Tag Archives: customer

4 Ways Your eCommerce Store Can Leverage Video (and Why It’s So Crazy Effective)

video for ecommerce

We’ve gone beyond the point of video being an up-and-coming trend. It’s here, and marketers should be using it to attract audiences and keep them engaged. That goes for eCommerce as much as any other industry. Data shows that video isn’t just effective when it comes to marketing. There’s also a continuously growing demand for content in video form. And while some 43% of consumers want to see brands produce more video, it’s not just the consumers who want more visual media. More than half of marketers worldwide say video delivers the best ROI. Additional data from HubSpot’s State of…

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4 Ways Your eCommerce Store Can Leverage Video (and Why It’s So Crazy Effective)

How to Create a Customer Journey Completely From Scratch

How many times have you lost interest in a product? Let’s say it was a shiny new SaaS that caught your attention and you tried it out. Then, after a few minutes or a handful of efforts at it, you left. Never to return. It’s probably happened more times than you can count. Think back to times when that’s happened to you. Why did you lose interest? It’s likely that you lost interest because something went wrong along the way. Maybe you found a competitor’s product that was better, or maybe you weren’t convinced enough to buy anything. In other…

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How to Create a Customer Journey Completely From Scratch

Lean UX Design for Startups – A Walkthrough

lean UX

Lack of “product/market fit” is one of the key reasons for start-up failures. Despite initial success, businesses fail to be sustainable. One way to escape this is to get everyone involved and get back to experience-based design. Don Norman, one of the top names in UX design, coined the term, “User Experience,” back in 1995. He said, “User experience is nothing but starting any design by understanding the audience.” It allows coordination between all the elements and putting together psychology and designing. From the way things were understood in 1995, we have moved a long way in terms of design….

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Lean UX Design for Startups – A Walkthrough

How Lean UX Can Save Your Start-Up

lean UX

Lack of “product/market fit” is one of the key reasons for start-up failures. Despite initial success, businesses fail to be sustainable. One way to escape this is to get everyone involved and get back to experience-based design. Don Norman, one of the top names in UX design, coined the term, “User Experience,” back in 1995. He said, “User experience is nothing but starting any design by understanding the audience.” It allows coordination between all the elements and putting together psychology and designing. From the way things were understood in 1995, we have moved a long way in terms of design….

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How Lean UX Can Save Your Start-Up

The SaaS Trial Email That Could be Costing You 30% of Customer Lifetime Value

the email that could cost you CLTV

Ron Johnson’s plan should have worked. The veteran retail strategist knew how to turn brick and mortar stores into customer magnets because he’d done it before–twice–even as retailers across the country watched foot traffic evaporate and sales plummet. But when he joined JCPenney, he went after one of the American retailer’s most popular programs: coupons. This was the pitch: Customers would no longer have to spend their time looking for deals. Instead, prices would always be low. Go to minute 1:26 on this audio to hear what JCPenney customers had to say about this idea. Why such a visceral reaction…

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The SaaS Trial Email That Could be Costing You 30% of Customer Lifetime Value

9 Customer Re-Engagement Emails You Need to Steal

emails you should steal

If you had one shot at a 100% guarantee that your customers will open every email you send, how would you do it? Will you tempt them with massive discounts on your products and services? Will you extend their free trial period? Will you add a free upgrade to their account? Whatever method you choose; one thing remains true: Forever does not exist. Your customers will get tired of you eventually. Acceptance Is Key Once you have come to terms with the fact that not all your email subscribers will be with you for the rest of your marketing career,…

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9 Customer Re-Engagement Emails You Need to Steal

Capturing supermarket magic and providing the ideal customer experience

Reading Time: 6 minutes

The customer-centric focus

Over the past few years, one message has been gaining momentum within the marketing world: customer experience is king.

Customer experience” (CX) refers to your customer’s perception of her relationship with your brand—both conscious and subconscious—based on every interaction she has with your brand during her customer life cycle.

Customer experience is king
How do your customers feel about your brand?

