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Facebook Ad Expert Mari Smith Reveals Missed Opportunities (And What’s on the Horizon)

Facebook has over 1.28 billion daily active users.

To have more than a billion prospects in one place, literally at your fingertips, is a marketer’s dream (thanks, Mark Zuckerberg!). But turning those prospects into customers… well that’s another story.

As marketers, we know that a stellar Facebook campaign is made up of a lot more than clever copy, snazzy design and a hefty PPC budget. In a constantly changing environment of new features, products and ad units, it can be tricky to stay ahead of the pack — let alone stand out.

Facebook’s granular targeting makes it more possible than ever to reach the right person, in the right place, at the right time. But only marketers who are committed to making connections with real people and then maintaining those relationships will come out on top.

If there’s one person that knows this best, it’s Mari Smith.

Named Forbes’ #4 “Top Social Media Power Influencer,” Mari is one of the world’s leading social media thought leaders and educators in the world of marketing. Her knowledge of Facebook runs so deep that she was personally hired by the folks at Facebook to teach SMBs throughout the US at the Boost Your Business series of events.

Mari’s speaking at our Call to Action Conference this June, and here’s a quick word from the Facebook Queen herself.

PSST: Blog readers get 15% off tickets to Call to Action Conference until May 25th — just use promo code “blogsentme” at checkout

Despite her packed schedule, Mari recently took the time to sit down with Unbounce Marketing Educator Christie Pike to reveal some of her best kept Facebook advertising secrets. In this interview you’ll get Mari’s actionable tips and insights into:

  • Some of the biggest missed opportunities for marketers advertising on Facebook.
  • Companies that are crushing it in the social advertising space and what you can learn from them.
  • The next big thing on the horizon that Facebook marketers should be preparing for and investing in.
Christie Pike: You’ve been active on Facebook long enough to see its evolution from social media network to a performance tool not unlike AdWords. How has this changed the way that marketers run Facebook campaigns?

Mari Smith: The main thing to consider is the enormous amount of data that Facebook gathers, not only on the platform itself but in partnership with data companies. So every time you use your credit card, every time you make a purchase, surveys that you complete, any information that’s out there is moved into a kind of personal dossier that then gets matched with your Facebook ID. Because of all of this, people get scared and freaked out, Big Brother and all that, but it’s all anonymized and encrypted, so from a user standpoint I always say, “caveat emptor”, just recognize that in today’s day and age of privacy, everything is out there.

From a marketer’s or advertiser’s standpoint, it’s an unprecedented time that we’re in.  It’s a paradigm shift in terms of being able to reach the exact person that you want with Facebook’s granular targeting. Down to zip code, down to propensity to possibly make a certain purchase, from going on a cruise in the next six months, buying a BMW in the next three months, income, the number of kids you have, what you do for a career — all of this is just extraordinary.

So, we really do have to think of Facebook as a platform in which to get our message, our products and our services in front of our target market, but done so in a very relationship-oriented way. I think the businesses that are really standing out are the ones that can make us laugh or cry or go “awwww” and tear at the heartstrings — you know, create something that has viral shareability as opposed to how some business send a message that says “Hey, sign up for our stuff,” “Buy our stuff.”  It’s a cold market, you know.

CP: What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen on the ad platform itself?

MS: I would say that a big change is in terms of ad units, which initially were just a link and some basic visuals, but over the years they have a much, much, much more visual emphasis. I especially love the carousel ads you can swipe. I think Amazon is one of the best at doing retargeted multi-product ads. I remember seeing one of its ads that had about 32 cards on the carousel that you could swipe and I asked myself, “How did they know I like all this stuff!?”

And then what they call slideshow, which is really just images made into a video, but definitely the prevalence of video is key. One of Mark Zuckerberg’s favorite words is “immersive,” and so the introduction of more immersive type of content like canvas ads has huge importance in the current ad space.

