Here’s a great video of me and Aseem Badshah the CEO of Socedo, a social media lead generation tool, talking about 7 ways Blockchain can transform marketing! We hope you enjoy it …
Advertising, Advocates, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Branding, Cause Marketing, Conversion, Conversion Optimization, Customer Experience, Data Mining, Influencer, Innovation, Interactive Marketing, Internet, Lead Generation, Optimization, Reputation Management, Social Media, Strategy, Transformation, User Generated Content
7 Ways Blockchain can Transform Marketing
Agile Marketing, Behavioral Targeting, Branding, Business Intelligence, Buzz Marketing, Content Marketing, Conversion, Inbound Marketing, Interactive Marketing, Lead Generation, PR, Real Time Marketing, ROI, Thought Leadership
Enabling Sales for New Growth Opportunities
On April 6, 2016, the Department of Labor released a 1000-page document known as the Fiduciary Duty rule (DOL fiduciary) requiring financial advisors to always act in the best interest of the client, expanding the meaning of “investment advice fiduciary” originally defined under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 to also include retirement investment advice. Asset managers have since faced a new set of intricate regulations to comply with, tight timelines to meet, and structural/operational changes to enact within their own firms.
From the very beginning, the fiduciary rule had the weight of inevitability and the social pressure of protecting investors’ morality behind it. Assets under management in America alone nears $40 trillion, most of which is managed by the US’s largest 50 banks.
While the industry foresaw change with the DOL fiduciary rule, my marketing team saw opportunity. What if we could prepare our subject matter experts to react quickly, time our content with the news cycle, and launch an advertising campaign that could help demystify the rule for our clients and potential prospects? Better yet, what if we could be the leading consulting firm on the rule and how to implement it? We immediately got to work.
- Web presence: Ahead of the game In advance of the April 6th announcement, we developed a classic microsite, and built it out with thought leadership, media placements, and videos, all of which were keyword-optimized. Front-and-center, we placed a jargon-free description of what the DOL Fiduciary Duty Rule really meant and how we understood its possible effects. Also quickly available to visitors was a highlighted drop-down list describing various services related to DOL Fiduciary rule and how we could help. Throughout the first added our DOL-focused publications, webcasts and videos, as well as other related content.
- Thought leadership: A deep-dive and first-to-surface We are never surprised by a regulation. At the time of the announcement, marketing was prepared (at 6 a.m.!) to work alongside a five-member client services team to tear apart the 1,000 page ruling; we published a paper within 48 hours. We also scheduled interviews beginning at 11 a.m. that day with two thought leaders who were media-trained.
- Media coverage: And then some In advance, and in anticipation of the announcement, two subject area experts had been previously identified and were prepped for press interviews. We arranged for interviews on the day of the DOL announcement with The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Reuters, Reuters TV, Bloomberg, CNBC and CNBC Closing Bell.
- Webcast(s): Ramping up and following up In February 2016, we held a webcast to present industry perspectives and impacts, discussing four major impact areas: business models, operating models, technology and data, and compliance programs. By polling our webcast participants, we also confirmed concerns that we assumed were top-of-mind for our clients. Once the rule was announced, we held a follow-up webcast within two weeks. The April webcast reviewed the regulation, compared the proposed rule to the final, discussed industry impacts and reactions, next steps and FAQs.
Over the course of 14 months, we helped PwC grow a dedicated DOL team of nearly 200 employees serving 25 clients, 120 projects, and of course we booked business. Best of all we got the call every marketer dreams of from the project team to “please turn your marketing off we have too much demand!”
From Community to Commerce: Making the ROI Connection
This week I moderated another Social Media Today webinar as part of their Best Thinker webinar series, this time on the topic of From Community to Commerce: Making the ROI Connection. This webinar featured Meagan Fish (@iRobot) Global Social Media Manager, iRobot, Andrew Ashton (@@AndrewLAshton) Digital Marketing Specialist, Pizza Hut and Jordan Slabaugh (@jordanv) Vice President of Marketing, Wayin. We discussed a ton of ideas on how to capture ROI in social media!
