Jon Powell

Email Marketing: How responsive design might improve your emails

January 29th, 2015

If you were watching last year, we revealed some research on a Web clinic concerned with responsive design, specifically the effect of a mobile and tablet-based form page design for mobile and tablet specific users.

If you’re unfamiliar with responsive design, the general concept is that a page is coded to adapt its viewing experience to fit the size of the device you’re using.

 

While the results were interesting, we still had many questions:

  • Can those findings be applicable to all page types?
  • What about articles and landing pages?
  • What about emails?

As part of our quest to continue to get a better picture on the effect of mobile design on a rapidly growing world of mobile users, my team had a desire to perform a responsive design test on a type of email where responsive design would prove extremely valuable to readers — the email newsletter.

The team’s hypothesis made sense: A significant number of visitors are not acting on the [desktop style] email because it is too difficult to read and process. The fix? Use a responsive design template to make things readable.

 

A closer look at the two versions reveals the following about the responsive template:

  • The text is much clearer
  • It’s easier to navigate (just swipe down instead of pinch, zoom and scroll)
  • It’s more aesthetically appealing

The only sacrifice the responsive template makes is that it takes about 5 to 6 more swipes to navigate to the end. Regardless, the team hypothesized that the sum of benefits would outweigh this perceived cost.

When we looked at the results, however, we found something quite different:

 

The result was puzzling: Why would an email newsletter that is more difficult to read outperform one that is easier to read?

What’s even more puzzling is that this finding does not generally fit the pattern I’ve seen in mobile design email tests, specifically case studies like this one from CareerBuilder on MarketingSherpa:

                                                     

Puzzled, we went back to our test metrics to examine our results more closely for any additional clues. When we looked at the unique click rate (as opposed to click rate), we were presented with another interesting result:

 

There was no statistically significant difference in the number of people who clicked. The non-responsive viewers are simply clicking more per email then the responsive viewers.

That still left us with a final question: Why are the non-responsive users clicking more?

The answer, we believe, was hidden in this final metric:

 

Viewers of the non-responsive design are reading significantly less than those viewing the responsive version. But why?

  • Maybe it is just easier for viewers to tap to learn more on the non-responsive version than it is to pinch, zoom scroll and then read to learn more.
  • Maybe people found the responsive email more appealing to read, thus reading more.

 

Bottom Line: Which email is better?

Well, that depends on how you measure success.

If you want to attract people who will have a real interest in the deeper troves of content your site has to offer (and thus be more qualified for a paid offering), the responsive email in this case would be most effective in helping you accomplish the greater objective.

Why? Because someone looking at the non-responsive version may click on the links out of curiosity to learn more about the heading because they don’t want to take the time to pinch and zoom.

While that might get you more traffic in this case, the tradeoff is that the extra traffic will involve:

  • Higher bounce rate
  • Lower average pages per session
  • Lower average time per page (depending on the quality of content)

 

The result?

This is a skewed total metrics picture, requiring multiple steps in your analytics platform to ensure that you’re not grouping that motivation of audience with another that has a real interest in deeper content. In addition, it might require changes on the template to attract the change in motivation level to continue on the site.

Ultimately, I have two top takeaways:

  • As I have said in a previous post, greater gains and understanding comes with a greater granularity in measurement.
  • The quality of motivation you attract is connected to the quality of experience you provide.

Don’t let responsive, or non-responsive, design be your end-all be-all. Learn how it affects customer behavior and use it as a lever to effectively move them closer to the ultimate goal you have for your business.

 

You can follow Jon Powell, Senior Manager, Executive Research and Development, MECLABS Insttute on Twitter at @jonpowell31.

 

You might also like

Email Marketing: 24% higher CTR for CareerBuilder’s responsive design [MarketingSherpa case study]

Email Marketing: Taking advantage of responsive design [Video] [More from the blogs]

Mobile Marketing: Ecommerce site uses responsive design to achieve an 8% lift in cart abandonment campaign [MarketingSherpa cases study]

Email Design Panel: Responsive email design with multi-device customers in mind [MarketingSherpa video archive]

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Categories: Email Marketing Tags: , , ,

Austin McCraw

Marketing Classics: Four principles from the book that changed David Ogilvy’s life

January 26th, 2015

Have you ever read an advertising or marketing book more than once? How about more than twice?

