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What is the purpose of branding?

Marketers are a confused bunch.

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Marketers are a confused bunch

In what other industry do professionals disagree so vehemently about the basic goal of their work?

Do engineers debate whether their buildings should stand up or fall down?
Do accountants wring their hands over whether their beans should add up?
Do teachers wonder whether it’s important for their students to learn stuff?

Nope.

But ask 12 marketers what the goal of their job is and you’ll get 13 answers.

Today, let’s see if we can find a workable definition for the purpose of branding that marketers can actually use.

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A workable definition for the purpose of branding that marketers can actually use

But, first, allow me to get into some trouble with my opinion on the context…

There are generally two types of Marketers: “Brand Marketers” and “Response Marketers”

Sidebar: I should preface the following by saying that my experience as a direct response marketer probably biases me slightly toward seeing the Response perspective. I’ve worked in ad agencies creating direct mail and email campaigns. However, before that, I began my career doing freelance design, so I also appreciate beautiful aesthetic design even if I’m no Lee Clow.

Here’s what I’ve seen in many organizations: The Branding camp sees Response marketers as subservient, tactical geeks, and the Response group sees Brand marketers as fluffy, granola airheads.

In my agency days, we Response marketers always envied the budgets the Brand marketers were awarded. I think I can summarize the general feeling as injustice. After all, “We’re the ones bringing in all the sales. What has that brand ad done for you lately?!”

Response marketers often reference John Wanamer’s quote, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” and shake their heads mumbling, “We can tell you which half. That’s why we measure!”

The Brand marketers just laugh at the Response marketers’ naiveté as they enjoy their lunch martini and strip club with the clients.

But, I digress… the first question to ask is…

What is Branding?

There’s an ongoing debate in many organizations between the Branding and Response groups about the role of branding itself.

Response marketers are frustrated when Brand marketers’ create brand rules, codified in Brand Standards or Brand Guidelines or even “Brand Bible” documents when they’re based on aesthetics-alone. On the other hand, Brand marketers are disgusted by the ugly campaigns Response marketers create to drive sales.

I define a brand as the concept a person holds about a thing (person, business, place or activity, etc.) based on his or her accumulated experiences.

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A brand is the concept a person holds about a thing based on his or her accumulated experiences

I think of the Brand Essence as a mix of intangible and tangible concepts, words and images that create a feeling.

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I think of the Brand Essence as a mix of intangible and tangible concepts that create a feeling.

So, if the role of Branding is to create this Brand essence. Why do it? What is the ultimate raison d’être for Branding?

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What is the ultimate raison d’être for Branding?

What is the Purpose of Branding?

I have to admit that I don’t care who wins this argument between the marketing camps. My goal here is to devise a workable definition of purpose for branding.

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My goal here is to devise a workable definition of purpose for branding

I think the way to do that is to go to the top of the goals waterfall. I introduced the goals waterfall concept with respect to setting conversion optimization goals, but it works for branding too.

How to determine your marketing and branding goals

The Goals Waterfall for Marketing

If the goal for your brand doesn’t have a direct line of sight to your business goals, you’re probably making poor decisions about your brand.

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If the goal for your brand doesn’t have a direct line of sight to your business goals, you’re making poor brand decisions

Ultimately, your brand exists to create action

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Ultimately, your brand exists to create action
, likely to sell products and/or services.

If your brand doesn’t create action, it won’t exist for long.

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If your brand doesn’t create action, it won’t exist for long
Somebody has to pay the bills, right?

So, What’s the Goal of Branding?

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What’s the Goal of Branding?

I believe a brand needs to cause an effect.

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I believe a brand needs to cause an effect.
I think it needs to stand for something different and singular. Something focused, memorable, meaningful and valuable enough to cause emotion and, ultimately action.

I put that question out to my Twitter followers recently and had an interesting debate refining the wording.

I started with this tweet:

I think the end result shows I have much smarter followers than myself.

