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Transparent Marketing: Research into social media marketing reveals surprising consumer discovery

April 25th, 2016 2 comments

If you’ve read MarketingExperiments for any amount of time, you’ve seen how clarity trumps persuasion. Instead of trying to sell in marketing emails or on landing pages, help your customers clearly understand the value they will get from your conversion objective.

That’s why I was so surprised by some research I recently came across about sharing promotions on social media, a medium where selling is particularly frowned upon.

You can watch the interview with Dr. Lauri Baker, Assistant Professor in Agricultural Communications at Kansas State University and co-creator of the Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement, where we discuss this specific research along with other social media marketing tips. Below the video, I’ll give you my take on the subject.

 

Social media is a great channel for transparent marketing.

“There has been a lot of research done on transparency,” Dr. Baker told me. “Everybody wants to see that product from start to finish. They want to see that farmer aspect; they want to see that created in an authentic environment. A lot of that happens from just stories. Highlighting the people that are producing this food or this product, and show the places that it’s coming from. Those are the things that customers are really connecting with and wanting to see.”

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Marketing Optimization: 4 steps to more efficient practices and processes

April 18th, 2016 No comments

24 hours. That is all we have to accomplish the one million tasks on our daily agendas. Do you find yourself subconsciously running strategic tests to ensure that you are spending your time efficiently? Whether it is experimenting with alternative routes to work each day or using multiple programs to manage your inbox, task lists and projects, in the end, you want to make sure that you aren’t wasting a minute of your day on a tedious task.

Marketing optimization is the process of improving marketing efforts to maximize desired business outcomes. As an operations manager, part of my role is to improve and advance my team’s business processes to allow them the opportunity to spend quality time on the departments’ goals that will ultimately help benefit our audience.

Marketing optimization

When optimizing your marketing practices, the first thing you want to consider is the customer experience. If that part of the equation fails, it’s back to the drawing board even if that process works well for your team.

As marketers, the main challenge we face is making the time to define successful practices. Instead, teams tend to simply follow processes as they have always been done. We need to forget the short-term excuse of not having enough time and make time to start thinking about the future.

To optimize your own marketing processes, follow these four simple steps.

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Social Media Testing: How simple changes to Twitter copy led to a 119% increase in clickthrough

April 14th, 2016 No comments

Here at MECLABS Institute, parent company of MarketingExperiments, we never stop testing. Whether it be subject lines, email copy, Web clinic format or landing pages,  a day rarely goes by where there isn’t an experiment taking place on our campus. This culture of testing extends far beyond just the optimization team — it permeates the entire organization.

Case in point, a recent Twitter test imagined by our resident marketing operations specialist, Walker Ragland. Walker is famous around the Institute for his quick wit, strong marketing copy and love of all things Valdosta, Georgia. You might recognize Walker from last month’s MECLABS Live Optimization webinar, where he provided viewers with actionable tips on improving the performance of their site banners.

“Social media is still a new frontier for this company, so I’ve been encouraged with a generous budget to test out what works and what doesn’t work as far as different aspects of the creative of social,” Walker told me.

Armed with this healthy testing budget and a strong team supporting him, Walker has recently set out to test some of our social media sends across multiple platforms.

For this experiment, Walker wanted to test which Twitter messaging approach would work best when promoting the newest issue of the MECLABS Institute Executive Series.

“This is a relatively new product,  so I tried three different copy options with this test,” Walker said. “The first option used a quote from the piece, and it was a positive quote. The second featured a quote based on a negative point. And then the third option was just a standard offer.”

Take a look at the three approaches that he tested and see if you can correctly pick the winning treatment.

 

Version A: Positive messaging

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The Charm of Three: How people process positive claims in persuasion messages

April 7th, 2016 No comments

How many positive claims should firms use to produce the most favorable impression of a product or service? Despite the logic that more positive claims about an object should lead to better impressions, a recent study found that when people are faced with messages they know are made to persuade (like most marketing communications), they have limited patience for positive claims.

Let’s look closer at the study comparing the effects of different numbers of positive claims in messages with persuasive intent, and the consequences in terms of consumer attitudes toward the object when messages include more than three such claims.

 

The Study

In January 2014, professors Suzanne B. Shu, UCLA Anderson School of Management, University of California, and Kurt A. Carlson, McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University, published the results of a series of experiments analyzing consumer perceptions of positive claims in advertising contexts.

It’s not a new idea that three is an important number for perceived completion. People generally perceive that three claims are sufficient to draw a conclusion about an object. The average consumer and average industrial buyer typically believe that a set of three options constitute a complete consideration set.  As the above vintage Philips ad illustrates, advertisers have been using the power of the three claim model for decades, at least.

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B2B Email Testing: Validity threats cause Ferguson to miss out on lift from Black Friday Test

January 11th, 2016 No comments

At MarketingExperiments, we endeavor to teach you to bring the process of scientific discovery to your marketing campaigns to learn what your customers really want and improve results. And, to that end, we share experiments (along with successful case studies — 1,470 and counting — from our sister publication, MarketingSherpa).

But we can learn just as much from the stumbles, errors and mistakes we encounter on our journey of customer discovery. Unfortunately, those stories tend to be harder to get. So I want to laud the marketer we are going to discuss today for sharing an example of something that did not work.

 

Even successful marketers have losses. But the good ones learn from them.

Mary Abrahamson, Email Marketing Specialist, Ferguson Enterprises, is a successful marketer. So successful, in fact, that we recently featured her as the main story in a mini-documentary that highlighted her journey at MarketingSherpa Summit.

 

But when I recently reached out to her, it wasn’t only a further success she shared, but also a hard-won lesson learned in the trenches of email testing. Let’s take a look at the test, focused around a Black Friday promotion. But first, some background on the overall campaign.

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35 Key Principles to Boost Your Marketing Campaigns: 2015 Web clinic year-in-review

December 7th, 2015 No comments

As 2016 rapidly approaches and I near the end of my first year with the MECLABS Institute, what better time to reflect on 2015?

As Managing Editor of MarketingExperiments.com, one of my primary responsibilities over the year has been producing our monthly Web clinics. These clinics have historically given us the chance to share discoveries from MECLABS’ research efforts with the marketing community at large. With a legacy dating back over a decade, I had large shoes to fill when taking over these online events, but thanks to the outstanding mentoring of my dear friend Taylor Kennedy and the support of the incredible team around me, we’ve had another great year of Web clinics to add to the vault.

On Wednesday, we’ll be hosting a special 60-minute year-in-review Web clinic. This clinic — The Top 5 Marketing Discoveries of 2015: 12 months of research in just 60 minutes — will revisit some of the most surprising, actionable discoveries that we’ve made during the year when looking into the question of what really makes our customers say “yes.” These simple principles will help you to quickly improve multiple aspects of your digital campaigns — from subject lines and calls-to-action to visitor engagement and mobile design.

2015 has been a busy year for marketers, with 77% of companies increasing their digital marketing budgets over 2014, per an Oracle report. In case we missed you for any of our Web clinics this year and you would like to dive deeper into any one subject than our 60-minute recap will allow, I also wanted to provide a brief, scannable recap of this year’s topics, as well as replay links should you desire to watch (or re-watch) the clinics.

Feel free to bookmark the page for future reference, as the 10 clinics below cover 35 key, actionable principles to help you boost nearly every aspect of your campaigns — from email and landing pages to PPC ads and mobile  to branding and beyond.

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