David Ogilvy once insisted about a book,

“Nobody should be allowed to have anything to do with advertising until he has read this book seven times. It changed the course of my life.”

What book was he referring to?

Marketer, meet Claude Hopkins, one of the original 1920s ad men who could masterfully blend both art and the rigor of science to marketing campaigns. He is known for many iconic ads of the past, including Pepsodent Toothpaste, which some credit with getting Americans in the habit of brushing their teeth.

Hopkins was studied and admired by both David Ogilvy (who most of us know) and Rosser Reeves (who many of us know as Don Draper).

Hopkins summarized his theory of advertising in a short, easy-to-digest, book called Scientific Advertising. This was Ogilvy’s go-to book. I remember the first time I read through it. What really struck me about it was its relevance to what we were discovering (or I guess is should say rediscovering) almost a century later here at MarketingExperiments.com.

Now, I confess, I am only on my third round through this book, so I know I am not quite yet fit to work for Ogilvy, but I thought it would be fitting to share with you a few of Hopkins principles that seem relevant for us to remember nearly 100 years later.

 

PRINCIPLE #1: People are selfish

First, Hopkins warns the reader, “The people you address are selfish, as we all are They care nothing about you interests or profit. They seek service for themselves. Ignoring this fact is a common mistake and a costly mistake in advertising.”

Much of the advertising in Hopkins day had turned inward and focused primarily on what the business wanted the customer to do — mainly buy a product or service. They had forgotten that before you can move someone to action, you have to help them understand what is in it for them.

It’s humorous sometimes how we can fall into the same trap today as advertisers. You can see it in something as simple as our call-to-action copy. We use phrases like, “Buy now,” “Add to Cart,” “Register” or, even worse, “Submit.”

All these display the symptom that Hopkins was getting at — we are too focused on what we want from the customer, rather than what the customer wants from us.

We run simple A/B experiments (like this series) all the time in which changing emphasis from something like “Buy Product X” to “Get Product X” has a significant impact on customer response.

And it does not simply come down to using a word like “get.” It’s about the mindset behind the word “get.” As Hopkins pointed out, people are interested in what they “get,” not what the business “gets.”

This is as true today as it was then, and the most effective marketers today know how to empathize with the customer.

Read more…

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John Tackett

Online Testing: Why are you really testing?

January 21st, 2015

The start of a new year gives savvy marketers another chance to push exploring your customer’s theory even further. In today’s MarketingExperiments Blog post, I want to welcome 2015 by sharing with you a simple product page test from our last Web clinic you can use to aid your marketing efforts.

Before we dive in further, let’s look at the background on the experiment:

 

Background: A mid-sized furniture company selling mattresses online

Goal: To increase mattress purchases

Research Question: Which design will generate the most online purchases?

Test Design: A/B variable cluster test

 

Side-by-side 

 

Here’s a side-by-side split of the two designs and the variables being tested to help give a little context to their placement on the page.

 

As you can tell from the comparison here, Design A was centered on an approach that used less text, with copy that placed emphasis on a low risk trial, free shipping and returns as well as a 25-year warranty.

Read more…

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Joey Taravella

Testing and Optimization: How to get that “ultimate lift”

January 19th, 2015

What would you rather have: a 32-inch flat screen TV for $100 or a 72-inch flat screen TV for $150? After considering the first 32 inches cost $100, you would probably pay the additional $50 for another 40 inches.

This same principal can be thought of in terms of testing and optimization, with one caveat — you have to buy the 32-inch TV first.

 

A discovery, not a lift

Many attempting to optimize and test within webpages want big lifts; however here at MECLABS Institute, we always say the goal of a test is not to get a lift but to gain discoveries about customer behavior. This makes sense on face value, but to be honest, when I first heard the expression, I thought to myself, “Well sure, that sounds like a good backstop in case you don’t get a lift.” However, I soon learned that it is more than a backstop or worse — an excuse.