Companies are obsessing over CX, and for good reason(s):

  • It is 6-7x more expensive to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing customer
  • 67% of consumers cite ‘bad experiences’ as reason for churn
  • 66% of consumers who switch brands do so because of poor service

Across sectors, satisfied customers spend more, exhibit deeper loyalty to companies, and create conditions that allow companies to have lower costs and higher levels of employee engagement.

As conversion optimization specialists, we test in pursuit of the perfect customer experience, from that first email subject line, to the post-purchase conversation with a customer service agent.

We test because it is the best way to listen, and create ideal experiences that will motivate consumers to choose us over our competitors in the saturated internet marketplace.

Create the perfect personalized customer experience!

Your customers are unique, and their ideal experiences are unique. Create the perfect customer experience with this 4-step guide to building the most effective personalization strategy.



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Which leads me to the main question of this post: Which companies are currently providing the best customer experiences, and how can you apply their strategies in your business context?

Each year, the Tempkin Group releases a list of the best and worst US companies, by customer experience rating. The list is based on survey responses from 10,000 U.S. consumers, regarding their recent experiences with companies.

And over the past few years, supermarkets have topped that list: old school, brick-and-mortar, this-model-has-been-around-forever establishments.

Customer experience - brick-mortar vs. ecommerce
What are supermarkets doing so right, and how can online retailers replicate it?

In the digital world, we often focus on convenience, usability, efficiency, and accessibility…but are there elements at the core of a great customer experience that we may be missing?

A quick look at the research

First things first: Let’s look at how the Tempkin Group determines their experience ratings.

Tempkin surveys 10,000 U.S. consumers, asking them to rate their recent (past 60 days) interactions with 331 companies across 20 industries. The survey questions cover Tempkin’s three components of experience:

  1. Success: Were you, the consumer, able to accomplish what you wanted to do?
  2. Effort: How easy was it for you to interact with the company?
  3. Emotion: How did you feel about those interactions?

Respondents answer questions on a scale of 1 (worst) to 7 (best), and researchers score each company accordingly. For more details on how the research was conducted, you can download the full report, here.

In this post, I am going to focus on one supermarket that has topped the list for the past three years: Publix. Not only does Publix top the Tempkin ratings, it also often tops the supermarket rankings compiled by the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

Long story short: Publix is winning the customer experience battle.

WiderFunnel Customer Experience Ratings Tempkin 2017
2017 Customer Experience ratings from Tempkin.
WiderFunnel Customer Experience Ratings Tempkin 2016
2016 Customer Experience ratings from Tempkin.

So, what does Publix do right?

Publix growth - WiderFunnel customer experience
Publix growth trends (Source).

If you don’t know it, Publix Super Markets, Inc. is an American supermarket chain headquartered in Florida. Founded in 1930, Publix is a private corporation that is wholly owned by present and past employees; it is considered the largest employee-owned company in the world.

In an industry that has seen recent struggles, Publix has seen steady growth over the past 10 years. So, what is this particular company doing so very right?

1. World-class customer service

Publix takes great care to provide the best possible customer service.

From employee presentation (no piercings, no unnatural hair color, no facial hair), to the emphasis on “engaging the customer”, to the bread baked fresh on-site every day, the company’s goal is to create the most pleasurable shopping experience for each and every customer.

When you ask “Where is the peanut butter?” at another supermarket, an employee might say, “Aisle 4.” But at Publix, you will be led to the peanut butter by a friendly helper.

The store’s slogan: “Make every customer’s day a little bit better because they met you.”

2. The most motivated employees

Publix associates are famously “pleased-as-punch, over-the-moon, [and] ridiculously contented”.

Note the term “associates”: Because Publix is employee-owned, employees are not referred to as employees, but associates. As owners, associates share in the store’s success: If the company does well, so do they.

Our culture is such that we believe if we take care of our associates, they in turn will take care of our customers. Associate ownership is our secret sauce,” said Publix spokeswoman, Maria Brous. “Our associates understand that their success is tied to the success of our company and therefore, we must excel at providing legendary service to our customers.

