When I worked at Red Bricks Media, part of the startup process was, OF COURSE, figuring out what we wanted to track to see if our marketing programs were succeeding. Often this required some sort of tracking pixel to be placed on the client’s site. And often, when we handed over the code and the implementation instructions, the answer we got back was, “Yeah, that’s not likely to happen. We should figure out what we can do without this.” I always marveled at what I figured was the complete dysfunction of these organizations that couldn’t implement a small change so important to their marketing programs.
And then I started working on the client side.
For this slide the original picture I had (before being told I should actually own the rights to the images I used) was of a big black and white Great Dane looking down at a tiny, cowering dog. The suggestion was that the tiny, cowering dog is what marketers feel like every time they make a request of the engineering team. The fact is that engineers usually have about 1,000 tickets on their list at any given time, and placing a tracking pixel will definitely tend to fall behind launching a new product, fixing a bug, implementing a new feature, etc. And creating a whole landing page, with design and functionality? Forget about it. So marketing meekly requests changes, engineering tells them to get in line, and Current Beth laughs at Past Beth and her delusions about How The World Should Work.
The good news is that this is a known pain point, and where there are pain points there are clever companies stepping in to address them. The Holy Grail for marketing services is tools that deliver site changes with minimal input from engineering, which makes both sides much happier and also hews closer to the ideal of the MVI, the minimum viable investment. Part of what you’re trying to minimize is staff involvement, which means it’s probably smart not to get your design and engineering teams bogged down with every tiny landing page change and idea that you want to test before you even know if it is important. Look to tools like these to create and manage site content with minimal involvement from the Big Dogs in engineering:
- Optimizely allows you to do easy split testing on any page. If you’re the kind of dork who enjoys this sort of thing, go there now and enter the URL of your website to see it instantly transformed into clickable sections that you can edit for content, style, or placement. To use it, you just have to beg engineering for one simple line of code to be inserted on pages you’d like to test– after that you can create all the variations you like, and Optimizely will track the different experiments and let you see the results. Instead of waiting a day to a week to see if that call to action or this headline is more successful, you can have your experiment up and running almost as soon as you think of it. I’m not sure how it is managed from a technical standpoint, but I’m pretty sure it’s magic.
- Unbounce goes one further– it lets you create landing pages yourself with a WYSIWIG editor– no HTML skills required. It also allows for simple A/B testing. With Unbounce you can achieve your nirvana state of dedicated, optimized landing pages for every marketing channel and program. The top of your funnel will be so full it will look like Times Square on New Year’s Eve.
- Gathering data? Wufoo lets you create forms and embed them in your website and collects the entries for you. Lead gen, invites, simple surveys– you can have forms up and running in minutes with Wufoo, and the only engineering help you’ll need is embedding the form on a page on your site. Even that’s not necessary if the stripped-down Wufoo interface works for your project.
- The thee sites above help you optimize the top of the funnel. But what about site engagement? Is that best left to the product and engineering teams? Well, one way to build engagement is to make sure people know how to use your site. Kera.io is new tool that lets teams build in-app tutorials. As with Optimizely, once some code is placed on pages then marketing can create the tutorials with minimal engineering help
Most of these services are free or have a low cost and month-to-month commitment. They are a great way to create site content and to cycle through tests and changes more rapidly than could be done if engineering had to do a full release with each change. Give these tools a try and you may never hear engineering bark at you again.