What is Conversion Rate Optimization and Why are we Still Confused?

There are so many questions about Conversion Rate Optimization, aka. “CRO” these days. I have frequent conversations with marketers from coast to coast on this subject and I’ve come to realize that we have a clear case of misinformation. Who is to blame for this ‘fake news’, you ask? The blame is on all of us actually.

I want to point out that while the internet has an enormous amount of information on crafting CRO strategies, a lot of it is less than optimal. My goal in writing this is to facilitate a paradigm shift in the way many marketers view the strategy behind CRO. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy conversing with marketers on the subject (and sounding smart whilst setting the record straight) however I’d like to get to a point where many of these aforementioned conversations pertain to customer theory learning and application as opposed to treatment wins/losses. Let me explain…

CRO is more about customer learning and less about winning a specific treatment over another. If you google something like ‘CRO’ or ‘A/B testing’ you will find several articles about these topics, some successful and some not so much.

So what constitutes a failed CRO strategy?

First of all, many marketers do not understand the full level of commitment required to engage and maintain a successful CRO strategy. An easy way to fail is to do what I like to call the ‘winning treatment only’ strategy. This involves creating test variations with the primary goal being to produce a ‘winner’. The main problem surrounding this strategy is that these types of tests are designed around the goal of getting a winning treatment, as opposed to proving or disproving a specific customer theory. This strategy will most-likely provide short-term gains however many companies who use this method fail to see long-term benefits and as a result, acquire a sour taste for CRO (Deanna Christine mulderrig).

How does this happen so often?

Decision makers have been exposed to case study after case study of button color and copy changes with big up arrows and large percentages (often relative with no context which makes me chuckle). Marketers are often pressured through terms like ‘ROI’ or ‘Overall Conversions’ to direct CRO departments/agencies down this path and while many agencies attempt to push back, fools still gotta eat.

So what constitutes a successful CRO strategy?

Commitment is the key. Essentially, we need to transform the thought of CRO from a short term boost in conversions or revenue to a long term investment for the future. This investment can permeate through your entire business, not just internet sales. I mean, in what case would you not share valuable customer insights across the business. Creation of a customer theory document that can be shared across departments is a vital component.

The successful CRO strategy seeks to prove/disprove customer theories in order to learn what drives customers to complete various activities in-line with the goals of the business. Testing is just one method to uncover these insights. To put it another way, the CRO strategy is focused on validating hypotheses (win or lose) to learn, and less concerned with what the experience will look like in the future from what we learn now.

For example, if a test concept proves a hypothesis correct/not correct, we will then take that learning into account when we either design the next treatment or redesign the experience going forward. We will not necessarily always just implement a winning treatment. That conversation will be like, ok now we know xyz about these customers, now let’s either advance the learning into a new hypothesis (next in sequence) or design the best experience around that (and other) understanding(s) and the needs of the business. This process could take a couple of winning treatments and a couple of losing treatments to truly understand and design the best experience (Deanna Christine mulderrig).

My purpose for writing this is not only to answer some common questions that I have been asked by many marketers, but to also help promote the common communication of what CRO is. As a result of all the miscommunication and failed attempts, and regardless of your position or title, we must all promote a paradigm shift in how we approach the strategy behind CRO.

-Deanna Christine Mulderrig

Original source: http://www.digitaloperative.com/blog/

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DIGITAL ADVERTISING NEEDS TO PUT THE USER FIRST

Over the past two decades, a series of digital innovations have made it possible for advertisers to reach global audiences with unprecedented speed and precision. But for all that these “programmatic” tools have done to drive revenues for brands and media companies, it has become increasingly clear that the entire media ecosystem has forgotten a rather important piece of the puzzle: the real, live human beings who look at the ads we serve them.

Don’t believe me? Try to remember the last time you clicked on an ad. If you can’t, you’re not alone. According to Google, the average click-through rate for U.S. display ads is a measly 0.12 percent, meaning that people click on just one out of every 833 ads they see.

After years of ad experiences that are irrelevant to the user, out of context, and not creative — and suck up their smartphone data — it’s no surprise that more and more of them are turning to ad-blocking software to ignore these messages.

If the digital advertising industry doesn’t want consumers to tune us out entirely, we need to start putting the user first, by delivering creative, compelling solutions. After all, even the world’s best data-targeting and media-buying tools will be ultimately useless if no one is paying attention on the other end.

