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How Does Page Load Time Affect Conversion Rate? New Research Shows Significant Correlation

October 4th, 2016

Coversion Rates Correlated to Page Load TimesMost marketers understand that a slow page produces low conversion rates. But how significant is the correlation? How fast do customers expect sites to load? Are customer expectations for page load time changing?

In a recent interview at Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition (IRCE), Daniel Burstein sat down with Tammy Everts, Senior Researcher, SOASTA to talk about her recent research on the correlation between page load times and conversion rates across multiple companies and billions of data points.

Everts discusses her research in depth and covers almost everything you could imagine related to page load times in 15 minutes.

Time Stamps:

1:03 – chart of conversion rates correlated to page load time

1:15 – background of how Everts started this project

2:50 – 2014-2015 comparison of conversion rates correlated to page load time

3:38 – the exact load time that produced the highest conversion rate in 2014

3:50 – the exact load time that produced the highest conversion rate in 2015

4:44 – an interesting data point on year-over-year conversion rate

5:10 – how sites can prepare for faster load time expectations in the market

5:28 – guy does unintentional but very cool video bomb

5:42 – number one culprit for most slow page load times

5:53 – quick Nordstrom page load time case study

7:00 – how to improve image load times

9:00 – why and how to audit your site for page load times

11:36 – mobile-specific recommendations for page load times

You might also like:

MarketingSherpa Summit 2017

Ecommerce: How an online retailer achieved a 17% conversion lift with faster page loading

Ecommerce Charts: How conversion rates correlate to page load times

Customer-centric Marketing: How New England Biolabs increased time spent on site more than 74%

Expert Interview: How Humana uses Voice of Customer data and Creates “Super Tests” to drive customer engagement

September 6th, 2016

loveridge_title-screenMike Loveridge is the Head of Digital Conversion Optimization at Humana. In his position, he has conducted more than 300 tests, and achieved a 70%+ win rate. No matter how you slice it, he is an expert in the field of conversion rate optimization.

Back in February, Courtney Eckerle, Managing Editor, MarketingSherpa sat down with Loveridge at the MarketingSherpa Summit in Las Vegas to talk about Humana’s testing and optimization practices.

In this short interview, Loveridge discusses the benefits of Voice of Customer data, and how Humana creates “Super Tests” by testing the component parts of webpages before doing a radical redesign.

You might also like:

Humana on the power of iterative testing

Homepage Optimization: Tips to ensure site banners maximize clickthrough and conversion

Conversion Rate Optimization: Building to the Ultimate Yes

How Philip Morris & Co. Created One of the Greatest Marketing Campaigns in History Using Aristotle’s Logic

June 23rd, 2016

“Philip Morris & Co. (now Altria) had originally introduced the Marlboro brand as a woman’s cigarette in 1924,” according to Wikipedia.

In 1954, however, that all changed. Launching what’s known as one of the most universally successful advertising campaigns in history, Leo Burnett created The Marlboro Man.

Whatever you think about smoking, put it aside for a second. Yes, the tobacco business is looking a little like Entertainment720 these days. But right or wrong, The Marlboro Man produced serious results for Phillip Morris.

The thing that’s interesting for readers of this blog is that Phillip Morris’ team did it by employing a repeatable strategy.

It’s not a strategy that makes it all right to outright lie to your customers, but it is a strategy that you can employ for both great products and bad products.

And it was invented 2,300 years ago by a man named Aristotle.

Aristotle created the notion of the “syllogism,” or “deduction” as it is often translated from Aristotle’s Greek.

Here’s an excerpt from Aristotle’s Prior Analytics that defines “deduction.”

A deduction is speech (logos) in which, certain things having been supposed, something different from those supposed results of necessity because of their being so. (Prior Analytics I.2, 24b18–20)

– Quoted from The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

In last week’s web clinic, “Repeatable Brand Strategy,” Flint McGlaughlin explained it like this:

 

syllogism-definition-branding

 

Aristotle’s syllogisms are at the heart of every successful brand strategy whether the creators are aware or not. Brands can leverage Aristotle’s idea of the syllogism to create a repeatable and successful brand strategy by creating what Flint calls a “virtual syllogism.”

By creating The Marlboro Man, Phillip Morris and Leo Burnett incidentally created the following virtual syllogism:

 

syllogism-branding-example-marlboro

 

It seems simple, but it set Marlboro apart from their competitors who were still trying to highlight things like the “health benefits” of filters or flavors.

