Having worked with a number of digital marketers over the years, I've noticed a recurring challenge among those eager to make positive change -- their momentum is broken when it comes to getting buy-in. This is especially true of launching testing programs. Multivariate testing is often uncharted territory for many, so they don’t understand it or its potential benefits. Why would they get on board? And why would they spend the money?


Of course, you understand that an effective testing program can uncover where potential customers and sales are lost and found. And that it reveals the money your company could be making right now, but isn't.

But your colleagues haven’t done the same research you have. Not only that, getting management, marketing and IT to see eye-to-eye can also be a challenge. In order to get buy-in for any program, you need to be prepared to educate your colleagues about how the proposed changes will directly solve the problems at hand. Even more, you may even need to convince them that there is a problem in the first place.

Basically, you've got your work cut out for you. Here are six ways to state your case and bring skeptical stakeholders into the fold:

1. Make it Hurt

The first thing you’ll want to do is point out the current pain points on your site (online or mobile). Are visitors bolting as soon as they arrive? Are they completing the purchase process, or simply browsing aimlessly? Are they exploring everything you have to offer or just picking up one or two specific items? Do customers come back after their initial purchase or are they one-trick-ponies?

Be bold -- use strong graphics, charts, video clips, whatever it takes. But make sure the visuals are backed up by solid info on the key performance indicators that will speak to your audience. This means things like bounce rate, cart abandonment rate, search engagement and average order value. Once your decision-makers realize there are problems to be solved, they’ll be more open to the idea of a testing program that can fix them.

2. Reveal Hidden Treasures

As we all know, money is a great motivator. Calculate how much money is being lost by maintaining the status quo, then show how much more money the company could be making if a testing program was implemented. Show screenshots of various site pages with a breakdown of potential revenue to be gained.

3. Everybody’s Doing It… So Why Aren't We?

Peer pressure is another go-to tactic for getting reluctant executives to embrace change. Gather evidence of testing results from other respected, successful organizations in your field by scouring business publications, LinkedIn, public case studies, blogs and so forth.

Nobody likes to be left behind -- if stakeholders see other businesses are implementing test programs to their benefit, it’s more likely they’ll want to do the same. And if competition’s already ahead of the game, even better for you. (Although the alternative is that they’re not and you can beat them to the chase.)

4. Be Ready to Refute IT Objections

You may get some opposition from development teams on the necessity of further site testing, especially if they've already measured for usability and other qualitative factors. They may consider testing their domain, and not appreciate any input from the marketing department.

Address these concerns by speaking their language and giving them concrete information they can grasp. Don’t just have a verbal discussion -- provide all those statistical facts in writing, in terminology they know and use. Point out that shifting the responsibility of site testing to marketing frees up IT time and manpower to work on other projects. And PS: a really good testing vendor will do a great job of fighting this battle for you.

5. Point out Brand Awareness

Branding plays a critical role in e-Commerce; to some key decision makers, brand awareness and perception are the most important factors in web conversions. To get these folks on your side, ask for input on how customers relate to the brand as a whole -- and utilize that information in further site tests. Provide examples of how testing can further emphasize and promote the brand to certain desired audience segments.

6. If You Never Try, You’ll Never Know

Finally, propose a trial run -- a limited test, shown to a small percentage of page traffic. Be sure to track key data points like visitor stats, cost per conversion, and abandonment rates. Once the results are gathered, share them with various departments throughout the company. As more co-workers find out what’s going on, your potential support base will become even larger.

Following these six steps will get the important stakeholders in your organization to understand exactly what’s needed in order to create positive change -- and thereby be more willing to buy in on that testing program. Such strong company-wide support can ensure that your initial trial run becomes an ongoing culture of testing.

Image courtesy of Sergey Nivens (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: To read more of Mark's suggestions for creating a great website, check out 4 Website Areas to Optimize for Smooth Sailing Experiences