I worked directly with a video creation company, and they shared a great case study from Brussels Airlines that pull up a canvas ad advertising flights to Mumbai in India. They got something like 27 times more time on site after doing this beautiful canvas ad, whereas their previous Facebook campaigns led to an average of three seconds on site. The reason behind this was because back in the day, ads were just a link with a tiny wee thumbnail, and then they got bigger and turned into GIFs, slideshows, animations, interactive content and full-screen content.

So, between (1)  the ad products (2) the placement and (3) the targeting, I would say those are the three key areas where there are the biggest changes. Placement being whether it’s Instagram, mobile news only or if it’s right rail (which still has its place), but users are in mobile more than anything else.

CP: Who is doing Facebook advertising particularly well? What do you like about their ad campaigns? Can you provide some examples?

MS: My favorite video ad that I include in almost every single one of my presentations is by a fun company called Chatbooks. It’s a simple app (a subscription service) that takes your Instagram and Facebook photos and prints them in a book format, it’s really clever.

They worked with a really good PR/creative agency and hired a professional actress/comedian. From there, they created this three minute and forty-second ad. The ad was first put out on their Facebook page, which had just over 100,000 fans (now over 200, 000). And when I last checked, that video ad had 69 million views and almost 500,000 shares.

This is what I love to teach — when you can craft your content to be visually appealing (ideally video). When people are engaged with it they’ll share it with others.


When you craft your content to be visually appealing, people are engaged + will share with others.
Click To Tweet


I’ve never found a better example than Chatbooks. In fact, I originally saw it in my News Feed as a shared organic post by a friend of mine, and after I watched the full three minutes and forty seconds, I was ready to sign up and buy the subscription!

Another great example is from our friend Rand Fishkin from Moz,  who I know is speaking at CTA Conference this year.

Rand is doing these really great video ads called Whiteboard Fridays. I see the most recent one from April has over 4,600 views and 15 shares.

Whiteboard Fridays. Image source: Moz.

It’s so good because it’s educational and it’s the kind of video ad that you can stop and watch or at least save and watch later. It’s really cool what he’s doing because he’s not saying, “Hey everybody, sign up for Moz, see what we can do for you!” Instead, he’s like, “Hey here’s some education on SEO,” and it’s the kind of stuff that people will stop and save and consume.

One last shout out to my good friend Ezra Firestone and his company called Smart Marketer. He does really amazing stuff with video ads and lead gen.

CP: Unbounce cofounder Oli Gardner estimates that 98% of AdWords campaign traffic is not being sent to a dedicated landing page. If you had to guess, what percentage of Facebook marketers do you think are sending their traffic to mobile optimized landing pages? Do you see this as a missed opportunity?

MS: I would have said it’s probably a lot lower. My guess is that 65% is going to a dedicated landing page on Facebook — I get the sense that Facebook advertisers, for the most part, are a little more savvy. They realize you can’t spend all this money and have a captive audience and then just send them away to figure it out for themselves.

But to Oli’s point, I do see a missed an opportunity — especially when marketers are not really thoroughly checking and having a small test group. It’s important to invest a small amount — about $60 – $100 dollars — towards some A/B testing to see which ad gets better conversions. Doing the pixel and tracking the standard events, all of these components are key.

The second part is mobile optimized websites/landing pages. If someone’s clicking through and it’s too wide for the phone,  or the pop-up appears and you can’t find the ‘X’ on it it takes less than a second and they’re outta there.

CP: Are you seeing good examples of Facebook campaign landing pages? 

MS: I think my good friends over at AdEspresso – they were recently acquired by Hootsuite, a fellow Vancouver company —  they’re doing some really good stuff. I love their blog. In fact, they quote you there.

I’d have to think really hard to narrow down a specific landing page example, but in terms of components, or landing page elements, less is always more, something simple that’s really congruent with the ad itself.


Drive FB ad traffic to a landing page that’s simple & consistent with your ad. Less = more.
Click To Tweet


The job of an ad and the job of an email is to get people to a landing page, and the job of a landing page is to convert, whether I’m asking for your email or I’m asking for you to make a purchase. And the beautiful thing about Facebook pixels is if someone doesn’t decide right then and there, you’re able to do some retargeting campaigns to refine further.

