Landing page optimization and testing can lead to huge performance improvements across your online marketing programs. But how do you capture these gains? Should you outsource your testing program or "insource" it by doing everything in-house?
The decision to insource or outsource your landing page testing project is complicated and depends on many factors.
Core Competency Focus
Some companies consider online marketing in general, and landing page optimization in particular, as functions that aren't part of their core competency. Instead, they focus on product differentiation, manufacturing, distribution, or service fulfillment as the basis for their long-term competitive advantage. They view Internet marketing as a volatile, rapidly changing activity that's best left to specialist companies whose sole mission is to stay on top of this chaotic environment and deliver the best results.
Other companies view online marketing as their primary revenue-generating activity and the gateway to rapidly growing markets. They're committed to building the required team in-house, and consider a landing page optimization capability to be strategic to their success.
Such companies typically spend considerable resources recruiting, training, and motivating key employees. They create systems and processes to monitor and continually improve the way that they carry out testing projects. They view any experience gained during the building of their program and team as a source of lasting competitive advantage, and relish the sense of control that this gives them over their revenue-generating activities.
There's no right answer here. A complicated business is harder to manage. It comes down to determining the main focus of your organization. If your company feels strongly one way or the other, then the decision to insource or outsource will often be made on the core competency issue alone.
Learning Curve and Lost Opportunity Costs
Landing page optimization is a complex activity that draws on expert skills from a wide range of disciplines. It's unlikely that you already have all of the required skill sets in-house. You can hire people with the necessary skills, or train for your staff members to acquire them (either formally or through on-the-job experience). Either way, there's a significant direct cost to acquiring the necessary skills.
There are also four often-overlooked indirect costs to the insourcing decision.
- Lost productivity. As your staff members train, they lose the capacity to do other work for your company.
- Lost employees. People with the skill sets in this discipline remain in short supply, so your staff members may jump to other companies for better pay after completing training.
- Lost money. The initially low experience level of in-house staff can produce suboptimal results and cost you in terms of lost revenues.
- Riding the learning curve takes time. Your improved landing page may become operational some months later than it otherwise might have. The opportunity cost of this delay can be quite large.
Considering all of these direct and indirect costs, outsourcing may be a good solution. It allows you to instantly acquire the required skill set and quickly deploy an improved landing page.
Thinking outside the box is difficult if you work in it. Your experience in your industry, company, and department conspire to straitjacket you with invisible assumptions. It's hard to throw away all of your biases and beliefs and come up with truly original approaches to testing.
Your existing landing page may loom like a huge case of writer's block and prevent you from seeking any radical change. It probably already represents your best thinking. By outsourcing, you'll bring fresh minds to your testing program. The people at the testing company are experts in testing. But they aren't knowledgeable about your specific industry and business. This allows them to bring a "beginner's mind" to the problem at hand.
They may ask seemingly silly and naive questions, or question assumptions that you hold as sacrosanct. They may also break your fixation with sales copy and messaging and focus on more fundamental usability issues that you didn't even know your landing page had.
In two weeks, we'll discuss three more important considerations: availability of appropriate outsourcing partners, capacity and schedule, and affordability and payment methods.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!