Here are three key takeaways from the webinar:
- Social Media has gone mainstream ow so you should be measuring social media in the same way that you measure any other marketing investment
- Match your CRM data with social data to start building out a clearer picture of your audience and be more relevant to them
- There is no ROI in social without the “I” – so that means you have to make in investment to get in ROI
To get a copy of the slides or to listen to the replay, please click here. You can also scan the highlights of this webinar on Twitter by reading the Storify below.
Our next webinar is titled Making the Case for Employee Advocacy At Your Firm; be sure to sign up for it or view the schedule of other upcoming webinars here.
Advertising, Behavioral Targeting, Content Marketing, Conversion, Data Analytics, Innovation, Lead Generation, Online Advertising
The State of Digital Marketing 2015
With mid-year coming up and summertime upon us, many marketers are taking stock of the first half of the year and re-checking their Digital Marketing plans to finish out 2015 strong.
So I’d like to offer you some statistics I found eye-opening from a recent report published by Smart Insights:
- One half (50%) of businesses surveyed do not have a defined digital plan or strategy, although they are active in digital marketing.
- Nearly 60% of peoples’ time is now devoted to digital marketing activities, showing the importance of skills development in this area.
The point-counterpoint is just so stark I couldn’t help but write about this.
For any CMO, developing the skills of their team should always be a top issue. You can’t have a high performing team with spotty skills especially in the area of digital marketing. Whether that’s as simple as; how to write an effective tweet, to how to write for the web, or how to write a pay-per-click advertising the common denominator is content and writing.
Summertime is a great time to do a bunch of Lunch and Learns across your team why not consider a series of weekly lunch and learns to get the skill level across your entire team up! Here’s an infographic with more great stats – hope you enjoy!
Advertising, Applications, Business Intelligence, Content Marketing, Conversion, Conversion Optimization, Data Mining, Innovation, Interactive Marketing, Lead Generation, Lead Nurturing, Marketing, Online Advertising, Pay Per Click, ROI, Strategy
The Missing Link Between Media and Marketing
It’s apparent that there’s a missing vital component in the quest to modernize marketing. Today’s marketing organizations are aggressively modernizing, automating and adding more digitally centered marketing tactics as they focus on their mandate to discover prospects and create new customers. To meet the challenge, CMOs have turbocharged Marketing Ops teams and are building their “Marketing Clouds,” leveraging marketing automation to nurture prospects, adding CRM to manage pipeline and customer relationships, while spending millions on branded websites and social pages, coupled with billions on media to promote their offerings. We are not connecting that media investment, the prospects generated, nor their data, with our marketing systems and processes. Integration between the two is a critical missing link.
The prospect marketing effort, which is predominantly driven by third-party media investments in content syndication, search and advertising, is still very fragmented and, worse, seldom measured or optimized. Disconnected and unable to adequately track and optimize media spend, marketing organizations struggle with lead velocity, mixed data quality and a lack of ability to attribute results back to the source or measure ROI. This is a tough hit for marketing executives as they realize how much money they’re actually spending on media to create prospects—$40 billion+ on digital advertising alone in 2013, according to the IAB.
Here are 3 areas of focus for CMOs and marketing pros who are out to modernize their approach in order to drive a higher return on media and technology investment should consider:
- Integrate third-party media investment and data with marketing systems and processes. Today, engaging with the media community (publishers, affiliates and other sources) combined with the internal marketing processes necessary to get data into systems, requires numerous manual processes—hours of data scrubbing and lots of spreadsheets passed between media providers and marketing teams. A more efficient approach is to automate by integrating the prospect and lead data garnered from media campaigns and partners directly with your marketing automation system and/or your CRM. Ensuring the data is delivered directly into your current systems eliminates numerous manual, resource-intensive tasks.
- Validate prospect information in order to inject quality, actionable data, and thereby increase lead velocity and lower media costs. Once you decide to directly inject prospect data from your third party media sources, it becomes essential that the media-driven data you’ve paid for is validated, cleansed and formatted for your marketing systems (Eloqua, Marketo, Salesforce, Pardot, etc.). This not only ensures that you get what you paid for from your media investment, it also allows you to more rapidly get down to the business of nurturing and developing customers.
