Many studies have shown that testing and optimizing your website’s conversion rates can have an enormous positive impact on your online revenue. For example, WikiJob reported a 34% increase in sales by testing adding testimonials to their website!
And optimizing your website means your online marketing efforts, like pay per click (PPC) and social media marketing, will be more profitable because your clicks will convert much more frequently.
But, unfortunately, you may have found that testing and optimizing your website aren’t as easy as you thought, and you likely aren’t getting the big conversion rate lifts expected, either. Often, one of the key reasons for this is a lack of website testing buy-in and budget from senior executives.
These influential people sometimes are referred to as HiPPOs (highest paid person’s opinion); and, in many instances, they believe they know what is best for their website. Therefore, they don’t feel the need for (or understand the benefits of) running website tests.
Further, these HiPPOs also usually hold the keys to the ample budget you need for two testing essentials. First, you need some funds to use a good website testing tool (Visual Website Optimizer, at the very least). Second, you need to hire dedicated testing resources because using a web analyst or online marketer is inefficient and causes bottlenecks. We all know what happens when you make an employee wear too many hats! Without a good budget for either of these, it severely impacts the efficiency and potential results of your website testing efforts.
So, if you manage to tame your HiPPOs and grow your testing buy-in and budget, this may result in much higher conversion rates and greater revenue from your website tests. To help you do this, here are 7 strategies and tips for you to consider. These are broken down into two key areas: education and peer pressure. Let’s get started!
1: Prove your competitors are testing their websites.
One of the simplest ways to educate your HiPPOs is to show them that your competitors are getting great results from testing their websites. Senior executives certainly won’t like knowing that a competitor is doing something new and cool that they aren’t (much like keeping up with the Joneses). There are two ways to do this:
- Find out which competitors are running website testing using a free debugger tool like WASP and check to see if they are using a website testing tool.
- Look on testing tool vendor websites to find case studies about your competitors’ testing efforts. (Maxymiser and Visual Website Optimizer have great sections for this in particular.) These highlight the return on investment (ROI) and great results from testing (more on this later) and act as great education ammo!
2: Create a presentation to demonstrate the impact of testing on revenue.
You wouldn’t invest in something if you didn’t think it was going to get great results, would you? No. And neither would your senior executives. Accordingly, you should create a presentation outlining why understanding and investing in testing is a great idea for ROI. Here are some tips for doing this:
- Research the potential by using your web analytics data to find problematic pages with high bounce and exit rates.
- Show them mockups of elements that could be improved on problematic pages to increase conversion rates, along with projected conversion lifts.
- Translate conversion rates into revenue! Senior executives probably won’t care much about conversion rates in isolation. Turn this into something they really care about – the impact on revenue! A 2% increase in conversion rates sounds pretty boring and low; but if you translate it into revenue, it often turns into huge increases in online revenue (music to their ears).
- Calculate and show them the projected overall ROI from running website testing for just 6 months, and include how long it would take to break even from the increased budget you are seeking.
- If they don’t listen to you, you could try using a third-party testing expert to do this for you. With the added credibility of an external consultant’s opinion, your HiPPOs may be more likely to agree than if you present it as a solo and internal undertaking.
3: Learn better ways to communicate with them and deal with office politics.
Bosses can be a real pain to work with sometimes, particularly if they are opinionated HiPPOs. To help you get them on your testing wavelength, it’s important to learn how to deal with office politics and to influence them better. There are a few great books that I recommend for this specifically:
- Lead Your Boss by John Baldoni
- Secrets to Winning at Office Politics by Marie McIntyre
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
4: Ask to borrow from your search engine marketing (SEM) budget to prove results.
Often your search engine optimization (SEO) or PPC team will have a very large budget to spend. So a great way to suggest an increase in the testing budget is to ask to “borrow” just 10% of their budget for a short term. To help you explain this disparity in budget, you should tell them that a recent survey showed that, for every $92 spent driving traffic to websites, only $1 is spent converting visitors once they are on the sites.
Before you do this, get the head of SEM on your side by explaining what you are trying to do. Be sure they understand that the purpose is to make the company more profitable, which is better for everyone. Then get them to help you convince your HiPPOs of this plan.
Obtaining just 10% of their budget for 6 months gives you enough time to get a few big testing wins under your belt and report back with clear metrics on the gains and ROI realized from the investment, thereby proving the need for an increase in the testing-related budget.
Peer Pressure Them
5: Find an executive sponsor to help.
One of the most influential forms of peer pressure comes from someone at a similar executive level. Your HiPPOs are going to be much more willing to listen to and value input from their level. If you can find an executive sponsor to help champion the benefits and get testing pushed through, it will be much easier to gain buy-in from your HiPPOs. Figure out who in your organization might make an ideal candidate for this sponsor responsibility and discuss your plans with them over lunch. Get them excited by pointing out that, ultimately, it will make them look great, too!
6: Gain buy-in from key department heads to help.
In addition to an executive sponsor, it’s important to gain additional help and pressure from key department heads. Present to them the benefits of testing and optimization and the impact it can have on your business. (Higher revenue often means more bonuses for them, too!)
It’s particularly important to get this buy-in from department heads that play a key role in optimization; for example, web design and IT. This will make it even easier for you to test effectively and efficiently.
7: Find other testing evangelists internally to help.
Finally, to help with your HiPPO peer pressure, you need to find testing evangelists at lower levels of your organization, too. You often will find sympathetic web designers or web developers who understand the real benefits of testing. So keep your ear to the ground to find out about potential evangelists. Then offer to take them out to lunch and explain what you are trying to do and that you need to get everyone talking about the benefits of testing.
If you are successful with this last step of peer pressure and evangelism, pretty soon a testing culture will grow rapidly in your organization, and your HiPPO will be more than willing to relent and offer their buy-in!
If you start using these education and peer pressure methods with great success, it won’t be long before your HiPPOs turn into mice that are much more willing to increase their budget and buy-in for your testing efforts. This means you will be able to be much more influential and successful with your website testing efforts (and, hopefully, gain a bigger bonus for you, too!)
About the Author: Rich Page is a passionate website testing and conversion rate expert and the author of Website Optimization: An Hour a Day and co-author of the 2nd edition of Landing Page Optimization with Tim Ash. He is a consultant available for hire to help improve conversion rates for all types of online businesses.