3. Quality over quantity

While Publix is one of the largest food retailers in the country by revenue, they operate a relatively small number of stores: 1,110 stores across six states in the southeastern U.S. (For context, Wal-Mart operates more than 4,000 stores).

Each of Publix’s store locations must meet a set of standards. From the quality of the icing on a cake in the bakery, to the “Thanks for shopping at Publix. Come back and see us again soon!” customer farewell, customers should have a delightful experience at every Publix store.

4. An emotional shopping experience

In the Tempkin Experience Ratings, emotion was the weakest component for the 331 companies evaluated. But, Publix was among the few organizations to receive an “excellent” emotion rating. (In fact, they are ranked top 3 in this category.)

widerfunnel customer delight
Are you creating delight for the individuals who are your customers?

They are able to literally delight their customers. And, as a smart marketer, I don’t have to tell you how powerful emotion is in the buying process.

Great for Publix. What does this mean for me?

As marketers, we should be changing the mantra from ‘always be closing’ to ‘always be helping’.

– Jonathan Lister, LinkedIn

In the digital marketing world, it is easy to get lost in acronyms: UX, UI, SEO, CRO, PPC…and forget about the actual customer experience. The experience that each individual shopper has with your brand.

Beyond usability, beyond motivation tactics, beyond button colors and push notifications, are you creating delight?

To create delight, you need to understand your customer’s reality. It may be time to think about how much you spend on website traffic, maintenance, analytics, and tools vs. how much you spend to understand your customers…and flip the ratio.

It’s important to understand the complexity of how your users interact with your website. We say, ‘I want to find problems with my website by looking at the site itself, or at my web traffic’. But that doesn’t lead to results. You have to understand your user’s reality.

– André Morys, Founder & CEO, WebArts

Publix is winning with their customer-centric approach because they are fully committed to it. While the tactics may be different with a brick-and-mortar store and an e-commerce website, the goals overlap:

1. Keep your customer at the core of every touch point

From your Facebook ad, to your product landing page, to your product category page, checkout page, confirmation email, and product tracking emails, you have an opportunity to create the best experience for your customers at each step.

customer service and customer experience
Great customer service is one component of a great customer experience.

2. Make your customers feel something.

Humans don’t buy things. We buy feelings. What are you doing to make your shoppers feel? How are you highlighting the intangible benefits of your value proposition?

3. Keep your employees motivated.

Happy, satisfied employees, deliver happy, satisfying customer experiences, whether they’re creating customer-facing content for your website, or speaking to customers on the phone. For more on building a motivated, high performance marketing team, read this post!

Testing to improve your customer experience

Of course, this wouldn’t be a WiderFunnel blog post if I didn’t recommend testing your customer experience improvements.

If you have an idea for how to inject emotion into the shopping experience, test it. If you believe a particular tweak will make the shopping experience easier and your shoppers more successful, test it.

Your customers will show you what an ideal customer experience looks like with their actions, if you give them the opportunity.

Here’s an example.

During our partnership with e-commerce platform provider, Magento, we ran a test on the product page for the company’s Enterprise Edition software, meant to improve the customer experience.

The main call-to-action on this page was “Get a free demo”—a universal SaaS offering. The assumption was that potential customers would want to experience and explore the platform on their own (convenient, right?), before purchasing the platform.

Magento_CTA_Get
The original Magento Enterprise Edition homepage featuring the “Get a free demo”.

Looking at click map data, however, our Strategists noticed that visitors to this page were engaging with informational tabs lower on the page. It seemed that potential customers needed more information to successfully accomplish their goals on the page.

Unfortunately, once visitors had finished browsing tabs, they had no option other than trying the demo, whether they were ready or not.

So, our Strategists tested adding a secondary “Talk to a specialist” call-to-action. Potential customers could connect directly with a Magento sales representative, and get answers to all of their questions.