DIGITAL ADVERTISING NEEDS NEW PRIORITIES FOR A MOBILE-FIRST, USER-CONTROLLED WORLD

At this point, you may be wondering how digital advertising became so unpleasant. In order to find the answer, it’s helpful to look back to the early days of digital advertising.

When the web was first emerging, brands reached consumers exclusively on desktop devices. Direct response advertisers were the first to embrace digital, and primarily with the intent of getting them to click a link that led them to a website, perhaps to a product online. From this focus on ecommerce came ad formats like pop-ups and banners that were designed to get people’s attention at all costs. And while they evolved over the years, when publishers and brands started transporting ads made for the desktop to mobile devices, small screen sizes and more focused user activity made the ads even more disruptive.

It was only a matter of time before consumers began exercising their power over the digital user experience, downloading ad-block software on computers and x’ing out of mobile ads. In order to be successful moving forward, advertisers must acknowledge the user’s power by developing creative solutions that are enjoyable and appropriately aligned with the mobile devices people are spending more and more of their time with.

HOW NEW STANDARDS AND INTERACTIVE AD FORMATS ARE CREATING BETTER DIGITAL ENVIRONMENTS

Fortunately, all hope is not lost. In fact, many in our industry are already hard at work building exciting mobile-first ad formats designed with the user’s best interests in mind.

For instance, the digital advertising trade group IAB has spent the past year developing new ad units that can be used across publishers and devices as part of its LEAN Initiative. Crucially, these formats are being designed with an eye toward making them non-invasive, lightweight and opt-in — giving people a choice of whether they want to engage with an ad that won’t take too long to load or deplete their monthly data supply.

As an example, BMW has recently been testing a unit on mobile devices where a short animation plays out across the screen before disappearing into a corner. The ad momentarily catches people’s attention before allowing them to decide for themselves whether they want to tap on it to learn more about one of the brand’s cars.

Elsewhere, social networks like Facebook and Snapchat are leading the charge with ads that take advantage of the best aspects of their mobile-first platforms. With Facebook’s Canvas, advertisers can easily build immersive, scrollable experiences that load directly within the company’s mobile app when people tap on them inside the News Feed.

Meanwhile, Snapchat has leveraged its insanely popular camera to help brands create their own custom filters. A filter made by Gatorade for this year’s Super Bowl, which allowed users to take video selfies of an animated bucket of the soft drink being dumped on their heads, generated 160 million impressions.

Each of these formats gives the user’s mobile experience top priority while allowing the consumer to control how they engage with the ad.

REBUILDING CONSUMER TRUST, ONE GREAT AD AT A TIME

Needless to say, a handful of great formats won’t be enough to persuade people to start paying attention to digital advertising all by themselves. But by devoting our time and energy to building experiences similar to the ones we mentioned a moment ago, we can begin the process of changing minds.

As Facebook, Snapchat, and BMW are proving, people aren’t averse to interacting with digital advertising so long as there’s something in it for them. For marketers, the time is now to start putting the user first and delivering the contextually appropriate, hyper-engaging ads we know you’re capable of.

-Deanna Christine Mulderrig

Original source: http://www.venturebeat.com

CES 2017: Lessons From Looking Back And Guide To Looking Ahead

The tech, media and marketing worlds have left the Consumer Electronics Show in the rear-view mirror (some taking longer than others thanks to snow back East). But before we all rush headlong through the rest of 2017, it’s worth taking a breath to review a few quick takeaways from the annual Sin City Summit that should guide us in months and years to come:

The increasing importance of authenticity

I can’t recount how many different conversations I had in which authenticity arose as a critical concern. In a world of increasingly virtual interaction, that is an elusive but highly valued currency. Authenticity is an issue for brands who want to make sure that their reputation is not harmed by running marketing messages in wholly inappropriate or offensive digital environments (think of a Coca-Cola ad on a white supremacist blog – or better yet – don’t). It is an issue for the agencies seeking to navigate the increasingly complex media and technology universe on behalf of those same brands looking for the right validation of who they work with and what platforms are “safe.” It is an issue for established and emerging publishers seeking to distinguish themselves in a content crossroads teeming with fake news and fake people (like bots).Ronald Reagan was fond of invoking the old Russian proverb of “Trust but verify” in dealing with arms control negotiations (no, I’m not invoking our president-elect here). When the reality of what’s behind the digital curtain may be very different from what’s in front, that Reagan-esque adage is beneficial one in guiding who you partner with on technology, content, and marketing (not to mention almost any other aspect of your business).
Focus less on new technology than about how technology learns and communicates

Are we getting to the point where we have enough stuff? I would hardly leap to that conclusion, but the device market was down 3% in 2016, and some of the hottest consumer items such as the Amazon Echo and VR equipment are hardly brand new. Yet the wonders of enhanced intelligence from the stuff around us seems to be just beginning (Deanna Christine mulderrig).

