tag:econsultancy.com,2008:/topics/conversion-rate-optimization Latest Conversion Rate Optimization content from Econsultancy 2016-04-13T14:16:07+01:00 tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67727 2016-04-13T14:16:07+01:00 2016-04-13T14:16:07+01:00 The Competition & Market Authority issues open letter about fake reviews Edwin Bos <p>The results showed that - unsurprisingly - reviews influence consumer purchasing habits (it estimates that <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/cma-acts-to-maintain-trust-in-online-reviews-and-endorsements" target="_blank">54% of UK adults consult online reviews</a> before making a purchase).</p> <p>At Reevoo <a href="https://blog.reevoo.com/the-government-cracks-down-on-fake-reviews-are-you-safe/" target="_blank">we reported on this</a> just as Amazon announced that it was introducing a new “machine learning” based review ranking system that promotes verified reviews over others (as much as an algorithm alone can, anyway).</p> <p>But the survey also brought to light more shady tactics by businesses trying to influence potential consumers.</p> <p>These ranged from posting fake reviews on to review sites, eliminating negative reviews (<a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/8638-bad-reviews-improve-conversion-by-67/">even though this isn’t a good strategy</a>) and <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67645-google-s-got-it-right-instead-of-bribing-bloggers-sort-out-your-website/" target="_blank">paying for endorsements in blogs</a> without making it clear to the people watching and reading.</p> <p>The CMA has now written <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/512560/An_open_letter_to_marketing_departments__marketing_agencies_and_their_clients.pdf" target="_blank">an open letter to marketing departments</a>, marketing agencies and their clients about the investigation and offering guidance on how to make sure they’re complying with industry standards.</p> <p>Most of <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/online-reviews-and-endorsements-advice-for-businesses/online-reviews-giving-consumers-the-full-picture" target="_blank">the advice</a> is pretty obvious. For example:</p> <blockquote> <p>Don’t pretend to be a customer and write reviews about your products or other businesses’ products.</p> </blockquote> <h3>See what I mean?</h3> <p>But what is even more clear is that businesses which don’t comply with these guidelines could find that the consequences are significant:</p> <blockquote> <p>Writing or commissioning a fake review – in relation your own products or someone else’s – is a breach of consumer protection law and may lead to civil or even criminal action.</p> </blockquote> <p>Although it’s good to see the issue getting attention, I don’t think the CMA goes far enough, despite the stern wording.</p> <p>If the CMA was serious it would have regulated the industry rather than sending out a letter.</p> <p>There is plenty of incentive for businesses (£23bn of consumer spending is influenced by customer reviews) to publish fake reviews.</p> <p>However, regardless of the CMA’s guidance, I firmly believe that businesses shouldn’t be tempted into faking reviews or deleting negative ones. There's too much to lose.</p> <p>Consumers prize transparency and authenticity. Untampered user-generated content is one of the best ways brands can gain consumers’ trust.</p> <p>And as we’ve seen in recent scandals, trust is one of the hardest things for a brand to earn but one of the easiest things to lose.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67630 2016-03-16T12:07:00+00:00 2016-03-16T12:07:00+00:00 Forget AO.com, does Benefit Cosmetics offer the best ecommerce experience? Paul Rouke <ol> <li>Knowing and communicating your unique value proposition.</li> <li>Being truly, passionately customer centric.</li> <li>Harnessing social proof to make this central to the purchasing decision.</li> <li>Embracing <a href="http://www.slideshare.net/PRWD/iterative-versus-innovative-testing-exploiting-the-full-spectrum-of-testing-opportunities-paul-rouke-elite-camp-2015-final">the full spectrum of testing and optimisation</a>.</li> </ol> <p>Whenever a website is praised or wins an award, I always check to see what all the fuss is about.</p> <p>Using these four criteria as a starting point, you can begin to assess whether or not a website can truly deliver the goods.</p> <p>I am always curious to see who can join the illustrious list of true disrupter brands such as Uber and AirBnb, and as my previous post concluded, AO.com hs joined that list having disrupted the white goods industry.</p> <p>As such, when I read that Benefit Cosmetics (part of the multi-billion, multinational luxury goods conglomerate LVMH) was recently awarded '<a href="http://beauty20awards.com/who-won-the-beauty20-london-the-10-best-loved-beauty-brands-online/">Best Beauty Brand Online</a>’, I had to check it out for myself and see whether the brand is worthy of the title!</p> <p>So here goes. Will Benefit join the illustrious list of disruptive brands and cement itself as a trailblazer for the beauty industry? Let's find out.</p> <h3>1. Knowing and communicating your unique value proposition</h3> <h4><strong>Universal header area</strong></h4> <p>Landing on the homepage - or other primary landing pages - I’m extremely surprised to see that Benefit Cosmetics doesn’t dedicate <em>any</em> part of the primary header area to communicate anything tangible about its unique value proposition.</p> <p>Prime website real estate is just being neglected.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/2800/Homepage_top_half.PNG" alt="" width="600" height="382"></p> <p>This online crime happens all the time.</p> <p>Brand X feels like it is big enough, credible enough and well known enough to not need to communicate why visitors should stick around and buy from them and not one of their competitors.</p> <p>As crowded as the beauty market is, you would think every brand would jump at a chance to communicate their USPs.