Magento_CTA
Today’s Magento Enterprise Edition homepage features a “Talk to a specialist” CTA.

This call-to-action hadn’t existed prior to this test, so the literal infinite conversion rate lift Magento saw in qualified sales calls was not surprising.

What was surprising was the phone call we received six months later: Turns out the “Talk to a specialist” leads were 8x more valuable than the “Get a free demo” leads.

After several subsequent test rounds, “Talk to a specialist” became the main call-to-action on that product page. Magento’s most valuable prospects had demonstrated that the ideal customer experience included the opportunity to get more information from a specialist.

While Publix’s success reminds us of the core components of a great customer experience, actually creating a great customer experience can be tricky.

You might be wondering:

  • What is most important to my customers: Success, Effort, or Emotion?
  • What improvements should I make first?
  • How will I know these improvements are actually working?

A test-and-learn strategy will help you answer these questions, and begin working toward a truly great customer experience.

Don’t get lost in the guesswork of tweaks, fixes, and best practices. Get obsessed with understanding your customer, instead.

How do you create the ideal customer experience?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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Capturing supermarket magic and providing the ideal customer experience

7 Advanced Google Shopping Strategies

Google Shopping

I definitely don’t envy anyone that has to compete on Google Shopping. To be successful, it requires quite a bit of spreadsheet chops, constant adjusting and a deep understanding of your customer lifetime value. It’s possible that lowering your prices to just the right point will significantly build your customer base in the long run. Although it may seem like you’re losing money on first-time customers that come from Google Shopping, you’re ultimately profiting on their future business. In a sense, you’re turning that first-time monetary loss into marketing spend. It’s definitely tricky. And yes, it is a science project….

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7 Advanced Google Shopping Strategies

Wow Your Clients, Grow Your Agency – Register for Digital Agency Day 2017

If you could get in a room with digital marketing experts from Google, AdRoll and LinkedIn, what would you ask them? Better yet, what if you could rub shoulders with them without having to leave your desk?

We’re not trying to torture you with hypotheticals. For the second year in a row, Unbounce and HubSpot have teamed up to cregisurate Digital Agency Day: a full day of virtual and in-person events dedicated to the digital agency professional.

And it’s happening very soon: on March 16th, 2017. Completely free.

Register for Digital Agency Day here.

Join expert speakers from the world’s top agencies and agency partners as they share actionable, agency-tailored advice on analytics, reporting, growing retainers, new business strategy, content marketing, conversion rate optimization and much more.

Here’s just a taste of some of the presentations you can expect:

  • Rethinking Retainers & Other Pricing Issues
  • What Your Agency Needs to Execute Content Marketing the Right Way
  • Grow Your Agency With LinkedIn Sponsored Content
  • Extreme Growth with Google AdWords: For Agencies
  • Unifying your Customer Journey: Unlocking the Power of Cross-Device Marketing

Here’s what some of our attendees from last year had to say:

See you then? Click here to register.

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Wow Your Clients, Grow Your Agency – Register for Digital Agency Day 2017

Build the most effective personalization strategy: A 4-step roadmap

Reading Time: 11 minutes

Whaddya mean, ‘personalization strategy

It’s Groundhog Day again.

Do you remember the Groundhog Day movie? You know… the one where Bill Murray’s character repeats the same day over and over again, every day. He had to break the pattern by convincing someone to fall in love with him, or something like that.

What an odd storyline.

Yet today, it’s reminding me of a pattern in marketing. Marketing topics seem to be pulled by an unstoppable force through fad cycles of hype, over-promise, disappointment, and decline – usually driven by some new technology.

I’ve watched so many fad buzzwords come and go, it’s dizzying. Remember Customer Relationship Marketing? Integrated Marketing? Mobile First? Omnichannel?

A few short years ago, everyone was talking about social media as the only topic that mattered. Multivariate testing was sexy for about five minutes.

Invariably, similar patterns of mistakes appear within each cycle.