CP: Are there certain verticals that are more successful with Facebook advertising than others?

MS: I was just speaking at Marketo’s conference last week and they are, as you know, almost exclusively B2B, and so my talk was very geared towards the B2B audience.

I think Facebook has a reputation for being known to perform better for B2C, but I always like to say that businesses are running as “people to people.”

In terms of verticals, it’s probably easier to say what verticals are more difficult to reach, which are the highly regulated ones like insurance or finance —  but otherwise with every conceivable small business and niche or industry there’s a market that can can take advantage of generating leads on Facebook.

CP: When we talk Facebook ads, what are some missed opportunities?

MS: This comes back to the subject that’s close to my heart, which is really that relationship component: customer care, really engaging well when people are actually commenting and engaging on your ad.

I think what happens — especially with marketers that do the dark ads — is these ads can be very effective and you can be really selective in who you’re reaching without populating your wall, but then what often happens is out of sight, out of mind.  I’ve seen many major household brands where people are posting negative comments on the ad. There’s spam, people are asking questions about their products, and nobody is responding or acknowledging. I see that as a massive missed opportunity.

I think that’s one of the best investments that companies can make is having trained, qualified, passionate social customer care moderators. I always like to say that technology is moving at warp speed and it’s hard to keep up — but human beings, we’re not changing that much, and we want to know that we’re important, that we matter.

CP: What’s on the horizon?

MS: Right around the corner is Facebook television and that’s launching next month. Mark Zuckerberg is absolutely adamant that they’re not a media company, but just watch — just watch that space, they’re absolutely moving into that.

In the United States, the TV advertising industry is worth about $70 billion — it’s over $200 billion globally. And so Facebook now has licensed/paid for original content to be aired on video. And remember, they also have that app that they brought out not long ago that you can stream through your Apple TV or Amazon Fire.

So what’s coming next month are full one-hour shows that are highly professionally produced and then also small episodes — three to 30 minutes that will refresh every 24 hours, from what I’ve read.

For advertisers and marketers, we have to be thinking about quality video ads because that’s where Facebook’s next monetization horizon is (monetizing this digital streaming video with mid-roll ads). They swear they’re not going to do pre-roll, so let’s hope they stick to that.


Think quality Facebook video ads — for @MariSmith, that’s next on FB’s monetization horizon.
Click To Tweet


It’s all about being in that frame of mind — somebody’s watching a show they’re really engaged in and all of a sudden, just like television, it interrupts and your ad comes in.  So when it comes to video, it’s about how can you make it quirky, or fun, or entertaining, or emotional — I don’t think those things will ever go away as long as we’re human.

At the F8 conference, within the first 30 seconds Zuckerberg was talking about camera, and camera platform and developing for the camera. I saw some really cool augmented ads by Nike, and they were incredible.

Facebook is also really pushing live and they’re also deploying a lot of resources to combat fake news. They also announced two weeks ago that they’re they’re going to hire 3,000 more employees to make a team of 7,500 employees dedicated to watching for fake news plus anything untoward happening on Facebook live.

Really the key is for businesses and marketers is really education. I can’t stress that strongly enough. That’s why I just I love that you guys are doing this conference — you can’t get enough quality education.

PSST: Catch more from Facebook Queen Mari Smith at the Call to Action Conference this June. Blog readers get 15% off tickets until May 25th — just use promo code “blogsentme” at checkout.

Originally posted here – 

Facebook Ad Expert Mari Smith Reveals Missed Opportunities (And What’s on the Horizon)

What Facebook Advertisers Are Doing Wrong: Q&A with Mari Smith

Facebook has over 1.28 billion daily active users.

To have more than a billion prospects in one place, literally at your fingertips, is a marketer’s dream (thanks, Mark Zuckerberg!). But turning those prospects into customers… well that’s another story.

As marketers, we know that a stellar Facebook campaign is made up of a lot more than clever copy, snazzy design and a hefty PPC budget. In a constantly changing environment of new features, products and ad units, it can be tricky to stay ahead of the pack — let alone stand out.

