Joe Stanhope, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, took the stage at Engage yesterday to provide a keynote on “Optimization: A Look Ahead” followed by an all-star panel of brands discussing “The Customer Perspective: Essential Optimization Strategies @ Work.”

Joe began by stating that Optimization (online testing and targeting)  should be a core capability for any competent analytics program. The world is not intuitive and we cannot guess as to what will resonate with our customers and prospects. As Joe says, “If you can test it you can optimize it.”

Yet, we are only at the beginning of the Optimization revolution. Traditional approaches are site-centric and focused on conversion pieces and customer experience.  However, the new customer journeys are no longer in swim lanes mostly onsite, they move around from one touchpoint to the next. Consumers expect to be able to interact with companies at any time, from any device. This creates a huge challenge for companies, as well as huge opportunities. This is where the focus lies in the future of Optimization.

Joe outlined a few key factors for every company to keep in mind:

Multi-channel Optimization is real. There is an increase in the adoption of mobile and social optimization to understand the experience on new devices and form factors. We need to understand new usable patterns and interaction types to inform how we interact with consumers throughout their journeys.

Collaboration support. Optimization is process-driven but users struggle to put processes in place. Collaboration drives the effectiveness of optimization programs, especially in enterprises where multiple departments can share their experiences and ideas around optimization. There is also a growing need to support increasingly non-technical users. New solutions should support workflow and administration to enable better collaboration.

Consumer-driven Optimization. Optimization needs to make a holistic customer view available. Expect to see more native functionality that aligns audience targeting and success metrics at the visitor level.

Optimization is resource intensive. Resource constraints inhibit the growth of optimization within organizations. Optimization will evolve to include automation and user support to execute processes, as well as provide better reporting and analytics that identifies patterns of behavior and offers recommendations for next steps. Automated segment discovery will uncover valuable groups of consumers to target with relevant content and help guide the flow of content to visitors.

Joe concluded with 3 suggestions for organizations considering Optimization:

  1. Optimization is mandatory
  2. Optimize customer experiences, not just channels or conversion points
  3. Create an optimization roadmap today!

Next, a stellar panel of Optimization experts (all Webtrends customers)  joined Joe immediately following his keynote:

The Benefits of optimization for these panelists included:

  • Making it faster to find content (60% increase in clickthrough to games when icons are characters rather than game types at Sprout Online).
  • Product registrations for Whirlpool were made easier to increase customer satisfaction.
  • Ogilvy was able to segment users based on information they provide to tailor experience with relevant content.
  • KLM/Air France needed to manage customer satisfaction by identifying consumer-driven relevance of content rather than having online experience be driven by the intuition of marketers.

Each of the panelists started small to learn how to test and what to test, then ramped their programs.  KLM realized it could be better to tests small things and see cumulative results rather than going after larger tests. Eventually, testing became part of the culture and part of the process for launching any new content or products.  Sprout started with sign-up registration. This was a small test that yielded a 7% increase in registrations and thus allowed marketing a 7% increase of respondents to remarket to. Sprout has now moved from optimizing simple elements to buyflows and user experience. Whirlpool started with single tests to learn how to work with optimization and built up to running multiple tests simultaneously.

Panelists agreed that mobile testing should be a part of any program, including social, since so much of social occurs over mobile. There is a tendency to optimize toward a single click since so many mobile users have limited real estate and often limited time to spend. Sprout will be testing mobile apps as they are rolled out. They have a single user identifier across channels that will allow the to track users as they move from one digital touchpoint to the next and inform overall programs. Each of the panelists recognized the importance of testing on mobile, but are early in the process.

These esteemed Webtrends customers are all recognizing the value of optimization and growing their online testing and content targeting programs to increase the scope and pace of testing throughout their customers’ journeys. Pretty exciting stuff!