How Website Optimization Can Determine the Most Compelling Combination of Content and Design for Your Website (by Interwoven).

The event was very interesting and inspiring – thank you, Interwoven!  Even if I thought I studied everything available about marketing testing (what was easy to find and free of charge 🙂  ), evaluated multivariate and post-click marketing with segmentation, I found very useful insights in the presentations.

Sitting at the same table with the presenters (a lucky occurrence) , I was excited to see that other marketers are engaged in tactics about which most of us in the audience can only dream…  From another side, the obstacles that advanced marketers faced brought the world of testing to reality. 

The presentation suggested the audience to guess on the most successful variations of one of the tests. Usual parameters: testing an image, a call to action, a form field layout. The audience of experienced marketers guessed…  and only 3 people guessed correctly 2 out of 5 elements…  Very humbling experience… We can not – and should not – guess… we must test.

North West Airlines presented a wonderful case study of significant improvement through multivariate testing. Even if the company is not quite moved to the adventure of testing of the home page, they started small and received very good results. Bravo!

Interesting points from the presentation:

  • One of the problem that marketers face is the lack of easy technical capabilities to provide targeted content to targeted audiences.
  • Interesting concept of “speculative” web design as the result of the “hippo” decision making (highest paid person in the organization decided what should be done). Speculative web design can be eliminated with testing
  • Interwoven has an interesting product allowing determining personas based on testing and enabling persona targeting (adaptive targeting). The method allows discovering personas and the content to which they are responsive. I would love to learn more about it…
  • Testing can include time of day parameter (particularly useful for b-to-b). And I currently use daytime targeting in PPC based on nothing else but “my best judgment…” 
  • How NWA started to pay attention to testing?  The company discovered that competitors were doing multivariate testing. This was sufficiently convincing. The company also had a great success in e-mail marketing testing what made it e-mail marketing leader in its category. Excellent PPC targeting lead also to special recognition from Google.  
  • Why NWA selected Optimost: availability of service and proven technology. The service element allows each client of Optimost to have an optimization team of 3 people (account person, technology person, and analyst who designs the tests and provides reports).
  • NWA started from less important part of the site to learn more about the testing and evaluate its effectiveness.
  • One of the tests showed that reducing marketing copy (that marketing thought was invaluable) lead to more conversions. Marketing became excited with less copy and more conversions.
  • One of the tests challenged the branding rule of not using people in images. The image with the person produced more results than images without people. Image that is not quite “on brand” stayed… because it increased conversions by almost 6%… 🙂
  • Current tests of NWA include flash/no flash landing pages

Hm… Interesting development in the industry: while Omniture acquired Offermatica and tries to position itself not as an analytics company, but as an optimization player, Interwoven acquired Optimost and ties to connect the optimization with content management. Time will tell what could be the winning combination… Ha! This is an existing time in marketing!

Great event!  Delicious food! 🙂

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Books, books, books…

I just finished listening to the last disk of a very insightful book – Black Swan, The Impact of The Highly Improbable. This surprisingly entertaining book did change my perception about our beloved Bell curve and probably cured me from the attempts to predict the future… and feeling guilty when the prediction is wrong. In a wonderful mix of philosophy, statistics, psychology, and very practical business applications the author demonstrated our favorite fallacies… Long live guilt-free tinkering! 🙂

Hm…  I still like Good to Great, but now I have completely different perspective on the business success…

Other books that I recently enjoyed were Necessary But Not Sufficient (yes, The Goal can not be possibly enough for this theory of constraints convert ), Made to Stick (love it!), Speed of Trust (quantifiable measurement of benefit of trust in business setting – very interesting approach), Our Iseberg is Melting and Heart of Change (very inspirational… I must admit I copied a few pages to quote for school papers), Blink (surprisingly useful… I no longer discard my intuition, because I have a sound scientific explanation why it might occasionally work), and Microtrends (not only useful, but highly entertaining and not only for marketers).

Yes, yes, the bookworm…

MN AMA – Building Digital Relationships

Building Digital Relationships – unexpectedly enlightening event. I was surprised to see less attendees on the event than last Marketing Mixer with the topic of creating career portfolios… From another side, more marketers are probably preoccupied now with career portfolios than with building digital relationships… Whatever the situation is, many of us who were lucky to attend the event left with a few ideas and discoveries.

Curious: the company changes its identity every 150 days… and believes it is necessary for the continuous evolution. Why 150 days? It is a time a little shorter than 6 months – and software is usually updated every 6 months. World is changing fast… Hm… I am feeling guilty for not posting anything on Twitter last week… 🙂

The current site has 4 versions (can be found after refresh).

Changing web site grows conversions…

“We build digital relationships by telling stories.”