- “Close the Loop” to garner actionable insights that can be applied to optimize media campaigns and marketing programs. Today, we have the ability to gather data from every campaign we run but most of it we can’t and don’t act on. Whether you leverage banners, email, content syndication, telemarketing, search or a combination and whether you utilize cost per acquisition, lead, sale, click or incoming call, you need to analyze marketing performance data by media channel, media source, creative, content, offers and campaigns all in one place. Then you can more easily acquire insights that can be applied to optimize campaigns by focusing on higher performing tactics, redistributing media spend across the most successful media sources, and applying the resulting audience data to fine tune targeting parameters.
Taking action on the missing link is a necessity. If you are investing in media to generate prospects and acquire customers, be certain to connect those media programs with the rest of your marketing systems and process.
This post was written in collaboration with Integrate – learn more about Integrate at http://www.integrate.com
Behavioral Targeting, Business Intelligence, Conversion, Conversion Optimization, Customer Experience, Interactive Marketing, Internet, Search, SEO, Strategy, User Generated Content
How to Make the Zero Moment of Truth Work for You
When faced with multiple products, the time it takes for a shopper to make a purchase decision between them is usually three to seven seconds. These critical moments are known as the First Moment of Truth (or FMOT), and they determine whether or not all the advertising and promotion marketers have invested will pay off. Thanks to the Internet, another critical moment for consumer/brand interactions is also getting attention: the Zero Moment of Truth (or ZMOT). ZMOT encompasses the time between consumers’ first exposure to advertising for a product and the ultimate purchase decision—with emphasis what happens in between those two things: online research of the product.
According to a study by Google (who came up with the ZMOT concept), before deciding whether or not to buy:
- 50% of shoppers used a search engine to get more information on a product or brand
- 38% comparison shopped online
- 36% checked out the brand/manufacturer’s website
- 31% read online endorsements, reviews or recommendations
These behaviors have redefined the way marketers now plan for online shoppers—causing a tremendous shift away from the way they used to plan their campaigns. Marketers who sell high-end goods like electronics, furniture or cars are no strangers to these shopping patterns, but these days, customers apply them to practically everything they buy. Having a good product and a solid awareness campaign is no longer enough; now there’s a more informed and discerning customer base to cater to. They check in with their trusted third-party sources, and expect your message to be consistent from desktop to mobile to tablet and back again. It’s a tall order…but not an impossible one.
Here are some ideas to help win at the Zero Moment of Truth:
Back in the day—uh, about 10 short years ago—marketers knew more about their products than their consumers did, and had the luxury of acting as the gatekeepers of brand information. These days, consumers aren’t as passive; they’re active, engaged and are likely to know as much about what’s being sold as the people selling it to them (if not more). When they have something to say about a product, they’re not just saying it to the company that sold it to them, they’re talking to each other, at an exponential rate.
Mobile tech and devices are crucial to this process. On the go, customers search for store locations, compare prices and features, and call family and friends to get opinions. At home, they’ll respond to a TV or radio ad by firing up search engines on their second screens. So optimizing company websites for mobile is a no-brainer.
Here are some things to consider when doing so:
- Improve page load speeds by leaving out huge graphics and Flash content.
- Make sure your site design translates to smaller smartphone screens as well as it does to larger tablet and desktop ones.
- Use A/B and Multivariate testing on as many site elements as possible—namely, content, design, shopping cart process—to see what gets your mobile audience excited.
- Don’t be afraid to track mobile marketing separately from other web campaigns; according to Google’s study, mobile-only campaigns perform 11.5% better than hybrid desktop/mobile ones.
You already know people are talking about your brand on the Web, so you need to do your utmost to embrace and be a part of that conversation.
If people are searching for your brand online with questions, you’d better have useful and engaging answers for them—because if you don’t, your competition surely will. Product reviews and recommendations are major resources for consumers doing research; make sure they’re prominently displayed on the product pages of your website.
