the number of trades people make. Insurance companies could be aiming to increase policy premiums.

These are just examples. My big point here is that, no matter the industry you play in, you must understand the goal you’re working toward inside and out before you start making a roadmap that will govern how you test.

2. Identify Your KPIs

Hold on, though! What’s the point of determining your goals if you have no way of knowing if and when you’ve reached them? Pinpointing your KPIs is the next step in the process. Just as important as naming your objectives is having a way to measure them. If you can’t make out any uplift in your numbers, then your roadmap—and all of your optimization efforts—won’t matter at the end of the day (harsh as it sounds).

If your goal is to increase sales (to borrow my retailer example from earlier), there are lots of KPIs you can measure: Average customer spend, sell through rate, and gross/net margin are just a few. Later on, you’ll have to determine the importance of these KPIs and rank them against each other (prioritization). For now, though, it helps to simply identify the factors you want to measure.

3. Understand Your Barriers

With your goals and KPIs set, it’s time to focus on the roadmap itself. How will you construct it? Ideally, a roadmap addresses the main challenges people encounter in their customer journey. These challenges are “barriers” to a successful funnel, and they can occur during any phase or at any point in the journey.

On your website, look for barriers around ease of use. Are the log-in fields obvious for people who want to access their account? Is it easy for people to get to the sections that interest them? Is the site built more for current subscribers than prospects? Look to your teams and your customer data to figure out the answers these kinds of questions.

For example: Your data may show that while you have lots of new signups, the same users visit your site without logging in. This could indicate visitors intend to log in to purchase products or services, but can’t. Your customer success team could validate this theory if they explain that lots of people call to ask for help logging in.

Barriers also change depending on the devices people use. You should therefore try to understand how and why visitors interact with your site differently on iPhones than they do on Androids, tablets, and desktops.

4. Prioritize Your Campaigns

Since your goals, KPIs, and barriers will all greatly influence your roadmap, this last step is critical. Now, you have to prioritize the importance of all the factors you’ve identified.

A roadmap is comprised of many campaigns, each of which can focus on different goals, KPIs, and barriers. But what goals will make the impact you want, as fast as you need it to happen by? What KPIs should you weight more heavily than others? What barriers are the most detrimental to the success of your business? You have to hierarchize your campaigns based on where you want to focus (what part of the funnel), how you want to focus (short-term or long-term), on whom you want to focus (prospects or customers), and other factors. Businesses no longer in the black, for instance, often build a roadmap that starts with a campaign “to stop the bleeding,” which focuses on maximizing revenue in the short term.

Which campaign is run first is often determined by the HIPPO: the highest paid person’s opinion. This means your power can be limited. Your argument, however, doesn’t have to be! If you want to make a case for which campaign should be run, collect data points to support the goals, KPIs, and barriers you think are key. For example, if 300,000 people visit your brand’s homepage and only 1,000 visit the product page, tell the right people the truth: Tests will make a potentially much bigger impact on your homepage than the product page.

And You’re Off!

With these four pieces of groundwork laid, you’re ready to build a hard-hitting roadmap for your brand’s optimization efforts. Prioritize your reasons for testing, then run tests based on reaching the goals and knocking down the barriers you’ve identified. Keep an eye on your KPIs along the way: If your testing doesn’t yield the results you need, you can guide your roadmap back on track by reprioritizing your objectives and challenges.

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