Kyle Foster

Measuring Success: The distance between a test and the conversion point

March 9th, 2015

There’s a misconception that I’ve encountered among our research teams lately.

The idea is that the distance between the page being split tested and a specified conversion point may be too great to attribute the conversion rate impact to the change made in the test treatment.

An example of this idea is that, when testing on the homepage, using the sale as the conversion or primary success metric is unreliable because the homepage is too far from the sale and too dependent on the performance of the pages or steps between the test and the conversion point.

This is only partially true, depending on the state of the funnel.

Theoretically, if traffic is randomly sampled between the control and treatment with all remaining aspects of the funnel consistent between the two, we can attribute any significant difference in performance to the changes made to the treatment, regardless of the number of steps between the test and the conversion point.

More often than not, however, practitioners do not take the steps necessary to ensure proper controlling of the experiment. This can lead to other departments launching new promotions and testing other channels or parts of the site simultaneously, leading to unclear, mixed results.

So I wanted to share a few quick tips for controlling your testing:

 

Tip #1. Run one test at a time

Running multiple split tests in a single funnel results in a critical validity threat that prevents us from evaluating test performance because the funnel is uncontrolled and prospects may have entered a combination of split tests.

Employing a unified testing queue or schedule may provide transparency across multiple departments and prevent prospects from entering multiple split tests within the same funnel.

 

Tip #2. Choose the right time to launch a test

 

External factors such as advertising campaigns and market changes can impact the reliability or predictability of your results. Launching a test during a promotion or holiday season, for example, may bias prospects toward a treatment that may not be relevant during “normal” times.

Being aware of upcoming promotions or marketing campaigns as well as having an understanding of yearly seasonality trends may help indicate the ideal times to launch a test.

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Categories: Analytics & Testing Tags: , , , ,

David Kirkpatrick

Testing and Optimization: A/B tests on landing pages, email and paid search from case studies

March 5th, 2015

No matter what type of digital marketing campaigns you are executing, there are elements in every channel that can be tested and optimized to improve campaign performance.

For example, email subject lines, copy, design and even the “from” field can be tested. Webpage elements ripe for testing include design, layout, copy, color, call-to-action button elements and more. With paid search you should be testing keywords on an ongoing basis to continually improve your PPC spend, but you can also test ad copy and calls-to-action.

At MarketingSherpa (sister company of MarketingExperiments), we publish case studies in our newsletters every week, and very often those case studies include a testing and optimization element. For today’s MarketingExperiments Blog post, I wanted to share three of those examples taken from previously published newsletter case studies.

I hope these tests give you some ideas on testing your own digital marketing channels.

 

Test #1. Webpage: Increasing lead generation on a landing page

This first test was actually a collaboration between researchers at MECLABS (the parent company of MarketingExperiments) and HubSpot and was conducted during Optimization Summit 2012. The full test was covered in the article, “A/B Testing: How a landing page test yielded a 6% increase in leads.”

A lead form landing page for HubSpot’s software with a free special report incentive for filling out the registration form was tested, with the Summit attendees providing input on what to test.

Before the Summit, the testing team came up with four hypothesis options:

Hypothesis 1 — Visitors arriving to the page are highly motivated to download the e-book based on brand recognition. Removing friction from the page will result in a higher conversion rate.

Hypothesis 2 — Communicating the urgency of the offer — that the free e-book download is a limited-time offer — will result in a higher conversion rate.

Hypothesis 3 — Adding more visual value to the page, such as charts and graphs from the e-book, will result in a higher conversion rate.

Hypothesis 4 — Incorporating pricing information to increase the perceived value of the e-book will result in a higher conversion rate.

The audience was allowed to choose which one to test and decided on Hypothesis 2.

 

Control

 

Treatment (Hypothesis 2)

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Selena Blue

Email Marketing: Top 5 most effective list growth tactics

March 2nd, 2015

In a digital world, where 72% of U.S. adults prefer communication with companies through email, how do you capture new email addresses?

Acquiring emails for our list is a continuous task. We have to work to not only retain the list we have, but to also grow it to build a larger audience of prospects and customers.

In fact, 63% of marketers reported “growing and retaining subscribers on our list” as a marketing goal, according to the MarketingSherpa Email Marketing Benchmark Report.

But with so many tactics and strategies out there, where do you begin?

In the Benchmark Report, we asked email marketers several questions about the different tactics out there. This MarketingSherpa blog post will break down the five most effective list building tactics, as reported by your peers.

 

Tactic #1. Registration during purchase

The most effective tactic according to respondents was gaining email addresses during the checkout process. This make perfect sense. After all, you already need an email address from customers during the online purchasing process. You’re not technically asking for anything they aren’t already giving.

It simply requires adding a small checkbox for customers to check if they’d like more information, promotions or discounts. This could be why 52% of marketers said it was also a very or somewhat easy tactic to implement.

However, I caution you to think about how you implement this. You don’t want to prevent customers from purchasing because of a confusing or required registration or list sign-up.

To learn about the two registration options — front-end vs. back-end — read the MarketingSherpa Blog post, “E-commerce: Why a forced checkout registration is never a good idea.”

 

Tactic #2. Website registration page

The second tactic is viewed as the easiest, with 85% of respondents saying it’s very or somewhat easy.

There are many ways to add a registration form to your site, whether it’s a form on the homepage or a landing page all its own.

Even if you already employ this tactic, it could be worth it to reassess your current strategy. Kodak revamped its strategy, including updating its capture page and adding more opt-in requests, to increase email subscribers by 33%.

According to the Benchmark Report, 29% of marketers found white papers and other premium content is effective for registering new email subscribers on their sites. This could be for one-off downloads or to access a library of premium content. To see how a free paywall can grow your list by using content you already produce, see how Copyblogger grew its email list by 400%.