Don’t be nervous about opening up your site to user comments and feedback, because honestly…most reviews are good reviews. According to a Bazaarvoice study, 80% of online reviews on a given retail site are written by the top 20% of the site’s most committed and loyal customers. Even the occasional thumbs-down is a good sign; shoppers see negative reviews as proof of an unbiased, truthful environment.
Video is another crucial aspect of ZMOT; product showcases, how-to demonstrations, B2B case studies…whatever your market, customers will want to see what you have on offer before opening their wallets. Shoppers love to send videos to each other via email, post them to social networks or embed them in their blogs or personal websites, so make sure your videos are easy for customers to share. Try adding a YouTube channel to your social media arsenal. Increase the reach of your TV advertisements by posting them online.
If there’s no stylistic connection between your company’s main website, your social media pages, and your offline marketing campaigns, shoppers are bound to get confused or challenge the legitimacy of your online presence. Keep branding elements and logos consistent between all your marketing channels, so consumers trust that they’re exactly where they need to be and know precisely who they’re dealing with.
Don’t just pay attention to style—your content also has to be consistent across channels and campaigns. Shoppers are using various pathways to find you; if they see conflicting product descriptions or huge price discrepancies between channels, they’re likely to lose confidence in your brand and look elsewhere. Also, it’s important to keep your online content fresh and updated. If customers keep seeing the same old commentary on your main site, or your social media sites haven’t been updated in months, they might think you’ve gone out of business—and you’ll lose their business.
A huge part of succeeding at ZMOT is being able to define and understand your target audience, in order to provide them with specific experiences attuned to their needs. Not only are consumers seeking information about your products, but their searches also allow you to gain insight that helps you give them exactly what they’re looking for.
Use information gathered from website behaviors to create user profiles that can be segmented by various attributes: geography, time of day, viewing device, media channel, web browser, etc. This personalized approach can be as simple (one or two collected insights) or as complex (mathematical algorithms that dynamically adjust and predict displayed content) as your specific campaigns require. Once created, these profiles provide better, more relevant customer engagement.
Product reviews and recommendations come back into play here, because when consumers engaging in ZMOT use them, they’re not thinking of them as opinions from strangers—instead the reviews and recs are perceived as coming from people like themselves, who’ve been in the same situation and had similar questions. Personalization helps online marketers connect consumers with the product advice most suited with their particular need, which can lead to a desired purchase. Those customers can then post their own reviews or recommendations, informing other consumers undergoing their own ZMOT…and the beat goes on.
ZMOT is a fantastic way to gain awareness on customer interest and satisfaction; putting these various methods to work for you will keep your brand in the forefront of shoppers’ minds and attentions, giving you the ability to trounce your competition and make the sale.
Behavioral Targeting, Commerce, Conversion, Conversion Optimization, Customer Experience, eCommerce, Interactive Marketing, Personalization, Testing
More Traffic? Or More Conversions? No Contest.
A bit of a trick question: If you had $100 to spend, would you be better off devoting that money to doubling the traffic to your site?
Or doubling your conversion rate?
Many marketers get this wrong.
Despite years of front-line, real-world experience to the contrary, more and more online marketing budgets are disproportionately aimed at driving traffic, rather than conversions.
There’s the notion that things like SEO, PPC, affiliate marketing and the like are far more important than increasing shopping cart sizes, decreasing abandonment, upselling and cross selling.
To be sure, driving traffic is a critical mission for any e-commerce site. After all, no visitors, no sales.
But at the same time, even the most brilliant SEO or affiliate strategies will be for naught if the site itself fails to entice customers to actually buy.
That’s precisely where site testing, optimization, and personalization come in. Failing to actually sell goods on the site can cost brands the effort, the dollars, and the brand equity that they devoted to attracting all that traffic.
Doubling your conversions can be dramatically more profitable than merely doubling your visitor numbers. And here’s why:
You want insight, not just raw numbers
Slice and dice your site traffic analytics all you want. But at the end of the day, they are still just numbers. What rings the cash register is actionable solutions you can use to improve your customer experience.