As the curator for Dr. Flint McGlaughlin’s personal website, I often come across insightful observations. This next excerpt speaks particularly well to this topic of optimization and testing to obtain more than just a lift:

Too often, marketers are focused on results instead of reasons. We need to move deeper than ‘how much,’ into ‘why so,’ to answer an even more important question: What does this tell me about my customer or prospect? And so the goal of an optimization test transcends the notion of a lift and asks for learning. With sufficient insights we can obtain the ultimate lift. The more you know about the customer, the easier it is to predict their behavior. The easier it is to predict their behavior, the more you know about your value proposition. — Flint McGlaughlin

I have bolded what I think is the most important part of that quote for the sake of our discussion today. I am going to repeat it because it is so significant: “The goal of an optimization test transcends the notion of a lift and asks for learning. With sufficient insights we can obtain the ultimate lift.” — Flint McGlaughlin

Now we may ask ourselves, “What is the ultimate lift”? Some may think it is the biggest or most important criteria on some arbitrary scale. In my opinion, the “ultimate” lift is gaining insight about your customer and your value proposition that can be leveraged across all marketing channels.

 

Value Proposition 101

Before we go any further, if you are reading this article and do not know what I mean when I say “value proposition,” I urge you to investigate our research specifically around value proposition. However, for the sake of brevity (and this blog post), here is the oversimplified crash course:

A company’s value proposition is essentially trying to answer the question “If I am you ideal prospect, why should I buy from you rather than your competitors?

The answer should be a “because” statement that stresses the appeal and exclusivity of the offer in a clear and credible way. The offer also needs to be supported by factual claims which will add to the credibility of the offer.

 

Testing for the “ultimate lift”

Now that we have a basic understanding of a value proposition, here is an example from a past MECLABS research partner. In this experiment, we achieved the “ultimate lift” because of customer discoveries gained through value proposition testing.

 

Experiment ID: TP1306
Background: Provides end-to-end market solutions for small and medium-sized businesses.
Primary Research Question: Which page will obtain the most form submissions?

First, here is the control:

 

CONTROL

 

After analyzing the offer on the page, MECLABS analysts identified the following value proposition for the offer.

Read more…

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Selena Blue

Landing Page Optimization: Simple, short form increases leads 40%

January 15th, 2015

When looking to generate more leads from a landing page, make sure your objective is well defined on the page. A small, hidden call-to-action may not be seen by visitors, leaving potential leads unsure of the next step.

If this is the case, you may not need a radical redesign on the page. Instead, a simple and small change — highlighting the form as the next step in the visitor’s thought sequence — could increase the number of leads you capture.

Wanting more prospective students to fill out its lead gen form, American Sentinel University worked with MECLABS as a Research Partner. Read on to learn how a small change to the page increased the form completion rate by 40%.

 

Background: American Sentinel University, an accredited online university.
Objective: To increase the number of leads captured to speak with an advisor.
Primary Research Question: Which treatment will yield the highest conversion rate (i.e., form completion)?
Test Design: A/B test

 

When looking at the data analytics for its website, American Sentinel found that just 8% of unique visitors make it to a “Request More Information” form page. However, once a visitor arrives at a form, the data shows a completion rate of 43%.

“So we saw that there was motivation to fill out; the challenge was getting them there,” said Warren Staley, Research Manager, MECLABS Institute.

Previously, there were two ways for visitors to get to a “Request More Information” form page:

  1. A short form on the homepage, which leads to a second, longer form to acquire additional information from prospects
  2. Links throughout the site, including on each degree overview page and in the top navigation bar

The MECLABS research team wondered if there was enough value on the homepage to entice people to fill out the lead capture form at that point in their thought process. Thinking this approach might be a case of the cart being presented before the horse, the team developed an experiment to test this hypothesis.

(Editor’s Note: For your convenience, we’ve provided creative samples in two formats – SlideShare and thumbnails that expand when you click them.)

 

 

 
Control

The degree overview pages have a wealth of valuable information, and the next step in a prospect’s thought sequence is to request more information before making the ultimate conversion of applying.

However, the page didn’t generate the clickthrough or completed forms the university wanted.

