"Productivity is never an accident," businessman Paul J. Meyer once said. "It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort."
This observation is especially true as you plan your optimization roadmap. With time and resources always at a premium, it's critical to solidify your goals and long-term plans in a roadmap before you embark on a new optimization program. Here at Maxymiser, we've simplified the process of developing a roadmap into five straightforward steps.
There are many benefits to building out a roadmap. Doing so gives you and your team:
Step 1: Identify Business Goals
The first component of roadmap creation is the identification of your business goals. When you have a clear picture of your objectives, you can make decisions and take action on the basis of reaching them, which helps you work more wisely and purposefully. For example, when faced with a tough decision, an easy gut-check is to review your optimization program's goals and choose the option that puts you closer to achieving them.
Several things are important to note here. First, goals need both stability and flexibility: stability in the sense goals should not be changed after they are set, and flexibility in the sense that the methods you use to achieve these goals can change during the course of a roadmap period.
It is also key to make objectives for different areas of your site as well as for the site as a whole. A common example of this is making goals for different device experiences. If your business, for instance, receives 30% of its traffic through your mobile site, and your mobile site has different business goals from the desktop site, both these facts should be reflected in your roadmap. With these concepts in mind, start brainstorming ideas to incorporate into the roadmap; you will later use the campaign concepts to complete steps 2 through 5.
I recommend setting goals by starting from the top. What are the overarching goals for your company this quarter or year? What aspects of that goal can be reached through website optimization and personalization in the time period you're planning for? Based on the answers to these questions, determine your KPIs. Is your main goal to drive visitors deeper in the funnel? Is it to pinpoint major segments and target them with particular content? Don't focus on running a lot of tests; focus on running the right tests. Quality over quantity is what matters here.
At this stage you should also aim to gain executive buy-in on your goals. That way, you can be confident making decisions based on these goals in the next four steps.
Step 2: Incorporate Personalization
This is an ideal time to think about what your site is currently doing on the personalization front and what it could be doing better. Do you have a data team? Have you identified segments that perform different from the whole? Are you already targeting content to visitors who have certain characteristics? Where are the gaps in your site's personalized experience today? Once you've assessed your site's current capabilities, think of key areas you want test and improve with personalization. Leverage the segments and analytics you already have to create custom attributes for the tests.
If you don't have data on segments, consider running Maxymiser's Customer Impact Discovery campaigns to understand which segments have room for improvement. This tool monitors your visitors' behavior and identifies over- and under-performing segments. As you gain insight into your customers and user groups, iteratively test to target these visitors.
Step 3: Consider Traffic and Conversion Rates
At this point, you have some solid strategic backbones in place: You've solidified your main goals, know the role personalization will take, and have a list of ideas to make your campaign successful. Now, it's time to get into the nitty-gritty of roadmapping. You have to figure out the timing of your campaign: i.e., when, where, and for how long your tests will run, which will help you determine how many tests you can run in a given period of time.
How do you do this? By using the traffic and conversion rates on your site's (specifically, your test page's) primary metric. With accurate traffic and conversion data, we can utilize Maxymiser's resolution calculator to estimate how long your campaign will need to run in order to reach statistical significance.
There are four key aspects to how we determine data is statistically significant:
Step 4: Scope for Success
When calculating how long campaigns should last, clients often realize their campaign idea is too robust and will take too long to run given all their goals. It's also not unusual for business groups and stakeholders to try to squeeze new, additional goals into one campaign. But letting in these secondary ideas can harm your roadmap and lead to murky data caused by unnecessary metrics and variants. It is therefore important you pare down your test ideas to focus solely on your main goals. Relegate secondary ideas to other campaigns.
Scoping a campaign down reduces the time and energy you will ultimately need to manage it. Proper scoping expedites development and QA, simplifies test analysis, and clarifies findings. Since it's common to have to reduce the number of experiences in a campaign or break out multifaceted ideas into separate campaigns, I recommend putting placeholders in your roadmap where unforeseen or on-the-fly campaigns can be placed.
Step 5: Put Your Roadmap in Place
Now that you've created each of the pieces of your roadmap (i.e., the campaigns you plan to run), it's time to develop the framework that will hold these pieces. To do this, you'll need to know your company's broader business schedules. Aligning with other organizational timelines ensures your campaign will produce data as cleanly as possible—data that's not influenced by other factors, such as other marketing campaigns or promotions, events, website releases, and seasonality. It also helps you sync up with other departments and gain support from colleagues.
When putting your roadmap together, you should also consider which of your campaigns are tactical and which are strategic. Strategic tests are robust, requiring more time, thought, and resources than tactical tests (which means there's a limit to how many you can deploy in a roadmap). Strategic tests are campaigns that test a business theory to determine its impact on visitor behavior. For example, a strategic campaign could be a series of tests run at each step of the purchase funnel, with the goal of optimizing each step to drive more visitors to the next page. While the main KPI for each test is visitors who reach the next step, the overarching goal of this series is to drive an increase in purchase confirmations and revenue.
A tactical test is simpler and tends to focus on smaller aspects of the personalization experience: For example, it may be an experiment to see if moving a CTA above the fold will result in more people clicking it. Because tactical tests require less upfront work and development resources, you can run them fairly often in a roadmap's lifetime.
To drive the greatest ROI, use a combination of strategic and tactical campaigns in your roadmap. We all work to run campaigns that will have a huge impact on the bottom line, but every test contributes to a roadmap's success. The big wins are, well, big—and the small wins add up over time and translate into major business gains.
Remember the importance of creating a roadmap with the flexibility to accommodate changes in the plan. As long as you have strong goals as the backbone of your program, goals that are steadfast despite changing waters, you'll be successful—even if you have to adjust course along the way.
Charles Darwin said it best: "It's not the strongest or most intelligent who will survive, but those who can best manage change."