The first step is to employ an internal test-and-learn methodology to understand what visitors to your site are engaging with, where they’re dropping off, where their gravitating towards. (Hint: this may even differ by traffic source!)
But only through continuous A/B and multivariate testing, can you actually begin to understand your visitors and place content decisions in their hands. You can fundamentally change how your organization learns about its online traffic. In other words, nobody should be increasing traffic or making a site without a focus on improving conversions.
You want sales, not just visitors.
Yes, going to your boss and detailing how you doubled site traffic in the last quarter is a grand accomplishment! But can you really document how that increased traffic contributed to sales? Do you really know?
If you aren’t tracking conversion rates, or attempting to optimize the site in any way, boosting traffic rates is simply doesn’t matter.
Once visitors land on your site, your goal is to get them to buy (and hopefully become repeat customers). This is where testing and personalization are essential to turning traffic into sales.
Optimizing your site for content, design, offers, and copy is the only way to ensure your are taking full advantage of your site traffic. If the experience is irrelevant, frustrating or cumbersome, you might as well have not ever invited them to your site in the first place.
Better experience, more dollars
Today’s consumers are good at comparison shopping. They research, they sign up for emails, they track down deals. Which may lead you to believe that the key is to boost your traffic as much as possible.
But the reality is, if you provide a really stellar online experience, they will want to come back, again and again. Which makes the overall job simpler, and clearer.
Thanks in part to more advanced testing methods, it’s a lot easier to listen to what your visitors want (and need). Customers have become a lot more vocal even if they don’t know it. Through their clicks, page views, bounces, reviews and purchases, your online customers offer real-world feedback about their online experiences, in real-time. So pay attention to them. Make website changes and marketing decisions based on your customers, not on what your gut — or marketing budget — is telling you to.
Getting into a traffic war with your competitors is a sure-fire way to waste resources and precious attention. It’s far more effective step up your game by using testing and conversion optimization to gather data and visitor profiles that can dramatically increase actual sales and repeat visits. You may even find that segmenting your customers by where they came from can help you convert them into loyal and repeat buyers.
When it comes to their websites, major e-commerce players need to realize that only through a customized combination of multivariate testing, optimization and personalization best practices can they truly begin to tailor experiences in meaningful and profitable ways. It’s an ever-evolving practice that reaches miles beyond SEO, ad targeting and landing page optimization. But the rewards of it means a lot more return traffic, and a lot more improved conversions.
Follow the money
No matter how you define a conversion, at the end of the day, the holy grail for e-commerce marketers is to increase site sales. And the dollars are in the details, not just the volume. Focusing on conversion rates is where you’ll see not only site engagement improve, but revenue as well. Your traffic drivers might bring you more people, but conversion strategies bring you more money. No contest.
When it comes to site optimization and traffic acquisition, the best brands aren’t just surviving — they’re thriving. By focusing on the deep analytics and insights gained from testing with online customers, not just boosting traffic, not only improves the efficiency and effectiveness of their e-commerce site, but several other aspects of their businesses as well. They have a better grasp on who their customers are, how they buy, when they buy and what they buy.
In short, they can offer experiences more suited to customer needs and wants — and that is the true goal of any e-commerce business.
Buying Cycle, Conversion, Conversion Optimization, Customer, Customer Experience, Personalization, Strategy
5 Ways B2B Can Learn from B2C Marketers
Business and consumer brands have traditionally approached marketing from two totally different vantage points. And it’s obvious why: buying cycles are longer, buyer mentalities are different, and products typically require more investigation before a purchase. But the reality is that B2B buyers are very similar to B2C consumers— whether it’s buying a new car or new enterprise software, consumers want to be educated and informed. They want to feel as though you understand them and their problems. And they certainly don’t want to be bored to death with encyclopedic catalogue-type information.
While there are always going to be distinct differences between b2b and b2c marketing practices, B2B websites must make some B2C-inspired adjustments to keep up with savvy consumers. Sites must be more visual, more concise and more consumable, taking the following into account:
1) Design your site for the consumer, not the company
Just because you aren’t a retailer doesn’t mean your site has to follow a typical design pattern that most B2B sites are known to follow. You know it well: a dedicated area for a rotating hero graphic; some space touting your news and events, and maybe a few awards; and, of course, customer logos prominently displayed on the site.
