I frequently meet with CMOs that truly and passionately believe that their organisations are already performing at the peak of their capabilities. I tend to ask them a single question that tests that belief: "how many tests do you run per week?".
The levels of sophistication of organisations they lead is very much correlated with their answers. The companies that are in the biggest need of improvement tend not to even know the answer to my question. The best ones I have encountered over the past four years in Australia run tests in low teens.
Why is testing so important?
In our playbook of marketing the first step when setting up a test is figuring out what goal the test is trying to achieve. This makes any test a forcing mechanism for the team to clarify the focus of their efforts. The goals might be simple, for example "to increase the number of signups to the newsletter", with the test to achieve it as "to serve a pop-up collecting emails after a visitor has indicated they are engaged with the content". And if a goal is a worthwhile one, putting it in writing helps to create a structure to come up with other ideas to achieve it.
Connection between activity & results
It might sound like a cliche, but great organisations can be built on a very simple premise: "let's do more of what works, and less of what doesn't work". Once team members understand what activity they perform moves the needle, they will want to do more of it, and less of the things that do not. The problem in most organisations is that success is not defined, or tracked. Once testing framework is introduced, effort vs. results tradeoff can be easily identified.
Transparency of activity
The minute a goal and an accompanying test are written down, and some review structure is in place (e.g. a daily check-in), all members of the team are on the same page. "Transparency breeds efficiency" - discussing the results with the whole team improves the solutions as different members provide new angles, information and experiences. This in turn pushes the collective bar of the organisation and builds the institutional knowledge.
The most important part of testing is realising that however small the progress, every little bit of it counts. You may think that 1% improvement is not much, but if you manage to improve a given outcome by 1% every week, by the year end you would have improved it by 68%. That is why the most important thing to do is to start. And then keep going.
So about that single number...
There are many ways in which you can try to improve your marketing - many companies claim that they can revolutionise your customer engagement with a single silver bullet of their solution. We believe there is a better and more pragmatic do-it-yourself solution. Start with finding out from your team members on a Friday afternoon how many tests they have ran in the previous week. Then sum up those numbers and write the sum down on a big piece of paper (or a whiteboard) positioned in a place where everyone can see it. Then on a Monday morning challenge the team to beat that number. Then repeat the process.
If it sounds simple - it's because it is! Time investment: 15 mins. I can promise you that effectiveness of your marketing will improve drastically within a month. If it doesn't work, please comment below, and I will tell you why.