It's OK to ask questions
The first steps in the benchmarking process are the same steps that one undertakes when attempting to examine any problem: deciding the answers they want and the questions that must be asked to yield those answers. This can be challenging for many clients. In a recent clinic held on this subject, the leaders of the clinic reported that more than half of the audience found that this first step, deciding on the research question, was the most challenging part of the testing process.
Deciding on the questions
In order to test something using benchmarking, there must be a “which” question. Which format results in more conversions? Which color leads to more subscribers? Although you may begin this process thinking hat your question is a what or why question, in order to test it using this process, you must get it into a “which” format. Instead of what color do customers prefer, ask which of several choices produces the desired actions from potential customers.
Asking the question
This is referred to as the treatment – the process through which the question will be asked and answered. In this process, you must identity the variable, value, and control. The variable is the element that will be tested such as a price point, a color, or the headline on a given web page. The value refers to the aspect of the variable that will be tested – lowering or increasing the price point, the position of a certain element, the different colors you are considering. The control is the existing condition and the treatment is the new page, email, or ad that you are comparing to the existing one. When the treatment performs better than the current control, it becomes the new control for future testing.