Facebook’s granular targeting makes it more possible than ever to reach the right person, in the right place, at the right time. But only marketers who are committed to making connections with real people and then maintaining those relationships will come out on top.

If there’s one person that knows this best, it’s Mari Smith.

Named Forbes’ #4 “Top Social Media Power Influencer,” Mari is one of the world’s leading social media thought leaders and educators in the world of marketing. Her knowledge of Facebook runs so deep that she was personally hired by the folks at Facebook to teach SMBs throughout the US at the Boost Your Business series of events.

Mari’s speaking at our Call to Action Conference this June, and here’s a quick word from the Facebook Queen herself.

PSST: Blog readers get 15% off tickets to Call to Action Conference until May 25th — just use promo code “blogsentme” at checkout

Despite her packed schedule, Mari recently took the time to sit down with Unbounce Marketing Educator Christie Pike to reveal some of her best kept Facebook advertising secrets. In this interview you’ll get Mari’s actionable tips and insights into:

  • Some of the biggest missed opportunities for marketers advertising on Facebook.
  • Companies that are crushing it in the social advertising space and what you can learn from them.
  • The next big thing on the horizon that Facebook marketers should be preparing for and investing in.
Christie Pike: You’ve been active on Facebook long enough to see its evolution from social media network to a performance tool not unlike AdWords. How has this changed the way that marketers run Facebook campaigns?

Mari Smith: The main thing to consider is the enormous amount of data that Facebook gathers, not only on the platform itself but in partnership with data companies. So every time you use your credit card, every time you make a purchase, surveys that you complete, any information that’s out there is moved into a kind of personal dossier that then gets matched with your Facebook ID. Because of all of this, people get scared and freaked out, Big Brother and all that, but it’s all anonymized and encrypted, so from a user standpoint I always say, “caveat emptor”, just recognize that in today’s day and age of privacy, everything is out there.

From a marketer’s or advertiser’s standpoint, it’s an unprecedented time that we’re in.  It’s a paradigm shift in terms of being able to reach the exact person that you want with Facebook’s granular targeting. Down to zip code, down to propensity to possibly make a certain purchase, from going on a cruise in the next six months, buying a BMW in the next three months, income, the number of kids you have, what you do for a career — all of this is just extraordinary.

So, we really do have to think of Facebook as a platform in which to get our message, our products and our services in front of our target market, but done so in a very relationship-oriented way. I think the businesses that are really standing out are the ones that can make us laugh or cry or go “awwww” and tear at the heartstrings — you know, create something that has viral shareability as opposed to how some business send a message that says “Hey, sign up for our stuff,” “Buy our stuff.”  It’s a cold market, you know.

CP: What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen on the ad platform itself?

MS: I would say that a big change is in terms of ad units, which initially were just a link and some basic visuals, but over the years they have a much, much, much more visual emphasis. I especially love the carousel ads you can swipe. I think Amazon is one of the best at doing retargeted multi-product ads. I remember seeing one of its ads that had about 32 cards on the carousel that you could swipe and I asked myself, “How did they know I like all this stuff!?”

And then what they call slideshow, which is really just images made into a video, but definitely the prevalence of video is key. One of Mark Zuckerberg’s favorite words is “immersive,” and so the introduction of more immersive type of content like canvas ads has huge importance in the current ad space.

I worked directly with a video creation company, and they shared a great case study from Brussels Airlines that pull up a canvas ad advertising flights to Mumbai in India. They got something like 27 times more time on site after doing this beautiful canvas ad, whereas their previous Facebook campaigns led to an average of three seconds on site. The reason behind this was because back in the day, ads were just a link with a tiny wee thumbnail, and then they got bigger and turned into GIFs, slideshows, animations, interactive content and full-screen content.

So, between (1)  the ad products (2) the placement and (3) the targeting, I would say those are the three key areas where there are the biggest changes. Placement being whether it’s Instagram, mobile news only or if it’s right rail (which still has its place), but users are in mobile more than anything else.

CP: Who is doing Facebook advertising particularly well? What do you like about their ad campaigns? Can you provide some examples?