But take a look around at leading e-commerce brands and you’ll find a necessary constant: they design the site with the buyer in mind. When you hit the homepage, you know exactly what products they are offering, which promotions they are running, and you are comfortable navigating or searching the site. Their hero imagery is used strategically, the calls-to-action are prominent, and simple, actionable navigation jump-starts the shopping process. B2B companies often fall prey to the internal design and jargon trap, but it’s easy to get your value proposition across without content overload that creates a confusing experience.
2) Start testing, seriously
B2B marketers spend copious amounts of money driving traffic to their website, but spend next to nothing on converting said traffic. I can’t help but think we are leaving leads—and money—on the table as B2B marketers.
The rapid increase in adoption of A/B and multivariate testing by B2C companies has fundamentally shifted the way websites are designed (and updated) forever. Today’s leading B2C companies are not only employing testing technologies to improve customer experiences and conversion rates, they also are making this a must-have practice for their site. Just as you wouldn’t dream of neglecting SEO, playing guessing games with your site content is no longer acceptable.
While your website may not be performing B2C-like monetary transactions, a B2B site is still an important touch point in the sales and marketing funnel. Specific elements, such as calls-to-action, landing page layouts, homepage design and forms, are high on B2C marketers’ list of optimization priorities—and yet, they are very much a part of a B2B site. The bottom line is, any small change, addition or update to your site can negatively or positively impact conversions, but if you aren’t testing, you will never know.
3) Treat your content like a category
If you think about a typical B2B tech company, it likely has a product or service to offer, or even a blend of both. Either way, the company’s aim is to educate the prospect to drive a sale. Like many B2C sites, your products and services pages are a category. Your case studies, white papers, e-books, articles and events are a category. Any area that helps inform a decision and convert a visitor (i.e., form fill out, contact us action) should be optimized accordingly.
Your content pages are crucial to making this educational process frustration free, while giving visitors an array of choices to explore and engage with. For example, quick “pop-outs” when visitors mouse over a white paper that give more detail without having to click onto a landing page can be a great way to provide that information. “Light-boxing” a video player applies the same technique, while keeping the focus on the sole content. Large images to support product copy and listings will focus visitors’ attention.
4) Employ deeper search and sort capabilities
For B2C companies, search is a must-have that, when optimized accordingly, has been proven to lead to higher conversion rates and sales. There is no exception for B2B.
Search functionality enables visitors to easily locate your product(s) and/or service(s) based on certain parameters— leading them down the path to become educated on exactly what they are looking for, as well as get enough questions answered to want to learn more and make contact. Additionally, any user who is engaging with search on your site probably knows a bit more about you—so offering that user more sophisticated searches can help speed up the process. With sort and filter functionality, you allow users to dive deeper into your products and resources, understand their choices and know that you have what they want!
5) Allow product reviews
It’s time to take those typical “customer quotes” you splashed across your homepage to a new level. B2C companies have cited that allowing for product ratings and reviews from previous buyers can help sway uncertain customers or reassure them that they are buying into something great. If you’re already asking a customer to write a case study with you, or endorse you in a press release, consider asking for a product review in similar B2C fashion—and displaying it accordingly on your site.
When it comes to display, stars or numbered rankings, offer an immediate signal that others have bought, used and rated a particular product. Now, those customer logos you have on your “Clients” page have suddenly come to life. And they encourage visitors to look to longer, text-driven reviews for more product information and insights. Connect this to a form or “Request a Demo” link, and you’re not only getting product endorsements but improving lead gen too.
The reality is that today’s B2B online customer experiences are falling short to the far-superior B2C buying experience. B2B sites that don’t aim to play catch-up sooner rather than later will risk losing business, and budget. Your website is often one of the first touches a prospect makes, so don’t waste the opportunity to capture—and convert them—for a deeper conversation.