Tool vendors proliferate on trade show floors, riding the wave and selling a tool that checks the box of the current fad. Marketers invest time, energy, and budget hoping for a magic bullet without a strategy.

But, without a strategy, even the best tools can fail to deliver the promised results.

(Side note: That’s why I’ve been advocating for years for marketers to start their conversion optimization programs with a strategy in addition to the best tools.)

Now, everyone is swooning for Personalization. And, so they should! It can deliver powerful results.

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From simple message segmentation to programmatic ad buying and individual-level website customization, the combination of big data and technology is transforming the possibilities of personalization.

But the rise of personalization tools and popularity has meant the rise of marketers doing personalization the wrong way. I’ve lost track of the number of times we’ve seen:

  • Ad hoc implementation of off-the-shelf features without understanding what need they are solving.
  • Poor personalization insights with little data analysis and framework thinking driving the implementation.
  • Lack of rigorous process to hypothesize, test, and validate personalization ideas.
  • Lack of resources to sustain the many additional marketing messages that must be created to support multiple, personalized target segments.

That’s why, in collaboration with our partners at Optimizely, we have created a roadmap for creating the most effective personalization strategy:

Featured_Roadmap

  • Step 1: Defining personalization
  • Step 2: Is a personalization strategy right for you?
  • Step 3: Personalization ideation
  • Step 4: Personalization prioritization

Step 1: Defining personalization

Personalization and segmentation are often used interchangeably, and are arguably similar. Both use information gathered about the marketing prospect to customize their experience.

While segmentation attempts to bucket prospects into similar aggregate groups, personalization represents the ultimate goal of customizing the person’s experience to their individual needs and desires based on in-depth information and insights about them.

You can think of them as points along a spectrum of customized messaging.

Personalization spectrum
The marketing customization spectrum.

You’ve got the old mass marketing approach on one end, and the hyper-personalized, 1:1, marketer-to-customer nirvana on the other end. Segmentation lies somewhere in the middle. We’ve been doing it for decades, but now we have the technology to go deeper, to be more granular.

Every marketer wants to provide the perfect message for each customer — that’s the ultimate goal of personalization.

The problem personalization solves

Personalization solves the problem of Relevance (one of 6 conversion factors in the LIFT Model®). If you can increase the Relevance of your value proposition to your visitor, by speaking their language, matching their expectations, and addressing their unique fears, needs and desires, you will see an increase in conversions.

Let me show you an example.

Secret Escapes is a flash-sale luxury travel company. The company had high click-through rates on their search ads and directed all of this traffic to a single landing page.

Personalization strategy ad
Secret Escapes “spa” PPC ad in Google.

The ad copy read:

“Spa Vacations
Save up to 70% on Spa Breaks. Register for free with your email.”

But, the landing page didn’t reflect the ad copy. When visitors landed on the page, they saw this:

personalization strategy secret escapes
Original landing page for Secret Escapes.

Not super relevant to visitors’ search intent, right? There’s no mention of the keyword “spa” or imagery of a spa experience. Fun fact: When we are searching for something, our brains rely less on detailed understanding of the content, and more on pattern matching, or a scent trail.

(Note: some of the foundational research for this originated with Peter Pirolli at PARC as early as the 90’s. See this article, for example.)

In an attempt to convert more paid traffic, Secret Escapes tested two variations, meant to match visitor intent with expectations.

personalization strategy secret escapes 1
Variation 1 used spa imagery and brought the keyword “spa” into the sub-head.
personalization strategy secret escapes 2
Variation 2 used the same imagery, but mirrored the ad copy with the headline copy.

By simply maintaining the scent trail, and including language around “spa breaks” in the signup form, Secret Escapes was able to increase sign-ups by 32%. They were able to make the landing page experience sticky for this target audience segment, by improving Relevance.

Step 2: Is a personalization strategy right for me?

Pause. Before you dig any deeper into personalization, you should determine whether or not it is the right strategy for your company, right now.

Here are 3 questions that will help you determine your personalization maturity and eligibility.