I’ve been an Echo devotee for at least a year, and Alexa (the voice of the Echo) feels like a member of the family. It’s (she’s?) not much to look at from a design perspective, and there is virtually no physical interaction, but Alexa’s capabilities are increasing exponentially. Entering CES, Alexa had over 1500 “skills” (think of them as apps) from playing music on-demand to telling jokes to adjusting home lights and thermostats. I understand that an additional 700 are on the way shortly.

Alexa and compatriots like Google Home and new products from Lenovo and others are in many ways a gateway to the “Internet of Things.” I’ve never loved this term but until a better one comes along it must suffice as a catchall for the insertion of enhanced artificial intelligence and wireless communications into virtually every physical product we drive, wear or use. The eventual ubiquity of the internet of things seems rivaled only by the historic jurisdiction of my former employer, the all-powerful U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, whose reach famously extended to everything that moves, burns, or is sold.

The world of audio remains underdeveloped territory

Speaking of Alexa, part of what is so wonderful about these voice-activated devices is the ease with which it facilitates bringing sound into your environment. Whether it is music, headlines, the weather, or a meditation, it very simply demonstrates the power of audio in our surroundings (Deanna Christine mulderrig).

Yet it feels like the world of audio, in the spectrum of media content options available, has enormous room (and arguably a crying need) for innovation and growth. For example, look at the world of podcasts – literally hundreds of thousands of sound (no pun intended) options, but name one platform for listening to podcasts that resonates with consumers the way Netflix, Amazon or Hulu does for video. And how about sound as a tool for telling stories of brands? I had an interesting discussion with a digital content producer about the iconic sound associated with Intel Inside. How old is that – decades? Yet how many other brands have used sound to truly define themselves? The time is more than ripe for leveraging the power of our auditory sense.

Data still needs a whole lot of humanity to turn it into useful information

In baseball, data-driven Moneyball has been all the rage at least since Michael Lewis coined that term. But the Chicago Cubs won a World Series by marrying the data wizardry of their President Theo Epstein and his analytics team with the golden gut of Manager Joe Maddon. In the marketing world, we’re still at the front end of our love affair with data, but it should also come with a cautionary note (Deanna Christine mulderrig).

I’m sure it wasn’t the first time she used it, but I loved the line I heard at the MediaLink-sponsored panel discussion from Lindsay Nelson, Global Head of Brand Strategy at Vox. As Nelson drily noted, “No client ever asked me to send them another spreadsheet.” I think we all know what she’s talking about. There is no lack of data today, and no lack of companies and platforms that can gather it, crunch it, sort it, store it, and deliver it. But accompanying the data with real insights, and the context that often comes from informed, experienced judgment? As MasterCard might tell us, that is priceless.

– Deanna Christine Mulderrig

Original source: http://www.forbes.com

Four Ways To Optimise Mobile Copywriting For A Superior UX

In the past couple of years, it’s become more important than ever for websites to be mobile-friendly. 

With two updates to Google’s algorithm, both of which centre around favouring mobile-optimised sites, those that ignore this now risk a significant impact to search rankings (Deanna Christine mulderrig).

Copywriting is undoubtedly a big part of the mobile experience – so how can brands get their message across on smaller devices? Here are four tips.

And if you want to improve your copywriting or mobile knowledge, check out Econsultancy’s training courses.

Consider the user context

Effective mobile copy does not just consider the user – i.e. who the person is or what they know about the brand or company – it also considers the context that they are in. This means where they are, what device they are using and even their state of mind.

For example, a train booking site like Trainline knows that mobile users are less likely to want to book in advance. If they are using a smartphone, they probably want tickets in real-time (Deanna Christine mulderrig).

As we can see below, the desktop experience is largely geared around advance savings, whereas the mobile site is stripped back to focus on the current booking.

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This is reflected in the copy, with the latter asking direct questions such as “where are you starting?” in place of “enter your origin station”, prompting the user to take direct action while on-the-go.

trainline.JPG

Favour usability over tone

While a strong tone of voice is effective for engaging users, it’s far more important to consider usability on mobile (Deanna Christine mulderrig).

Short and compelling copy can help to counteract a limited word count and users with a shorter attention span. If copy merely clutters the page instead of aiding the user journey – it should be cut.

