In part one of "Landing Page Optimization -- Insource or Outsource?" I looked at the three key factors that should guide your decision to outsource or conduct your landing page testing program in-house: core competency focus; learning curve and lost opportunity costs; and perspective. Today, we'll look at three more important considerations.
Availability of Appropriate Outsourcing Partners
Landing page optimization touches mission critical parts of your company. If a landing page test is mishandled, or the chosen tuning elements decrease conversion rates, the results can be seen directly in your business performance. A high level of trust is required if you're going to outsource this function.
Outsourcing also requires a good cultural fit with your prospective partner. This includes an alignment at the business values level. It also requires organizations that operate at the same pace and frequency of communication as your company.
The way that your Web site is engineered or the specific site elements that you want to test may require you to use specialized technology. As a general rule, free tools or Internet-hosted application service provider (ASP) testing solutions are simpler and have fewer capabilities than some of the advanced testing platforms developed by full-service testing companies.
If your tests are relatively simple and your underlying site technology is straightforward, there are many choices. However, if you have special technical requirements, there are fewer firms available that will meet your specifications.
Testing companies may have their own requirements to consider you as a potential client (besides your ability to afford their services). If you have a bureaucratic company that requires reviews by several gatekeepers, testing companies may not want to work with you. Most testing companies also have minimum requirements for data rates on the landing pages that you're tuning.
If you can't find a partner that's in alignment with you on these issues, you may have no choice but to go it alone.
Capacity and Schedule
Can you dedicate full-time staff to move your project along, or will they be distracted and pulled in too many directions? If you don't have someone on your team whose primary responsibility is the success of your testing program (as opposed to being in charge of testing along with several other higher priorities), you probably won't achieve the best possible results.
Outsourcing has several advantages from this perspective: a larger dedicated team, significant prior experience, better systems and processes to deploy tests faster, experience with complex implementations, working knowledge of powerful testing tools, and an awareness of common mistakes in analyzing test data.
Affordability and Payment Methods
In some companies, by means of bizarre accounting and thinking, your own staff don't count toward the cost of a project, while a comparably small expense for an outside service is an "extra" cost. Of course, this is nonsense, and your employees are expensive (double their salary as a rough guide to burdened costs with overhead included). They should be working on highest-impact activities that contribute the most to your company's success. Given their skill set and other company responsibilities, this may not be landing page optimization.
Even if you consider the burdened staff time and other carrying costs, outsourcing may be more expensive over the length of the actual test. Also, keep in mind the cost of keeping your in-house capability around and idling between tests. This can be even more expensive in the long term -- especially considering the stop/start momentum required to reactivate the team for each test.
Another consideration is which budget "bucket" the testing funds come out of, and the payment options available from outsourcing partners. For example, many testing companies offer extended payment terms or allow you to pay a flat-fee monthly subscription for a certain ongoing level of testing work. Some offer guarantees of various kinds.
As with any initiative, you need to do your homework before you decide to insource or outsource your landing page testing program. By keeping these key factors in mind, you'll be more likely to make the best decision for your situation.