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How to Bat 1000 When Vetting Vendors

Whether you’re looking to evaluate a vendor before you sign a contract or are already in a contract and want to experiment with website content, it can be immensely valuable to work with a third-party vendor to build optimization tests or add personalized features to your site. But if you’re choosing between vendors, how do you know which one to pick? Test them and know what they can do for you before deciding.

If You Want Something Done Right, You Don’t Always Have to Do It Yourself

Companies often find themselves having many different vendors to choose between when it comes to adding features to their site for optimization. It doesn’t really matter what you’re looking to do—add pop-ups, use Google ads, or even list competitors’ prices next to your own. At the end of the day, you must test each vendor before including them in your optimization plans, because that’s the only way to know if your two companies are a good collaborative match.

Test Them Before You Sign a Contract

Let’s say, for example, you’re a retailer with interest in adding an online chat pop-in window that enables visitors to engage with a customer service representative during non-peak hours. You peruse multiple possible vendors and eventually find one that seems to suit your needs. Before signing a contract, though, you ask this vendor to enter into a POC, which gives it the chance to prove its capabilities by working with your optimization platform (and teams!) to actualize your vision.

What if, while testing this online chat pop-in, your optimization team discovers the code the vendor provided does not, in fact, trigger a pop-in? And what if, after the vendor alters the code to attempt to solve this problem, the pop-in does appear—but is not styled the way you specifically outlined? These challenges could be unique to this vendor, and you’d probably like to know about them before entering a contract.

Certain challenges can be unique to certain vendors, and you’d probably like to know about them before entering a binding contract.

But evaluation periods don’t always cause negativity! What if the opposite to the above happens, and although a few issues arise, the vendor is overall easy to work with, responsive to your concerns, easily integrated into your optimization platform, and—best of all—capable of making an end-product that fits your specifications, achieves your goals, and fits your needs? Perhaps then you’ve discovered a trustworthy, long-term vending solution.

You have to run a test with a potential vendor. If you don’t, you risk not knowing if it’s a good fit for your organizational culture and plans.

Know What They Can Do for You

You should also clearly understand what a third-party company can do for you, how it can do it, and what the ROI would be for your business if it did. After all, once you’ve vetted and chosen a vendor, the next step is to run campaigns that let you best utilize the additional content and functionality that vendor gives you. Campaigns can test all sorts of things, including the style, format and location of copy, images, calls-to-action, and more; the goal, of course, is to test changes in website content to find the experiences that yield the most conversions for each of your segments.

In this case, let’s say you’re an airline company currently struggling with online travel agencies (OTAs) stealing your purchasers because they claim to have lower rates. While you know recent studies show these “lower rates” are a myth, you don’t know how to best give visitors this information without intruding in their buyer journey. (For more on this, check out our interactive guide, “Three Ways Travel Brands Can Win With Testing” for web and mobile.)

It helps to first clearly understand what a vendor can do for you, how it can do it, and what the ROI would be for your business if it did.

A third-party vendor could help you here in a wide range of ways. You could use it to help you build and improve your customer segments, perhaps employing a smart juxtaposition of demographic data: People who live on the U.S. east coast are more likely to travel abroad when it’s coldest, between November and February, and could constitute a perennial, limited-time segment based on season and location.

A vendor could also build the algorithms that enable you to geotarget at all and embed these in your code. It could help you gather more data about your visitors, which is useful given trip-bookers behave differently based on age and gender. (More men say booking a hotel is their top priority, for example, and more men travel alone.) A vendor could also help you pinpoint the best moment in the buying process for customers to be shown a price comparison between your airline and OTAs.

Long story short? Seek third-party help if your company needs more resources or expertise to make its CXO plans come to life—but evaluate potential vendors to ensure they’re capable, responsive, and aligned with your vision.

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