Do I have enough data about my customers?

Hudson Arnold Personalization

Personalization is not a business practice for companies with no idea of how they want to segment, but for businesses that are ready to capitalize on their segments.

Hudson Arnold, Strategy Consultant, Optimizely

For companies getting started with personalization, we recommend that you at least have fundamental audience segments in place. These might be larger cohorts at first, focused on visitor location, visitor device use, single visitor behaviors, or visitors coming from an ad campaign.

Personalization Strategy Segments
Where is your user located? Did they arrive on your page via Facebook ad? Are they browsing on a tablet?

If you haven’t categorized your most important visitor segments, you should focus your energies on segmentation first, before moving into personalization.

Do I have the resources to do personalization?

  • Do you have a team in place that can manage a personalization strategy?
  • Do you have a personalization tool that supports your strategy?
  • Do you have an A/B testing team that can validate your personalization approach?
  • Do you have resources to maintain updates to the segments that will multiply as you increase your message granularity?

Personalization requires dedicated resources and effort to sustain all of your segments and personalized variations. To create a truly effective personalization strategy, you will need to proceduralize personalization as its own workstream and implement an ongoing process.

Which leads us to question three…

Do I have a process for validating my personalization ideas?

Personalization is a hypothesis until it is tested. Your assumptions about your best audience segments, and the best messaging for those segments, are assumptions until they have been validated.

Hudson Arnold Personalization

Personalization requires the same inputs and workflow as testing; sound technical implementation, research-driven ideation, a clear methodology for translating concepts into test hypotheses, and tight technical execution. In this sense, personalization is really just an extension of A/B testing and normal optimization activities. What’s more, successful personalization campaigns are the result of testing and iteration.

– Hudson Arnold

Great personalization strategy is about having a rigorous process that allows for 1) gathering insights about your customers, and then 2) validating those insights. You need a structured process to understand which insights are valid for your target audience and create growth for your business.

WiderFunnel’s Infinity Optimization Process™ represents these two mindsets. It is a proven process that has been refined over many years and thousands of tests. As you build your personalization strategy, you can adopt parts or all of this process.

infinity optimization process
The Infinity Optimization Process is iterative and leads to continuous growth and insights.

There are two critical phases to an effective personalization strategy: Explore and Validate. Explore uses an expansive mindset to consider all of your data, and all of your potential personalization ideas. Validate is a structured process of A/B testing that uses a reductive mindset to refine and select only those ideas that produce value.

Without a process in place to prove your personalization hypotheses, you will end up wasting time and resources sending the wrong messages to the wrong audience segments.

Personalization without validation is simply guesswork.

Step 3: Personalization ideation

If you have answered “Yes” to those three questions, you are ready to do personalization: You are confident in your audience segments, you have dedicated resources, perhaps you’re already doing basic personalization. Now, it’s time to build your personalization strategy by gathering insights from your data.

personalization strategy curiosity
“How do I get ideas for customized messaging that will work?”

One of the questions we hear most often when it comes to personalization is, “How do I get ideas for customized messaging that will work?” This is the biggest area of ongoing work and your biggest opportunity for business improvement from personalization.

The quality of your insights about your customers directly impacts the quality of your personalization results.

Here are the 3 types of personalization insights to explore:

  • Deductive research
  • Inductive research
  • Customer self-selected

You can mix and match these types within your program. We have plenty of examples of how. Let’s look at a few now.

1) Deductive research and personalization insights

Are there general theories that apply to your particular business situation?

Psychological principles? UX principles? General patterns in your data? ‘Best’ practices?

Deductive personalization starts with your assumptions about how your customers will respond to certain messaging based on existing theories…but it doesn’t end there. With deductive research, you should always feed your ideas into experiments that either validate or disprove your personalization approach.

Let’s look at an example:

Heifer International is a charity organization that we have been working with to increase their donations and their average donation value per visitor.

In one experiment, we decided to test a psychological principle called the “rule of consistency”. This principle states that people want to be consistent in all areas of life; once someone takes an action, no matter how small, they strive to make future behavior match that past behavior.