 

You might also like:

Repeatable Brand Strategy  [MarketingExperiments web clinic replay]

Inbound Marketing: HP turns interns into brand ambassadors with Twitter contest [From MarketingSherpa]

Brand Affinity: Mellow Mushroom builds engagement via original content, e-club program [From MarketingSherpa]

Hacking Patagonia’s PR Strategy: How to improve your brand’s voice and influence [From MarketingSherpa]

7 Surprisingly Successful Brands on Instagram [From MarketingSherpa]

Does Brand Really Matter? [MarketingExperiments web clinic replay]

An Executive Look at Newspaper Industry Transformation [From MECLABS Institute]

 

Eight Lessons from the Father of Data-obsessed Marketing

June 6th, 2016

Snapchat. Mobile marketing. Virtual reality. Marketing automation.

As marketers, we have a tendency to focus on the newest, buzziest, most-hyped ideas and look at the giants whose shoulders upon which our industry stands.

Claude Hopkins lived far before any of these buzzy terms. Even before TV commercials. He’s one of the most influential advertising professionals in history, yet many modern marketers have probably never heard of him. After all, his seminal work – Scientific Advertising – was published almost 100 years ago.

Hopkins’ career resided in a sweet spot for influencing our industry. His research pre-dates and informed David Ogilvy and Rosser Reeves (aka Don Draper). In fact, in Ogilvy on Advertising, Ogilvy says, “Nobody should be allowed to have anything to do with advertising until he has read [Scientific Advertising] seven times. It changed the course of my life.”

Yet Hopkins arrived after earlier pioneers like Walter Scott and Daniel Starch, so his teachings were informed by not just opinion, but data. As he says in his book, “Advertising, once a gamble, has thus become, under able direction, one of the safest business ventures.”

Hopkins’ discoveries enabled him to be very tactical and practical with the advice he gave to early advertisers. This is advice successful marketers are still putting into practice today, such as:

 

“We learn the principles and prove them by repeated tests.”

Digital marketing has made A/B testing much easier, quicker, and cheaper. And you can see this dedication to testing and learning rolled out across the web today, as in the landing page tests shown below.

experiments-landing-page-results

Source: Landing Page Optimization: 6 common traits of a template that works

However, it’s easy for digital marketers to forget that testing did not begin with the invention of the internet, as Claude Hopkins discussed the importance of testing way back in 1923.

 

“The most common way is by use of the coupon. We offer a sample, a book, a free package, or something to induce direct replies. Thus we learn the amount of action which each ad engenders.”

Measuring marketing tests is much easier thanks to the tracking and measurement inherent to digital marketing, something Hopkins didn’t have the luxury of back in 1923.

However, marketers today are still challenged with measuring the impact of offline advertising, like print ads. And coupons or other incentives are still a good way to measure that ROI.

It works in reverse, as well. Some companies, like this small sporting goods store, use online coupons to track brick-and-mortar store purchases, helping to measure the impact of their online channels.

hesselsons-coupon

Source: Social Media Marketing: Small sporting goods store sees 1,100% ROI increase with Facebook coupon

 

“The best ads ask no one to buy. That is useless. Often they do not quote a price. They do not say that dealers handle the product. The ads are based entirely on service. They offer wanted information.”

This quote from Claude Hopkins sounds almost like a very prescient call for content marketing, like the following blog post.

superoffice-webpage

Source: Content Marketing: Multi-channel approach increases organic traffic 97%

 

“One must be able to express himself briefly, clearly and convincingly, just as a salesman must.”

Unlike other forms of creativity (movies or books) or information (newspapers or magazines), the vast majority of people are not actively searching for ads to read or watch, so the successful marketer must grab attention and convey a message in a very short time.

For example, the classic “Think Small” ad produced by Doyle Dane Bernbach for Volkswagen, which provides a brief, clear, and convincing proposition for a previously unheard of ask for 1959 – buy a small car.

volkswagen_think_small

Source: Wikipedia

 

“Practically all merchandise sold by mail is sent subject to return.”

This was a classic direct mail technique, and Zappos helped bring it into the Internet era.

zappos-shipping-returns

Source: Zappos

 

“Fine talkers are rarely good salesman. They inspire buyers with the fear of over-influence. They cater the suspicion that an effort is made to sell them on other lines than merit.”

Instead of a slick-talking spokesperson, Monster.com’s legendary Super Bowl ad used children reading lines that poked fun at real-world challenges—challenges that resonated with the ideal customer.