</p> <p>It doesn’t matter how big or well-known you are, <strong>you should always be providing visitors with reasons to stay. </strong></p> <h4>On primary landing and decision making pages, under the navigation</h4> <p>Just as Benefit doesn’t communicate any form of its unique value proposition in the site-wide header, it doesn’t dedicate any area under or around its primary navigation for communicating what makes the brand and products special.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/2818/bestsellers.PNG" alt="" width="601" height="339"></p> <p>As I shared in my AO.com critique, we all know about the fact that people need to see things a number of times before it typically “sinks in”.</p> <p>Never has this been more important for retailers than with your unique value and service proposition messages.</p> <p>In summary,<strong> Benefit Cosmetics is failing to communicate its value proposition clearly on key landing pages</strong><em>. </em></p> <h3>2. Being truly, passionately customer centric</h3> <h4><strong>Providing customer journeys that match different types of buyer behaviour</strong></h4> <p>The two ways to browse products on Benefit Cosmetics are to ‘shop by product’ and ‘shop by dilemma’.</p> <p>Though 'shop by dilemma' is an intriguing concept, only having two initial options to start a product search is limiting.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/2819/product_page_top_half.PNG" alt="" width="600" height="306"></p> <p>What about shop by latest releases, shop by most popular, shop by highest rated?</p> <p>Even with a small product set compared to a retailer like AO.com, visitors will still benefit from being able to browse your range by other ways than just the type or category of product.</p> <h4><strong>Replicating the offline shopping experience</strong></h4> <p>Benefit Cosmetics is doing some really positive things in this area, not least actively encouraging visitors to visit a store.</p> <p>Often multichannel retailers are almost afraid of promoting their store finder as they want their online visitors to buy online.</p> <p>Truth is, bridging this gap (and encouraging the multichannel shopper) will in turn help create new customers who have the potential to become brand advocates.</p> <p>The terminology used in the primary navigation ‘Get Serviced’ followed by the headline ‘Pamper Yourself Pretty’ are excellent examples of using emotive language and speaking directly to the visitor.</p> <p>Creative and <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65365-how-seven-ecommerce-brands-use-highly-persuasive-copywriting/">persuasive copywriting</a> is certainly an area that Benefit has prioritised as part of its online user experience and it shows.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/2820/pamper_yourself.PNG" alt="" width="601" height="324"></p> <p>Store integration is intrinsic to the online experience.</p> <p>In the section ‘explore our services’, hovering over any of the services immediately presents you with a ‘Find a Store’ button – this <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67345-23-creative-examples-of-hover-states-in-ecommerce-ux/">subtle hover state</a> change ensures visitors are drawn to what they want you to do.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/2821/find_a_store.PNG" alt="" width="601" height="324"></p> <p>Benefit has another whole area dedicated to its customers with the ‘Wow your Brows’ page.</p> <p>From striking, emotive imagery and humanised language, to video content and specific advice tailored to women’s different styles of eyebrows, this is an extremely (and impressively) customer-centric page.</p> <p>I can't help but wonder why it doesn't promote this specialist area in the universal header!</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/2822/wowbrows.PNG" alt="" width="600" height="360"></p> <p>In addition, it dedicates a whole section of the homepage to helping fix ‘Beauty Dilemmas’.</p> <p>This once again showcases visually striking images that ooze brand personality (which is consistent throughout the whole site).</p> <p>In summary,<strong> when it comes to being truly, passionately customer centric, Benefit is doing a lot right.<br></strong></p> <h3>3. Harnessing social proof to make this central to the purchasing decision</h3> <h4>Customer satisfaction is one of the first things new visitors are presented with</h4> <p>First-time visitors to AO.com see a prominent customer satisfaction score on the homepage.</p> <p>When examining Benefit’s homepage, apart from a sub headline ‘What benebabes love most’ (which doesn’t provide you with any way to find out what or who are ‘benebabes’) and some very small hearts, there is a distinct lack of social proof used to demonstrate the popularity and advocacy of the Benefit customer base.</p> <p>Of course it has the standard social links in the footer, but visitors have absolutely no idea if Benefit has 500 or 500,000 Pinterest followers, or 250 or 250,000 Twitter followers, or 800 or 800,000 Facebook likes.</p> <p>I will let you guess the numbers behind the brand...</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/2823/footer.PNG" alt="" width="600" height="117"></p> <h4>Prominence of reviews</h4> <p>As mentioned, with the miniscule love hearts under product images it’s almost as if Benefit Cosmetics doesn't want visitors to think about or look at <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/9366-ecommerce-consumer-reviews-why-you-need-them-and-how-to-use-them/">the reviews</a>.</p> <p>It would be interesting to see if any research was made in this decision.</p> <p>Not only that, you have no idea whether products have seven or 700 reviews until you get to the product page.</p> <p>From my experience, I always advise retailers to clearly communicate how many reviews you have for a product prior to visitors going to that product page.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/2824/most_loved.PNG" alt="" width="600" height="371"></p> <h4>Detailed, intelligent, informative, relevant customer reviews</h4> <p>Whilst the reviews are not prominent on the homepage, once you get on the product page Benefit has an exceptional rating and review system.