Successful projects:
AMEX is concentrating on mobile (brand extension from web to mobile).
Discovered that high card value customers have i-Phones. Started small. Main question: is the content relevant for the mobile device? AMEX is moving core value to different platforms. Mobile device is used as an account management tool. i-Phone enrollment tripled.

Key messages:

  • test, test, test
  • start somewhere, even if small
  • make mistakes and evolve
  • there is no right way in mobile… yet.

Starz Entertainment

The company started to think about themselves as Starz 2.0 and needed a platform for the future growth. Flashy site, but with though about SEO. Company was happy that “we can do marketing again.” Old Flash-based site that was not searchable was limiting. Site traffic and engagement doubled.

Key messages:

  • continuous evolution on the web
  • measurable
  • cost effective
  • continuous (if built right)
  • get competitive gains FAST

Dairy Queen

The goal was to modernize DQ.com into a more engaging site.
Site traffic increased 97%, use of store locator increased, number of leads increased 6 times, store locator is available on mobile device. Unexpected result: more people are applying to purchase the franchise – the application is easier to find. Also created children’s game that is comparable in time per visit to main twine sites.

Key messages:

  • even iconic brands have to change
  • sometimes dramatic change is needed

Interesting:
Industry is changing…
GM is now channeling 50% of marketing budget online.
Online starts the campaigns… and other channels follow

Space 150 extensively uses Google analytics for their clients (unless real-time data is needed), builds when warranted external sites on Sharepoint 2007 platform. The agency uses totally different approaches when presenting ideas to IT (from technology perspective) and Marketing (brand, brand, brand.

MIMA – 2008 Summit

As usually, MIMA Summit was fantastic!

The main point in my opinion was communicated by Matt Wilson, MIMA president, in the beginning of the event: interactive marketing is graduating from its “geeky” niche and becomes part of business strategy. The increasing number of older (and more likely higher ranking) conference attendees also seems to support this point.

A few ideas from the conference:
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Once upon a time, advertising was an exchange of content for the time spent and exposure to advertiser’s message. Now consumers can create content too and advertisers should join the conversation.

Don’t compete with the content, become the content.

Several businesses provide the content to consumer first to provide content that the consumer would want and second to promote the brand. The branding is not as obvious on the sites created by brands. The examples are the site for pet lovers by Purina, the site devoted to baby-related information by Johnson and Johnson, and baby-related video channel on YouTube, also provided by Johnson and Johnson.

Johnson and Johnson - YouTube Baby Channel

Johnson and Johnson - YouTube Baby Channel

Johnson and Johnson - Baby.com

Johnson and Johnson - Baby.com

Purina

Purina

Brands no longer use media to promote themselves; brands are creating their own media.
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Interesting note about optimization: pure approach to optimization without usability can lead to optimizing concepts that happen to be popular, but totally unrelated to the business (such as kittens for Amazon web site). Optimization must be approached holistically with usability and business objectives.

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Interesting approach: digital is not a medium, but a way of thinking. (Still, I think it is just a medium….  Otherwise, DM and other channels also can be considered a way of thinking… 🙂 ).

However, the questions posed by the presenters were so fundamental; and they were answered in the most inspiring (from my perspective) manner.
– What is the role of strategy?
– What is the creative product?
– How business and client relationships should be structures?

Strategy: brand behavior rather than brand messaging. What is the brand and how it can be defined or redefined rather than simply “announced” by the advertisement? The “great idea” disappears from promotion and becomes embedded into the fundamental business questions.

Example: Polaroid – provide service to encourage printing rather than advertising the product.

Digital thinking goes beyond online and can be used to enhance physical products.

Users change the way they consume media every 6 months.

Sometimes, just building the application and trying it is cheaper than researching if the application will be accepted by the consumer.
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Mobile:
– your competition is dong it already
– plan…  and specify a budget for the effort (still, I think it is a little early for some industries… but time to start trying… 🙂  )

Challenge: in the mobile space an experienced partner is necessary because of technology complexity (many different carriers and devices with different standards and applications).
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Caring Bridge

Caring Bridge

Caring Bridge

Interesting: started accidentally… grew over 11 years into a very well known site. Does not use corporate sponsorship – only user donations. Very “soft sell” for donation solicitation.

Very interesting (and very smart) – does not use “bleeding edge” technology; uses only what is absolutely necessary for the user need. Centered on the user need (what I am afraid many other marketers forget in the attempt to equip their marketing efforts with the latest “bells and whistles.”

Great business (even if non-profit). Great mission.
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I also must express total satisfaction with the food!  The best summit lunch ever was accompanied with wonderful snacks.  Healthy food was available during the entire day; unfortunately, I was so tempted by smooth and decadent chocolate cake that my apple had to ride home in my bag. Great food, wonderful choice, and spectacular dessert!