In todays digital landscape, customer preferences, technologies, and market dynamics are in a constant state of flux, adaptability and innovation have become the cornerstones of success. Digital leaders are actively seeking ways to improve, refine, and stay ahead of the competition.
One powerful strategy that has gained prominence is experimentation, or more importantly, adopting a continuous process of experimentation. So, we’re exploring four reasons why your business should be prioritising experimentation within your digital roadmap:
1. Fail fast to innovate
As Thomas Edison once said; ‘the real measure of success is the number of experiments that can be crowded into 24 hours.’ While website development is not exactly equal to inventing the lightbulb, the sentiment that digital innovation and growth can be achieved through relentless experimentation applies. Companies like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft conduct thousands of experiments to ensure they learn through controlled testing. Even with a high failure rate, regular experiments lead to valuable insights that can eventually be integrated into, or eliminated from, existing platforms.
Google, for example, has relied on experimentation for years to fuel its ambition to be the best search engine. Erick Schmidt, Google’s former CEO, commented on the scale of Google’s experimentation programme at a 2011 Senate subcommittee hearing:
“...in 2010 we conducted 13,311 precision evaluations to see whether proposed algorithm changes improved the quality of its search results…”.
Ultimately, only 516 changes were determined to be useful to users based on the data and, therefore, only these made it to Google’s algorithm.
In other words, even Google’s experts, who are no doubt the best that money can buy, had only 3.88% success rate from experiments. But it is this exact capability to test everything at a huge scale that gave Google its advantage against competitors such as Bing.
2. Cost saving and risk mitigation
Experimentation is rarely considered as a method of cost cutting.
All web development is costly but only a fraction (between 10%-30%) of development changes prove to be commercially valuable. Often, there is no way of knowing the value of a development change to a website in advance. Extensive testing not only helps identify the wins but also potential changes that lack financial value or have neutral impact, preventing budget waste and optimising resource allocation.
At Microsoft, 80% of all changes are tested (this excludes some obvious bug fixes, platform, or infrastructure upgrades). Testing their web changes this extensively has revealed that only one-third are effective, one-third are neutral, and one-third have negative results.
At UNRVLD, we see experimentation as a more intelligent way of working on web development, pre-testing everything from overhauls of critical page components to smaller changes such as button style. We run strategic development programmes for our clients, using experimentation to drive our understanding of commercial impact before committing the full resource to develop new features. After all, why spend time and money on building something that has no commercial impact.
3. Operational excellence
Modern cutting-edge tools alone don't guarantee the success of experimentation programmes. We’ve found that existing processes, organisational structure, and culture also play a crucial role. Therefore, it is important to explore utilising cross-functional teams and adapting existing tools rather than coordinating a separate experimentation process and investing in brand new systems.
At UNRVLD, we help our clients embed experimentation into their current web development practice, adapting tools where possible to handle experimentation and operating as part of an already established wider group. Reorganising in this way increases experiment velocity, reduces developer needs and maximises utilisation of all resources across the company to improve performance.
4. Put your money where the data tells you
Too often, brands spend hundreds or millions of pounds per month on paid traffic channels and zero on conversion optimisation. In a world where marketers are pressured to report monthly on ROI, it is difficult to recognise conversion optimisation as a valid activity purely because it is not a quick win tactic. However, as Google search advertising prices continue to rise (on average 30% per annum), it is important to re-evaluate where budgets are allocated. It is often overlooked that even small improvements in conversion rate on a product landing page can have a monumental impact on the performance of a paid advertising campaign.
Most of the time, this CRO oversight is because many companies are struggling with figuring out what to test and where. From experience, this information is usually hidden in plain sight within website analytics or screen recordings. Our experimentation specialists know what to look for within your website data and can scrutinise your customer journey to decipher high value test areas on your website. We then help build conversion rate optimisation programmes to instill a culture change within your business that will ultimately drive revenue.
Experimentation is more than a buzzword; it's a fundamental strategy for digital leaders seeking growth, cost savings, operational excellence, risk mitigation, data-driven decision-making, innovation, and competitive advantage. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, investing in experimentation will become as standard practice as hosting for businesses.
Learn how the world's biggest headwear brand use experimentation to drive more revenue and create an optimised customer experience.