Daniel Burstein

Email Marketing: Using A/B tests to challenge your assumptions

April 21st, 2014

Dan Ariely has a Ph.D. in business administration.

He also has a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology.

I can think of no better description of a high-performing marketer. Someone who understands management and organizations, yes, but who also can provide unique insights into mental processes (i.e., the mind of the customer).

We were honored to have Dan as a keynote speaker at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014. While there, he stopped by the Media Center to discuss email marketing, human intuition and rationality (or the lack thereof) with MarketingSherpa Reporter Allison Banko.

 

As Dan discussed, if we approach marketing as a three-step process …

  1. Doubting ourselves
  2. Having a bit more humility
  3. Testing

… we can use email marketing as a quick feedback loop to gain a deeper understanding of the cognitive psychology of what headlines, subject lines and offers will get a customer to act (and which ones will not). By doing this, ultimately, we can improve business results.

“You have to try things that you think won’t work out,” Dan said. “If you try only the things you think will work out, you will never learn.”

This is a perfect explanation of Web optimization, which is the focus of our next Summit.

At Web Optimization Summit 2014 in New York City, one of our featured speakers will be Michael Norton of Harvard Business School, a colleague of Dan. They conducted research together on The “IKEA Effect”: When Labor Leads to Love. They discovered a cognitive bias in consumers – people tend to place a disproportionate value on products they help to create.

That bias prevents you from seeing the marketing campaigns and landing pages you create the way customers experience them. You helped create it, so you place disproportionate value on it.

But as we’ll explore at Web Optimization Summit, A/B testing is helping marketers see with new eyes –the eyes of the customer.

 

You might also like

MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014 Wrap-up: 5 takeaways to transform your email program [Event wrap-up]

Email Summit 2014: Top takeaways from award-winning campaigns [Webinar replay]

Digital Marketing: Stop ignoring data and start learning [More from the blogs]

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Jessica Lorenz

Lead Generation: Customers are looking for a solution to their problems

April 17th, 2014

At MarketingSherpa Lead Gen Summit 2013, Jon Ciampi, Vice President of Marketing, Corporate Development, Business and Strategic Accounts, CRC Health, recounted his challenges with PPC ads and how using A/B split testing helped him better understand his customers and use his marketing budget more effectively.

Jon and the team went through the arduous process of purging a majority of the 3,000 keywords the company was bidding on in an effort to optimize the PPC campaign for one of its rehab facilities.

“[Customers] are not looking for a value proposition,” he said.

Rather, he continued, they were looking for a solution to a very real problem – alcoholism, drug addiction or eating disorder rehabilitation. When the tests were analyzed, he saw that customers weren’t searching using the words that the company used. For example, customers might use the word “clinic” instead of “facility.”

The first step in this process was getting the customer and the company to speak the same language. Customers were not clicking through to the value proposition – Jon knew that the conversation had to change.

 

Although CRC Health had something very valuable to offer, Jon realized that he couldn’t “change the conversation” from what motivated customers to the value proposition “until [he started] the conversation” with customers by using their motivations.

Jon found the most effective way to start this conversation was to group keywords together. Rather than bidding on high-traffic words like “rehab,” – a very competitive and highly trafficked word – the team tied several words together, such as “methamphetamine rehabilitation facility” to find the highly motivated customers. This separated real leads from the users trying to find out which celebrities checked into rehab that week.

“The value proposition isn’t the motivation of the buyer, the motivation of the buyer is actually driving their decision,” Jon explained.

In order to get customers into the sales funnel from a search, he first had to address why and what the customer was searching for. Using PPC ads, he could assess, test and optimize his campaigns to discover and understand his customers in a low-pressure environment.

See his entire presentation from Lead Gen Summit 2013 in the MarketingSherpa Video Archive.

  Read more…

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John Tackett

Lead Generation: Great results don’t always have to be complicated

April 14th, 2014

To discover what works best for generating leads in your organization, at some point, you eventually have to do two things:

  • Wade through enough trial and error until success is the only destination left
  • Keep the process as simple as possible on that journey to reach success

For Shawn Burns, Global Vice President of Digital Marketing, SAP, keeping the company’s testing simple was instrumental in helping SAP reach some of its goals of maximizing the ROI on existing marketing.

“We can complicate everything,” Shawn explained, “and when you’re in a testing environment and you start to think about navigation, templates, images, copy, colors and buttons, you just have to sort of stop and say ‘whoa’ – clear away the madness, take it step-by-step, do simple things and see what has an impact.”

simple-cta-testShawn’s focus on keeping SAP’s testing simple was also influenced by a need to apply those discoveries to growth in areas like mobile marketing. A simple testing approach and the lessons learned from the process would be highly beneficial in aiding SAP’s efforts to optimize its marketing in what is literally a pocket-sized medium.

“There are 2 million smartphones being activated every day on the planet, so all of us as marketers are having to deal with this incredibly [physically] tiny media channel,” Shawn said. “And so, you start to look at testing as, ‘how simple can I be?’”

