Tricks of the marketing trade

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4 ways external testing can be a profitable boost for digital agencies

We all know that feeling of reading a proposal over so many times you begin to read what you know it should say, rather than what is written. Your eyes adjust and you simply cannot see the mistakes; the same concept applies to Testing.

As the basics of any Testing qualification will teach you, testing externally is more efficient and having the guys who built it do the testing is the least effective thing to do.

From project fatigue to simple bias of idea contribution, there are many reasons why internal testing is not as effective as fresh eyes on a project. Outsourced testing, on the other hand, can be both highly effective and highly profitable.

Here are four reasons why:

Time

How many times do you think testing is cut short in your agency because everyone is just a little bit too busy? This is one of the biggest issues with internal testing – there are often assumptions made. Because it’s created on the same platform it will work the same way. Even with a different set of specs shaping the final product, the outcome is likely to swim on the same wavelength.

Not only does external testing add credibility to an agency proposition, it removes an often unloved piece of work from your projects and allows your guys to swiftly move on to the next idea with only fixes to come back to.

Money

Wouldn’t it be cheaper to pay for testing when you need it, rather than having a testing team potentially twiddling their thumbs between projects? You could potentially have five deliveries in one month and perhaps two in the next.

You might have a team or you’re considering growing a testing team to have that kind of maximum capacity. However, it will likely only reach it twice a year. Outsourcing could be the answer to boost your testing capacity in busy times, such as the run up to Christmas, or perhaps as additional resource to test your high risk pages and critical paths on all projects. Alternatively, you might not have a testing team but you can still make decent margins on testing by outsourcing it completely. You can sell the quality benefits of external testing to a client as a differentiator over your competitors, make money from it and not even have to do it with you own resources.

Quality

Quality control is something that should be ingrained into production, and when there is no clear direction on Testing, the reliability of the company declines. I have spoken to more than one agency that were under the impression that I was calling about PAT Testing (AKA checking your office electricals) when discussing work. I’m not sure that would be a great shot of credibility from a client’s point of view should they hear something like that from one of your staff. Outsourcing will ensure better quality of knowledge in addition to a sharper piece.

Fresh eyes

This last one is pretty obvious. Your own guys have seen things a thousand times and they don’t even notice something that’s right in front of them.

It could be a minor spelling mistake or it could be something important like a phone number no one has bothered to call and check is correct. It could be an ‘Add to Basket’ button that’s out of line by one pixel or a link to delivery costs that cuts off the prices in Safari on iPhone.

The above examples have a significantly varied impact on your client’s conversion rate but miss something obvious and damaging and it’s the thing they’ll remember you for. Take the ‘boring’ work away from glazed internal eyes and welcome a new approach.

James Hepton is managing director of TestApproved, a start up website testing service for use by independent web designers, SME and large ecommerce operations, digital agencies and public sector website developers.

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