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The Baskerville Experiment: Font and its Influence on Our Perception of Truth

June 25th, 2015 No comments

“Can we separate the form of the writing from its content?” – Errol Morris

“Is it ever possible to understand the meaning of a work of art as separate from the way in which we receive it?” – Lynne Conner

Source: The Pentagram Papers, 44th Edition

 

In the spring of 1980, Academy Award-winning documentarian Errol Morris (“The Thin Blue Line,” “The Fog of War”) first encountered philosopher Saul Kripke’s seminal book, Naming and Necessity. After reading the book, Morris became fascinated with the theory that words and our interpretation of them are singular manifestations of all of the individual characteristics (seen and unseen) that comprise them.

More specifically, Morris was consumed with the idea that typeface itself might have an innate power to influence our fundamental perception of truth.

“Yes, we read the word ‘horse,’” Morris wrote, ”but we also see the letters, the typefaces, the shape of the word on the page. Is this not part of the meaning? Do we more readily accept (as true) sentences written in one typeface rather than another?”

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How to Recover from Failed A/B Testing

June 8th, 2015 No comments

Back in 2003, a little blue fish taught us to, “just keep swimming.”

Much like Dory, Ryan Hutchings, Director of Marketing, VacationRoost, taught us that even when we aren’t gaining the results we want, just keep testing.

Ryan was one of the presenters at MarketingSherpa MarketingExperiments Web Optimization Summit 2014, where he discussed his marketing experience at VacationRoost — an ecommerce vacation rental wholesaler. During his session, Ryan shared how he and his marketing team were able to:

  • Increase the company’s total conversion 12%
  • Run more than 50 tests in a year

These results were achieved by employing simultaneous tests for large and small projects. The tests Ryan utilized ran on two separate testing methodologies and allowed VacationRoost’s small marketing team to make the most of its resources.

Because VacationRoost is an aggregation of several smaller companies, the company currently has many different websites and Web properties it has to maintain. “For a marketer, it’s ideal because I have this whole entire playground to essentially do whatever I want with,” Ryan said.

However, not every test leads to overwhelmingly positive results. So what do you do when your costly testing is met with failure?

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Live from IRCE 2015: How to authentically build communities from the co-founder of Reddit

June 4th, 2015 No comments

Building brand communities is an important element for every brand, but it’s especially important for ecommerce brands that live solely on the Internet. How can you build a positive community around what you’re selling? The answer is simple: be authentic.

At the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE 2015, Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MarketingSherpa (sister company of MarketingExperiments), sat down with Alexis Ohanian, Executive Chair and Co-Founder, Reddit, to discuss the importance of building authentic brand conversations, how to respond to negative comments, content marketing and how all of this translates into value for companies.

As Alexis describes it, Reddit is a “social news site,” as well as one of the largest social media platforms currently in existence. The company also has an impressive brand following. Currently, Reddit has over 170 million unique views, 7.5 billion page views and nearly 10,000 active communities within the site itself.

According to Alexis, a major component of Reddit’s success is creating authentic discussions with consumers.

“In a world where consumers have more and more knowledge every day and more and more choice every day, that is the only way you will win,” he said.

Alexis shared the following tips on the importance of creating authentic brand communities.

Watch the whole interview here:

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Ecommerce: 2 tips I learned from a garage sale

September 15th, 2014 No comments

My father passed away unexpectedly five months ago. As if that wasn’t enough of a tragedy, the situation left my mother and me in a position we never imagined being in — she could lose her home. Quickly, I set up a GoFundMe page to prevent this.

Despite adversities and setbacks, my mother has a positive outlook and is moving forward. She decided to host a garage sale to help cover some costs. The first sale she held earned enough income to cover some costs and inspire hope.

You may ask, “Why is this guy starting off his MarketingExperiments Blog post with a personal story? What can readers learn about marketing from a life event?”

In helping with my mother’s second garage sale, I gained two key insights that I’ve been able to use as a MECLABS research analyst.

 

Prominence and Eye-path: A match made at checkout

Most of us are aware that prominence is crucial to the discovery of any product on any page.

This cannot be truer than when it came to a convection oven we sold at the garage sale. It was a relatively high-priced, chunky item that had been used twice. We knew it would not be an easy sell.

So we prominently displayed the appliance on one of the very first tables in front of our enclosure – front and center in the sale and near our checkout. It was within our customers’ eye-path as they browsed and made small talk.

Our magic worked when a customer noticed the item when he began speaking to us. It was one of the first items sold.

This lesson can be directly applied to your website. Whether it’s a beefed-up kitchen appliance in a garage or a newly released product on your website, the product needs to be easily found for it to convert.

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Ecommerce: How parent brands can reduce user friction and anxiety

July 28th, 2014 No comments

The MECLABS Conversion Heuristic is what we use when optimizing our Research Partners’ websites – and now for me as a research analyst, it’s become second nature to optimize every website I encounter.

I say this because truthfully, it’s one thing to simply memorize and understand a formula. But when you’re able to conceptualize and apply it, you own it.

For instance, I was recently window shopping on one of my favorite sites, HauteLook, a members-only ecommerce website that offers limited-time sales of leading brands in fashion, home décor, skincare, and occasionally, luxurious vacations.