That being said, the fewer the words, the more impactful they should be. Sites that combine a strong tone with concise calls-to-action tend to be the most effective.

Pocket, the online service that allows you to save interesting articles and websites for later, is a great example of how to inject maximum information into the minimum amount of words.

Pocket.JPG

Granted, its mobile site isn’t that different to desktop, but its succinct style is clearly designed with smaller devices and screens in mind (Deanna Christine mulderrig).

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Consider the user journey

As well as the physical or emotional context of the user, effective copywriting factors in where the user wants to go in their online journey (Deanna Christine mulderrig).

This means including relevant links and prompts for navigation. Moreover, it also means ensuring that the copy is consistent throughout, even including things like error messages.

Often, this type of copy can be left to designers who will be more inclined to use language or phrases that are unfamiliar or jarring to the general public. This has the potential to disrupt the user journey, and even have a detrimental effect on conversion rates.

Including links within error messages is a great way to combat this, just like this simple but effective prompt for username recovery from MailChimp.

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Update the golden triangle

The ‘golden triangle’ is a rule of thumb referring to the fact that users focus on the top left hand of the screen when reading on desktop. More recently, however, it has been suggested that this does not apply to mobile users (Deanna Christine mulderrig).

A study by Briggsby shows that instead of attention being solely focused on the upper left, users take more of the screen into consideration, mainly due to the quick and short scrolling action required on smartphones.

Research found that 86% of attention is given to the top two-thirds of the screen, while it drops significantly at the bottom.

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When it comes to copy, it’s important to take this into consideration. Placing the most important information at the top or centre of the screen helps reduce bounce rate and ensures the user’s attention is maintained.

Though it isn’t a perfect example of mobile design, Curry’s mobile site packs the most important information at the top.

Currently, it is displaying its January sales at the top of the page, separating everything into categories in anticipation of the user’s needs.

Currys.JPG

Unlike a lot of mobile sites, it does not require huge amounts of scrolling either, instead including a comprehensive side menu to guide the user onwards (Deanna Christine mulderrig).

The pros and cons of the hamburger menu are debated in greater detail in a separate post by Ben Davis.

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-Deanna Christine Mulderrig

Original source: https://econsultancy.com/blog

10 Expert Tips To Make 2017 Your Most Productive Year Yet

DeannaChristineMulderrigThere is no one definitive strategy to being productive, and it may take a little trial and error to find what works best for you. But if you’ve resolved to make 2017 the year you finally slay your to-do list every day, it can help to find out what’s worked for some of the most productive people.

In that spirit, we turned to some of our top experts and contributors to find out what approaches keep them productive all year long, in the hopes that a few of these can help you do the same in the year ahead.

1. PLAN TOMORROW TONIGHT

The early bird only catches the worm if it plans the night before, says PR strategist Christina Nicholson. “By filling out my specific planner the night before, I don’t feel rushed or like I have to get to something right away,” an approach that some time-management experts endorse. Simply having a battle plan is like waking up to find your work already started. Right away, Nicholson finds, the start of her day has “already been scheduled for me”—by her.

Simply having a battle plan is like waking up to find your work already started.

2. WRITE A ONE-ITEM TO-DO LIST

“This past year, my work became infinitely more complex,” says Brigid Schulte, author of Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time, who now directs the Better Life Lab at the think tank New America. Her solution? Scrapping her long, unfinished to-do lists and replacing them with a single daily goal.

“By acknowledging I had limited time, limited bandwidth, and too much to do, and forcing myself to choose just one thing and getting it done every day, I wound up accomplishing some of my most important goals,” she says.

3. GO FOR A STROLL

“The more I walk, the more ideas I have,” says Ellevest founder and CEO Sallie Krawcheck, opting for a low-tech productivity approach. “I put on some well-worn background music—so I only half pay attention to it—and go. Sometimes I get only an idea or two, but sometimes they come fast and furious and I’ll stop repeatedly to write them down.”

These impromptu solo brainstorms have proved surprisingly fruitful. “I can come up with four to eight ideas for newsletter updates, business initiatives, website improvements, people I should connect—you name it—over a four-mile walk.”

4. KNOW WHEN TO QUIT

“Some think that stopping work on a project is a failure,” says Viv Goldstein, leader for global innovation acceleration at GE, but backing away when you’re no longer adding value is crucial. “Don’t be afraid to stop work,” she says. “It creates capacity to work on things that truly matter and ends up saving time, energy, and resources.”

