Posts Tagged ‘Customer theory’

Value Proposition: Between perception and reality

November 3rd, 2014

I recently posted this observation on FlintsNotes, Flint McGlaughlin’s blog designed to showcase his day-to-day work, and I felt that this idea could be elaborated on more:

The challenge for many companies is misunderstood. It is not finding prospects that need what it has to offer, but rather finding prospects who know that they need what it has to offer.

Managers flounder in the gap between perception and reality. They are trained to think about data, facts and rules. This strength obscures a corresponding weakness: They fail to account for the difference between ‘what is’ and ‘what the prospect believes is.’ The latter initiates the experience of the former and thus takes initial precedence.

-Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS


The difference between reality and perception

Fint talks about how managers (marketers) tend to get lost in the blurred line of perception and reality, failing to recognize the difference between “what is” (reality) and “what the prospect believes is” (perception).

He points out that the latter (perception) initiates the experience of the former (reality), thus taking initial precedence.

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Ecommerce: 2 tips I learned from a garage sale

September 15th, 2014

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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Radical Redesigns: Lifts vs. building customer theory

March 6th, 2014

“Radical redesign” is a term we use often at MECLABS.

It’s used to describe treatments that are “radically” different from the control. We aren’t talking about changing some button copy from “Buy” to “Buy Now.” We’re talking new themes, layouts, copy and even functionality on the page.

Radical redesigns contain many variables making it difficult to isolate specific elements contributing to the results of a test.

Today’s MarketingExperiments Blog post will focus on several of the pros and cons of radical redesigns, but I’d first like to provide you with a little more context on testing in this fashion and how it may impact future testing.

Lifts are awesome.

That means your treatment(s) had a positive effect on your key performance indicator (KPI). You may have increased clickthrough rate, conversions or conversion rates, or possibly even leads.

Your treatment won, and you also learned how the variables you changed in the treatments resulted in an optimized page.

However, identifying specifically what, how and why these changes made an impact is what makes building your customer theory even better. Discoveries are important to customer theory because they can be attained regardless of whether your treatments “win” or “lose.”

Discoveries are also valuable in informing future testing.

Let’s say you changed some button copy. If your treatment wins and you see a lift, you learn that the button copy you changed resonated with the visitor.

But if the treatment loses, you’ve discovered that it didn’t entice the user to click, and you need to continue testing to determine the optimal copy to increase visitor engagement with the button.

Either way, you’ve gained valuable insight about your customers with your test.

However, this isn’t always the case with radical redesigns.


Radical redesigns may provide a lift, but they also leave a lot of unanswered questions 

There’s no doubt about it, radical redesigns are fun. You are able to play with designs. You can try all of your cool ideas. You can make landing pages or email treatments that look so much prettier (or uglier) than the control version.

Radical redesigns are often beneficial and can be a quick way to optimize your page if you are seeing multiple opportunities to add value and decrease friction and anxiety.

When radical redesigns win, it’s great. It means visitors loved your new designs, copy or functionality. Your hypothesis was correct, and the new page increased conversions. You achieved a lift, and you learned that whatever you did to the page resonated well with the visitor.

But you might have to ask yourself, “What else did I learn?”

You just don’t know what you did to the radically redesigned page that made it any better and that insight may be lost as to where to test next.

Was it the new headline? The altered layout? The aesthetics you added? Or was it that updated functionality?

Often times, the little voice that wants to know what you learned is silenced by the increase in conversions.

When radical redesigns lose, however, that’s a different story. While they are fun to plan and test, the sad fact is that when they lose, you are often left back at square one.

There is not much you can learn from an underperforming radical redesign and here’s why:

  1. You didn’t see a lift. You didn’t devise a new treatment that boosted conversions to implement. It lost. The only lesson you learned was that the control was better, which just leaves you back where you started.
  2. You don’t achieve as many valuable discoveries about your customers. What aspect of the page didn’t resonate with visitors? Maybe they liked the new layout, but the headline turned them off. You’ll never know. Therein lies the risk with radical redesigns.

