While there are benefits to going after the easiest goals and running simple tests—i.e., reaching for low-hanging optimization fruit—it may be more rewarding to run complex tests. Below, we explain why.
Defining the Terms
People say the terms “low-hanging fruit” and “high-hanging fruit” a lot in business, but it’s worth discussing them earnestly in relation to optimization strategy. When building out your roadmap and prioritizing your testing campaigns, it’s valuable to look at your test ideas in terms of what’s easier to achieve and what’s harder to achieve. This difference is the essence of low-hanging versus high-hanging fruit.
Let’s go into a little more detail about these terms. A low-hanging fruit campaign involves making a simple change to a test page that has a pretty clear problem, and creating a campaign around testing this change will likely generate decent ROI. An example might be a call to action button both is dull in color and shows up below the fold on most pages. Running a multivariate test (MVT) campaign that tests the placement of color of this button—say, making its color red instead of gray, and moving it above the fold—will probably give you a new, winning experience.
A high-hanging fruit campaign aims to resolve a more complex issue, one in which cause and effect isn’t so obvious or streamlined. It may, for example, try to determine if changing a product’s price will increase revenue, or if reducing the number of steps in the checkout process will decrease dropoff.
High-hanging fruit campaigns take more time and effort to build, since their tests analyze page elements and customer behavior in a less simple way. They’re also more challenging for developers, who often have to interact with a company’s backend system to run them. However, they also have the potential to generate greater ROI than low-hanging fruit campaigns. Such is the nature of risk and reward.
Go Out on a Limb
This leads us to the natural next question: “Is it worth reaching for high-hanging fruit?” Is it worth the extra challenge and complexity? On this one I side with former President Jimmy Carter, who once advised, “Go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.”
While we typically think of risk-return tradeoff in a financial context, it’s just as relevant to your testing program when deciding what “fruit” to reach for. It’s clear that CXO is a worthwhile investment for companies in this day and age—just check out the latest Demand Metric report, which found 61% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company that delivers custom content. Each campaign you run is an investment decision, and all of your campaigns together represent the investment your company is making in optimization.
Like many things in business (and in life), balancing challenges and even uncertainty within your CXO roadmap is an art, not a science. Each organization has its own level of risk tolerance, and it’s important you find a happy medium that lets you test drastic, revenue-driving changes while also not upsetting the apple cart.
Beating the Challenges
There are lots of ways to overcome the extra challenges that come with reaching for high-hanging fruit. The best strategy is to do more analysis in the earlier phases of your campaign, when you are still figuring out your goals, needs, and KPIs.
Another strategy is to ground your campaign ideas in educated guesses based on user testing, survey feedback, and other analytics. This increases the odds your tests will actually drive more revenue than the default experience. Most companies are already armed with the data they need to make informed hypotheses that can guide and support testing.
You can also simplify a high-hanging fruit campaign by scoping it to match the traffic and conversion rates of your test pages. By calculating how long your campaign needs to run based on its scope, you can pare it down, so that it reaches statistical significance in a short but reasonable amount of time (we often aim for two weeks.) That way, if you’re unsure how customers will react to the changes you’re testing, they actually won’t see those changes for very long before you have enough data to reach a conclusion.
Don’t be afraid to reach for the high-hanging fruit! While it’s more challenging to go out on a limb to run a test campaign, you might find yourself rewarded with greater ROI and better test results.