Earlier this month, the annual Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) was held by the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN). It was in San Francisco (my hometown!) and over 1700 people from all over the country attended the three day event including myself and fellow ditto Apollo.
I have many takeaways but the one that stuck with me the most was around testing - a subject that we take seriously at EchoDitto but always find it a challenge to fully integrate as part of our work. Testing is important and really good for you but sometimes it’s a hard thing to do like eating that salad instead of a burger.
The biggest lesson from the great panel I attended on testing was that there really is no excuse to not test. The common reasons an organization gives to not test are attributed to a lack of money, resources, time, and lack of value. The panel expertly disproved all of these reasons.
Instead of going through their entire presentation (you can download it here), I’ll point out two key points:
First, testing shouldn’t be an afterthought. It should be a part of your workflow and a part of everything you do online. As they said, it can be summed up by the acronym “ABT - Always Be Tracking.” You may not have time to do a major analysis of the data, but if you track everything, you at least have the ability to come back later when you do have time to see what the data says. This means you should, for example, use free tools like Google Analytics to track your site’s statistics and use common bulk email delivery platforms like Mail Chimp, Streamsend, or CRM’s like Salsa and Convio that all track email delivery statistics. Not to mention that Facebook has analytics called Insights built into every Facebook page. These tools are so basic and standard there is no reason not to anymore.
Second, once you’re at a point where you’re tracking everything you do online, you can start running actual tests fairly easily. Many popular CRM’s have the ability to perform A/B tests allowing you test everything from subject lines to graphics to your “ask.” If you don’t have powerful CRM’s like Salsa or Convio, you can use tools like Optimizely which allows you to A/B test very easily and without any technical skill. That tool has affordable pricing but Google also offers a free tool that is very powerful called Google Web Optimizer.
Again, you can test anything. The placement of your donate button, your email signup box, your call to action, etc.
Still think you can’t do it? You should at least spend some time on this site – http://whichtestwon.com/ – which helps you think through common assumptions about how those of us who live on the web think users behave. It’s a great site.
At the end of the day, what matters is that testing isn’t an afterthought. Big or small, every organization should incorporate testing into their work because it can lead you to become more data driven and ultimately more impactful.