 

Tactic #3. Online events

Online events, or webinars, are no exception to the rule that providing prospects with content is a great way to achieve a value exchange. Customers get valuable information in exchange for their email address.

Webinars can require a significant amount of time, planning and resources, so it’s not a surprise that only 31% of marketers say they are very or somewhat easy to execute. However, as the third most effective tactic — with 37% saying it’s very effective — they might worth the investment.

Partnering with another company could be a great strategy for webinars. One, you have another set of hands to help with the webinar creation and execution. Two, you’ll have access to another email list, potentially filled with new customers.

You can create buzz around the event through social media, blog posts and even paid advertising. HubSpot attracted 25,000 sign-ups, which turned into 10,000 attendees. The team was then able to turn 3,500 of those attendees into new leads. Learn how the team achieved these results in the MarketingSherpa case study.

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Categories: Email Marketing Tags: , ,

Erin Hogg

Email Lists: How sweepstakes work for CNET [Live from #SherpaEmail]

February 26th, 2015

Before jetting out to MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015, Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS Institute, and I took a little trip down memory lane and reviewed some top takeaways from Email Summit 2006.

Of course, it’s exciting to see how some things have changed and laugh at how far we’ve come. In 2006, consumer marketers were warned about Yahoo and MSN Hotmail adding preview panes to email services.

We were using words like “ezines” and “hotlinks.” We assumed email would be dead because of junk mail. We were just getting the hang of using Web analytics and email systems together to track customer value.

While we have come a long way since then, there were some things that have stood the test of time.

Keeping opt-ins actively engaged with email content is key to improving ROI. Don’t have Marketing operate in a silo — work in coordination with not just Sales but also IT to gain the right solutions and tools you need to succeed.

One takeaway caught our eye, as it is something I discussed onstage with Diana Primeau, Director of Member Services, CNET, earlier this week at #SherpaEmail.

In 2006, we heard from David Kreitzer, then Marketing Director, Bella Pictures, and his advice for using sweepstakes to build email lists.

According to David, although sweeps and free bonus offers can dramatically raise email opt-ins, list quality suffers. You may get tons of new names on a list, but they could just be there for the contest.

I’m sure many marketers even now have been advised not to use sweepstakes or contests to build a list.

Fast forward to yesterday, Diana shared how one way CNET builds its list is through sweepstakes and had the numbers to prove that subscribers can stay actively engaged post-contest.

 

What do we know now that’s different from what we believed in 2006?

It’s simple really: create a relevant experience with users with personalized content to retain them for the long term.

We knew this back then, but our capabilities over the years have grown to allow marketers to leverage the tools and platforms they need to segment, test and optimize an email experience for each subscriber, serving up content that creates a one-to-one relationship.

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Taylor Kennedy

Live from Email Summit: Two tactics to reduce perceived cost in your email capture forms

February 23rd, 2015

I’m reporting live today from the MarketingSherpa Email Summit in Las Vegas, one of the most exciting weeks of the year for email marketing practitioners (woo hoo!). While I never imagined being this pumped up about email marketing growing up (I had a passion for dinosaurs and Transformers as a kid), it’s incredible to see this many email marketers in one place sharing what works for the benefit of the whole industry.

Today marks the start of the Summit with a workshop on “Effective Email Messaging” taught by Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director and CEO, MECLABS Institute, and the MECLABS team.

One of the concepts that seems to be resonating especially well with the marketers in attendance today is the concept of email marketing as a continuum, where the relationship you establish in the email capture form (lead generation form) affects each interaction that occurs thereafter.

Therefore, starting your “email relationship” off on the right foot with a well-thought-out email capture strategy is of critical importance. Let’s avoid any and all applicable first date metaphors and dive right into the key principles that Flint has covered in this session, backed by tests to support them.

 

A framework for reducing perceived cost of the email capture

When testing your email capture fields, where do you begin? It’s important to remember that any action you wish the visitor to take on your website is a balance between two forces — cost and value. In order to increase the likelihood of the visitor taking the desired action, you should always be seeking to minimize cost and increase value.

In today’s post, we’ll be exploring the cost side of the equation.

 

Typically, one of the easiest places to start is by looking at your email capture forms for any unnecessary elements that might contribute to the perceived cost.

Cost takes on two forms when dealing with email:

1. Amount of information required — Think the amount of form fields involved. How many form fields are actually getting put to use by either the marketing or sales team once captured. If you’re not using  a particular form field currently (or not planning on using it in the near future), then get rid of it. Also, make sure your audience is clear on which form fields are required to participate in the email list.

2. Nature of the information required — This is the type of information that is required in the form fields. If you require a telephone number for a digital download, this might convince the visitor that you have an ulterior motive for their contact information. Also, think about more personal information types, such as driver’s license number or social security number. This information may be more difficult to obtain or could cause concern to the visitor.

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John Tackett

Landing Page Optimization: How a navigation test increased leads 34%

February 19th, 2015

Site navigation can make or break the user experience on your site.

So what can you do about it?

In today’s MarketingExperiments Blog post, I wanted to share with you an interesting experiment from our latest Web clinic that shows how a tourism group increased leads 34% by testing their site navigation.

Before we get any further, let’s take a look at the experiment:

Background: A tourism commission seeking to enhance visitor interaction with their website content in order to boost appeal for choosing their city over other destinations.

Goal: Test the site navigation to increase visitor engagement with key site content.

Primary Research Question: Which navigation type will increase site engagement?

Secondary Research Question: Which navigation type will lead to the highest lead generation rate?

Test Design: A/B/C split test

In the control above, the MECLABS research team hypothesized that the navigation was increasing user friction by including an almost-overwhelming amount of options.

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