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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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E-commerce: 5-question checklist for eliminating products

May 8th, 2014 No comments

I love Sheena Iyengar’s study on the art of choice.

Simply put, the number of choices offered to a customer impacts their ability to make decisions. She illustrated this point during her classic TEDTalk featuring an experiment in a supermarket using jam.

Offer too many choices, and customers become paralyzed to make any decision, or not the one you were hoping for.

Optimizing choice is also why I love A/B testing, as it helps you put these kinds of ideas into real-world practice in your marketing efforts.

In this MarketingExperiments Blog post, we’ll look at two tests recently featured in one of our Web clinics on marketing multiple products plus a valuable checklist that you can apply to your own work.

 

Control 

mutliple-product-control

 

In the control, the MECLABS research team suspected the generic call-to-action in the main eye-path was not creating enough value force to move customers forward in the conversion process.

 

Treatment

multiple-products-treatment

 

For the treatment, the team also hypothesized that a single product with a drop-down selection would increase conversion by reducing friction in the mind of the customer.

 

Results 

multiple-products-results

 

By reducing the overlap of products, the treatment was able to guide customers to the right product for their needs.

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E-commerce Marketing: 5 takeaways from ROI Revolution Retail Traffic Summit

May 1st, 2014 5 comments

Over the past two days, I’ve been at ROI Revolution Retail Traffic Summit in Atlanta. For those of you unfamiliar with ROI Revolution, it is an agency concentrated in e-commerce, specializing in paid search, shopping feeds and a few other goodies. This MarketingExperiments Blog post features a few takeaways from the event to help inspire your e-commerce marketing efforts. But, before we dive into the takeaways, I want to give a special thanks (and full disclosure) to ROI Revolution for inviting MarketingExperiments to cover the event.

 

Big success starts with big thinking

After the first day, ROI Revolution invited attendees to the Georgia Aquarium for a networking event. Seeing the huge whale sharks reminded marketers to aspire to be the bigger fish online. As Brad Stone, author of The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, and featured speaker at the event, said, to be like Amazon, or in this case, the big fish, marketers need to think like the big fish.

 

Takeaway #1. Be where your customers are

Nicole Premo, Partner Education Manager, Shopping & Emerging Ads, Google, opened the event with her session, “Google Goes Shopping: Building a Search Experience for Today’s Shopper.”

According to a Neilsen study, 67% of people in the U.S. own a smartphone. With this increased connection to e-commerce, while the methods in which people make purchasing decisions have evolved, there is one aspect Nicole said would arguably never change.

“Remember, people are fundamentally the same. Shoppers are driven by core economic considerations. They are looking for a product that has a value proposition that matches to what [they] care about,” Nicole said.

What has changed, however, is how they gather information and make the decision to buy. There are more moments to shop than ever before, as 82% of people use smartphones to browse product information while in store.

Retailers have had to adapt quickly and engage with consumers at that single moment of inspiration. With inspiration everywhere, and with rapidly evolving technology, shopping has “become incredibly casual.”

Nicole’s advice really boils down to this: Having an effective mobile strategy in place is key to being where your customers are at all times.

 

Takeaway #2. Leverage data for more personalized targeting

“Age, demographics, gender, where they are, how long they stay on the site, where did they come from, did they abandon – these are not insights for the sake of insights. These insights should inform your online strategy to build actionable customer segments,” said Bob Dillon, Director of Agency Sales, Google.

Bob also talked about the importance of converting qualified customers with display advertising. Locating those potential customers who placed a product into a cart and retargeting with them with display ads is a great place to start.

“Finding that person who left, you want to find them and re-engage with creative that is a product they looked at,” Bob explained.

 

Takeaway #3. Develop an offline tactic to drive online conversion

Although the main place of conversion in e-commerce is in an online shopping experience, some marketers have discovered offline methods that not only help to drive online traffic, but also achieve strong revenue. During a panel discussion, John Lynch, CEO, Show Me Cables, revealed how his company takes customer relationship management offline with its own unique ranking system.

John’s team measures customers’ online body language and profiles it offline to reach them more effectively. For example, each customer receives a score based on their number of site visits, what pages they viewed on the site, and their email open and interaction metrics.

Starting with an online transaction, the team then researches the customer using a third-party platform to rank them according to their internal system. Finally, the customer receives a phone call.

“This is what we do to hit the right customer at the right time,” John said.

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Landing Page Optimization: Does your product page have buyability?

January 13th, 2014 No comments

In a recent Web clinic, Austin McCraw, Senior Editorial Analyst, and Adam Lapp, Director of Services Operations, both of MECLABS, revealed how marketers at an Italian cosmetics website increased conversion 20% by testing the usability of their category page.

But first, let’s review the research notes for some background information on the test.

Background: Italian e-commerce website offering cosmetics. The researchers were focusing on testing different approaches to the “body” category page.

Goal: To increase conversion rate.

Primary Research Question: Which landing page will generate the highest conversion rate?

Approach: A/B variable cluster test

 

Control: Category list 

 

Here’s a screenshot of the control page that listed all of the main categories of body products.

According to Adam, the team analyzed the control and hypothesized that testing usability would help determine if the category list at the top of the page is the most user-friendly way to present products and information to customers.

 

Treatment 1: Configurator design 

 

For Treatment 1, the team tested a configurator design that enabled visitors to enter the criteria for the products they were looking for.

“What we wanted to do is test several different usability tactics out there that you might commonly see,” Adam explained.

 

Treatment 2: Visual categories

 

Treatment 2 focused on making the page easier to use by removing the category links and simply featuring the main categories with images.

 

Treatment 3: Navigation links (text) 

 

Treatment 3 was a radical approach designed to make the process easier by removing the “body” category page altogether. The design enabled visitors to choose their categories within a drop-down feature in the navigation.

 

Treatment 4: Navigation links (visual)

 

Treatment 4 was similar to Treatment 3; only it added images to the drop-down navigation menu.

 

What you need to know 

 

The configurator design in Treatment 1 outperformed the control and other treatments by a relative difference of 20%.

So why did this design increase performance? Why did the configurator beat all of the other methods? Was it the usability?

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