Why Retailers Need to Know the Difference Between a Test and Experimentation
A test isn't an experiment. While these two words are used interchangeably by retail marketers, the difference is more than semantics. There are many stark differences between the mind-set, process and outcome of one vs. the other. A test isn't an experiment, and an experiment isn't a test.
Experimentation is done without a fear of failure or expectation of outcome. Testing is done with with an expectation of a winner. Experimentation leads to new things, while testing validates assumptions. Experimentation is dangerous, while testing is safer. Retail marketers want to get credit for experimentation, but they’re held accountable to the funnel and key performance indicators (impressions, traffic, leads, purchases, revenue), so testing and experimentation become like reading and regular exercise: things we say we do, knowing that we should do more to warrant the claim.
In retail and e-commerce businesses, both testing and experimentation are seen as luxurious practices to be implemented when you have extra — extra time, money, resources, energy. However, retailers should embrace testing and experimentation as regular practices, like executing marketing campaigns and pulling reports. Experimentation to discover, testing to validate. Rinse and repeat.
R. J. Talyor is founder and CEO of Pattern89, an artificial intelligence-based software company that optimizes paid social media advertising campaigns. Previously, R.J. was the driver behind ExactTarget’s mobile strategy, including the launch of SMS marketing in 2002 and spearheading mobile marketing during the launch of the iPhone. His leadership was also instrumental when Salesforce acquired ExactTarget for $2.5 billion in 2013, where he became the vice president of mobile products.