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Posts Tagged ‘web optimization summit’

Content Marketing: Harvard Business School’s Michael Norton discusses surprising consumer behavior research

October 7th, 2014
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I am a skeptic. Maybe it’s from my career in marketing, advertising and editorial content, which involves me constantly receiving PR pitches. Maybe I was born that way. Or maybe I’m just your average American consumer.

Whatever the cause, it’s rare for me to have a head-smacking epiphany, but here’s one I want to share with you:

 

People don’t want fast

This subhead likely seems counterintuitive (or perhaps just plain wrong) to you.

After all, if you’ve ever been in traffic, or in a long line at a fast food restaurant, or anywhere in America for the past 30 years, you know – people are impatient.

As Louis C.K. says in his very funny bit about people who don’t appreciate how amazing smartphone technology is, “I never saw a person going, ‘Look at what my phone can do!’ Nobody does that. They all go, ‘This ******* thing sucks. I can’t get it to … ’  Give it a second, would ya? Could ya give it a second? It’s going to space, could you give it a second to get back from space? Is the speed of light too slow for you?”

Even when I search Louis C.K on Google, the search engine brags that is has returned 45,700,000 results in 0.61 seconds.

Wow. The entirety of human knowledge for millennia is at our fingertips and can be delivered within milliseconds, and yet, as Louis so accurately points out, most of your customers do not appreciate it.

Why? More importantly, how can you as a marketer use this lesson to communicate the value of your own products?

 

They want hard work (on their behalf)

This is where Michael Norton’s research gets very interesting for marketers (and, really, all humans). Michael is an associate professor at Harvard, and during his Web Optimization Summit featured session — “Trust Through Transparency” — he showed that, in many cases, people place a higher value on understanding the work involved to create a product or service than they do on sheer speed.

After he got off stage, and right before hopping on the train back to Harvard, Michael was gracious enough to let me pull him aside and ask a few questions to help marketers use his research to better communicate the value of their products and services.

We discussed:

  • How showing the work involved in creating content (for example, email list signup) can make that content more valuable to customers
  • How to make sure customers understand the complexity behind seemingly simple services
  • The power of storytelling

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Customer-Centric Marketing: How transparency translates into trust

May 23rd, 2014
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Transparency is something that companies usually shy away from. From the customer’s perspective, that product or service just appears for them – simple and easy.

Marketing has a history of touting a new “miracle” or “wonder” product and holding up the veil between brand and consumer.

michael-norton-summitHowever, in Wednesday’s Web Optimization Summit 2014 featured presentation, Harvard Associate Professor Michael Norton brought up a different idea, speaking about how hard work should be worn as a badge of honor.

“Think about showing your work to customers as a strategy,” he said, coining it “The Ikea Strategy.”

The idea behind this is that when people make things themselves, they tend to overvalue them – think of all the DIY projects around the house. In the same vein, when people comprehend the hard work that has gone into a product, they are more likely to value it.

Michael gave the example of a locksmith he had spoken to as part of his research to understand the psychology of people who work with their hands. This man was a master locksmith, Michael said, and he started off by talking about how he used to be terrible at his job – he would go to a house, use the wrong tools, take an inordinate amount of time and sweat over the job.

Gradually, he became a master at his trade, and could fix the same problem quickly with only one tool. It didn’t matter that his work was superior because of his experience, his customers became infuriated when he handed over the bill. Even though the result was the same, the customers hadn’t seen the effort.

Independent of the service being delivered, Michael explained, we value the labor people put in.

“We like to see people working on our behalf,” he said.

He asked two questions on how to apply this in the marketing sphere:

  • Can this be applied to the online environment as well?
  • Can this be built into websites so people feel like these interfaces are working for them?

A counterintuitive mindset must be applied in this area. In many cases, rapid service or response comes second to transparency. Michael spoke about how his team ran a test where they purposefully slowed down the searc results for a travel site by 30 seconds.

“30 seconds of waiting online is like … 11 days. It’s an enormously long time,” he said.

But slowing something down like a search, he continued, makes people feel like the algorithm was working hard for them.

As surprising as it sounds, more customers picked the delayed search travel site because they perceived that it was working harder for them, he said.

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Web Optimization: How The Boston Globe used customer insight to test value proposition

February 14th, 2014
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The time period just before you dive into testing can feel like peering into a beehive. While the hive is abuzz with activity, the commotion seems overwhelming and, perhaps, a little dangerous.

What should you be paying attention to? Where do you even start?

In a testing and optimization program, test plans seek to give you order, helping to communicate what you’re trying to accomplish and when you’re going to take action. For The Boston Globe, testing certainly had the potential to get messy.

At Optimization Summit 2013, the media giant unveiled that it ran more than 20 tests to help market its new digital access website, bostonglobe.com.

But The Globe had to start somewhere.

The news hub was already armed with an established print subscription base which helped direct the brand’s evolution digitally. In this excerpt of the presentation, “Boston Globe: Discovering and optimizing a value proposition,” Peter Doucette, Executive Director of Circulation, Sales & Marketing, The Boston Globe, provides us a deeper look into the development of the company’s  testing plan.

“We’re managing this total consumer business, but it’s also about understanding the unique groups, the unique segments,” Peter explained. “Building this knowledge of our customer base kind of set the stage for how we went about testing.”

 

Peter told Pamela Markey, Senior Director of Marketing, MECLABS, that the team utilized customer lifestyle stages as the “foundation” to build testing and optimization, as understanding the differences between its print and digital audiences was key.

Testing was formed around the following customer lifecycle stages and goals:

  • (Potential) prospects — attract
  • Prospects — engage
  • New customers — convert
  • High-value customers — grow
  • At-risk customers — retain
  • Former customers — win back

“We think about customers, where they are in that cycle and then that naturally bleeds into, ‘OK, so we know we have to target customers in this stage. What are we going to do? What’s the biggest opportunity? How quickly can we go to market?’” Peter asked.

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