After a few good iterations, here’s our co-created opinion on the purpose of branding.

I think the important points are:

  • The brand should aim for exclusive ownership of their mindspace

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    The brand should aim for exclusive ownership of their mindspace

  • The brand should own a feeling; not just a word, mark, phrase or idea

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    Your brand should own a feeling; not just a word, mark, phrase or idea

  • The feeling should compel action!

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    Your brand should compel action!

What do you think?

How would you refine that? Do you disagree? What’s your definition of branding?

The post What is the purpose of branding? appeared first on WiderFunnel Marketing Conversion Optimization.

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What is the purpose of branding?

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A/B Testing Image on Lead Generation Page Increased Conversions by 89%

makelaarsland_logoMakelaarsland is a Netherlands-based brokerage firm. Prospective home sellers can sign up on their website to make the company their estate agent.

The Goal

The website had a three-step registration process for home listings — Personal Information > Address > Finish.

Towards the right, it had a ‘Need Help?’ section with the company phone number and email ID. Underneath, there was a photo of a woman employee. This is how the page originally looked:

Control

The A/B Test

Traffic Builders, an online marketing firm and a Visual Website Optimizer certified partner, ran an A/B test on Makelaarsland’s lead generation page with an objective to increase the number of home listings. Traffic Builders tested the woman’s image against the photo of a man putting a ‘sold’ sticker on a ‘for sale’ sign.

Variation

The Result

The second version with the man’s image saw 89% increase in sign-ups as compared to the original version. The test was run for 20 days at 95% statistical confidence before Makelaarsland implemented the changes on its website.

The Control and the Variation

Visual Reassurance did the Trick

According to Traffic Builders’ senior conversion optimization consultant Eva Louwen, the Variation image used a very specific persuasion technique — response efficacy. The psychological principle subtly suggested how the action of signing up the form will ultimately result in the desired outcome of selling the house.

“People that sign up Makelaarsland as their estate agent want to be sure they’ll eventually sell their house. We used this technique by adding an image of a man putting a ‘sold’ sticker on a ‘for sale’ sign. This visual reassurance ended up convincing more visitors that signing Makelaarsland was indeed the right move to make,” said Eva, the author of the test. 

“This technique was shown to me during Online Dialogue’s course on Master Of Online Persuasion. I picked it because it addressed the low response/trust issue problem with Makelaarsland,” Eva added.

This is not the first time that A/B testing a different image has increased conversions for a company. One of our customers, ExactTarget, saw its conversions increase by 40% after it A/B tested a different image on its homepage.

Your turn

A/B tests conducted on lead generation pages always produce interesting results. If you have come across any such test recently, do tell us about it in the comments section.

The post A/B Testing Image on Lead Generation Page Increased Conversions by 89% appeared first on Visual Website Optimizer Blog.

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A/B Testing Image on Lead Generation Page Increased Conversions by 89%

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CRO Industry Insights from Our In-App Survey Results

5 years ago when our Founder, Paras Chopra, realized the opportunity gap for an “easy-to-use” A/B testing software in the industry, he didn’t know how big it’s going to be. He tried to solve a pain point and it worked: VWO is today a known name in the industry.

Now when we look back at how things have changed over time, testing has become a part of the culture for those who understand how powerful it is. No data-driven online business can ignore it.