</p> <p>It provides both fantastic depth of reviews and also puts the visitor in control of seeing the reviews most relevant to them.</p> <p>This shows how important Benefit take its customer reviews and the review system should be applauded, but ideally it should look to get this in front of the customer earlier in the journey.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/2825/mascara_page.PNG" alt="" width="600" height="340"></p> <h3>4. Embracing the full spectrum of testing and optimisation</h3> <p>Unlike with AO.com (which is a brand I know truly embraces the full spectrum of optimisation), the very fact that Benefit doesn’t appear to have a testing tool installed says to me that this is one of the biggest opportunities for its next phase of growth.</p> <h4><strong>What do I mean by the full spectrum of testing and optimisation? </strong></h4> <p>Very few businesses embrace the full spectrum of opportunities on offer from A/B, multivariate and personalisation testing.</p> <p>Typically testing is quick and simple and focused on the low hanging fruit (what we at PRWD call <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67245-why-mvt-doesn-t-live-up-to-the-hype-isn-t-worth-significant-investment/">iterative testing</a>).</p> <p>The biggest business growth opportunity many businesses are missing out on is the impact and growth that innovative and strategic testing can deliver for their business.</p> <h3>In conclusion...</h3> <p>In summary, Benefit Cosmetics is doing some fantastic things with its digital experience to convert visitors into customers.</p> <p>But as this quick evaluation has highlighted, there are a range of opportunities which can take it to the next level:</p> <ol> <li>Effectively communicating the unique value proposition to differentiate itself in the marketplace.</li> <li>Utilising the scale and passion of its social communities and customers to better effect.</li> <li>Most importantly, recognise that full spectrum optimisation represents the biggest growth lever.</li> </ol> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67473 2016-02-04T09:53:00+00:00 2016-02-04T09:53:00+00:00 Seven conversion rate optimization trends to take advantage of in 2016 Rich Page <p>While it still may not be this year that CRO finally hits mainstream, the signs are looking more positive – indeed, the findings of the <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/conversion-rate-optimization-report/" target="_blank">2015 CRO Report</a> by Econsultancy and <a href="http://www.redeye.com" target="_blank">RedEye</a> suggest a rising maturity of CRO.</p> <p>But what will be the major CRO trends that online businesses adopt and take advantage of in 2016? </p> <p>Here are the top CRO trends that I foresee happening this year:</p> <h3><strong>1. Growing in-house CRO resources</strong></h3> <p>2016 will see a very positive continual shift in online businesses building and improving in-house CRO capabilities.</p> <p>In particular, the continuation of hiring dedicated CRO roles - echoed by the 2015 CRO report, that found over two-thirds (69%) of respondents now have a dedicated internal CRO resource, the highest percentage since the report started seven years ago.</p> <p>However, many online businesses will continue to find it hard to hire CRO talent due to a low number of suitable candidates, a resource that hasn’t caught up with the rapidly growing demand yet.</p> <p>The 2015 CRO report also supported this by revealing that the biggest barrier to CRO success is a lack of resources.</p> <p>Using a full-service CRO agency to bridge the internal gap or converting internal web analysts are great options to consider.</p> <p><em><strong>What are the biggest barriers preventing your organization from improving conversion rates?</strong></em></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/1331/CRO_barriers.png" alt="CRO barriers responses" width="741" height="632"></p> <h3><strong>2. An increase in sticky website elements</strong></h3> <p>This year will see increasing usage of sticky website page elements to improve user navigation experience and to better highlight key conversion-related items.</p> <p>These sticky elements often have a strong impact on CRO because they help cut out the clutter and focus navigation on content that maximises conversions. </p> <p>Good examples of these page elements include sticky header navigation menus, sticky sidebars and sticky CTA buttons, which you can now find on smart websites like <a href="http://www.diy.com/">B&amp;Q</a> and <a href="http://www.pcworld.co.uk/gbuk/index.html">PC World</a>.</p> <p>It's definitely worth A/B testing these sticky page elements on your site soon.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/1332/sticky_element_example.png" alt="sticky element example" width="960" height="433"></p> <h3><strong>3. The commoditisation of A/B testing tools</strong></h3> <p>The growth of lower cost A/B testing tools will continue in 2016 with newer contenders like AB Tasty growing its presence in the UK and filling the small business needs that Optimizely seems to be vacating.</p> <p>Helping to fuel this further, each year we seem to see a new entrant into the market, and this year there is the exciting rumour of Google planning a much improved A/B testing tool to replace Content Experiments. </p> <p>Another driver of this commoditisation of A/B testing tools will be the increasing appearance of an A/B testing functionality in other offerings like CMS systems, much like Sitecore has recently successfully implemented.  </p> <h3><strong>4. Increasing usage of video to influence and persuade</strong></h3> <p>Over the last few years there has been much greater use of homepage videos to convert visitors. This includes things like explainer videos, product demos and customer testimonials.</p> <p>The recent increase in lower-cost website video creation services like Demoduck will certainly help this trend continue in 2016.</p> <p>High quality, benefit-driven videos on key pages can have a huge impact on increasing engagement and conversions.</p> <p>An excellent example of this is the explainer video on the Visual Web Optimizer homepage, which is high quality, focusing on key benefits with a strong CTA at the end.