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Posts Tagged ‘web optimization’

Web Optimization: Can you repeat your test results?

May 21st, 2014
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This week, I’m deep in the heart of the Big Apple (also known as enemy territory if you share my love for the Red Sox) for Web Optimization Summit 2014.

Day 1 has delivered some fantastic presentations and luckily, I was able to catch Michael Zane, Senior Director Online Marketing, Publishers Clearing House, in his session that covered “How to Personalize the Online Experience to Increase Engagement.” 

Publishers-Clearing-HouseMichael’s take on personalization starts with a key distinction between visitors to PCH he mentioned early on.

“You have to define your personas,” he said. “It only made sense for us to take a simplistic approach at first and then dig deeper.”

According to Michael, the challenge rests in driving engagement in unengaged visitors. To help the company’s engagement efforts, Michael and his team turned to testing and optimization.

identify-customer-personas

 

In this MarketingSherpa Blog post, we’ll take a look at some of his team’s testing efforts including one key aspect that often goes unspoken.

Before we get started, let’s look at the research notes for some background information on the test.

 

Objective: To convert unengaged visitors into engaged customers.

Primary Research Question: Will a simple, but attention-grabbing, header convince unengaged visitors to play a game?

Test Design: A/B split test

 

Experiment #1. Side by side

game-engagement-test

 

Michael and his team decided to test a header they hypothesized would encourage visitors to play a game.

“The text in the treatment was innocent at the top of the page and it wasn’t really competing with the other content,” Michael said. 

unengaged-message-variations

 

The team also used a variety of messages in the experiment to help them dial into their core value proposition.

 

Results

real-time-messaging-results

 

The treatment outperformed the control by a relative difference of 36%. There are plenty of marketers that would be thrilled by these results.

However, Michael made an interesting point here that should be mentioned a lot more than it usually is.

“The initial test showed strong results, but they are only valuable if it can be repeated,” Michael said.

 

Experiment #2. Testing for the two-peat

pop-up-test

 

Michael’s team set up a second test to continue to build on their engagement success. For this experiment, the team devised a lightbox pop-up that interrupted users after two seconds on the site.

 

Results

pop-up-test-results

 

After only four days, Michael and his team concluded that the new lightbox approach was decreasing conversion.

“Having this failure helped us validate the metrics,” Michael said. “We didn’t want to rely just on third-party metrics. Not every test is a winner.”

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Project Management: Communication is the lost currency of business

February 28th, 2014
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Communication is the lost currency of business.

When thorough and effective communication is not present in business, everything else seems a little off.

George Bernard Shaw said it best: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

I’m sure we have all run into situations where we thought something was taken care of, but the memo didn’t get through clearly, and then you became angry at Joe in Accounting for not compiling those numbers for the important meeting with the VP. The scenarios are endless and the consequences can be devastating, all from one communication mishap.

Here are a few tips that have improved the communication within my team that you can use to aid your own communication efforts.

 

Silos are for farms, not businesses

I see companies operate in silos much too often.

Departments only two feet away from each other have zero idea what the other team is working on.

Closed lines of communication are a missed opportunity for sharing transferable discoveries that can potentially achieve commingled goals.

For example, if your team is working on a project that you think could have discoveries or beneficial concepts that may apply to a different project elsewhere in your organization, you should try to share that information whenever possible.

A quick summary of your team’s projects distributed in a weekly update email or during a peer review session can help build good communication by spreading vital information companywide.

Ultimately, it takes a proactive effort to share information with other departments in order to help eliminate the poor communication that often results when groups work in a vacuum.

 

Optimize your meetings to avoid more meetings

I understand this isn’t a new concept, but we’ve all attended meetings that were pointless and a waste of valuable time. Too often, objectives aren’t set and leaders aren’t identified.

Here are a few ways I try cut down on the wasted meeting time:

  • Set an agenda, and send it out to participants. If you are running a conference call, make sure to send the agenda to attendees at least a day in advance for review to ensure you don’t miss anything.

The agenda should always include a spot for a meeting objective and room for you to include the attendees and their roles. Keep the meeting to the agenda so topics don’t get too off track, which leads to more wasted time.

  • Delegate a note taker. Probably the most crucial role in a meeting, this person helps to capture the most important points and action items and sends it as takeaways to all attendees for reference.

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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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