Avinash Kausik posted an interesting article recently, in which he declared his preference for an evolutionary framework for digital marketing. We agree with Avinash in this point. Indeed, rarely do companies achieve success using shortcuts to digital marketing optimization. Poorly-conceived efforts at optimization naturally lead to failure. Often, resources become spread too thin as digital marketers pursue each and every shiny new object in the hopes of outsmarting and upending their competitors.
Digital Marketing Optimization Ladder
This picture of marketers trying to cover as much ground as possible (mobile, social, email, search, video, etc.) in the least possible time contrasts starkly with the concrete experience of highly optimized organizations. Based from his involvement with thousands of companies, Conversion Conference chair and conversion optimization expert Tim Ash created his own Conversion Maturity Model (shared during his keynote presentation at Conversion Conference Chicago and Boston 2013), which describes the linear fashion by which companies’ digital marketing optimization practices typically progress.
Tim observes that a culture of optimization has to be painstakingly built from the ground up. Most companies start at the bottom rung of the ladder and have to work their way up from unoptimized to basic CRO and to intermediate levels before they finally move on to having an advanced optimization approach. Similarly, Avast! Senior E-Commerce Specialist (Optimization) Michal Parizek affirms that the level of an organization’s conversion optimization maturity is reflected by its people, knowledge, tools, processes, activities, senior official buy-in or sponsorship, and testing strategy.
Evolution vs. Revolution: False Dichotomy
A step-by-step approach in conversion rate optimization, however, does not necessarily mean you should obsess over the small things. It is not an excuse to be contented with testing button colors or other minute details of your website and campaigns. That is fine when you’re just dipping your toe in the water, but can turn out to be counterproductive in the long haul. Too much conservatism can stall your optimization program or even render it obsolete in the context of a fast-changing technological and cultural environment.
Which means that “evolution vs. revolution” is a false dichotomy.
The key is to strike the right balance between caution and risk-taking. Digital marketing, as in most aspects of business, requires a degree of risk to grow and move forward. And that is where revolutions sometimes become necessary (and no, we’re not just saying this because the concept of revolution is sexy).
For digital marketers, the revolution begins with the willingness to identify weaknesses in their current beliefs and practices. It takes guts to excise and cut out bad and underperforming methods especially when these are well-entrenched in their departments or organizations (or, as Tim Ash is known to say, to admit that “your baby is ugly”). It demands the persistence and dedication to learn from one’s own mistakes (or that of others’) and continually refine approaches.
A revolutionary outlook that embraces change and fosters conditions for optimization-centric values and behaviors to flourish is sometimes just what is needed to propel the organization’s evolutionary potential forward.
Join us next year for Conversion Conference West San Francisco, March 17-19, 2014. Register by January 14 to enjoy Early Bird rates!