A/B testing has become a small niche in itself. And we did a short survey in the VWO app to understand our industry (and specifically our customers) better. Here are a few key data points/insights that stood out for us:

1. eCommerce industry is using A/B testing most actively. 39% of VWO customers are from the eCommerce industry. (Click to tweet)

Most active VWO users according to industry type

Most active VWO users according to industry type

2. One in every seven A/B tests is a winning test  (Click to tweet)

3. Average conversion lift for statistically significant tests is 49 per cent. (Click to tweet)

4. 40% of testers in VWO create a test within an hour. This includes time taken in doing the research for test idea to making it live! (Click to tweet)

Time invested by VWO customers to set up one test

5. “Power testers” comprises of 5% of our active user base. In the first quarter of 2014, these “power testers” alone had set up close to 600 tests, which is 8 times more than usual testers. (Click to tweet)

6. Average revenue per unique visitor for eCommerce sites is $3. A successful A/B test usually increases it up to 50%. (Click to tweet)

7. Almost 30% of testers would like to start with testing a call-to-action button  (Click to tweet). This is followed by headlines (20%), Layout (10%), and website copy (8%).

First choice of page element to be tested

8. A typical A/B test runs for more than one week but not more than two months. (Click to tweet)

We’ve come a long way since the time VWO was first launched on HN. This survey was just a small attempt to see where we’re headed as an industry. The points mentioned above definitely reveal some trends. We will continue to share more data/insights in future and contribute to a culture of transparency for everyone to benefit from it.

Your Turn

What do you think about these data points/insights? Do you have any interesting observations to share from your tests? It’s time we get talking in the comments section.

The post CRO Industry Insights from Our In-App Survey Results appeared first on Visual Website Optimizer Blog.

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CRO Industry Insights from Our In-App Survey Results

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Proving Returns from A/B Testing – 6 Ways to Keep Your Boss Happy

To gain results from testing, you need to believe in it strongly. You cannot look at testing like other channels or tactics and ask,

“Okay…so, what’s the return from testing this month?”

Testing is a culture, a mindset of optimization. You MUST look at the bigger picture here.

Sometimes you might end up running a series of unsuccessful or somewhat successful tests before you hit gold with a winning test. That test will be your jackpot. The one whose revenue boost will more than make up for the lost time and money you invested in testing the past few months.

The problem here is, you may believe in testing until the end of time, but proving it as a viable investment source can be extremely difficult. When you have nothing much to show for a while, or when you’re spending on testing before you’ve started to gain from it — how do you justify this cost to your boss? Keep him happy with the results and let you continue testing?

Below, I’ve compiled a few ways for you to get the maximum return and justify your testing spend:

1. Let Go of ‘Test One Page Element at a Time’ Rule

Break the rules

I’ve been an advocate of this conventional CRO bite — ‘test one page element at a time’ — for far too long to refute it now. But there are times when it seems best to let it go in favor of pragmatism.

Single element changes often take much longer to achieve statistical confidence. Plus, every test you run will not be a winner. So when you are playing too safe and running only small tests, a lot of time may pass when you do not have much to show for it.

When you make multiple changes at a time, you might miss out on customer learning. But that’s okay. Some changes on the page might increase your conversion rate, and others may reduce it. Get over it! Sometimes it’s the overall positive effect that counts. Remember that!

It’s thus necessary that you break free from this conventional bite of testing wisdom and not be scared of making big changes.

If you spot multiple conversion leaks in a page that needs fixing, go ahead and make a new page that addresses them all; and then test it against the original page.

Small changes do have big impact sometimes, but those are a handful of cases. Most times, you will have to make more than one change to see the drastic difference in the way your visitors behave.

Start with best practices…

If you have a really leaky page from a conversion standpoint, don’t shy away from starting with best practices.

Yes, best practices do not work for everyone. And all of them might not work for you as well. But a lot of them should work for you and it’s a great way to add some quick fixes and have some good lifts to show off.

2. Sort Your Test Priority

Once you’ve completed your end of research and analysis, you’re likely to have tons of hypotheses all ready to put into action. Of course, you cannot try all the tests in one go. To show wins to your boss without much delay, prioritize which tests you can run first and without much friction. Gradually, move towards difficult tests once you’ve gained his confidence.