</p> <p>I would suggest taking advantage of this trend by creating explainer or demo videos for your key products and A/B testing the impact of them.</p> <p><a href="https://vwo.com/"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/1380/explainer_video.png" alt="explainer video" width="800"></a></p> <h3><strong>5. A demand for higher quality A/B test ideas</strong></h3> <p>We're starting to see a trend for higher quality testing, an encouraging sign of CRO maturity, as online businesses strive for even better results from their A/B testing efforts.</p> <p>In other words, it is becoming less about running a high quantity of tests and the myth that this will equal better results, and more of a focus on lower quantity but higher quality ideas to gain better results. </p> <p>Gaining much greater visitor feedback from usability testing and surveys will play a key role in forming stronger impact ideas, as will online businesses that are starting to benefit more from external CRO expertise for test ideas - the increase in CRO agencies offering expert reviews and heuristic analytics is helping to fuel this. </p> <p>Relying on test ideas from HiPPOs and best guesses will hopefully soon become a thing of the past.</p> <h3><strong>6. Greater capabilities of website personalisation tools</strong></h3> <p>Personalisation remains a very hot topic in the world of CRO, with an increasing demand for personalisation tools – according to the 2015 CRO Report only 22% of respondents were using it, but 56% were planning on using it soon. </p> <p><em><strong>Which of the following methods do you currently use to improve conversion rates?</strong></em></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/1381/personalisation_responses.png" alt="personalisation responses" width="800"></p> <p>With this greater demand for personalisation tools in 2016, the capabilities within them will increase, including growing sophistication (and lower cost) of 1:1 personalisation and cross-channel personalisation across web, email and apps (and even the emergence of in-store).</p> <p>Good examples of recent newer personalisation tool offerings are Contour from RedEye and Optimizely Personalisation. </p> <h3><strong>7. More big name website redesign failures</strong></h3> <p>Website redesign failures usually occur due to changing too much at once without using enough CRO redesign best practices.</p> <p>The most spectacular recent failure happened to <a href="http://www.marksandspencer.com/">Marks &amp; Spencer</a> in 2014, when a major redesign costing £150m resulted in an 8% decrease in online revenue, thousands of annoyed customers and probably several people losing their jobs.</p> <p>Which big brand will be next in 2016 to publically reveal a major website redesign failure? One will be coming soon, I’m sure of it. </p> <p>It can easily be avoided though. Incremental CRO-driven changes lessen the risk of failure and ensure higher conversion rates and revenue, instead of step-change redesign without adequate involvement of A/B testing, experts, visitors and their feedback.</p> <p>This new and improved approach to redesign is starting to finally appear, and is being adopted by many CRO agencies including RedEye. </p> <h3><strong>Which CRO trends do you think will be biggest in 2016?</strong></h3> <p>Now over to you – what are your thoughts on these CRO trends for 2016? What other trends do you think will be big in 2016?</p> <p>Please comment below so we can discuss and get some great conversations going. </p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:TrainingDate/2862 2016-01-14T15:11:39+00:00 2016-01-14T15:11:39+00:00 Conversion Optimisation - How to Deliver Digital Growth <p>Have you turned the marketing dial to its limit with diminishing results? Are you working towards delivering the next big website redesign? Are you working on strategies to gain an advantage over your competition?</p> <p>This one day course shows you how to implement a robust conversion optimisation strategy and process which can deliver major uplifts in sales revenue and profitability, as well as changing the way you develop your brand, innovate your offering, and make website redesigns a thing of the past. The course will show you how to implement a data driven approach of onsite testing and optimisation as well as arming you with the strategic knowledge to accelerate growth for forward-thinking businesses.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:TrainingDate/2830 2016-01-14T14:34:32+00:00 2016-01-14T14:34:32+00:00 Conversion Optimisation - How to Deliver Digital Growth <p>Have you turned the marketing dial to its limit with diminishing results? Are you working towards delivering the next big website redesign? Are you working on strategies to gain an advantage over your competition?</p> <p>This one day course shows you how to implement a robust conversion optimisation strategy and process which can deliver major uplifts in sales revenue and profitability, as well as changing the way you develop your brand, innovate your offering, and make website redesigns a thing of the past. The course will show you how to implement a data driven approach of onsite testing and optimisation as well as arming you with the strategic knowledge to accelerate growth for forward-thinking businesses.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67382 2016-01-12T15:20:43+00:00 2016-01-12T15:20:43+00:00 How record-breaking sales may have masked Black Friday failure Alex Painter <p>Many organisations focused, with mixed success, on making sure their websites didn’t collapse under the weight of the extra traffic.</p> <p>But while a website that falls over on the busiest shopping day of the year is the nightmare scenario, there are other aspects of performance to consider.</p> <p>A number of studies show that even small fluctuations in the time it takes a web page to load can have a significant effect on the revenue it generates.</p> <p>One of the best known is from Walmart, which demonstrated a direct link between load time and conversion: average load time for the converted population was 3.22 seconds. For the non-converted <a href="http://www.slideshare.net/devonauerswald/walmart-pagespeedslide">population it was 6.03 seconds</a>.