When you think about it, the Darwinian idea of evolution is not a far cry from the way we as marketers adapt and change to new technology. With new ways of selling, new channels for promoting a brand and new ways of engaging customers, we’re constantly evolving to stay ahead of the game. And now in the era of rock-solid online competition, we have to evolve even further and ask ourselves: What does it take to lead the online conversion movement?
When it comes to our online strategies, it’s easier than ever to use data-driven, scientific tools to inform ourselves about what is really making our customers click. Through an iterative process of testing and personalization, your online visitors will begin to unknowingly select the best-performing content for your site. And the weaker content should become extinct with all the other not-so-great content choices that have cycled through your site. But in the end, the strong content survives, and in turn produces a web environment that pays off: better customer experiences and higher conversion rates.
1. Learn from those who are bigger, faster and stronger
When it comes to site optimization, the fittest brands aren’t just surviving—they’re thriving. Leading retailers have realized that the deep analytics and insights gained from testing with online customers is not only improving the efficiency and effectiveness of their e-commerce site, but several other aspects of their businesses as well. By having a better understanding than ever before of who their customers are, how they buy, when they buy and what they buy, businesses are now able to do everything better. For example, they can offer experiences more suited to customer needs and wants, they can cross-sell and upsell in-store, online, on mobile, on tablets, even in social, and they can drive more sales than ever before (which they figured out via constant, but relatively straightforward, changes to these sites).
2. Test your theory
Want to know the secrets of the most successful online retailing giants, eBay and Amazon? They test their websites constantly and as they go. Building on initial multivariate testing and website optimization programs that lead to increased site traffic, interaction and sales, those leaders roll out a variety of page and site variants to different customer segments to attain increasingly nuanced results and metrics.
Thanks to a continually evolving understanding of their customers’ behaviors, those powerful brands are able to regularly improve their websites in response to consumer needs and marketplace demands—all without disturbing the customer experience or implementing drastic changes that might compromise revenues.
3. Examine outliers
Online, everyone’s opinion matters—no matter how unexpected or seemingly bizarre an opinion might be. What you think customers want or how you think they should interact with your site just isn’t relevant because they will engage with you online exactly the way they want. That means that you need to start paying careful attention to everything they do. Ultimately, your visitors should design your website based on the choices they make on your pages. Testing will enable you to follow every aspect of their behavior and their interactions with your site, and it’s up to you to take that information into account to create the optimal site experience for your visitor.
Of course, customers don’t necessarily want the same things, and that’s where behavioral targeting and personalization comes in. With personalized web experiences for each customer, your website, mobile, tablet and social sites have the power to speak directly to individual customer needs, wants and interests—no matter how unique—thereby increasing customer loyalty, individual conversion rates and even purchases at checkout.
4. Select the best results, and apply your findings
Thanks to today’s cloud-based technology, you don’t need to wait thousands of years for the winning traits of your site to be revealed. Your testing efforts will begin to reveal data insights in a matter of days or weeks (though the lifespan of a test will vary depending on site traffic, conversion rate and uplift from the default).
Follow the 95% confidence rule when ending a test and identifying a “winner.” Here is the rule in layman’s terms: Based on what you observe in a test, you are 95 percent certain that the alternate or new version is better than the original.
Furthermore, that trait-selection process isn’t a one-off. Your site can be an ever- expanding and evolving centerpiece of your brand with a strategy for “continuous optimization.” Many factors can change how even your most loyal customers use your site, such as holiday seasons, promotions or just a maturing buying life cycle. With continual testing and optimization, you can ensure that your site is always in sync with consumer needs and behaviors.
Take it from Charles Darwin, the man who has been quoted as saying, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” The success of your e-commerce site isn’t driven by the size or cleverness of your marketing team; it’s driven by your team’s willingness to respond to the demands of customers and adjust accordingly. Only when you evolve will your consumers evolve into loyal, active buyers.
Welcome to my blog, my name is Paul Dunay and I lead Red Hat's Financial Services Marketing team Globally, I am also a Certified Professional Coach, Author and Award-Winning B2B Marketing Expert. Any views expressed are my own.
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