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Posts Tagged ‘A/B testing’

Email Testing: 7 tips from your peers for email conversion optimization

May 10th, 2018
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We recently asked the MarketingSherpa audience for tips on running effective email tests. Here are a few of the most helpful responses to consider as you start to develop an email testing program.

Tip #1: Start with send time and subject line testing

“Testing and measuring open rate data for send times and subject lines is the best place to start. Once the open rates increase, you can work on the messaging to improve email engagement and conversions.” – Markelle Harden, Content Marketing Specialist, Classy Inbound

Tip #2: The language of your best customer

“Subject line tests are an incredible way to drill down into the language of your best customer and we use this to directly influence the rest of the offer.” – Al Simon

Tip #3: Don’t overlook the landing page

“Landing page tests are especially important and often overlooked. The more seamless the experience leading to the call to action, the higher the conversion rate. I have seen conversions increase substantially as the landing page was edited based on test results to more specifically match the offer.” – Susan F. Heywood, Marketer, educator, entrepreneur

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Marketing 101: What is website usability?

April 19th, 2018
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Marketing has a language all its own. This is our latest in a series of posts aimed at helping new marketers learn that language. What term do you find yourself explaining most often to new hires during onboarding? Let us know.

Simply put, website usability is how easy, clear and intuitive it is for visitors to use your website. This is from the visitor’s perspective, not your company’s perspective.

Of course, website usability isn’t so simple at all. You essentially have to read someone else’s mind, so the expected user experience matches the web experience you design. However, as 18th-century poet Robert Burns wrote, “The best-laid plans of mice and men / Go oft awry.”

As I said, you’re trying to read someone else’s mind (many people, in fact). So the challenges of web usability aren’t necessarily unique to the web. These challenges are the very fundamentals of human behavior and interaction. Here’s a very visual example that UXer Oliver McGough shared on Twitter …

There are many terms related to website usability that you might have heard:

  • User experience — how people experience your website. This may be very different than you intended because you may not be able to take an outside perspective of your website and assume visitors will understand something that they don’t, or understand differently, from you (more on this in a bit).
  • User experience design (or UX) — the practice of creating websites, computer programs, apps, etc. with the user in mind. UX can also be used as shorthand for website usability. (e.g., “That site has good UX.”)
  • User interface (UI) — where man meets machine. For example, an operating system has a graphical user interface. UI continues to evolve and isn’t always visual. Thanks to virtual assistants like Alexa, the human voice now interacts with a UI as well.
  • Usability — in general. This is, after all, broader than just websites. Any digital offering has (or lacks) usability, from a website to a computer game. But physical objects have usability considerations as well. For example, OXO is a company that is well known for kitchen utensils and housewares usability. When I first learned about usability, the instructor used a car brake pedal as an example. I had never noticed before, but it is a lot wider than the gas pedal for a reason. If you’re accidentally going to stomp on one of them, it’s better to be the stop than the accelerate!
  • User testing — Get your visitors’ opinions about what works well on the site and what doesn’t, what processes and mechanisms are intuitive and which are confusing
  • A/B testing — Measuring your visitors’ behavior to see how well they are able to actually use the site, and if the actual user experience matches the intended website design

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Marketing 101: What is an A/B split test?

February 2nd, 2018
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Marketing has a language all its own. This is our latest in a series of posts aimed at helping new marketers learn that language. What term do you find yourself explaining most often to new hires during onboarding? Let us know.

An A/B split test refers to a test situation in which two randomized groups of users are sent different content at the same time to monitor the performance of specific campaign elements.

A/B split testing is a powerful way to improve marketing and messaging performance because it enables you to make decisions about the best headline, ad copy, landing page design, offer, etc., based on actual customer behavior and not merely a marketer’s opinion.

 

Let’s break down the process of A/B split testing.

Real People Enter the Test

This is part of the power of A/B split testing as compared to other forms of marketing research such as focus groups or surveys. A/B split testing is conducted with real people in a real-world purchase situation making real decisions, as opposed to a survey or focus group where you’re asking people who (hopefully) represent your customers what they might do in a hypothetical situation, or to remember what they have done in a past situation.

Not only can you inadvertently influence people in ways that change their answer (since the research gathering mechanism does not exactly mimic the real-world situation), but people may simply tell you what they think you want to hear.

Or, many times, customers misjudge how they would act in a situation or misremember how they have acted in the past.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use surveys, focus groups and the like. Use this new information to create a hypothesis about your customers. And then run an A/B split test to learn from real customers if your hypothesis is correct.

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Ask MarketingSherpa: Should I use geo-targeting for event emails?

