Ashley Lazo

Testing: 3 common barriers to test planning

June 14th, 2013

Sometimes while working with our Research Partners, I hear interesting explanations on why they can’t move forward with testing a particular strategy.

And as you would expect, there are a few common explanations I encounter more often than others:

  • We’ve always done it like this.
  • “Our customers are not complaining, so why change?

And my personal favorite…

  • We already tested that a few years ago and it didn’t work.

While there are some very legitimate barriers to testing that arise during planning (testing budgets, site traffic and ROI), the most common explanations of “We can’t do that” I hear  rarely outweigh the potential revenue being left on the table – at least not from this testing strategist’s point of view.

So in today’s MarketingSherpa blog post, we will share three of the most common barriers to testing and why your marketing team should avoid them.


The legacy barrier – “We’ve always done it like this.”

Legacy barriers to testing are decisions derived from comfort.

But what guarantee does anyone ever have that learning more about your customers is going to be a comfortable experience? So, when I receive a swift refusal to test based on “We’ve always done it like this,” I propose an important question – what created the legacy in your organization in the first place?

Generally, many companies understandably create business constraints and initiatives around what is acceptable for the market at a given point in time.

But what happens far too often is that these constraints and initiatives turn into habits. Habits that are passed on from marketer to marketer, until the chain of succession gives way to a forgotten lore of why a particular practice was put in place.

This ultimately results in a business climate in which the needs of yesteryear continue to take priority over the needs you have today.

So, if you find yourself facing a legacy barrier, below are a few resources from our sister company MarketingExperiments to help you achieve the buy-in you need to challenge the status quo:

What to test (and how) to increase your ROI today

Value Proposition: A free worksheet to help you win arguments in any meeting


The false confidence barrier  “Our customers are not complaining, so why change?”   

The false confidence barrier is built on the belief that if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it – or at least it isn’t broken that you’re aware of.

This is especially important if your organization is determined to use customer experience in the digital age as the metric of success when evaluating a website’s performance – and this happens more than you would think.

So, considering for a moment a hypothetical customer is having an unpleasant experience on your website, ask yourself…

What obligation does a customer have to complain about their experience to you?

My recommendation in this case is to never assume customer silence is customer acceptance.

Instead, take a deeper look at your sales funnel for opportunities to mitigate elements of friction and anxiety that may steer customers away from your objectives, rather than towards them.


The historical barrier – “We already tested this a few years ago and it didn’t work.

People change.

And, the people coming to your site since the previous test have likely changed as well.

This is why it is impactful to go back and retest items that may have provided a particular learning a few years ago to see if those discoveries still hold true.

While we understand testing can be risky to a business or process, there is also a risk in relying on legacy, intuition and past results in lieu of test planning that can help your marketing team with the ultimate goal of evidence-based marketing – continued learning about your customers and not just increases in conversion.


Related Resources: 

Analytics & Testing: 3 statistical testing methods for building an advanced customer theory

Marketing Metrics: Can you have one number to rule them all?

Analytics and Testing: 3 tips to optimize your testing efforts

Ashley Lazo

About Ashley Lazo

Ashley Lazo, Associate Director of Marketing, MECLABS Ashley’s time is spent guiding a group of research analysts and managers focusing on optimization and testing efforts on a Fortune 20 wireless company. Beyond improving visitor experience on the site, she specializes in providing client leadership, developing test strategy and team collaboration efforts. Ashley graduated with a M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications, Project Management Certificate and a B.A. in Business Marketing from Florida State University. In her spare time, she enjoys going to the beach, traveling and reading.

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