The Digital Marketing Maelstrom Is Pushing the Discipline Forward

The Digital Marketing Maelstrom Is Pushing the Discipline Forward

Many farers in the seas of marketing were taught to think of the customer as their north star. Marketers and marketing analysts know customer wants, needs, fears and aversions and bring that knowledge to bear when making or influencing business decisions.

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In Conversion Optimization, The Loser Takes It All

Most of us at some point in our lives have experienced that creeping, irrational fear of failure, of being an imposter in our chosen profession or deemed “a Loser” for not getting something right the first time. marketers who work in A/B testing and conversion optimization.

We are constantly tasked with creating new, better experiences for our company or client and in turn the customers they serve. Yet unlike many business ventures or fire-and-forget ad agency work, we then willingly set out to definitively prove that our new version is better than the old, thus throwing ourselves upon the dual fates of customer decision making and statistical significance.

And that’s when the sense of failure begins to creep in, when you have to present a losing test to well-meaning clients or peers who were so convinced that this was a winner, a surefire hit. The initial illusion they had — that you knew all the right answers — so clinically shattered by that negative percentage sign in front of your results.

Yet of course herein lays the mistake of both the client and peer who understandably need quick, short-term results or the bravado of the marketer who thinks they can always get it right the first time.

A/B testing and conversion optimization, like the scientific method these disciplines apply to marketing, is merely a process to get you to the right answer, and to view it as the answer itself is to mistake the map for the territory.

I was reminded of this the other day when listening to one of my favorite science podcasts, “The Skeptics Guide to the Universe,” hosted by Dr. Steven Novella, which ends each week with a relevant quote. That week they quoted Brazilian-born, English, Nobel Prize-winning zoologist Sir Peter B. Medawar (1915 -1987) from his 1979 book “Advice to a Young Scientist.” In it he stated, “All experimentation is criticism. If an experiment does not hold out the possibility of causing one to revise one’s views, it is hard to see why it should be done at all.”This quote for me captures a lot of the truisms I’ve learnt in my experience as a conversion optimization marketer, as well as addresses a lot of the confusion in many MECLABS Institute Research Partners and colleagues who are less familiar with the nature and process of conversion optimization.

Here are four points to keep in mind if you choose to take a scientific approach to your marketing:

1. If you truly knew what the best customer experience was, then you wouldn’t test

I have previously been asked after presenting a thoroughly researched outline of planned testing, that although the methodic process to learning we had just outlined was greatly appreciated, did we not know a shortcut we could take to get to a big success.

Now, this is a fully understandable sentiment, especially in the business world where time is money and everyone needs to meet their targets yesterday. That said, the question does fundamentally miss the value of conversion optimizing testing, if not the value of the scientific method itself. Remember, this method of inquiry has allowed us — through experimentation and the repeated failure of educated, but ultimately false hypotheses — to finally develop the correct hypothesis and understanding of the available facts. As a result, we are able to cure disease, put humans on the moon and develop better-converting landing pages.

In the same vein, as marketers we can do in-depth data and customer research to get us closer to identifying the correct conversion problems in a marketing funnel and to work out strong hypotheses about what the best solutions are, but ultimately we can’t know the true answer until we test it.

A genuine scientific experiment should be trying to prove itself wrong as much as it is proving itself right. It is only through testing out our false hypothesis that we as marketers can confirm the true hypothesis that represents the correct interpretation of the available data and understanding of our customers that will allow us to get the big success we seek for our clients and customers.

2. If you know the answer, just implement it

This particularly applies to broken elements in your marketing or conversion funnel.

An example of this from my own recent experience with a client was when we noticed in our initial forensic conversion analysis of their site that the design of their cart made it almost impossible to convert on a small mobile or desktop screen if you had more than two products in your cart.

Looking at the data and the results from our own user testing, we could see that this was clearly broken and not just an underperformance. So we just recommended that they fix it, which they did.

We were then able to move on and optimize the now-functioning cart and lower funnel through testing, rather than wasting everyone’s time with a test that was a foregone conclusion.

3. If you see no compelling reason why a potential test would change customer behavior, then don’t do it

When creating the hypothesis (the supposition that can be supported or refuted via the outcome of your test), make sure it is a hypothesis based upon an interpretation of available evidence and a theory about your customer.

Running the test should teach you something about both your interpretation of the data and the empathetic understanding you think you have of your customer.

If running the test will do neither, then it is unlikely to be impactful and probably not worth running.

4. Make sure that the changes you make are big enough and loud enough to impact customer behavior

You might have data to support the changes in your treatment and a well-thought-out customer theory, but if the changes you make are implemented in a way that customers won’t notice them, then you are unlikely to elicit the change you expect to see and have no possibility of learning something.

Failure is a feature, not a bug

So next time you are feeling like a loser, when you are trying to explain why your conversion optimization test lost:

  • Remind your audience that educated failure is an intentional part of the process:
  • Focus on what you learnt about your customer and how you have improved upon your initial understanding of the data.
  • Explain how you helped the client avoid implementing the initial “winning idea” that, it turns out, wasn’t such a winner — and all the money this saved them.

Remember, like all scientific testing, conversion optimization might be slow, methodical and paved with losing tests, but it is ultimately the only guaranteed way to build repeatable, iterative, transferable success across a business.