December 19th, 2017
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We frequently receive questions about marketing advice from our email subscribers. Instead of hiding those answers in a one-to-one email communication, we publish some of them here on the MarketingSherpa blog since they may be able to help many other readers. And if you have any questions, let us know.

This question was submitted by Email Marketing Manager Korbin in reference to emails about his organization’s events.

Korbin: I’m trying to find the average decrease in conversion when we send an event email to a 30-mile radius around the event, versus something larger like 70 miles. It’s caused some heated disagreements between field and HQ staff.

Do you have any research on something like this? For example, if an event is in Denver, and we send an email invitation to 30 miles around Denver (~1 hr drive radius), how does that conversion/unsubscribe rate compare to an invitation sent to something like a 50 or 70-mile radius (~2-3 hrs.)? Is it worth expanding the send?

Dear Korbin: I asked around the lab and while we don’t have the precise data to support the decision you are looking to make, my colleagues were happy to review and provide their perspectives on your challenge.

Here are the insights I was able to gather:

Insights based on experience

From running our own events, our hypothesis is that the specific time or mileage would most likely vary by location. For example, here in Jacksonville, we’re pretty spread out, and people are used to going a long way to get places. The same is true in Los Angeles.

The Boston market seems way different. Someone isn’t going to come in from Cambridge to get into the city or go from the city out to the suburbs. New York is the same.

But that’s just a hypothesis. Would love to see your test. In the meantime, here’s some content you might find helpful:

In addition to the distance to the event, the messaging and title of the event are important, of course. Here’s an experiment we ran for one of our own events:

Email Testing: More Specific Subject Line Improves Open Rate By More Than 35%

Insights based on testing

Leads from our data sciences and research teams shared the results of a campaign they worked on for a large event with satellite host locations.

They ran a geo-targeted email test based on the registration addresses of previous attendees/alumni:

  Message CTA Clickthrough Registrations
Control General event messaging Register Now for a Location Near You 2.0% 34
Treatment This year, the closest host site to you appears to be: Host site name, City, State Reserve Your Seat Here Now 3.7% 162

Based on the success of the geo-targeting, this organization then sent the same treatment email to their entire list of subscribers based on IP address, securing an additional 87 registrations.

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People Buy From People: Five examples of how to bring the humanity back to marketing

December 13th, 2017
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“People don’t buy from websites, people buy from people.” This is an essential principle from the MECLABS Institute Landing Page Optimization certification course (from the parent research organization of MarketingSherpa).

With so much focus on martech, marketing org structure and website optimization, and channels ranging from print to digital advertising, this principle can be easy to forget.

Yes, marketing technology is powerful. Yes, the correct structure of the marketing department and IT department are necessary; and you certainly want a well-functioning website.

But this is just infrastructure. Mere roads.

You, dear marketer, are in the driver’s seat. You decide how to use these roads.

The most effective way to use them is to connect with other people. Remember that everyone behind the technology is a real, complex human. And everyone on the receiving end is a real, complex human with hopes and fears, needs and wants, goals and pain points.

Here are five examples to give you ideas for bringing humanity back to your marketing.

Example #1: Engage with influencers

Every B2B industry and B2C niche customer community has influencers. Rock stars to that specific group of people, even if no one in the general public knows who they are. They’re more than a brand or a logo; they’re a person. And when it’s the right person for your ideal customer, your customer deeply wants to learn from these influencers.

“I would say don’t be afraid to talk to your influencers in your industry. Engage them and try to partner with them,” said Mike Hamilton, Director of Marketing Programs, Exterro.

Exterro is a legal software company specializing in e-discovery. When it launched its vendor-neutral E-Discovery Day virtual event three years ago, the team was able to get a couple of key influencers on board. In Exterro’s case, a few of these influencers were federal judges.

Having federal judges speaking on a webcast back then was a big deal. So, Hamilton started calling other influencers in the industry and used the federal judges’ names as a proof point that E-Discovery Day was designed to be a day of education and not vendor-speak. Exterro opened it up to competitors, law firms, anyone in the industry. As a result of bringing all these influencers on board, the team was able to get more than 2,400 event attendees this year, an increase of 70% from 2016.

“If someone has a blog in your industry, and you think they write great content at the same audience as you, send them the email, or don’t be afraid to call them and just ask them what they’re doing, how they’re looking to grow their influence, and how you could potentially partner together. Because the reason why I think E-Discovery Day was so successful was we got buy-in from a lot of influencers in the community at the very beginning,” Hamilton said.

Example #2: Talk to one person … or account

Marketers can do amazing things with data and automation these days. However, sometimes it’s worth singling out important accounts and customers and giving them a more manual, human touch.

This may seem overwhelming at first, but if you analyze your most valuable customers to determine who your best customers will be, you may find that some version of the Pareto principle is at play. In other words, 80% of your revenue may come from 20% of customers.

