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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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Why Selfishness Is the Key to Successful Marketing

July 9th, 2015 No comments

Philosophers [must] become kings … or those now called kings [must] … genuinely and adequately philosophize.” —Plato

Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director and CEO, MECLABS Institute, remarked about Plato’s quote in The Marketer as Philosopher — “One might substitute the term ‘marketer’ for the term ‘king.’”

In order to best communicate as marketers, we need to sometimes slow down and ask “why” we are doing the “what.” This includes considering the reasons for the various elements of brand collateral, images, calls-to-action and testimonials we insert onto our pages.

I recently came across a test that highlighted for me some of these challenges that marketers often face when balancing the “why” and the “what.”

That’s why in this post I want to show how we can use the MECLABS Conversion Heuristic to really drill down on these specific elements while giving you a process in which you can apply a methodology to creating and optimizing all of your marketing collateral.

 

MECLABS Conversion Heuristic

 

This heuristic is just that — a heuristic. This means it is simply a mental shorthand used to convey an idea or approach. This is not a mathematical equation and you cannot solve it. However, it does work similarly to an equation in the idea that the coefficient preceding the letters indicates that value’s level of importance.

Therefore, motivation, with a coefficient of four, is more important in the conversion than anxiety, which only has a coefficient of two.

With that being said, let’s start by evaluating the customer’s motivation on a page and how each element can cater to that motivation.

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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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