Wider Funnel’s PIE framework comes handy in deciding test priority. Make a table like the one given below, add hypothetical scores out of 10 for each factor (Potential, Importance, and Ease), find a PIE average for each test idea, and then decide:

PIE framework by WiderFunnel

While some big tests might need extensive assistance from your tech team, there might be others that need a rather daunting approval from the management. By following the PIE framework, way you will smoothly move forward with a sorted testing strategy and first focus your efforts on tests that combine high revenue potential and easy implementation.

Once you’re all pumped up with some good results, you can then stretch for other difficult tests.

3. Create Theme-Based Page-Level Tests

Theme-based tests are my personal favorite. They are a perfect example of hitting two birds with the same stone. You can change multiple things at a time and still get an actionable customer insight from the test. The only twist here is that the changes you make should be based on a particular theme.

A rehab facility chain, Tuscany, for example, tested their original landing page that focused on the extravagance and secluded location of their facility against a new version that emphasized on building trust in the mind of the prospects. This gave them a lift of 220%. Plus, they now understand that trust is a more important concern for prospects than a luxurious facility.

4. Using Test Insights to Up Your Overall Marketing Efforts (Including Offline Campaigns)

Jackpot

Experts often insist that you must look for customer insights in your test results. Many people do not understand why it is so important. So they ignore the reasons why their visitors behave in a certain way, why they buy/didn’t buy from their website. Missing out on these crucial insights mean — they use testing on its face value and will never realize the true potential/benefits of testing.

They fail to see that they can apply these customer learning to improve their overall marketing efforts, including offline communication. Continuing the same rehab facility example above, Tuscany applied the customer learning from their test and adopted the trust-focused approach on their other 300 websites. This gave them a 85% boost in paid search revenue across all 300 websites.

From their landing page copies to customer calls, Tuscany’s entire approach of presenting themselves transformed their business after that.

5. Run Site-Wide Template Tests

Because of the wider impact of these tests, their rewards are also manifold. Even a small win on these template pages can give you a huge lift to rave about. Lemonfree.com conducted a site-wide test on their product template pages, which increased their revenue per visit by 19%.

Apart from the usual category/product page templates, header and navigation tests are some other common site-wide tests you can try. Site-wide tests are also a great solution for those with low traffic count as the cumulative traffic of all template pages should give you enough traffic to get conclusive test results quickly.

6. Stick to Evidence-based Hypotheses

Conducting random tests that are backed by no research/insights or data will only waste your time and money in the long run. You must collect quantitative and qualitative data about your customers as well as your website to formulate smart hypotheses that have a higher probability of hitting the jackpot.

This means you’ll need to find high opportunity pages in Google Analytics for your website. Often high traffic pages with a higher bounce rate, checkout flow pages, sign-up pages, et al are good starting points. Tests run on pages where you land your PPC traffic can also have a high-impact on your revenue.

Next is to understand your customers. Don’t assume that you know what they think. You don’t! User-testing, reading live chat transcripts, and conducting exit surveys, first-time buyer surveys are the most powerful (and quite cost-effective ways) to know “why” people behave in a certain way on your website. Why they buy/don’t buy from you. You can then use these insights for your hypotheses and these will now be an educated guess, rather than an absolute shot in the dark.

Few questions you can ask to understand visitor intent or customer hesitations on your website are:

  • Is there anything holding you back from making a purchase right now?
  • Do you have any questions that you can’t find answers to on our site?
  • What brought you to our site today?
  • Were you able to accomplish the task you came to do?

Survey question

One mistake most companies fall victim to is that they treat testing as a one-off tactic. Companies that recognize conversion optimization as a process and ingrains constant testing in their culture are the ones that see real wins from testing.

What’s Your Take?

Are you stuck in an organization where you’re struggling to make testing a mainstay? What challenges do you face? Let’s hit the comments section and discuss.

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The post Proving Returns from A/B Testing – 6 Ways to Keep Your Boss Happy appeared first on Visual Website Optimizer Blog.

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Proving Returns from A/B Testing – 6 Ways to Keep Your Boss Happy