MS: My favorite video ad that I include in almost every single one of my presentations is by a fun company called Chatbooks. It’s a simple app (a subscription service) that takes your Instagram and Facebook photos and prints them in a book format, it’s really clever.

They worked with a really good PR/creative agency and hired a professional actress/comedian. From there, they created this three minute and forty-second ad. The ad was first put out on their Facebook page, which had just over 100,000 fans (now over 200, 000). And when I last checked, that video ad had 69 million views and almost 500,000 shares.

This is what I love to teach — when you can craft your content to be visually appealing (ideally video). When people are engaged with it they’ll share it with others.


When you craft your content to be visually appealing, people are engaged + will share with others.
Click To Tweet


I’ve never found a better example than Chatbooks. In fact, I originally saw it in my News Feed as a shared organic post by a friend of mine, and after I watched the full three minutes and forty seconds, I was ready to sign up and buy the subscription!

Another great example is from our friend Rand Fishkin from Moz,  who I know is speaking at CTA Conference this year.

Rand is doing these really great video ads called Whiteboard Fridays. I see the most recent one from April has over 4,600 views and 15 shares.

Whiteboard Fridays. Image source: Moz.

It’s so good because it’s educational and it’s the kind of video ad that you can stop and watch or at least save and watch later. It’s really cool what he’s doing because he’s not saying, “Hey everybody, sign up for Moz, see what we can do for you!” Instead, he’s like, “Hey here’s some education on SEO,” and it’s the kind of stuff that people will stop and save and consume.

One last shout out to my good friend Ezra Firestone and his company called Smart Marketer. He does really amazing stuff with video ads and lead gen.

CP: Unbounce cofounder Oli Gardner estimates that 98% of AdWords campaign traffic is not being sent to a dedicated landing page. If you had to guess, what percentage of Facebook marketers do you think are sending their traffic to mobile optimized landing pages? Do you see this as a missed opportunity?

MS: I would have said it’s probably a lot lower. My guess is that 65% is going to a dedicated landing page on Facebook — I get the sense that Facebook advertisers, for the most part, are a little more savvy. They realize you can’t spend all this money and have a captive audience and then just send them away to figure it out for themselves.

But to Oli’s point, I do see a missed an opportunity — especially when marketers are not really thoroughly checking and having a small test group. It’s important to invest a small amount — about $60 – $100 dollars — towards some A/B testing to see which ad gets better conversions. Doing the pixel and tracking the standard events, all of these components are key.

The second part is mobile optimized websites/landing pages. If someone’s clicking through and it’s too wide for the phone,  or the pop-up appears and you can’t find the ‘X’ on it it takes less than a second and they’re outta there.

CP: Are you seeing good examples of Facebook campaign landing pages? 

MS: I think my good friends over at AdEspresso – they were recently acquired by Hootsuite, a fellow Vancouver company —  they’re doing some really good stuff. I love their blog. In fact, they quote you there.

I’d have to think really hard to narrow down a specific landing page example, but in terms of components, or landing page elements, less is always more, something simple that’s really congruent with the ad itself.


Drive FB ad traffic to a landing page that’s simple & consistent with your ad. Less = more.
Click To Tweet


The job of an ad and the job of an email is to get people to a landing page, and the job of a landing page is to convert, whether I’m asking for your email or I’m asking for you to make a purchase. And the beautiful thing about Facebook pixels is if someone doesn’t decide right then and there, you’re able to do some retargeting campaigns to refine further.

CP: Are there certain verticals that are more successful with Facebook advertising than others?

MS: I was just speaking at Marketo’s conference last week and they are, as you know, almost exclusively B2B, and so my talk was very geared towards the B2B audience.

I think Facebook has a reputation for being known to perform better for B2C, but I always like to say that businesses are running as “people to people.”

In terms of verticals, it’s probably easier to say what verticals are more difficult to reach, which are the highly regulated ones like insurance or finance —  but otherwise with every conceivable small business and niche or industry there’s a market that can can take advantage of generating leads on Facebook.

