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Setting Up Your Own Conversion Lab, Part 1
Every marketer needs their own marketing laboratory, that place that they go when they really want to understand something about their audience. This laboratory is their Bat Cave, their Fortress of Solitude. It is where they go to tinker with new zip-line guns and cars powered by jet engines. It is where they go to gain strength when things look bleak.
This is where an online marketer can take chances under controlled circumstances. This laboratory is often secret: it is either carefully hidden away or designed to avoid attracting attention.
In my next few articles, I’m going to help you set up your own conversion laboratory.
Why Do We Need A Laboratory?
Because conversion marketing is a momentum game. It requires trying things to find out what works best. It requires rapid question-test-analyze-question cycles. And sometimes we have to test unintuitive assumptions to understand our audience.
Without the lab, there are blocks to momentum.
IT has their gatekeepers that slow our testing cycles. Management wonders why we aren’t writing a press release or blog post.
While most marketing departments think they know best, our lab lets our visitors tell us what they want. This is powerful knowledge. There are some big wins to be found in the lab, especially at the beginning.
The Secret Laboratory
Your secret conversion lab should be set up with a few best practices to be successful.
Consistent measurement trumps accurate measurement. Conversion marketing means making decisions based on data. Analytics provide that data.
We aren’t interested in an analytics implementation that is accurate down to the visitor. Instead, we want analytics that are sufficiently correlated to reality.
This is scientist-speak for “when things change, our measurement changes by about the same amount.” When more people visit, our metric “visits” goes up by about the same percentage. It mirrors reality.
Don’t waste your precious time trying to get accuracy in measurement. Good enough is good enough.
Most analytics systems are easy to set up, or are competently integrated into most of the online services you’ll be using in your lab.
Equipment cost must be “under the expense line”. The secret lab is, by design, not going to be a budget line item. That defeats the purpose.
Instead, you need to select tools that are free or cheap enough to purchase and implement without going through the budget process. They need to be expensible.
Avoid IT obstacles. The equipment you use in your conversion lab must not require IT resources to set up and use. IT is too often a bottleneck.
We will be selecting tools that almost any marketer can use. With a little practice and some training videos, you will be able to implement almost any test you can imagine.
It should be highly automated. We must get our marketing duties done with excellence, so our conversion lab can’t take a large chunk of our precious time. If you’re off in the lab for hours at a time, people will begin to wonder. It draws attention.
We will be looking for tools that automate the lab, and solutions that collect and aggregate data for us.
Your efforts should not harm the live web site. Our goal is to become better at marketing for our companies. As such, we should do no harm. Our lab should not:
- Violate company brand guidelines
- Compete with corporate sites on the search engines
- Take significant financial chances
- Violate compliance requirements in regulated industries
- Circumvent or disregard your company’s privacy and permission policies
Basically, we want to do small tests, learning things we can use to help the company sell more and dominate online.
Beakers, Chemicals And Bunsen Burners
Next time, in Your Secret Conversion Lab, Part 2, we’ll equip your conversion lab with the tools you need to run experiments in rapid succession.
In the mean time, you should be thinking about what you would try if you had your own marketing skunkworks. Would you test an email or a landing page? Is there a burning question that you just haven’t bee able to answer?
Let us know your most burning questions in the comments.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.