Why You Should Always Be Testing

Set it and forget it doesn’t work in e-commerce. Brands must always be testing their websites. 

Why, you might wonder, especially if things are working? If it’s not broken… well, you know. But the reality for e-commerce is that the market is constantly shifting, and if brand sites don’t shift along with it, conversion rates will crash. Websites shouldn’t be static. Experimenting, testing, learning, and adapting keeps e-commerce strategies ahead of the curve. 

Think about all of the moving factors that are directing traffic to your website: paid social, SEO, email marketing. These are constantly being tested and adapted to what’s working, so your website should be too. That’s the make-or-break moment – and if someone who clicks through to your site from an Instagram ad finds it hard to navigate, that could be an abandoned cart you never gain back.

It’s also never been more important to test than now. We’re in a post-cookie era, and companies that figure out how to best supplement their previous troves of third-party data with first-party data are poised to win. Think of your site as a data mine. Everyday, people come to your ecommerce store, click around, put items in carts, checkout, drop off. Every move they make is another data point. That is no longer just a customer, it’s a free audience to test. This should constantly be monitored, tracked and learned from in order to figure out how best to optimize for conversions. Once you start acquiring your own data about your customers, that can’t be taken away. Ready to start testing? 

Much To Gain

When you’re always testing, you’re able to make smarter decisions and react more quickly to things that might not be hitting the mark. One Acadia client used this method when monitoring the roll out of a new product. The brand tested different product names on its site and watched to see how each would perform. One name was a clear convertor – and it wasn’t the brand’s initial first choice. Since they tested both outcomes, they were able to switch the product name before the roll out and production. The client was also able to test and see how the new product was affecting sales: was it taking sales away from other products, or growing the pot for the whole line?

This saves companies time and money, by allowing them to see reactions and mismanaged moves before they leave a mark. Otherwise, months and plenty of missed sales would pass before they’d catch whatever wasn’t working. Testing is a crucial part of growing your business, reaching new customers and expanding your product line, and it lets your brand do so with agility. That’s the biggest advantage: staying on top of your competitors, by moving quickly. 

This practice also adds analysis and reason to what otherwise would seem like random moves and maneuvers. The only thing worse than a static website is one that’s being updated blindly, without understanding what’s working and what’s not. Data analysis offers insight into whether or not one product page headline or component is working better than another to convert sales, and all of that adds up to a clear picture of what your customer wants. 

Changing Tactics

The job of the CRO has become more intentional – and that’s where testing comes in. Without third-party data, these roles have to be more focused and understanding of what makes customers tick, using that firsthand data. Website testing will offer the insight needed to make those necessary chess moves. 

Looking ahead, the customer’s expectations are changing as well. People expect personalized e-commerce experiences. Think of the Amazon storefront: brands are able to tweak and customize these spaces, as well as their social media profiles. This mindset is extending more retailers’ e-commerce sites, from large down to small. We’re living in a more personalized world, and customer expectations are changing. Similar to how everyone now expects free shipping, people will soon expect more high-touch, personalized e-commerce sites. If companies aren’t incorporating this into their e-commerce strategies, they’ll fall behind. It comes down to setting yourself apart, knowing your brand mission and values and knowing your customers – and the best way to do that is to start collecting your audience data through constant testing. 

Brittany Flanagan and Jackie Kahn are CRO leads at Acadia.

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Brittany Flanagan and Jackie Kahn