</p> <p>More recently, Etam increased conversions by 20% by cutting <a href="http://blog.quanta-computing.com/etam-earns-20-of-conversion-by-optimising-its-online-store/">average page load time from 1.2 seconds to 0.5 seconds</a>.</p> <p>With this in mind, it isn’t enough just to make sure the website stays up. A website that slows down during peak periods is also potentially very costly.</p> <p>In this article I'll look at how page speeds were altered on Black Friday, and for more on this topic read:</p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67061-seo-black-friday-how-are-brands-preparing-their-landing-pages/">SEO &amp; Black Friday: How are brands preparing their landing pages?</a></li> <li> <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66657-need-for-speed-how-to-optimise-website-performance/">Need for speed: how to optimise website performance</a>.</li> <li> <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/10936-site-speed-case-studies-tips-and-tools-for-improving-your-conversion-rate/">Site speed: case studies, tips and tools for improving your conversion rate</a>.</li> </ul> <h3>Page speed on Black Friday</h3> <p>Slowdowns on Black Friday are very much the norm. The graph below shows how one major UK retail homepage performed before, during and after Black Friday (load time is represented by the green and yellow bars).</p> <p>Median load time increased from 9.4 seconds on 26 November to 11 seconds on 27 November, falling back to 9.6 seconds on 28 November.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0007/0411/black_friday_1-blog-flyer.png" alt="" width="555" border="0"></p> <p>This website didn’t suffer any serious errors. It didn’t go down altogether. But it does look as though it failed to make the most of a huge sales opportunity.</p> <p>It would be interesting to know whether this retailer considered its Black Friday a success.</p> <p>The website made it through unscathed. It probably made record sales. But the drop in performance on the big day almost certainly meant it missed out. No matter how successful it was, it could have done better.</p> <p>Rather than just avoiding outages, then, retailers need to focus on maintaining performance at busy times.</p> <p>This is something that can be addressed in load testing – subjecting a website to increasing levels of traffic in a controlled environment.</p> <p>Part of the process involves finding out where the system’s breaking point lies, but it’s also crucial to find out when and why performance starts to degrade.</p> <p>Remedial steps can then be taken to make sure the website doesn’t slow down when it matters most.</p> <p>And some organisations do manage to maintain performance. The graph below shows load times for another retailer that ran some big Black Friday promotions.</p> <p>While we can’t know how far traffic met or exceeded expected levels, we can at least say that this organisation didn’t miss out on extra sales because its website was slow.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0007/0412/black_friday_2-blog-flyer.png" alt="" width="555" border="0"></p> <h3>Improving performance when it matters most</h3> <p>There is a third way.</p> <p>What if you don’t just maintain performance on your busiest day of the year, but actually manage to improve it?</p> <p>There are a few retailers that achieve this. It’s not always clear whether it’s by accident or design, but some Black Friday homepages are noticeably lighter (i.e. have less content) than their everyday counterparts.</p> <p>This has two advantages – one is that it puts less pressure on systems, potentially reducing the need to invest in shoring up those systems.</p> <p>The other is that the page is likely to load faster. And a faster page delivers a better user experience, better conversion rates and more revenue.</p> <p>We saw a number of retailers adopt this approach, and the graph below shows performance over time for one of them.</p> <p>Both page size (represented by the grey area) and load time (shown in green) fall in perfect harmony on the eve of Black Friday:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0007/0413/black_friday_3-blog-flyer.png" alt="" width="555" border="0"></p> <p>It’s worth mentioning that this particular site’s performance left a lot to be desired, both before and after the change.</p> <p>However, it did see a huge improvement, with the likely result that it earned substantially more per visitor on and after Black Friday.</p> <h3>How do retailers actually achieve these savings in page size?</h3> <p>In the above case, the standard homepage included some very large banner ads that were cut from the Black Friday version, along with a large volume of video content.</p> <p>Black Friday also offers the opportunity to direct visitors to a narrow range of deals, rather than deliver content that represents the full product range.</p> <p>Very often, though, the things organisations do to cut page size on Black Friday are things they could and should be doing throughout the year.</p> <p>This suggests that performance probably isn’t the main driver - why would you only want a high-performing website on one day of the year?</p> <p>If so, some retailers are blissfully unaware that they owe part of their Black Friday success to a faster website – just as others don’t realise they could have done better if they’d maintained or improved performance.</p> <p>In both cases, the impact of performance is real but masked by other factors.</p> <h3>Summary</h3> <p>The message, then is a relatively simple one, even if the reality of getting a website ready for Black Friday is anything but simple:</p> <ul> <li>Performance has been shown to affect the ability of ecommerce sites to generate revenue.</li> <li>A website’s performance tends to suffer at peak times.</li> <li>Retailers should focus on maintaining or improving performance over the Black Friday period – just making sure the website’s available isn’t enough.</li> <li>One way to optimise the performance of a homepage or Black Friday landing page is to deliver less content – and some retailers appear to be reaping the rewards of this approach.