We asked visitors to the Heifer website to identify themselves as a donor type when they land on the site, to trigger this need to remain consistent.

client spotlight psychological persuasion
What kind of donor are you?

Notice there’s no option to select “I’m not a donor.” We were testing what would happen when people self-identified as donors.

The results were fascinating. This segmenting pop up increased donations by nearly 2%, increased the average donation value per visitor by 3%, and increased the revenue per visitor by more than 5%.

There’s more. In looking at the data, we saw that just 14% of visitors selected one of the donation identifications. But, that 14% was actually 68% of Heifer’s donors: The 14% who responded represent a huge percentage of Heifer’s most valuable audience.

personalization strategy heifer donors
Visitors who self-identify as ‘Donors’ are a valuable segment.

Now, Heifer can change the experience for visitors who identify as a type of donor and use that as one piece of data to personalize their experience. Currently, we’re testing which messages will maximize donations even further within each segment.

2) Inductive research and personalization insights

Are there segments within your data and test results that you can analyze to gather personalization insights?

If you are already optimizing your site, you may have seen segments naturally emerge through A/B testing. A focused intention to find these insights is called inductive research.

Inductive personalization is driven by insights from your existing A/B test data. As you test, you discover insights that point you toward generalizable personalization hypotheses.

Here’s an example from one of WiderFunnel’s e-commerce clients that manufactures and sells weather technology products. This company’s original product page was very cluttered, and we decided to test it against a variation that emphasized visual clarity.

personalization strategy variations
We tested the original page (left) against a variation emphasizing clarity (right).

Surprisingly, the clear variation lost to the original, decreasing order completions by -6.8%. WiderFunnel Strategists were initially perplexed by the result, but they didn’t rest until they had uncovered a potential insight in the data.

They found that visitors to the original page saw more pages per session, while visitors to the variation spent a 7.4% higher average time on page. This could imply that shoppers on the original page were browsing more, while shoppers on our variation spent more time on fewer pages.

Research published by the NN Group describes teen-targeted websites, suggesting that younger users enjoy searching and are impatient, while older users enjoy searching but are also much more patient when browsing.

With this research in mind, the Strategists dug in further and found that the clear variation actually won for older users to this client’s site, increasing transactions by +24%. But it lost among younger users, decreasing transactions by -38%.

So, what’s the takeaway? For this client, there are potentially new ways of customizing the shopping experience for different age segments, such as:

  1. Reducing distractions and adding clarity for older visitors
  2. Providing multiple products in multiple tabs for younger visitors

This client can use these insights to inform their age-group segmentation efforts across their site.

(Also, this is a great example of why one of WiderFunnel’s five core values says “Grit – We don’t quit until we find an answer.”)

3) Customer self-selected personalization

Ask your prospects to tell you about themselves. Then, test the best marketing approach for each segment.

Customer self-selected personalization is potentially the easiest strategy to conceptualize and implement. You are asking your users to self-identify, and segment themselves. This triggers specific messaging based on how they self-identified. And then you can test the best approach for each of those segments.

Here’s an example to help you visualize what I mean.

One of our clients is a Fortune 500 healthcare company — they use self-selected personalization to drive more relevant content and offers, in order to grow their community of subscribers.

This client had created segments that were focused on a particular health situation, that people could click on:

  • “Click on this button to get more information,”
  • “I have early stage disease,”
  • “I have late stage disease,”
  • “I manage the disease while I’m working,”
  • “I’m a physician treating the disease,” and,
  • “I work at a hospital treating the disease.”

These segments came from personas that this client had developed about their subscriber base.

personalization strategy messaging
The choices in the header triggered the messaging in the side bar.

Once a user self-identified, the offers and messaging that were featured on the page were adjusted accordingly. But, we wouldn’t want to assume the personalized messages were the best for each segment. You should test that!

