This summer, MECLABS hosted their 4th annual Web Optimization Summit. MECLABS is a marketing research firm which originally focused on traditional marketing methods, and then later shifted their expertise to their digital marketing sector. The firm is known for being a results-driven organization, focusing on efficient return on client investment, and providing unmatched user-centric experience. This year’s WebOpt conference focused on new developments in the world of online optimization, especially the changing landscape online retailer’s face, as the industry continues to mature, and more and more transactions occur online.
Start the Conversation
One of the very first speakers, Tim Kachuriak, Founder and Chief Innovation & Optimization Officer at Next After, spoke about the importance of creating a gradual and pressure-free sales funnel that begins with a simple email. Tim, with an extensive background in non-profit fundraising, has learned the need for patience when asking for a donation or some other type of user buy-in. Kachuriak explained that the initial interaction in a sales funnel should begin the customer’s journey, not try to end it by making a quick sale. He went on to explain how the initial customer contact can be a great way to start the conversation, and each successive step in the process should primarily focus on driving the user through successive stages of the funnel. He emphasized how websites can achieve more efficient progression through the steps in their sales funnel by clearly communicating the value of each user action. Finally, by shifting focus from a hard sell, to step-by-step progression through the process, companies and organizations can increase overall conversion, while capturing even more relevant data from the customer.
Transparency in Web-Based Services
In another presentation, Harvard Business School Associate Professor, Michael Norton, spoke extensively about the importance of providing transparency in web-based services. Due to the fact that many internet users are not familiar with the systems and processes that make online services possible, customers frequently assume that an online service offering is automatic or expense-free. Users don’t see the effort it takes to accomplish the end result, and therefore don’t fully appreciate the amount of work it took to provide. The customer is sometimes left with a feeling of being cheated or over-charged, regardless of the actual market rate of the service being provided. This is bad for the customer, and worse for the company providing the service. Norton uses the Domino’s Pizza as an example of a company that got it right, pointing to the improved satisfaction rates the company has seen by introducing their Pizza Tracker, a mobile app that allows customers to see the steps required to make and deliver their pizza. By showing users the amount of work being done on their behalf, organizations are better able to communicate the accurate value of their service.
A/B Variance Testing
Emily Emmer, Senior Interactive Marketing Manager at Extra Storage Space, was another presenter who discussed the importance of identifying the natural variance within an A/B test data set, and establishing the minimum benchmarks that represent significant findings. We are all familiar with A/B testing, but Emmer explained the importance of A/A testing- running a split test without any difference in stimulus, and comparing the results. Her company, Extra Storage Space, found that there were significant differences in traffic, conversions, and engagement- even when user-groups are shown the exact same page layout and design. Her company set out to understand which factors were causing the variance, and, more importantly how to isolate the design elements most relevant to conversion. After much testing, Emmer was able to establish guidelines for A/B tests, to ensure that the results were indicative of the changes that occurred, and not simply natural anomalies. Her tests revealed that design changes would need to create a lift greater than 4%, with at least 500 conversions over a period of 2 weeks or more. These testing rules led to results that were responsible for a massive 45% increase in conversions on the Extra Storage Space website, a much greater lift than they had ever realized through prior A/B testing.
Keep it Simple
Jacob Baldwin, Digital Marketing Manager at One Call Now, shared insights about the benefits of keeping your product offerings simple, and not requiring customers to choose from an overwhelming number of options during the purchasing process. Baldwin explained the processes One Call has used to optimize each portion of the sales funnel, by focusing on simplicity and highlighting just the factors that matter most to customers. He went on to explain the ways One Call has reduced the amount of friction and anxiety users experience when attempting to make a purchase. By changing the tone of their site copy from sales-driven, to free-trial driven, the company was able to improve conversion rates by 55%. When they eliminated unnecessary fields in their free-trial application form, conversions jumped by another 29%. Through continuous optimization, and a move away from sales-focused language and unnecessary informational requests, Baldwin’s company was able to realize tangible results quickly.
The speakers at WebOpt14 undoubtedly provided cutting edge industry insight, but more importantly, they explained the real-world applications of these principles and gave examples of their implementation and the success company’s gained by adopting them. Any agency professional, business owner, or webmaster, would do well to think long and hard about how they can apply these strategies to their own business or organization.