In this brief excerpt from Shawn’s MarketingSherpa and MarketingExperiments Optimization Summit 2013 presentation, “5 Optimization Discoveries from the SAP Website Test Lab,” you can learn  how small changes can make a big difference in your testing and lead generation optimization efforts.

Read more…

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Selena Blue

Online Testing: 5 steps to launching tests and being your own teacher

April 10th, 2014

Testing is the marketer’s ultimate tool. It allows us to not just guess what coulda, woulda, shoulda worked, but to know what actually works. But more than that, it gives us the power to choose what we want to know about our customers.

“As a tester, you get to be your own teacher, if you will, and pick tests that make you want to learn. And structure tests that give you the knowledge you’re trying to gain,” said Benjamin Filip, Senior Manager of Data Sciences, MECLABS.

So what steps do we take if we want to be our own teacher?

While conducting interviews about the live test ran at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014, I recently had the chance to discuss testing processes with Ben, as well as Lauren Pitchford, Optimization Manager, and Steve Beger, Senior Development Manager, also both of MECLABS. The three of them worked together with live test sponsor BlueHornet to plan, design and execute the A/B split test they validated in less than 24 hours.

Read on to learn what they had to share about the testing process that marketers can take away from this email live test. We’ll break down each of the steps of the live test and help you apply them to your own testing efforts.

 

Step #1. Uncover gaps in customer insights and behavior

As Austin McCraw, Senior Director of Content Production, MECLABS, said at Email Summit, “We all have gaps in our customer theory. Which gap do we want to fill? What do we want to learn about our customer?”

What do you wish you knew about your customers? Do they prefer letter-style emails or design-heavy promotional emails? Do they prefer a certain day of the week to receive emails? Or time of day? Does one valuable incentive incite more engagement than three smaller incentives of the same combined value?

Think about what you know about your customers, and then think about what knowledge could help you better market to them and their needs and wants.

 

Step #2. Craft possible research questions and hypotheses

When forming research questions and hypotheses, Ben said, “You have to have some background info. A hypothesis is an educated guess, it’s not just completely out of the blue.”

Take a look at your past data to interpret what customers are doing in your emails or on your webpages.

Lauren wrote a great post on what makes a good hypothesis, so I won’t dive too deeply here. Basically, your hypothesis needs three parts:

  • Presumed problem
  • Proposed solution
  • Anticipated result

 

Step #3. Brainstorm ways answer those questions

While brainstorming will start with you and your group, don’t stop there. At MECLABS, we use peer review sessions (PRS) to receive feedback on anything from test ideas and wireframes, to value proposition development and results analysis.

“As a scientist or a tester, you have a tendency to put blinders on and you test similar things or the same things over and over. You don’t see problems,” Ben said.

Having potential problems pointed out is certainly not what any marketers want to hear, but it’s not a reason to skip this part of the process.

“That’s why some people don’t like to do PRS, but it’s better to find out earlier than to present it to [decision-makers] who stare at you blinking, thinking, ‘What?’” Lauren explained.

However, peer review is more than discovering problems, it’s also about discovering great ideas you might otherwise miss.

“It’s very easy for us to fall into our own ideas. One thing for testers, there is the risk of thinking that something that is so important to you is the most important thing. It might bother you that this font is hard to read, but I don’t read anyway because I’m a math guy, so I just want to see the pretty pictures. So I’m going to sit there and optimize pictures all day long. That’s going to be my great idea. So unless you listen to other people, you’re not going to get all the great ideas,” Ben said.

Read more…

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Daniel Burstein

Web Optimization: How to get your customers to say heck yes!

April 7th, 2014

For e-commerce marketers, and many marketers with a subscription-based business, the value of the products they sell on the Internet is intangible when the purchase decision is made.

So who better to gain some conversion optimization advice from than an A/B tester who specializes in nonprofit marketing, the industry that must communicate the most intangible value of all – goodwill.

We brought Tim Kachuriak, Founder and Chief Innovation & Optimization Officer, Next After, into the studio and discussed:

  • The power of the value proposition
  • Creating a scarce resource
  • Commitment building
  • The value proposition train

I’ve known Tim for several years through his attendance at MarketingSherpa Summits, and am glad to have him as a featured speaker at the upcoming Web Optimization Summit in New York City. In fact, his Web Optimization Summit session was one of the things we worked on while he was in Jacksonville, Fla.

 

Below is a full transcript of our interview if you would prefer to read instead of watch or listen.

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Daniel Burstein

Web Optimization: Traffic without conversion doesn’t matter

April 3rd, 2014

At Web Optimization Summit 2014 in New York City, Michael Aagaard, Founder, ContentVerve.com, will present, “How, When and Why Minor Changes Have a Major Impact on Conversions,” based on four years of research and dozens of case studies.

To provide you with a few quick test ideas, we reached across the miles to Copenhagen, Denmark, and interviewed Michael from our studios here in Jacksonville, Fla.

In this video interview, Michael discussed:

  • Why he’s so passionate about conversion optimization (and why you should be, too)
  • A pop-up test that generated 142% more newsletter signups
  • The one-word change of call-to-action button copy that consistently produces results (in several languages)

 

Below is a full transcript of our interview if you would prefer to read instead of watch or listen.

  Read more…

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