</li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67334 2016-01-07T11:31:00+00:00 2016-01-07T11:31:00+00:00 Disproving the myth about display clicks & conversions Rachael Morris <p>It stems from a combination of two things: a lack of trust in post-view data and the assumption there must be some kind of intent behind a click.</p> <p>The first assumption has a reasonable basis in fact: when you look at the average viewability for the industry, you can’t blame advertisers for looking at post-view conversions with suspicion.</p> <p>The second is where the problem arises – particularly in the world of fraud and accidental clicks: is a click actually a signal of intent? </p> <h3><strong>Identifying the ‘high probability' clickers</strong></h3> <p>To answer this question, we analysed behavioural data to build a lookalike model to work out if people who look like clickers, do actually click more than usual.</p> <p>Initially, this held true – targeting high probability clickers generated a high number of clicks.</p> <p>However, KPIs tend to be related to conversions, rather than clicks, so we ran the model against converters.</p> <p>Knowing that the model accurately predicted clickers, we expected that (based on the traditional assumption that clicks and conversions are correlated) high probability clickers would also be more likely to convert. </p> <h3><strong>Do clickers convert?</strong></h3> <p>We actually found that high probability clickers were 20% less likely to convert than average.</p> <p>In fact, <strong>you could improve campaign performance by excluding high probability clickers</strong>. </p> <p>So why is this and what does it mean? There are two main reasons:</p> <p><strong>1. Click Fraud</strong></p> <p>It’s not unusual to see clicks occurring on impressions that were never seen. This is something that requires action from both publishers and agencies to eradicate.</p> <p>Click fraud is easy to spot, by distinguishing between viewed and non-viewed impressions. If you are seeing lots of clicks on a particular domain/publisher coming from non-viewed impressions, it’s almost certainly click fraud.</p> <p><a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/121483302@N02/16521639315"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/0505/fraud.jpg" alt="" width="419" height="314"></a></p> <p>Think about blocking that domain from your campaigns or raise the issue with the publisher/SSP responsible, who should be able to help.</p> <p>A good brand safety solution should be able to stop you from delivering against suspicious users or domains.</p> <p><strong>2. The Accidental Click</strong></p> <p>Typically seen on mobile, tablet or gaming sites, this is a real click, but made with no intent behind it.</p> <p>Though not fraudulent, they are still fairly easy to spot. The most straightforward indicator is an unusually high click-through rate (CTR) coupled with very low conversion rates.</p> <p>The simplest fix for this is to monitor CTRs by site, excluding those with very high CTRs and no conversions. This will have the effect of reducing your average CTR, but should also reduce your CPA.</p> <p>You will see fewer visitors to your site but more actual sales.</p> <h3><strong>What does this mean for you?</strong></h3> <p>Well, every time you pay for a fraudulent or accidental click, you’re wasting money. Even if you’re not paying on a CPC basis, budget delivered on inventory with high levels of fraud or accidental clicking is wasted.</p> <p>These users are not going to convert. They’re never going to buy your products. Even if they actually visit your site, it’s by mistake.</p> <p>But there are users out there who are real and are interested in your products: those are the ones you should be directing budget at. But what can you do about it?</p> <p>There are simple steps that you can take to reduce the occurrence of these. But they’re unlikely to happen until advertisers stop rewarding their agencies for clicks and click-based performance.</p> <p>Even those agencies with the best of intentions are unlikely to scrutinise their clicks too closely when they’re faced with a low CPC goal for a campaign.</p> <p>If you want to reduce the numbers of fraudulent or accidental clicks in your campaigns, you’ll have to work with your agency to make that happen.</p> <p>Help incentivise them to seek out and cut out non-viewed or accidental clicks. Don’t penalise them when this causes your CPC to increase.</p> <p>Though it may look more expensive, more of the traffic to your site is now real, reliable and ready to convert.</p> <h3><strong>So what does lead to conversions?</strong></h3> <p>You may now be asking yourself: if the clicks on my display advertising aren’t creating conversions, then where is the value?</p> <p>The way display works is through its ability to generate ‘view-through’ conversions. These are conversions created on other channels (such as search) that happen because a user has seen multiple display ads.</p> <p>You can attribute display adverts to view-through conversions because <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65677-a-super-accessible-beginner-s-guide-to-programmatic-buying-and-rtb/">programmatic</a> allows you to track the many touchpoints display has along the customer path to purchase.</p> <p>This provides advertisers the chance to see the real effect it has on CPA and conversion rate.</p> <p><em>Econsultancy has just launched a new conference, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/events/creative-programmatic/">Creative Programmatic</a>, which takes place in London on March 2.</em></p> <p><em>Attendees will discover how brands and agencies can benefit from delivering a personalised and relevant creative programmatic experience at scale.</em></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67329 2015-12-16T11:42:00+00:00 2015-12-16T11:42:00+00:00 Is lack of strategy really killing conversion rate optimisation? Ben Davis <p>Let’s take a look.</p> <h3>Is CRO stagnant?</h3> <p>The report surveyed 900 people, around two thirds from client-side marketing teams.