Related Resources:

Optimizing Headlines & Subject Lines

Consumer Reports Value Proposition Test: What You Can Learn From A 29% Drop In Clickthrough

MarketingExperiments Research Journal (Q1 2011) — See “Landing Page Optimization: Identifying friction to increase conversion and win a Nobel Prize” starting on page 106

The post In Conversion Optimization, The Loser Takes It All appeared first on MarketingExperiments.

Salesforce Acquires Datorama for $800M, Alibaba Invests $1.43B in Focus Media and Other CX News

Salesforce Acquires Datorama for $800M, Alibaba Invests $1.43B in Focus Media and Other CX News

Salesforce this week signed a definitive agreement to acquire Datorama, a cloud-based, AI-powered marketing intelligence and analytics platform. The deal is worth $800 million. Datorama 's technology is designed to optimize marketing campaigns, automate reporting and help marketers make data-driven decisions using Artificial Intelligence (AI) engines.

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4 Tips to Apply Design Thinking to the Digital Workplace

4 Tips to Apply Design Thinking to the Digital Workplace

The workplace is evolving and there are a myriad of choices to make when considering which technology your organization utilizes and supports. In the enterprise, decisions like this are typically made by a group of stakeholders who represent different parts of the organization.

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Lessons in Transparency from the Great Opt-In Race of 2018

Lessons in Transparency from the Great Opt-In Race of 2018

In last-ditch efforts to preserve their European Union prospect databases, marketers sent a dizzying variety of “opt-in” emails in the days leading up to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) enforcement deadline on May 25, 2018. And in the overwhelming majority of cases, response rates disappointed.

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Is Cold Calling Dead In The Digital Age?

The conventional wisdom in today’s digital marketing circles is that the cold call is outdated as a method of finding new customers. Consider for a moment that tens of millions of people have signed up for “Do Not Call” lists. People don’t even want to talk on their smartphones – they’d much rather send text messages back and forth. As a result, a phone call of any kind is usually a very unwelcome intrusion into everyday life.

So, If Cold Calling is Dead, What Comes Next?

According to a recent Harvard Business Review survey, cold calling is ineffective 90 percent of the time, and less than 2 percent of cold calls ever result in so much as a meeting. If each meeting results in a final sale only 25 percent of the time, you’d literally have to make more than 1,000 calls to make just 5 measly sales. Surely, there are better ways to spend your time, right?

As you might imagine, marketers have been scrambling to fill the void left by the demise of the cold call, and some of the possible solutions have proven to be more viable than the dreaded phone call involving the pushy salesman and the rehearsed 3-minute script.

Social Selling

One solution that has been offered as an alternative to cold calling is “social selling.” In the classic social selling scenario, you find potential prospects on social media platforms, establish some sort of (tenuous) relationship with them, and then use that relationship as an opening to discuss a sale.

How many times have you accepted a LinkedIn invitation, only to find yourself being spammed by all kinds of requests and offers? Or how many times have you had people DM you on Twitter with requests? Those are both (unfortunate) examples of social selling strategies at work.

Inbound Marketing

Another solution is called “inbound marketing.” This is the concept that it’s a lot easier to have customers come to you rather than you come to them. That might sound like a bunch of obfuscating semantics, but it basically means that you create a lot of content explaining how to solve customer problems, and (thanks to the genius of Google), those customers will eventually find you online. You don’t even need to call them – they’ll communicate with you via social media.

It’s the reason why “how to” videos are so popular on social media. You might be looking for “how to fix my leaky roof” on YouTube, when you run across a whole treasure trove of videos from roofing contractors showing you exactly how to do it. The idea, of course, is that you’ll hire them to do the job for you.

Predictive Analytics

Another potential solution leverages the power of data and predictive analytics to find customers who are “primed” for a sale. Thanks to modern data analytics, companies know WAY more about your web browsing habits than you ever thought possible. As soon as they catch wind of the fact that you’re ready to buy (as the result of a link you’ve clicked or a webinar video you’ve watched), you can be assured that you’ll be getting an email, text message or other “friendly reminder.”

How many times have you priced hotels on a travel booking site, only to find emails soon waiting for you, reminding you to buy? Or how many times have you checked a few items on Amazon (perhaps for a friend or for a business project!), only to find an Amazon email soon arriving in your inbox? These companies know that you are ready to buy, and they are trying to make that final sale without ever lifting the phone to make a call!

So, even though the days of the cold call are over, there are plenty of alternatives waiting to take its place. Just as the cold call replaced the days of people going door-to-door to sell you stuff you don’t need (encyclopedias!), something will replace the cold call. The digital marketing era is making it easier than ever before to find the right prospects, and to reach them at exactly the right moment when they are most open to a sale.

*This post originally appeared on socialmedia hq.

Guide to Social Media Marketing

A Blockchain Glossary of Common Terms

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Bitcoin, and by extension blockchain, have been around since 2008 when Satoshi Nakamoto published the Bitcoin White Paper. The first Bitcoin block, the so-called 'Genesis Block,' was mined in 2009. As the Bitcoin protocol is open source, anyone could take the protocol, fork it (i.e.

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Make Customer Experience Your Competitive Advantage With These 3 Steps

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Organizations strive to create a competitive advantage from the very first day they're in business. After all, competitive advantage is why customers select one offering over others. We design our business models to maximize advantages and create a “moat,” making it difficult for others to copy our advantages.

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