For businesses looking to make an impact, the coming years need to be a time of experimentation. It’s a time for thinking outside the box, testing out bold ideas to see what proves effective. Instead of relying on old stereotypes, this is a chance to get to know your customers afresh.
Expect the unexpected!
With so much change in the market, there is also an opportunity to go beyond CRO, and experiment with far bigger areas of your business structure and processes to discover what works in this brave new world.
The pandemic has reshaped a lot of how businesses function, from navigating disrupted supply chains to managing remote working, all alongside responding to ever changing consumer behaviour.
Businesses who want to get ahead this year need to be agile. There could be a new growth area right at your fingertips.
Rigorous testing is an established part of product development, and is a well-trodden path in the world of CRO. Many of the same principles used in product testing can apply to wider business experiments.
Thorough testing of every approach de-risks your marketing strategy and safeguards your ROI. It gives you confidence in where your money will be best spent, and allows you to experiment new initiatives without committing to them.
You can break down your business experiments into three core categories: desirability, viability and feasibility. Business experiments look at the operations of the business as a whole, taking in the entire customer journey to pinpoint areas for growth.
Here is an outline of these three key business experiment categories.
Desirability is the first question you want to answer - is there a genuine demand for your idea?
Before making changes to your business, you need to understand how desirable any particular change will be. Are you solving a real problem? If there’s no demand, you’re resources are better spent elsewhere.
One common strategy for product testing is the smoke test. Here you offer the new service or product to a customer with a call to action. However, the landing page would in fact be a “coming soon”, rather than the product itself. Hence the allusion to smoke and mirrors.
This method allows you to measure the impact of a new marketing strategy or new feature. You can test a variety of USPs to analyse their levels of importance for users, so you can prioritise and target your messaging as the new feature is rolled out.
Next - is your proposed idea actually achievable?
At the feasibility stage you are assessing whether the new idea is possible to achieve, and if it actually provides the solution to the problem.
In product testing, you might rely on an early-adopter program. You roll out the product to a select group of customers, giving them early access in exchange for detailed feedback on the product.
Or you may roll out a minimum viable product (MVP). This scaled down, low budget version of your final product will give users a taste of the product and give you a chance to respond to initial feedback, which you can then use to perfect the final version.
Similar principles can be applied to testing new business structures and services. Test proposed changes to get feedback on whether it works and to identify areas of improvement.
Finally - is it a worthwhile investment?
You need to assess whether the new change in your business will have a good ROI. Will it hit the KPIs you have in mind, and provide a tangible improvement to your bottom line?
It can be hard to assess ROI until something is up and running. Rolling out a small scale pilot is a great way to experiment with a new idea, without the need for a big up-front cost. Then you can analyse its effects, before making the full investment.
For example, if you’re an ecommerce brand looking to introduce new delivery options for your customers, you might select a small number of locations to roll it out in first. If you see the results you were looking for, you can then be confident in rolling it out to a wider audience. You could to A/B/C test several slightly different delivery options in different regions and compare the results.
Be bold, but balanced
To discover something really ground-breaking, you need to feel permission to be courageous in your experiments. Staying firmly within your comfort zone will only ever achieve you small incremental gains.
However, aim to find a balance by trying out a wide range of experiments. Include both cautious changes that you expect to work well as well as some wild ideas that could reveal something unexpected. This balanced approach will increase your chances of finding areas of improvement.