In self-selected personalization, there are two major areas you should test. You want to find out:

  1. What are the best segments?
  2. What is the best messaging for each segment?

For this healthcare company, we didn’t simply assume that those 5 segments were the best segments, or that the messages and offers triggered were the best messages and offers. Instead, we tested both.

A series of A/B tests within their segmentation and personalization efforts resulted in a doubling of this company’s conversion rate.

Developing an audience strategy

Developing a personalization strategy requires an audience-centric approach. The companies that are succeeding at personalization are not picking segments ad hoc from Google Analytics or any given study, but are looking to their business fundamentals.

Once you believe you have identified the most important segments for your business, then you can begin to layer on more tactical segments. These might be qualified ‘personas’ that inform your content strategy, UX design, or analytical segments.

Step 4: Personalization prioritization

If this whole thing is starting to feel a little complex, don’t worry. It is complex, but that’s why we prioritize. Even with a high-functioning team and an advanced tool, it is impossible to personalize for all of your audience segments simultaneously. So, where do you start?

Optimizely uses a simple axis to conceptualize how to prioritize personalization hypotheses. You can use it to determine the quantity and the quality of the audiences you would like to target.

Personalization strategy matrix

The x-axis refers to the size of your audience segment, while the y-axis refers to an obvious need to personalize to a group vs. the need for creative personalization.

For instance, the blue bubble in the upper left quadrant of the chart represents a company’s past purchasers. Many clients want to start personalizing here, saying, “We want to talk to people who have spent $500 on leather jackets in the last three months. We know exactly what we wanna show to them.”

But, while you might have a solid merchandising strategy or offer for that specific group, it represents a really, really, really small audience.

That is not to say you shouldn’t target this group, because there is an obvious need. But it needs to be weighed against how large that group is. Because you should be treating personalization like an experiment, you need to be sensitive to statistical significance.

The net impact of any personalization effort you use will only be as significant as the size of the segment, right? If you improve the conversion rate 1000% for 10 people, that is going to have a relatively small impact on your business.

personalization strategy matrix 2

Now, move right on the x-axis; here, you are working with larger segments. Even if the personalized messaging is less obvious (and might require more experimentation), your efforts may be more impactful.

Food for thought: Most companies we speak to don’t have a coherent geographical personalization strategy, but it’s a large way of grouping people and, therefore, may be worth exploring!

You may be more familiar with WiderFunnel’s PIE framework, which we use to prioritize our ideas.

How does Optimizely’s axis relate? It is a simplified way to think about personalization ideas to help you ideate quickly. Its two inputs, “Obvious Need” and “Audience Size” are essentially two inputs we would use to calculate a thorough PIE ranking of ideas.

The “Obvious Need” axis would influence the “Potential” ranking, and “Audience Size” would influence “Importance”. It may be helpful to consider the third PIE factor, “Ease”, if some segmentation data is more difficult to track or otherwise acquire, or if the maintenance cost of ongoing messaging is high.

To create the most effective personalization strategy for your business, you must remember what you already know. For some reason, when companies start personalization, the lessons they have learned about testing all of their assumptions are sometimes forgotten.

You probably have some great personalization ideas, but it is going to take iteration and experimentation to get them right.

A final note on personalization: Always think of it in the context of the bigger picture of marketing optimization.

Insights gained from A/B testing inform future audience segments and personalized messaging, while insights derived from personalization experimentation informs future A/B testing hypotheses. And on and on.

Don’t assume that insights gained during personalization testing are only valid for those segments. These wins may be overall wins.

The best practice when it comes to personalization is to take the insights you validate within your tests and use them to inform your hypotheses in your general optimization strategy.

** Note: This post was originally published on May 3, 2016 as “How to succeed at segmentation and personalization” but has been wholly updated to reflect new personalization frameworks, case studies, and insights from Optimizely. **

Still have questions about personalization? Ask ’em in the comments, or contact us to find out how WiderFunnel can help you create a personalization strategy that will work for your company.

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Build the most effective personalization strategy: A 4-step roadmap