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Getting Started with Web Experimentation

Much like the early days of social media, digital experimentation is a rapidly expanding practice that promises to make big waves in the marketing world.

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  • Digital Optimization
  • Strategy
  • Thoughts

When social media first entered the conversation around digital communication, no one could have predicted how it would affect the future of marketing. What, at the time, seemed like a self-centered exercise has become a significant driver of trends, where budgets and staff are exclusively dedicated to social media strategy.

It didn’t happen overnight. When I first learned about the marketing benefits of social media in one of my college classes, there wasn’t much to study. Social media as a marketing tool was still a newer concept. It felt a bit like the Wild West; there weren’t many defined best practices, no rules, and companies were still determining how to make it work for their brand.

Fast forward to today: social media is not optional. Moreover, it’s so crucial that it’s now regulated and governed by laws protecting consumers.

We’re in a similar position today with digital experimentation. The practice of web testing is still in that “how do we use this” phase,  just like social media was a decade or more ago. But it’s only a matter of time before it clicks. Some businesses are championing experimentation — and have been for a while now — and are doing it well.

However, figuring out the first step can be daunting for those trying to get started.

Sometimes, the best thing to do is just do it. Here are some suggestions for your first three steps.

  1. Understand the practice. Remember that statistics class you swore you’d never use in real life? Now’s the time to refresh your memory. While web experimentation tools handle the hard statistics equations for you, it’s still important to understand the underlying concepts. Terms like statistical significance, multivariate testing, and confidence interval will show up a lot. For more background, check out Stefan H. Thomke’s Experimentation Works, a crash course on becoming a champion for experimentation.
  2. Get the team onboard. You can’t take web experimentation on alone. Implementing an experimentation practice will require an internal shift in process and a team commitment to letting data, instead of personal opinions, drive decision-making.  
  3. Form a repeatable process. The way to make an experimentation practice succeed is to stick with it. Find a way to make it the norm. Before launching your practice, outline a new process or find a way to adjust current processes. The goal is to make this an intricate part of your everyday.

Web experimentation may not have the glitz and glamour of social media, but its importance to the future of digital communication might be just as significant. Start taking a few steps now to keep ahead of the curve.