</p> <p>Of these client-side respondents, 69% had someone within their company directly responsible for improving conversion rates. In 2014 this figure was 72%.</p> <p>While there has been an increase in those with more than one person responsible for <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64210-what-is-conversion-rate-optimisation-cro-and-why-do-you-need-it/">CRO</a>, the overall picture for staffing is fairly flat.</p> <p>This shouldn’t necessarily be cause for alarm; tech and data improvement, as well as greater collaboration, should also be driving improvement.</p> <p>However, when we look at strategy, clients seem a little stuck in the mud.</p> <h3>A lack of a structured approach</h3> <p>The chart below is fairly explanatory, showing only about a third of client-side respondents admitted to having a structured approach to improving conversion rates.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/9992/Screen_Shot_2015-12-15_at_08.49.32.png" alt="structured approach to cro" width="522" height="437"></p> <p>Dan Barker, a <a href="http://www.barker.dj/">respected ecommerce consultant</a>, sums it up nicely:</p> <blockquote> <p>[This] is a big surprise, particularly as the vast majority of respondents told us they are personally involved in CRO within their companies.</p> <p>This may indicate frustration from respondents at their wider organizations, or may indicate that the immaturity of the techniques, and the need to constantly push and introduce new technologies, mean that it has not yet been possible to embed formal processes.</p> </blockquote> <p>Both technological and cultural gripes do appear elsewhere in the survey data.</p> <h3>Tech and culture, what else?</h3> <p>The chart below shows that companies see <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67263-skills-shortage-the-biggest-barrier-to-digital-progress-overtaking-legacy-systems">lack of resources as the biggest barrier</a> to improving conversion rates, though this has decreased from 57% in 2014 to 45% in 2015.</p> <p>As Matt Curry (head of ecommerce at Lovehoney) suggests in <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67321-predicting-the-biggest-ecommerce-trends-in-2016/">this post on ecommerce trends</a>, 2016 may be the year when companies seek to rationalise third-party solutions, losing anything that doesn’t add significant value.</p> <p>Perhaps this streamlining, alongside platform improvement, will reduce tech worries in 2016.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/9993/Screen_Shot_2015-12-15_at_08.45.52.png" alt="biggest barriers to cro" width="496" height="508"></p> <p>There are a number of barriers (in the chart above) that I see as falling within the broader category of leadership.</p> <p>Conflicts of interest, lack of strategy, poor company culture and a siloed organization all represent challenges for around a quarter of respondents.</p> <p>As these are not necessarily the same quarter, it may be that a majority of respondents have some form of organisational strife.</p> <h3>A definitive lack of strategy</h3> <p>Strategy doesn’t feature as highly in the list of challenges to CRO (in figure 71 above), but it’s likely that gripes about company culture also include dissatisfaction with company focus.</p> <p>An open-ended question about improving CRO seemed to tease out strategy as a more definitive pain point.</p> <p>Respondents were asked ‘What would make the biggest difference to your (or your clients’) company in improving conversion rates?’ </p> <p>Answers included dedicated staff, more collaboration, focused strategy, increase understanding through testing, and more.</p> <p>Strategy, though, is what comes through loud and clear when we put all of the open-ended answers into a word cloud, shown below.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/9994/Screen_Shot_2015-12-15_at_08.40.57.png" alt="wordcloud - biggest challenges to CRO" width="615"></p> <p>Depesh Mandalia, head of digital marketing at Lost My Name, has the last word:</p> <blockquote> <p>It is interesting to observe that ‘strategy’ was the most mentioned word from respondents; it goes without saying that the initial rush into CRO is followed by a period of chaos from which strategy is the missing component.</p> <p>CRO is a multi-faceted discipline with no single blueprint for every business and so strategy becomes the overarching guide to bigger CRO wins.</p> </blockquote> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67285 2015-12-03T12:07:07+00:00 2015-12-03T12:07:07+00:00 The seven deadly sins of holiday email marketing Patricio Robles <p>The holiday season presents some unique challenges for email marketers, and there are a number of pitfalls that can dent email campaigns. Here are the seven deadly sins email marketers need to avoid during this period.</p> <h2>1. Sending too many emails</h2> <p>The last two months of the year are important ones for many businesses, particularly retailers. But your company's desire for a strong year-end doesn't give you permission to <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64165-email-frequency-how-much-is-too-much">launch an email assault</a>.</p> <p>Instead of moving the needle, overaggressive email marketing in November and December is more likely to annoy subscribers and encourage them to unsubscribe from your list.</p> <h2>2. Being oblivious to key dates</h2> <p>Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Green and Giving Tuesday. While it seems that the number of key dates in the holiday shopping season is growing, marketers shouldn't ignore these dates as timing is everything during this period.</p> <p>This is <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67260-five-ways-non-retailers-can-market-effectively-during-the-holiday-season/">particularly true for non-retailers</a> who need to be especially strategic to reach their targets when retailers are so active on the email marketing front.