CP: When we talk Facebook ads, what are some missed opportunities?

MS: This comes back to the subject that’s close to my heart, which is really that relationship component: customer care, really engaging well when people are actually commenting and engaging on your ad.

I think what happens — especially with marketers that do the dark ads — is these ads can be very effective and you can be really selective in who you’re reaching without populating your wall, but then what often happens is out of sight, out of mind.  I’ve seen many major household brands where people are posting negative comments on the ad. There’s spam, people are asking questions about their products, and nobody is responding or acknowledging. I see that as a massive missed opportunity.

I think that’s one of the best investments that companies can make is having trained, qualified, passionate social customer care moderators. I always like to say that technology is moving at warp speed and it’s hard to keep up — but human beings, we’re not changing that much, and we want to know that we’re important, that we matter.

CP: What’s on the horizon?

MS: Right around the corner is Facebook television and that’s launching next month. Mark Zuckerberg is absolutely adamant that they’re not a media company, but just watch — just watch that space, they’re absolutely moving into that.

In the United States, the TV advertising industry is worth about $70 billion — it’s over $200 billion globally. And so Facebook now has licensed/paid for original content to be aired on video. And remember, they also have that app that they brought out not long ago that you can stream through your Apple TV or Amazon Fire.

So what’s coming next month are full one-hour shows that are highly professionally produced and then also small episodes — three to 30 minutes that will refresh every 24 hours, from what I’ve read.

For advertisers and marketers, we have to be thinking about quality video ads because that’s where Facebook’s next monetization horizon is (monetizing this digital streaming video with mid-roll ads). They swear they’re not going to do pre-roll, so let’s hope they stick to that.


Think quality Facebook video ads — for @MariSmith, that’s next on FB’s monetization horizon.
Click To Tweet


It’s all about being in that frame of mind — somebody’s watching a show they’re really engaged in and all of a sudden, just like television, it interrupts and your ad comes in.  So when it comes to video, it’s about how can you make it quirky, or fun, or entertaining, or emotional — I don’t think those things will ever go away as long as we’re human.

At the F8 conference, within the first 30 seconds Zuckerberg was talking about camera, and camera platform and developing for the camera. I saw some really cool augmented ads by Nike, and they were incredible.

Facebook is also really pushing live and they’re also deploying a lot of resources to combat fake news. They also announced two weeks ago that they’re they’re going to hire 3,000 more employees to make a team of 7,500 employees dedicated to watching for fake news plus anything untoward happening on Facebook live.

Really the key is for businesses and marketers is really education. I can’t stress that strongly enough. That’s why I just I love that you guys are doing this conference — you can’t get enough quality education.

PSST: Catch more from Facebook Queen Mari Smith at the Call to Action Conference this June. Blog readers get 15% off tickets until May 25th — just use promo code “blogsentme” at checkout.

See more here – 

What Facebook Advertisers Are Doing Wrong: Q&A with Mari Smith

Top 7 Ways to Build Brand Loyalty

Brand Consistent

Modern customers scour websites and research products they’re thinking of buying before making their actual purchase. When customers are 60% to 80% of the way down the funnel before they talk to anyone at your business, you can’t rely on traditional methods to generate loyalty. At the same time, fewer and fewer clients remain loyal to one specific brand. Loyal customers are profitable customers: repeat customers are cheaper to market to, spend more, and make more frequent purchases. Yet, only 27% of initial sales go on to become repeat customers. Companies need to invest in building loyalty among their customers….

The post Top 7 Ways to Build Brand Loyalty appeared first on The Daily Egg.

See original article here – 

Top 7 Ways to Build Brand Loyalty

How to A/B test for long-term success (don’t underestimate insights!)

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Imagine you’re a factory manager.

You’re under pressure from your new boss to produce big results this quarter. (Results were underwhelming last quarter). You have a good team with high-end equipment, and can meet her demands if you ramp up your production speed over the coming months.

Production

You’re eager to impress her and you know if you reduce the time you spend on machine maintenance you can make up for the lacklustre results from last quarter.