Trapeze Group, a provider of hardware and software to the public transit industry throughout the world, took an account-based marketing (ABM) approach to try focusing and humanizing its marketing to specific accounts.

They started a pilot program with a public transit agency in the Los Angeles area, and positioned the ABM strategy in the business as “ensuring that it was not just a marketing or sales function but also that of project management and customer success,” said Michelle McCabe, Manager of Demand Generation and Marketing Operations, Trapeze Group North America.

For example, the team created a personalized magazine just for that account. The magazine contained a combination of custom content that was created from scratch for the people in that account as well as repurposed content. “We knew that some of the C-levels were a little bit more traditional. So we felt that a print magazine might speak to them a little bit more than something digital, which is why we went for a printed magazine versus digital specifically for this account,” McCabe said.

In addition, the team created a 3D-printed statue and sent it specifically to one person in the account. “It said the word ‘innovation’ because that spoke true to his role and his overall mission. He did receive it, and he thanked us for that, which was great,” McCabe recounted.

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How to Drive Conversion Using a Value Proposition-focused Testing Strategy in Email Marketing

September 27th, 2017
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Your company’s value proposition is its answer to the question, “If I’m your ideal customer, why should I buy from you over your competitors?”

While this might seem like something that lives and dies on your landing page, value proposition needs to be brought into every aspect of your marketing, especially your email. It is the channel where customers are going to be interacting with you most.

Plenty of email marketers have begun at least light A/B testing — subject lines, images, button colors — but value proposition is often an untapped area of email testing that could lead to serious returns.

There are four elements that increase or decrease the force of your value proposition:

  • Appeal: How badly do I want this offer?
  • Exclusivity: Where else can I get this offer?
  • Credibility: Can I trust your claims?
  • Clarity: What are you actually offering?

Take this recent case study with Willow Creek, which dabbles in all four of these elements, for example.

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Customer-First Marketing: A conversation with Wharton, MarketingSherpa, and MECLABS Institute

August 18th, 2017
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One of my favorite music videos is “No Rain” by ‘90s band Blind Melon. In it, a young girl dressed in a bee costume roams around her town, clearly misunderstood by everybody she encounters.

Until …

One day …

… bee girl encounters an entire field full of people in bee costumes. She had clearly found her tribe.

I’ve seen that same delight when those engaged in customer-first marketing and customer-first science meet. And I certainly felt it myself getting to work with Catharine Hays for a few months on the Beyond Advertising: Creating Value Through all Email and Mobile Touchpoints webinar.

Hays is Executive Director of The Wharton Future of Advertising Program and recently interviewed myself along with Flint McGlaughlin, CEO and Managing Director of MECLABS Institute (the parent research organization of MarketingSherpa) on Marketing Matters, a show she co-hosts on the Business Radio channel on Sirius XM powered by the Wharton School.

If you’re a fellow traveler on the path of customer-first marketing and customer-first science, listen to the recording of the radio show below. Or read the below transcript (I called out key concepts with bolded headlines to allow for easy skimming). I hope you feel that same delight of finding your tribe.

And if you do, feel free to let Flint or myself know through Twitter — @FlintsNotes and @DanielBurstein   — since we won’t be able to hear you shouting in agreement through your headphone or speakers.


(originally aired on Sirius XM Channel 111, Business Radio powered by The Wharton School)
 

Or, if you’d like to listen in your car or on an airplane, go to the audio file on SoundCloud, click “More,” then select “Download.”

We begin with a little background on MECLABS Institute and MarketingSherpa

Catharine Hays: You’re listening to Marketing Matters on Business Radio, powered by the Wharton School.

Welcome back. This is Marketing Matters on Sirius XM’s Business Radio 111. I’m Catharine Hays. I’m the Executive Director of the Wharton Future of Advertising program here. And we’re going to shift gears a little bit to welcome our next guests.

Really, the theme of the show today has been on customer-first marketing, really putting the customer at the front of your marketing and putting the individual, rather than thinking of them as a consumer. So, we spent the last hour really kind of honing in on the Hispanic market and with our last guest, talking about really seeing them from a cultural lens and how open or closed they are to cultural influences, new and old. So, that was pretty interesting.

So, what we’re going to do next is shift gears a little bit, but still have this theme but talk about it more broadly with two wonderful guests. First, we have Flint McGlaughlin. He’s the CEO and Managing Director of MECLABS Institute. Welcome, Flint.

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Customer-First Marketing: Use data to make sure the customer always wins

March 17th, 2017
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Every year when I’m in Las Vegas for MarketingSherpa Summit, I find myself on the casino floor at some point. All roads in Vegas lead through the casino.

There’s bright flashing lights and sounds. Lively chatter. General bacchanalia.