</p> <h2>3. Trying to engage customers you neglected</h2> <p>Email is one of the most effective tools for <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67037-how-to-win-back-customers-online-101">winning back customers</a>. But while it might be tempting to try to communicate with customers you haven't touched in months or years, the reality is that the holiday season is rarely an ideal time to effectively engage past customers you have neglected.</p> <p>If you haven't been in contact with a former customer via email for months or years, be aware that asking them to remember you at the same time they're being courted by companies that have done a better job at maintaining a relationship can be a tough act to pull off.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0006/9673/heart-34655_640-blog-flyer.png" alt="heartbreak" width="350"></p> <h2>4. Promoting too much</h2> <p>Thanks to marketing overload, attention spans are short during the holiday season. To cut through the clutter, email marketing campaigns must be clear and compelling.</p> <p>Even if you have a lot to offer, promoting too much in an email can increase the likelihood that no action will be taken.</p> <h2>5. Not using personalisation</h2> <p>One of the best ways to create clear and compelling email campaigns is to apply data to <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66327-how-will-email-marketing-evolve-over-the-next-five-years">personalise messaging</a>. Unfortunately, many businesses fail to put their data to good use and instead send messages that are of less interest to recipients than they could be.</p> <p>The cost of impersonal messaging during the holidays is especially high.</p> <h2>6. Ignoring inventory</h2> <p><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67269-despite-big-data-investments-retailers-struggle-with-inventory-issues/">Retailers are losing hundreds of billions of dollars annually</a> because of out-of-stock and overstock inventory. Failing to connect the supply chain to marketing during the holiday shopping season is a particularly deadly sin.</p> <p>When faced with an out-of-stock item, most consumers take their business elsewhere, something retailers can ill-afford when competition is at its fiercest.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0004/4367/oos-emailmessage_s-blog-full.png" alt="out of stock" width="615" height="420"></p> <h2>7. Trying to be politically correct</h2> <p>Email marketers shouldn't be afraid to develop campaigns around traditional holiday themes, including those that may be associated in some way with a religion.</p> <p>While there's nothing wrong with a "Happy Holidays" campaign, for example, there's nothing wrong with, say, a drawing of a Christmas tree or menorah either.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67269 2015-12-02T15:43:47+00:00 2015-12-02T15:43:47+00:00 Despite big data investments, retailers struggle with inventory issues Patricio Robles <p>While issues like spoilage, supplier problems and weather combined to account for approximately $160bn in overstock losses, forecasting failures were the greatest single source of losses with a whopping price tag of $170.20bn.</p> <p><strong>Given the significant investments retailers have been making in data collection and forecasting technologies, what gives?</strong></p> <p>DynamicAction points out that forecasting performance varies from region to region.</p> <p>While North America and Europe have seen slight improvements to their loss figures in recent years, "economic growth in emerging countries where there is little technology and sophistication of forecasting technologies caused the total numbers worldwide to grow from 2011."</p> <p>But this doesn't mean that there aren't broader problems retailers are facing.</p> <p>As DynamicAction's Lindsay Conwell has explained, the deluge of big data and the systems that have been built around it have created numerous challenges, including "insight to trends, but no action," "more questions with less answers," and "uncertainty, as [different] systems [seem] to show a slightly different story."</p> <p>Put simply, data has become "handcuffs." Retailers are also struggling to get the right data to the right people and places.</p> <p>According to DynamicAction, "There is a great disconnect in most retailers between marketing and the supply chain. Often, marketing has planned a promotion for a certain date but if the product doesn’t reach the dock in China in time, there is no visibility back to marketing."</p> <p>This marketing disconnect alone is costing retailers $38.4bn a year.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/9577/dynamicaction.jpg" alt="" width="469" height="511"></p> <h3>Holiday shopping brings shortcomings to the forefront</h3> <p>The problems retailers are grappling with have been exacerbated by the holiday shopping season. In fact, Cyber Monday 2015 broke a dubious record.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr">Out of stock is at an all time high this Cyber Monday 15 out of 100 product views are retruning out of stock messages</p> — Adobe Digital Index (@AdobeIndex) <a href="https://twitter.com/AdobeIndex/status/671368172633645056">November 30, 2015</a> </blockquote> <p>Not surprisingly, when customers encounter out-of-stock messages, the results are not favorable for retailers.</p> <p>GT Nexus, a cloud-based supply chain platform, says that the majority of shoppers go elsewhere when they can't purchase a product they're looking for. <br></p> <p>Such behavior is particularly costly during the last two months of the year when retailers are spending heavily on marketing and cutting into their margins to lure consumers.</p> <h3>Don't blame Big Data, yet</h3> <p>While some might argue that the figures from DynamicAction and record-breaking out-of-stock issues this Cyber Monday are an indictment of the Big Data craze, the better argument is that these are a demonstration of the limitations of Big Data on its own.</p> <p>Many retailers have spent the past several years putting in place the necessary data collection tools. Now it's time for them to ensure they're collecting the right data, using the right tools to analyze it, and delivering actionable insight to the right people. </p> <p>Expect to see more retailers shift their focus and investments to these areas in the coming months and year.</p>