Keep in mind, this post is not meant to deter you from radical redesigns. As stated before, radical redesigns are a great way to make many positive changes to a page when you have diagnosed specific shortcomings.

The idea here is make you aware of some of the pitfalls of testing radical redesigns.

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Customer Theory: What do you blame when prospects do not buy?

February 10th, 2014

The effort and money that you’re investing in your marketing is predicated on one thing – that you understand your customer.

What good is a print ad, an email or a marketing automation investment if it doesn’t deliver a message that alleviates a customer pain point or helps a customer achieve a goal? They won’t act if the message doesn’t hit them square between the eyes.

Let me give you an example of faulty customer theory. Uber, a mobile car hailing service, is coming to Jacksonville. I recently received a push poll phone call clearly supported by the frightened taxi industry.

The main message seemed to be that Uber is cheaper because it uses unregulated (and, therefore, unsafe) drivers.


How often are you delighted by cab drivers?

What struck me was how far off their customer theory was from my actual wants and needs. I, for example, chose to take the BART from the airport to the hotel for Lead Gen Summit 2013 – not because it was cheaper (MECLABS was paying the bill either way, so it was free for me), but because riding in a cab is a miserable experience.

Plus, I’m putting my life in the hands of someone who will cut across three lanes of rush hour traffic with no turn signal to drop a passenger off 45 seconds quicker. Goodbye, safety argument.

The reason Uber, Lyft and other car hailing mobile apps are gaining traction is because they’ve found a way to create a better customer experience. Think about it. When was the last time you were delighted by a cab ride? In fairness, there was one time for me in Los Angeles. A kind driver gave me a quick tour of Bel Air during what limited free time I had on a business trip.

Here’s why the taxi industry struggles to realize the true threat.


We will tend to blame external rather than internal reasons when customers don’t buy

You put in so much time marketing your company and your clients that it becomes difficult to see the flaws customers see with unbiased eyes.

This is why A/B testing can be so valuable.

Actually forming hypotheses, testing these hypotheses in real situations with real customers, and then building a customer theory over time that informs everyone in your company about what customers really want is essential.

When you have your customer theory right, marketing can focus on clearly communicating how it can fulfill customers’ needs and wants.


Discover what customers want

Of course, A/B testing is only one way to gain customer intelligence. So to gain a perspective beyond my own, I asked Lindsay Bayuk, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Infusionsoft, for her perspective.

“Understanding what your customers want starts with understanding the problem they are trying to solve. First, define who your best customers are and then ask them about their challenges. Next, ask them why they love you,” Lindsay said.

Lindsay said some great ways to collect both quantitative and qualitative data on your target customers include:

  • Surveys
  • Interviews
  • A/B tests (see, I was telling you)
  • Sales calls
  • Feedback loops

The email registration process is another opportunity for learning more about your customers.

Ali Swerdlow, Vice President, Channel Sales & Marketing, LeadSpend, added, “Preference centers are a great way to gather data about your customers. Then, use that data to segment your list and message different groups accordingly.”

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Online Testing: 6 test ideas to optimize the value of testimonials on your site

March 22nd, 2013

Testimonials and reviews can be powerful tools on your website or landing pages. As external factors, they have the ability to relieve customer anxiety on almost any issue. From concerns on product quality to cost justification to usability, testimonials can be used to alleviate very specific areas of anxiety.

That’s why they can be a great element to test on our website. Testing testimonials came up at a recent Peer Review Session while MECLABS research analysts discussed testing ideas for a Research Partner’s website. Today’s blog will share six test ideas that can increase the force testimonials have on your website.


Test #1: Location on page

According to the MECLABS Landing Page Optimization Online Course, proximity is the degree to which your corrective measures – testimonials in this case – are placed so they are experienced at the same time as, or as soon after as possible, the moment the anxiety is stimulated.

Testing different locations on your pages, at different points of anxiety along the path to purchase, could help optimize the value of your testimonials and improve conversions.

It’s important to remember best practices don’t always apply. That is why testing is so vital. While you might think a testimonial on cost justification would work best next to the “Purchase” or “Add to Cart” button, another location on the page might have a stronger impact or perhaps your customers have already decided the price is acceptable before that point and the testimonial is wasted there. A cost justification testimonial could relieve more anxiety placed next to the location where the price is initially mentioned on the page.