I’ve shopped there countless times before, but this time my HauteLook experience was different, thanks to seeing the site from the perspective of an analyst.

 

Lightboxes are not a warm welcome

hautelook-homepage

 

When you get to the HauteLook homepage, you are immediately greeted by a mandatory registration squeeze before you can arrive to the “members only” section, where the sale events are displayed.

Right away, this form causes new users anxiety and potential frustration.

(Editor’s Note: MarketingExperiments defines friction as a psychological resistance to a given element in the sales or sign-up process. Anxiety is a psychological concern stimulated by a given element in the sales or sign-up process.) 

Here’s one problem with front-end registration: The visitor is not able to see what the website offers that might match their motivation to visit the site.

In short, what is the squeeze costing you in sales?

By not allowing a visitor to see what your website offers prior to asking them to join might cause them to exit prematurely because they don’t want to go through the trouble of signing up.

This leads me to my main point:

hautelook-signup

 

Ultimately, one word got me through the gate of anxiety the first time I was here – Nordstrom.

 

Use parent brands for surrogate credibility

In my example, you’ll see copy that identifies HauteLook as a Nordstrom company, which immediately alleviated my concerns and was the first thing to convince me to move forward with the registration.

Using an established brand as a third-party credibility indicator is a great way to help reduce customer anxiety.

Kudos to HauteLook for using an established and well-known brand to relieve anxiety and help increase the sign-up rate while also aiding visitors in making more informed decisions.

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E-commerce Marketing: Top takeaways from the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE

June 12th, 2014 1 comment

At the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition (IRCE) in Chicago, MarketingSherpa, sister company to MarketingExperiments, has been hosting the official Media Center of the more than 10,000-attendee event.

IRCE speakers, such as Jimmy Wales, CEO and Founder, Wikipedia, and Pete Prestipino, Editor-in-Chief

Website Magazine, have joined MarketingSherpa’s Daniel Burstein and Allison Banko in the Media Center to discuss the state of the e-commerce landscape in 2014. We have heard insights on global e-commerce trends, mobile and responsive design, B2B e-commerce and much more this week, all captured and posted online at MarketingSherpa.com/IRCE.

In today’s post, I wanted to share with you a few of the top takeaways from the IRCE Media Center for tactics and strategies you can use to improve your own marketing efforts.

 

Takeaway #1. Embrace, don’t force, user-generated content

 

Jimmy Wales, CEO and Founder, Wikipedia, stopped by the Media Center and shared how e-commerce sites can empower an online community to evangelize a brand.

One thing Jimmy stressed about community building is that it’s not something marketers can force upon their customers. It’s also not free labor. Instead, marketers looking to cultivate user-generated content need to do it in a way that makes sense, and provide people with the tools they need.

“Don’t think about [user-generated content] as the work that you want customers to do, but rather, what they want to do and how you can empower people to do it,” Jimmy said.

 

Takeaway #2. Utilize bloggers to add credibility to your brand

Carolyn Kmet, Chief Marketing Officer, All Inclusive Marketing, explained how reaching out for content from outside bloggers can add a level of credibility regular in-house writers cannot provide. With bloggers, they have their own audiences and can create unbiased content for your brand. To begin, it only requires some research into bloggers and their content focuses, finding the ones that meet your needs, and reaching out to them personally, Carolyn said.

One thing Carolyn also mentioned is that building relationships with bloggers is not a one-way street. You have to offer useful incentives that make putting your brand in front of their audience a worthwhile endeavor.

An incentive Carolyn tries to provide bloggers with is access to thought leaders or suppliers for interviews they would not have been able to gain as easy otherwise.

“Their editorial oversight is entirely theirs. It would be inappropriate for us to influence what they write, and we want them to continue to have that credibility, because that credibility is what garners them their audience. If they have credibility and their audience believes them, then whatever they say about us is true,” Carolyn explained.

 

Takeaway #3. Responsive design is not a question – it’s the answer

Michael Layne, Director of Internet Marketing, and Jen Rademacher, Chief Information Officer, both of Fathead, joined Daniel to talk about Fathead’s responsive design efforts.

The increase in utilizing responsive design as a solution for the age of multi-device customers didn’t happen overnight. And it won’t happen overnight for your company either.

By frequently meeting and communicating their needs with Fathead’s IT team, they were able to provide a user experience that was no longer limited to the device a customer was using.

Of course, this effort would not be possible without some A/B split testing. Michael offered these insights for marketers looking to redesign their site: “Simplicity is genius, white space is your friend, and get out of the way of your customers.”

 

Takeaway #4. The bar is raised for B2B e-commerce marketers

Ryan West, CEO, WestMusic, sells instruments to elementary schools. But just because his e-commerce site is focused on B2B doesn’t mean it should be treated any differently. Ryan, along with Sean Cook, CEO, ShopVisible, revealed the importance of maintaining an omnichannel presence in B2B e-commerce marketing.

“Marketers need to have a realization that companies are filled with people. You might be selling to an enterprise, but they are filled with people, too,” Sean said.

Ryan, whose business also includes retail locations, discussed how the lines between online and offline presences are becoming blurred as consumers are using more devices than ever to research and purchase.

The customer journey, especially for WestMusic, has evolved into multiple touch points including desktop, mobile and in-store purchases.

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