Flash forward: The end of the Q3 rolls around, and you’ve met your output goals! You were able to meet your production levels by continuing to run the equipment during scheduled down-time periods. You’ve achieved numbers that impress your boss…

…but in order to maintain this level of output you will have to continue to sacrifice maintenance.

In Q4, disaster strikes! One of your 3 machines breaks down leaving you with zero output, and no way to move the needle forward for your department. Your boss gets on your back for your lack of foresight, and eventually your job is given to the young hot-shot on your team and you are left searching for a new gig.

A sad turn of events, right? Many people would label this a familiar tale of poor management (and correctly so!). Yet, when it comes to conversion optimization, there are many companies making the same mistake.

Optimizers are so often under pressure to satisfy the speed side of the equation that they are sacrificing its equally important counterpart…

Insights.

Consider the following graphic.

Growth-insights-spectrum
The spectrum ranges from straight forward growth-driving A/B tests, to multivariate insight-driving tests.

If you’ve got Amazon-level traffic and proper Design of Experiments (DOE), you may not have to choose between growth and insights. But in smaller organizations this can be a zero-sum equation. If you want fast wins, you sacrifice insights, and if you want insights, you may have to sacrifice a win or two.

Sustainable, optimal progress for any organization will fall somewhere in the middle. Companies often put so much emphasis on reaching certain testing velocities that they shoot themselves in the foot for long-term success.

Maximum velocity does not equal maximum impact

Sacrificing insights in the short-term may lead to higher testing output this quarter, but it will leave you at a roadblock later. (Sound familiar?) One 10% win without insights may turn heads your direction now, but a test that delivers insights can turn into five 10% wins down the line. It’s similar to the compounding effect: collecting insights now can mean massive payouts over time.

As with factory production, the key to sustainable output is to find a balance between short-term (maximum testing speed) and long-term (data collection/insights).

Growth vs. Insights

Christopher Columbus had an exploration mindset.

He set sail looking to find a better trade-route to India. He had no expectation of what that was going to look like, but he was open to anything he discovered and his sense of adventure rewarded him with what is likely the largest geographical discovery in History.

insight-driving-mindset
Have a Christopher Columbus mindset: test in pursuit of unforeseeable insights.

Exploration often leads to the biggest discoveries. Yet this is not what most companies are doing when it comes to conversion optimization. Why not?

Organizations tend to view testing solely as a growth-driving process— a way of settling long-term discussions between two firmly held opinions. No doubt growth is an important part of testing, but you can’t overlook exploration.

This is the testing that will propel your business forward and lead to the kind of conversion rate lift you keep reading about in case studies. Those companies aren’t achieving that level of lift on their first try; it’s typically the result of a series of insight-driving experiments that help the tester land on the big insight.

At WiderFunnel we classify A/B tests into two buckets: growth-driving and insight-driving…and we consider them equally important!

Growth-driving experiments (Case study here)

During our partnership with Annie Selke, a retailer of home-ware goods, we ran a test featuring a round of insight-driving variations. We were testing different sections on the product category page for sensitivity: Were users sensitive to changes to the left-hand filter? How might users respond to new ‘Sort By’ functionality?

Insight-driving-test
Round I of testing for Annie Selke: Note the left-hand filter and ‘Sort By’ functionality.

Neither of our variations led to a conversion rate lift. In fact, both lost to the Control page. But the results of this first round of testing revealed key, actionable insights ― namely that the changes we had made to the left-hand filter might actually be worth significant lift, had they not been negatively impacted by other changes.

We took these insights and, combined with supplementary heatmap data, we designed a follow-up experiment. We knew exactly what to test and we knew what the projected lift would be. And we were right. In the end, we turned insights into results, getting a 23.6% lift in conversion rate for Annie Selke.

In Round II of testing, we reverted to the original 'Sort By' functionality.
In Round II of testing, we reverted to the original ‘Sort By’ functionality.

For more on the testing we did with Annie Selke, you should read this post >> “A-ha! Isolations turn a losing experiment into a winner

This follow-up test is what we call a growth-driving experiment. We were armed with compelling evidence and we had a strong hypothesis which proved to be true.