According to the MarketingExperiments Blog post, “Landing Page Design: Eye-path vs. Thought sequence,” testimonials can increase conversion “when used in close proximity to the value on the page.” The value exchange could be a form asking only for an email, a form asking for many fields for a price estimate, or simply an “Add to Cart” button.

Here are a couple of ideas for testing the location of your testimonials:

  • Product page – Does a testimonial next to a bullet list of product benefits, providing real-life evidence of your product’s benefits, earn your company more conversions than a testimonial justifying cost close to the “Add to Cart” button?
  • Sidebar – Even if previous testing has proven the sidebar is an effective location for testimonials on your site, it could be worth a test to see if moving the testimonials up or down the side bar improves conversion further. You should follow the thought sequence of your customers. So, in their mind, does seeing a customer review about the quality of service above, say, a security seal alleviate more anxiety?


Test #2: Long vs. short testimonials

Some testimonials are quick and to the point – others fill a page with every detail possible. While some audiences might only require a short testimonial to alleviate any worry, other purchasers may require more in-depth information.

A few factors could play into which might be better for your company and products: audience, product complexity and cost. If the product is on the less expensive side and is pretty straightforward, your audience may need only a simple, “[Your product] did everything I expected and more” type of testimonial. However, a CEO purchasing complex computer software might need more details to satisfy any concerns, even going as far as a full case study.

Try testing different lengths of testimonials on your website. You could potentially find customers at different points in the path to purchase need more or less detailed testimonials.


Test #3: Adding a rating scale

While testimonials can help relieve anxiety, the qualitative format can leave some prospective customers unsure of the reviewer’s final verdict on the product or service. A rating scale allows prospects to immediately recognize the overall opinion of pervious purchasers. They also allow for quick scanning, so those just browsing or in a time-crunch can instantly take those overall ratings into account.

Most likely, you wouldn’t be able to instantly do this test. You’ll first need to adjust the way you ask for reviews or testimonials so that a rating will be required.


Test #4: Geo-target testimonials

When potential customers look at testimonials or reviews, it can help them better relate to the experience if they feel connected to the reviewer. One basic way to do this is by geo-targeting your testimonials. You can do this in a variety of ways, including asking for a ZIP code, city, state or country, and determining the location based on the visitor’s IP, WiFi or GPS data.

For example, if I am looking at the website of a national home builder, seeing a testimonial from my hometown of Jacksonville, Fla., will have a much higher effect on me than one from Kansas. Knowing someone close by has had a great experience, with possibly the exact same people who will be working on my new home, will instill more confidence in my decision to go with that home builder.

Remember, you don’t have to rely on your analytics to do all of the work. You can also ask the customer to self-segment themselves as they go through the buy process, which will allow you to present them with the location-targeted testimonials. CubeSmart, a self-storage company, employs a similar strategy. Once you select a location, you see a testimonial from a customer who uses that same location. You get to see the experiences of people just like you with the same people you’ll be interacting with if you purchase.


While it’s not fool proof – after all, you could use my IP address when I’m researching home builders while on vacation out of state – it can certainly help establish a bond between prospects and current customers, as well as create more perceived value in that testimonial.

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Marketing Analytics: 4 techniques to discuss with your data analysts

February 11th, 2013

On a recent MarketingSherpa webinar, sponsored by Paramore, I discussed statistical analytics techniques with Benjamin Fillip, Data Analyst, MECLABS …


Ben chose the techniques to feature on “Four Techniques to Improve Analytics Based on Customer Knowledge” from his experience working with MECLABS Research Partners. These are the same four techniques the MECLABS team of data scientists typically uses at the beginning of a Research Partnership to help guide testing and optimization.


Be Al Roker, not Tom Brokaw

Recent research in the MarketingSherpa 2013 Marketing Analytics Benchmark Report indicates 48% of marketers are using analytics platforms to customize reports, but only 24% are creating and testing hypotheses.

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