“When I grow up … I want to be underappreciated. Be paid less for doing the same job.”

monster-commercial

Source: Monster.com – “When I Grow Up” (YouTube)

 

“Remember the people you address are selfish, as we all are. They care nothing about your interests or profit. They seek service for themselves.”

When you read this quote, it seems like obvious advice, right? But does your company live it? I mean, really live it?

Since you’re also a customer, you know that so many companies don’t. I recently wrote 10 banks asking them the pre-payment penalty for their CDs. Only two actually answered my question. The other eight linked to a long page of terms and conditions and told me I could find my answer there.

Hardly a frictionless experience. Hardly providing service to a selfish customer who could care less about reading their T&Cs.

This experience is true in advertising, as well. Ads can be filled with friction and talk about things that matter more to the company than the customer. Perhaps they grab attention, but do they inspire the customer to act? Does the customer understand what’s in it for her?

“One product that does a great job of explaining its purpose in a straightforward way is Zzzquil,” said Emily Rogers, Senior Marketing Research Manager, MECLABS Institute. “Its TV ad sticks out to me because it explains the benefit of the product from the customer perspective in about 20 words or less.”

zzzquil-ad

 

“Don’t boast, for all people resent it. Don’t try to show off.”

This is my favorite piece of advice from Hopkins. And we all see ridiculous boasting every day in countless ads.

Copywriters and agencies feel they must sing the praise of the product. After all, they’re getting paid to do it.

Brand-side marketers feel like they need to made huge claims. After all, they’re spending a lot on media, and only have a few seconds of the prospects’ attention to shout louder and bolder than the ad before and after.

Jerry Seinfeld and Acura do a great job of product placement in “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” specifically because they don’t boast.

acura-seinfeld-commercial

Source: Acura Product Placement with Jerry Seinfeld (YouTube)

Fred Armisen: What’s this?
Jerry Seinfeld: Oh this is just some Acura parts. They told me my product placement was getting a little too heavy handed. So I thought, instead of the whole car…

(Acura drives up and honks)

Acura driver:
C’mon man, I’ve got a hot yoga!

(Tires screech, Acura quickly peels out with smoking tires, and anyone in product discovery mode with the intention of buying a sporty car just made a subtle mental note to possibly consider the Acura)

 

You might also like

Earn a graduate certificate in: Communicating Value and Web Conversion (I came across these lessons from Hopkins because I’m enrolled in this graduate program, a partnership between MarketingExperiments’ parent research organization MECLABS Institute and the University of Florida)

Marketing Research Chart: 75% of strategic marketers use A/B testing to learn about customer behavior

Optimizing Copy: The 7 most common copywriting mistakes we see marketers make

The Difference Between Marketing and Advertising (and Why It Matters)

May 23rd, 2016

Marketing and advertising are distinct majors in college. Most agencies are advertising agencies, and most departments inside companies that promote the sale of product are marketing departments.

Why the distinction? Are these two words synonyms, or is there a real difference?

A high-level, ephemeral topic like this isn’t something marketers spend most of their time thinking about. They’re too heads down, focused on budgets and marketing automation and copywriting. I know I am.

But I recently started taking MMC 5435: Messaging Strategy and the Centrality of the Value Proposition, part of the Communicating Value and Web Conversion graduate certificate created by MECLABS Institute (parent research organization of MarketingExperiments) in partnership with the University of Florida.

And so lately I’ve been pondering the bigger, more existential copies of marketing, such as this one. Marketing philosophy, if you will.

 

More than just nomenclature

To me, marketing is strategy and advertising is (but one) execution of that strategy. Marketing is the strategy of educating customers about a company’s choices in the marketplace, who their product or service will be a good fit for, and who it won’t. Advertising is then used to take that strategy and communicate it to an audience. This is part of the reason that many universities, UF included, place marketing programs in the College of Business and advertising in the College of Journalism and Communications.

So both advertising and marketing have the same goal. They both are, essentially, helping enable a choice. Usually in the company’s favor to enable reaching a conversion objective, but hopefully to enable the best decision for the customer — even if that best choice is not to purchase the company’s products.

But there is a key difference. Advertising is not holistic of the customer experience with a product. Even intelligent, multi-channel campaigns are impacting just a fraction of customer touchpoints with a brand.

And this is one of the biggest mistakes marketers make today. At least traditional marketers. They are too focused on getting in front of the customer with a conversion objective. But the real question should not be, “what is my objective as a marketer?”

Read more…

Marketing Optimization: 4 steps to more efficient practices and processes

April 18th, 2016

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.

Read more…