Tony Doty

Marketing Careers: 3 steps for using testing principles to improve office productivity

August 2nd, 2013

Here at MECLABS, we talk a lot about the testing process.

How to optimize and improve emails, landing pages, lead generation forms, shopping carts … all things Web. But, the testing process isn’t just a way to improve website performance. The general principles are transferrable to so much more.

One thing I’ve been particularly interested in recently is how to use testing to improve office and employee productivity.

Consider you’re a manager and have an employee who has been having problems meeting deadlines.

What do you do?


Step #1. Identify the problems with productivity

You’ve already identified the overall problem – missing deadlines.

Most people immediately jump to solutions and try to answer this question: “How do I get this employee to stop missing deadlines?”

Obviously, it’s because they need more resources, right? Maybe it’s because they weren’t clear on the requirements and what was expected of them. Or maybe, they just didn’t see the point and weren’t properly motivated.

That’s the same thing as saying, “My Landing Page isn’t converting,” and immediately jumping to solutions like, “I need to change the offer, add a video, or add more testimonials.”

But, what step did we miss in that jump … Analysis!


Step #2. Dive deeper to identify the elements that impact productivity

You can’t solve a problem unless you have a deeper understanding of the root cause.

For a website, we’ve been trained to ask, “What problems or obstacles are impeding a conversion on this page?”

Thankfully, we have a handy Conversion Sequence heuristic to help us identify the elements that impact conversion by asking the right questions during analysis:

  • Is it because there’s a lack of value?
  • Is the value clearly communicated?
  • Is the process is too confusing?
  • Are people concerned about what’s going to happen with their information?

All of these answers could be the possible culprits to your low conversion rate, but you’ll never know without identifying these possible issues and testing possible solutions.

The same thing goes for your people.

For someone missing deadlines, the question isn’t “How do I fix this?” Instead, the first question needs to be “Why are they missing deadlines?” or:

  • Are they confused with the exact date/time of the deadline?
  • Do they have a clear understanding of all the steps involved in the project?
  • Do they know all of the resources they’re going to need?
  • Are they able to build a timeline backwards from the deadline with reviews and milestones?
  • Do they not understand the impact the missed deadline will have on them personally or the company?

As you can see, the list of questions goes on and on, just like for your website.


Step #3. Start testing solutions

If you can eliminate some of the possibilities, you can start testing possible solutions to the rest.

You think they’re confused with exact deadlines? Remove any possible confusion. Create a mechanism to update projects, milestones and due dates daily.

You think they need help understanding the steps required to complete the project successfully? Make them a list, make time to go over the list and make it easily accessible.

By eliminating as many possibilities as you can, you’ll ultimately be left with a much more manageable list to test.

Now, I don’t want to imply here that this is a quick or easy process.

It’s going to require work to identify, analyze and test solutions versus skipping straight to solutions.

But just like any good website optimization process, you’ll see more than just a lift in productivity …

You’ll learn about the true strengths and weaknesses of your team, and even some of your own along the way.

In the long run, it’ll be in everyone’s best interest.


Related Resources:

Marketing Career: 5 tips for building a personal brand

Marketing Career: 52% of all team members share all marketing responsibilities

Marketing Career: How to overcome dissatisfaction in marketing jobs

Tony Doty

About Tony Doty

Tony Doty, Associate Director of Optimization, MECLABS Tony is responsible for guiding and assisting all aspects of testing for our Research Partners. When not optimizing projects with our Partners, he is guiding other members of the team by providing key insights and training to support their professional development. Prior to MECLABS, Tony was a Product Management Consultant where he performed research to help companies optimize product offerings and marketing strategies. Tony holds a Bachelor of Science in Materials Science from the University of Minnesota and is a self-confessed data junkie. In his spare time, he enjoys playing video games with his wife Ashley, and spending quality time their dog, Barley.

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