Gambling looks like a lot of fun, and many people enjoy it. But other than a few bucks here or there, I don’t partake. Because, as someone who has written about evidence-based marketing for these many years, I suspect the odds are not in my favor.

The house always wins. In the gambler-casino relationship, the casino has the slight edge that, over billions of transactions, generates positive cash flow. This is a business after all, and revenue for the fountains, the curved glass and steel towers, the futuristic trams — it has to come from somewhere.

So when I had a chance to interview Jeff Ma, I wanted his opinion on the customer-marketer relationship. Who has the edge?

The customer and the marketer shouldn’t be opposed

“I think ultimately it’s not a similar thing because the difference . . . this is like honestly one of the things I don’t think people realize — the customer and the marketer shouldn’t be opposed. There’s not a contentious relationship. This should actually be a very positive relationship,” Jeff told me.

“If I were a customer, as long as the marketer had my best intentions, I wouldn’t give a s%&@ if they knew everything about me and all the data about me. As long as they’re not going to harm or use that against me, I want them to have as much information as they can.”

Jeff Ma is currently the senior director of analytics for Twitter, was previously ESPN’s predictive analytics expert, and is perhaps best known for his role on the infamous MIT Blackjack Team. Using creativity, math and teamwork, Ma created a card-counting method that helped the group win millions in Las Vegas. He was the inspiration for the book Bringing Down the House and the Kevin Spacey movie 21.

I was interviewing Jeff because he is a featured speaker at MarketingSherpa Summit 2017 in Las Vegas, and his response was right in line with discoveries from MarketingSherpa’s recent research.

For example, “showing personalized ads based on data about me is invasive” was not a major factor in why consumers blocked online ads.

However, that part Jeff mentioned about “as long as the marketer had my best intentions” was huge. Customer-first marketing was the key difference between how satisfied and unsatisfied customers described a company’s marketing, showing that the intentions behind the marketing play a critical role in the relationship with a customer.

Here are a few more quick takeaways from my conversation with Jeff to help you look at your data through a new lens.

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Direct Marketing vs. Wholesale Marketing: How Steve Madden organizes and optimizes its $1.4 billion shoe empire

June 9th, 2016
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When your business is 80% wholesale like Steve Madden, how do you carve out a unique value proposition for your direct ecommerce business?

 

Watch the full interview to find out

“The value proposition of our site is that we have the deepest selection [and] we have it before anyone else.”

So said Mark Friedman, President of Ecommerce for Steve Madden, yesterday during a live interview at the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE 2016.

Additionally, Mark mentions the company’s community of rabid Steve Madden fans in social channels and through the SM Mag.

“It’s crazy how people feel about the brand. We incorporate that into the site, and that gives others some perspective of how some people are wearing it. You’re getting to see not only the product that they bought, but their complete look and how they put it together,” Mark said.

Of course, because the business is 80% wholesale, Steve Madden can’t just leave partners out in the cold. To balance its relationship with partners, Mark mentions the team employs a variety of tactics, including:

  • Syndicate product photography done in-house
  • Syndicate product reviews that were written on SteveMadden.com

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Four Simple Ways to Become a More Customer-Centric Marketer

April 26th, 2016
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Recently, I wrote about our need to guard against company logic. I argued that it is very easy for us as marketers to slip into a mindset that ignores the ultimate desires of the customer. This is a struggle experienced by all companies, big or small, new or old, well-known or unknown.

customer-centric-marketing

Ironically, as one commenter posted, perhaps even my blog post suffered from a little company logic as it seemed to focus on what I wanted to say rather than what would have most served the audience: more application. Knowing myself, and the tendency that I have just like anyone else, it may very well be true. I can also relate to wanting to know not just the “what” of a thing but also the “how.”

So, in the spirit of taking my own medicine, I would like to attempt being a little more customer centric and suggest four ways in which we can practically guard against company logic and become more customer-centric marketers. These are not the only four ways, but they are a good place to start.

 

#1. Listen

Learning the discipline of listening to your customer is essential for all marketers. This is where a marketer should always start. Listening to customers was once much more difficult, but today there is so much feedback our customer is giving to us. With the prevailing social dynamic of the Internet, our customers are constantly talking to us (directly or indirectly). We just have to make sure we are listening.

Many marketers are tempted to fear social feedback. I mean, who really wants to hear someone else critique you? However, if we are really doing our job, we will embrace both pleasant and painful insights that we gain from hearing from the customer. It is so easy to become insular and solicit feedback only from our peers, but we must force ourselves to hear the customer’s feedback. Sometimes that comes in the form of them talking directly to us, and other times it comes in the form of customers talking to one another. Nonetheless, our customers are talking, and we must learn to listen.

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