The MECLABS research team identified a few value and friction issues that potentially hindered the pages’ effectiveness:

  • There is no value regarding why a visitor may want additional information.
  • The page doesn’t effectively guide visitors through a logical thought sequence.
  • Current “Request More Information” call-to-action (CTA) is buried and may not attract user attention.
  • The request link in the header is lost due to multiple navigation bars.
  • With multiple columns and navigations, too many competing objectives make it difficult for visitors to know what they’re supposed to do on the page.

 

Treatment 1

This treatment brought the same short form on the homepage to the degree overview page, creating a two-step process for prospects. The form replaces the “Career and Industry News” and “Upcoming Events” sections, slightly lowering the number of competing objectives.

The form now grabs attention and enters prospects into the form process on the page, taking advantage of the motivation on the degree page.

Treatment 1 includes three key changes:

  • The short “Request More Information” form is located in main eye-path of the page.
  • The value of the information request was added to the headline.
  • The large, red CTA draws visitors’ attention.

 

Treatment 2

“The second treatment was bullet points talking about the value you’ll get from filling out the form,” Warren explained. “You’ll talk to an admission advisor, and they can walk you through the process, answer any questions you have.”

The team used Treatment 2 to mitigate anxiety some prospects may experience when asked for their information. What would happen after they hand it over? A phone call? An email?

“Basically, it’s setting it up so it’s not going to be a sales pitch. It’s really to help you get the information you need to make a well-informed decision.”

Overall, Treatment 2 includes three key changes from the control:

  • The value of the information request was added to the headline.
  • The large, red CTA draws visitors’ attention.
  • The bullet points add value about why prospects should fill out the form.

 

Results

Adding the short form to the degree overview page increased the rate of completed forms by 40.5%, with a 96% statistical level of confidence.

Notice that while Treatment 1 did in fact reach a level of confidence, Treatment 2 did not come close. Based on the sample collected, there was just not enough difference in the conversion rate to confidently determine whether Treatment 2 was more or less effective than the Control. Adding value alone did not make a big enough change in the page to make a difference in visitors’ minds.

 

What you need to understand

“The biggest takeaway is that sometimes you don’t need a big dramatic change; sometimes just something simple will provide you results,” Warren said. “In this case, they already had a short form, so all we did was take it from the homepage to the degree page.”

If you start small, you can then transfer those discoveries to other pages. After the success of this test, American Sentinel added the short form to its other degree pages as well.

A second takeaway you can pull from this test is to try a two-step form on your website.

“The treatment with the short form won, so we learned that the two-step process was successful. By having them fill out the short form, they were more willing to fill out the main form,” Warren said.

A two-step process can also allow you to capture at least some of the lead’s information even if they don’t finish the second form. With the initial information, you can use content marketing to increase the quality of that lead.

Third, this test stresses the importance of following the visitors’ thought sequence.

“By having it on the degree page, there was more motivation to have them fill it out there,” Warren explained. “Because now they have information about the individual program, whether it’s nursing, business or IT.”

Prospective students need more than just the value presented on the homepage to decide whether they want or need more information. Questions about tuition are pointless if a university doesn’t offer the program you’re looking for. Allowing prospects to find a program that interested them and then asking them to fill out a form works better in the thought process of choosing a university.

 

You might also like

Lead Generation: Is your registration form part of the customer journey? (More from the blogs)

Optimizing Web Forms: How one company generated 226% more leads from a complex Web form (without significantly reducing fields) (Web clinic replay)

Marketing Research Chart: Optimize landing pages for lead quality [MarketingSherpa case study]

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Josh Wilson

Conversion Factors That Impact Your Online Marketing

January 12th, 2015

Why do people say “yes” to your offer?  Any time there is an ask for something, whether you are asking people to purchase something, give you something or to do something, the person can either say “yes” or “no.”

In this short article, I will explain the conversion heuristic and how it can help you optimize your online marketing efforts and get to more yes(s.)

 

What is a conversion?

Definition — Conversion:  noun. The act or process of changing from one form, state, etc., to another[1]. If you are a marketer, it is your primary responsibility to help convert a prospect’s interest into an action.

There are many different actions a marketer may wish the prospect take, such as entering their information into a contact form, subscribing to an email newsletter or making a purchase.

When your prospect is presented with your request to do something, they can say “yes” or “no.”  If the prospect says “yes” to your request and they take action, a conversion has occurred.

Read more…

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