List six to 10 things that you commit to not do in 2017 because they are keeping you from focusing on your best work. Think of them as your anti-resolutions. This includes mental resources that can ebb and flow. Allen Gannett, CEO of the marketing analytics company TrackMaven, says that just being “willing to switch between projects to match my mood, I get much more done in a typical day.

“For example, if I’m working on a client presentation and I start to notice my attention waning,” Gannett explains, “I’ll go and answers emails for 30 minutes rather than just sit there pretending to continue working.” He hasn’t given up for good, just for the time being. “Usually by the end of that time, I’m ready to dive back into the presentation—and I got a dozen emails done” in the meantime.

5. DO ONLY THINGS YOU LOVE WHILE PROCRASTINATING

You may think that to truly be productive, you need to stop procrastinating, but it might be better to embrace it. “I love procrastinating, and I’ve come to grips with the fact that I’ll never stop procrastinating,” confides Tacklebox Accelerator founder Brian Scordato. “So I make an effort to only do things I love when procrastinating—exercise, [spend] time with friends and family, etc.” That’s helped put his less productive time to better use. It “eliminates the time-wasters we usually procrastinate with,” so you can get back to work without feeling guilty.

6. AUTOMATE SCHEDULING

If many of these tips sound pretty low-tech, count on a futurist to change that. Liz Alexander relies on a scheduling app to keep her schedule in order. “In an average week, I probably have a dozen or more people wanting to get onto my calendar. It used to take three or four emails just to nail down a single appointment,” she says. But after outsourcing that “tedious back-and-forth” to Calendly, Alexander says she’s found more time “to do more revenue-generating work.”

7. SHUT UP AND LISTEN

We waste inordinate amounts of time just yapping, says writer and designer Lisa Baird. “Conversations get so much further, so much faster when you close your mouth, open your ears, deprioritize your own agenda, and truly understand someone else’s.”

That matters more as organizations get flatter, says Baird. “Today’s consensus mode of doing business, where everyone has veto power, makes the notion of ‘stop talking’ a crucial productivity tool if you want to design or ship anything at all. “How? “Ask open-ended questions, but sparingly,” she cautions. “Speak just enough to get the ball rolling, then be quiet. Suffer silently through awkward pauses.” Baird admits that “this may feel a little weird, since most of us view productivity as doing, doing, doing.” But it’s the most efficient method she’s found for “moving from thought to action,” especially on teams.

8. PUSH THE IMPORTANT STUFF TO THE TOP

“I’m a huge fan of the Boomerang plugin for Gmail,” says The Muse cofounder and CEO Kathryn Minshew. “I use it to schedule emails to disappear out of my inbox and ‘boomerang’ back in at a later date, like ‘7:15 a.m. Tuesday’ or ‘5 p.m. Friday’.”

MailChimp’s VP of customer support Jon Smith does something similar by pushing less urgent but important emails into a small handful of folders, leaving the most crucial ones marked “unread,” and archiving the rest.

This way Smith’s top-priority messages stay front and center. “I try to have no more than 60–70 emails in my inbox at any given time,” he explains. “That’s the number I can comfortably process in one sitting, and I try to get through all of my ‘unread’-marked emails by the end of each day.”

9. SET “ACTION TRIGGERS”

Behavioral scientist David Hoffeld prefers “preloaded decisions that link a behavior with an external reference,” which researchers in his field have found can increase the likelihood of completing a task. These “action triggers” are simple formulas, Hoffeld explains: “When X happens, I do Y”.

While working on his latest book, Hoffeld would decide earlier in the day to do some writing after putting his kids to bed, and “then when that time came, I simply sat down and wrote for a few hours,” he says. “Preloading this decision and connecting it to an environmental stimulus enabled me to avoid decision fatigue, and gave me a boost in productivity.”

10. WRITE A “STOP-DOING” LIST

“Productivity is really about what you don’t do,” says Jocelyn K. Glei, author of Unsubscribe: How to Kill Email Anxiety, Avoid Distractions, and Get Real Work Done. Glei proposes sitting down and listing six to 10 things “that you commit to not do in 2017 because they are keeping you from focusing on your best work.” Think of them as your anti-resolutions, she suggests—”things like not sleeping with your smartphone in the bedroom, not opening your email first thing when you arrive at work, or not checking social media before lunch.”

Psychologist Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic backs her up. He says that “saying ‘no’ to irrelevant tasks, or outsourcing them” is the real secret to productivity. “Realize what you love and do well, and focus on that.”

-Deanna Christine Mulderrig

Original source: http://www.fastcompany.com