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How Customers Read Reviews: Four takeaways for marketers from a business school study

August 27th, 2015 No comments

For over a decade, MarketingExperiments has stressed the importance of customer reviews.

When our Customer Ratings Tested Web clinic was originally broadcast in 2004, Shopping.com was the third-most popular ecommerce site in America, and Amazon’s annual revenue was a mere 7% of what it has since become.

In the ten years since, customer reviews have gone from being a supplemental component of our marketing strategy to the single biggest influencer of consumer behavior. In a 2013 survey by Dimensional Research, 90% of customers responded that their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews. A similar study conducted by Retailing Today found that 81% of consumers conduct online research before making major purchases.

With the knowledge that customer reviews are now one of the most vital components of our marketing collateral, how can we make sure that we are presenting our reviews in a way that best serves our customers?

New ecommerce research by Dr. Raffaele Filieri hopes to answer that question.

Filieri specializes in consumer behavior and digital marketing at Newcastle Business School, whose recent double accreditation by the Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International) puts it in the top 1% of business schools in the world.

His independent study, “What makes online reviews helpful? A diagnosticity-adoption framework to explain informational and normative influences in e-WOM,” published offline in the Journal of Business Research, not only confirms that customer reviews carry more clout than almost all other marketing efforts but, for the first time, reveals how customers actually process online reviews.

Below are four key takeaways we can learn from his research:

 

Takeaway #1. Customers process review data quickly

In his study of brands such as Kia Motors and TripAdvisor, Filieri found that customers are not carefully reading review data. Instead, they are scanning it quickly.

When processing review data, users are looking to gather as much information as they can in the shortest amount of time possible. Users don’t want to search for or through reviews; they want quick visual summaries of the sentiments of other customers.

As marketers, we must be aware of this fact and provide prominent, easily scannable customer reviews whenever possible.

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Categories: Ecommerce Tags: ,

Mobile Marketing: Four takeaways on how to improve your mobile shopping experience beyond just responsive design

August 24th, 2015 No comments

We all know by now that mobile has become an important tool for ecommerce consumers.

However, do we treat it with the same level of investment that it deserves? What experience are we giving our customers: a desktop replica or something better?

In Q1 of 2015, 59% of all retail time was spent on mobile devices, according to comScore’s State of the U.S. Online Retail Economy in Q1 2015. That’s right — consumers spent more than half of their online shopping time on their tablet or mobile device.

Yet, only 15.4% of total digital commerce dollars came from mobile sales.

That leaves a lot of opportunity for marketers and designers when it comes to the mobile shopping experience.

At the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE 2015, Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MarketingSherpa (sister company of MarketingExperiments), spoke with Gregory Casey, User Experience Designer and Architect, eBags, about how eBags goes beyond normal responsive design to create a truly mobile-adaptive experience.

Watch the interview or read on for four takeaways Gregory shares.

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How a B2B Company Increased Banner Clickthrough 956% by Capitalizing on Quick Wins

August 10th, 2015 No comments

When it comes to testing, it’s exciting to focus on big tests, but being too focused on large-scale changes can hinder marketers from seeing smaller opportunities to test. Oftentimes, small tweaks to ads, copy or smaller webpage elements can lead to dramatic lifts. Cindy Lu, Senior Marketing Manager of Digital Marketing Strategy, VMware, is more than familiar with the lift potential quick wins can offer.

“For each company that I’ve actually worked at, I’ve had the opportunity to quickly identify some of the low-hanging fruit opportunities,” Cindy said. “It generally blows everyone away in your organization because they didn’t realize such small tweaks could have such meaningful impacts on actual conversions.”

At MarketingSherpa MarketingExperiments Web Optimization Summit 2014, John Tackett, Manager of Editorial Content, MECLABS, sat down with Cindy to discuss the five optimization lessons she learned from testing VMware’s website and conversion funnel. One of the most important lessons Cindy highlighted was identifying and capitalizing on quick wins.

 

Watch the session excerpt to learn how one of VMware’s quick win tests resulted in a 956% increase in clickthrough.

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Live Email Optimization from MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015

August 6th, 2015 No comments

“The number one obstacle we face with our emails is not a lack of brilliant copywriting, the right graphics or an understanding of personalization. The real enemy of underperforming emails is confusion,” Flint McGlaughlin, CEO and Managing Director, MECLABS Institute, said in his live optimization session at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015.

During this session Flint McGlaughlin makes live edits to several emails submitted by the audience, offering feedback on everything from preheaders and titles to body copy and calls-to-action.

The first page submitted is from Kelly of RoadRunnerSports.com and is discussed by Flint and an audience of Kelly’s marketing peers. The live optimization of this page shows a discussion of principles from personal marketing experiences.

Of the many changes that were recommended by the audience, one that was particularly important was an edit to the calls-to-action and their color and contrast to the rest of the page, specifically the background image.

Flint makes the point that the CTAs do not look like CTAs and, “every time you ask your customers to make meaning for themselves, you lose customers … That is far too much unsupervised thinking.”

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The Psychology of the Searcher: How knowing how our prospects search can help us to optimize our campaigns

July 27th, 2015 4 comments

As marketers, most of us are familiar with the basics of search engine optimization, and how we can leverage certain industry-specific keywords and headlines in order to increase page visibility for our target audience.

Without a robust understanding of how prospects are actually interacting with search engines, how can we be confident that our SEO strategies are grounded in reality, rather than based on hunches or our own individual search biases?

Blue Nile Research recently carried out a study to discover how real customers are actually searching the Internet. How long are their queries? What form do they take? Are there universal patterns in the way that people search?

For this study, a sample of randomly selected test subjects were asked to search for solutions to three routine scenarios:

  • A technical problem (broken coffee pot)
  • A health issue (injured ankle)
  • An ecommerce scenario (buying a new laptop)

When testing was complete and researchers aggregated all of the search queries, the most interesting finding wasn’t that one search pattern outperformed another. Rather, researchers were fascinated to find that few underlying patterns existed at all in the search data.

Instead of there being a learned, established protocol for the way people search, the search terms, length and form that subjects used appear to be the intimate expression of the individual human that created it.

It seems that, just as our genetic makeup is unique to each of us individually, so is the way in which we choose to search the Internet.

 

Key Findings

When analyzing the data, Blue Nile found that subjects were split evenly in terms of searching in short fragments (“sore ankle”) versus fully-formed terms (“causes of sore ankle”). This suggests that users are equally predisposed toward either speed of search (fragments) or depth of search (more specific terms).

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Bet on Horses, Not Customer Assumptions: How the Kentucky Derby tested content for relevance with customers

July 23rd, 2015 1 comment

Assumptions can be a dangerous territory — especially when it comes to being relevant with your customers.

When a brand has a large gap between purchases, keeping customers engaged becomes a consistent concern.

The team at the Kentucky Derby faced that issue when they decided to use the weekly newsletter to identify and validate customer segments.

“When we look to grow a brand like the Kentucky Derby, that breadth of engagement is really core to our growth path,” Jeff Koleba, Vice President of Marketing and Programming, Kentucky Derby, said in this session from MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015.

To solve this issue, Jeff and Kate Ellis, Marketing Analyst, Kentucky Derby, decided to begin segmenting and directing content directly towards the customers who wanted it most. Within its established customer personas, the Derby focused testing on three segments:

  • Social content interests
  • Equine enthusiasts
  • Betting/wagering information

Once they set up segmentation and supported it with relevant content, the team began optimizing for maximum engagement.

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