In a race to gain competitive advantage and improve visitor experience, website optimisation has proliferated in the past two years as companies try to ensure that their digital properties are as effective as possible.

Optimisation is no longer just the ‘button testing’ of earlier years – it’s become much more sophisticated. Now, with a well-developed optimisation strategy, a wealth of information can be gathered from individual website interactions to help reduce friction, improve conversion and increase profitability.

As part of this this optimisation boom, a raft of self-service tools have come into the market, offering what seems like a quick-fix, where the promise of customer experience nirvana is within easy reach. Don’t get me wrong – there are several areas where this type of solution will help, but interpreting the results still requires understanding the basics of site testing, whether that’s simple A/B or more complicated multivariate. To get real value and to make the most of any tool, a good grounding in web analytics makes a marked difference. This is often a specialised skill that many companies don’t have in-house.

To facilitate this, there are managed-service offerings – either an agency or a software company provides a bespoke solution where it takes care of everything. Those experts make suggestions as to what to test, design the right content, build each test and deliver the results and advice around the success of the tests. This will enable you to determine if you should permanently implement the winner of the tests onto your site. Services like these are very useful if you do not have either the in-house analytics expertise or enough optimisation expertise.

So which is better: a self-service tool or a managed-service offering? The answer depends on your circumstances.

To get started using optimisation tools effectively, you need to know what to test and that takes expertise. You could of course go out and hire the talent yourself, but unfortunately, experienced optimisation consultants are hard to find and can be expensive to employ. If you hand the job to a junior marketer, they can learn, but it’s not just understanding how to use the tools, but how to understand what to test and why, how to make the best use of the various options of optimisation and how to coherently build a strategy.

To hand it over to a third party may appear like a fast start, but you don’t want expensive optimisation consultants doing the basic testing. Whilst they are likely to generate a reasonable volume, you should be using them for the more complex optimisation areas such as funnel optimisation and personalisation.

The right answer is one that helps you build expertise on your own team, allowing them to do the simpler testing whilst using external experts to build the strategy, train your own people and work on the more complicated tasks. But choose your experts carefully: optimisation is all about understanding the data – and not just trend data. As customers demand more personalised experiences from your digital properties, interpreting user-level data and creating the optimal experience (often in real time) becomes a vital function for your organisation. That’s why it’s so important to get the right team together – both inside and outside your own walls.

If you’d like to learn more about optimisation at Webtrends Optimize, please contact us.