But as any optimizer knows, it can be tough to gather compelling evidence to inform every hypothesis. And this is where a tester must be brave and turn their attention to exploration. Be like Christopher.

Insight-driving experiments

The initial round of testing we did for Annie Selke, where we were looking for sensitivities, is a perfect example of an insight-driving experiment. In insight-driving experiments, the primary purpose of your test is to answer a question, and lifting conversion rates is a secondary goal.

This doesn’t mean that the two cannot go hand-in-hand. They can. But when you’re conducting insight-driving experiments, you should be asking “Did we learn what we wanted to?” before asking “What was the lift?”. This is your factory down-time, the time during which you restock the cupboard with ideas, and put those ideas into your testing piggy-bank.

We’ve seen entire organizations get totally caught up on the question “How is this test going to move the needle?”

But here’s the kicker: Often the right answer is “It’s not.”

At least not right away. This type of testing has a different purpose. With insight-driving experiments, you’re setting out on a quest for your unicorn insight.

unicorn insight
What’s your unicorn insight?

These are the ideas that aren’t applicable to any other business. You can’t borrow them from industry-leading websites, and they’re not ideas a competitor can steal.

Your unicorn insight is unique to your business. It could be finding that magic word that helps users convert all over your site, or discovering that key value proposition that keeps customers coming back. Every business has a unicorn insight, but you are not going to find it by testing in your regular wheelhouse. It’s important to think differently, and approach problem solving in new ways.

We sometimes run a test for our clients where we take the homepage and isolate, removing every section of that page individually. Are we expecting this test to deliver a big lift? Nope, but we are expecting this test to teach us something.

We know that this is the fastest possible way to answer the question “What do users care about most on this page?” After this type of experiment, we suddenly have a lot of answers to our questions.

That’s right: no lift, but we have insights and clear next steps. We can then rank the importance of every element on the page and start to leverage the things that seem to be important to users on the homepage on other areas of a site. Does this sound like a losing test to you?

Rather than guessing at what we think users are going to respond to best, we run an insight-driving test and let the users give us the insights that can then be applied all over a site.

The key is to manage your expectations during a test like this. This variation won’t be your homepage for eternity. Rather, it should be considered a temporary experiment to generate learning for your business. By definition it is an experiment.

Optimization is an infinite process, and what your page looks like today is not what it will look like in a few months.

Proper Design of Experiments (DOE)

It’s important to note that these experimental categories do have grey lines. With proper DOE and high enough traffic levels, both growth-driving and insight-driving strategies can be executed simultaneously. This is what we call “Factorial Design”.

Factorial design
Factorial design allows you to test with both growth and insights in mind.

Factorial design allows you to test more than one element change within the same experiment, without forcing you to test every possible combination of changes.

Rather than creating a variation for every combination of changed elements (as you would with multivariate testing), you can design a test to focus on specific isolations that you hypothesize will have the biggest impact or drive insights.

How to get started with Factorial Design

Start by making a cluster of changes in one variation (producing variations that are significantly different from the control), and then isolate these changes within subsequent variations (to identify the elements that are having the greatest impact). This hybrid test, using both “variable cluster” with “isolation” variations gives you the best of both worlds: radical change options and the ability to gain insights from the results.

For more on proper Design of Experiments, you should read this post >> “Design your A/B tests to get consistently better results

We see Optimization Managers make the same mistakes over and over again, discounting the future for results today. If you overlook testing “down-time” (those insight-driving experiments), you’ll prevent your testing program from reaching its full potential.

You wouldn’t run a factory without down-time, you don’t collect a paycheck without saving for the future, so why would you run a testing program without investing in insight exploration?

Rather, find the balance between speed and insights with proper factorial design that promises growth now as well as in the future.

How do you ensure your optimization program is testing for both growth and insights? Let us know in the comments!

The post How to A/B test for long-term success (don’t underestimate insights!) appeared first on WiderFunnel Conversion Optimization.

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How to A/B test for long-term success (don’t underestimate insights!)