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How to Increase Conversions on Underperforming Bookings in Online Travel

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Online travel sites will always have some underperforming bookings – here are a few simple ways to remedy the problem and increase your conversions.

The travel industry continues to evolve at warp speed.

Scrambling to keep up with the always on consumers whose behaviours change as quickly as the year’s hottest destination.

If you’re reading this, you’re already one step ahead – aware that optimising your site is key in the struggle to keep up in the race to stay relevant for the future of travel.

But amongst all the rapid developments, online travel operators still face problems that have been around since commercial travel began. Namely, how can you increase sales on low performing routes or products?

From flights to cruises and hotels to trains, you are always going to have less popular bookings – but how can you turn these low performing routes and bookings around?

Unless you’ve got the pricing entirely wrong, or the inventory simply isn’t worthwhile, there’s no quick fix.

But before you go and cut the route or slash your margins with wholesale discounts, there are a few methods for you to trial and test.

By the end of this blog we’ll do our best to arm you with these techniques – helping you to boost flagging conversions on those low performing bookings.

First up we’ll look at ways to increase the visibility of your bookings, before looking at a few ways to help increase conversions.

Increase your booking’s visibility (to the right people!)

Excuse the exclamation mark, but this clear fix is often overlooked.

Often we see particular routes, packages and bookings underperforming because they’re simply not visible enough.

Even if you’re using the tactics we’ll go into later – if no one sees your clever marketing that’s designed to boost your booking you have no chance of improving it’s performance.

So, first we’ll look at the smart ways we’ve found effective to increase the visibility of your underperforming bookings.

Make space on your homepage

This one is obvious enough. Display the booking or route where your visitors are most likely to see it – for example, your homepage.

Ryanair

Ryanair signpost their deals nicely – this banner is an example of simply putting the product straight in front of the customer.

Ryanair’s deal will change depending on the location or preference of the browser, but the principle is clear – immediately place the product you want to push in the forefront of your visitor’s mind.

Display in trending/recommended sections

A trending or recommended section, as featured on Mr and Mrs Smith’s homepage, is another place to position your bookings that are receiving little traffic.

Mr and Mrs Smith

These groupings of bookings are guaranteed more exposure due to their positioning and, just by placing a hotel or destination into a select group you increase its desirability.

You can also get more eyes on your low performing booking by recommending it on the products page when people search other similar products.

Mr and Mrs Smith 2

As your visitor exits

Despite your best efforts, sometimes your visitor will still miss your booking while browsing your site. Alternatively, they may have already seen the product and forgotten it.

At times like this, a message on exit can be a great way to target your visitor – giving you another chance to convert and increasing awareness of the route.

You don’t want to go giving every customer an exit-intent overlay. However, by targeting the right visitors with personalised, timely offers you’ll see an uplift in both awareness and conversions.

Perhaps you have a specific country with below average interest for the season – for arguments sake let’s say your hotels in Menorca are receiving a low level of visits.

Meanwhile you’ve got a higher number of visitors browsing similar mediterranean destinations – Ibiza, Majorca or maybe the Greek Islands.

You could target visitors exhibiting this behaviour and if they go to leave after an unsuccessful search, use an overlay asking whether they’ve considered Menorca.

The overlay could push an incentive (with urgency messaging):

“Can’t find a good deal in the Mediterranean? We’ve got 10% off Menorca hotel bookings for 24 hours only”

Some social proof:

“We have 90 hotels in Menorca within your budget with over 9/10 customer ratings”

Or just some relevant content:

“We noticed you’re keen to visit the med. Have you considered Menorca? Check out our guide to the Menorca’s 216 km of coastline here.”

This messaging and the delivery of the deal could, of course, be tweaked and targeted to specific bookings or to trigger for varying reasons. But the principle remains the same – get the product in front of more (of the right) visitors.

Notifications as they browse

You can also inspire conversion as your user browses your products. The simplest way to do this is using Notifications.

If you’re an hotelier, for example, a visitor who has checked out a couple hotels in a city could be informed of one of your less browsed but similar hotels in a subtle Notification…“ you may also be interested in.”

Or you can use the highlights to incite urgency and give social proof, both of which will help convince your visitor they’re onto a good deal.
Social proof

Email

Email is a key channel to raise awareness of any product and the same rings true for underperforming routes.

It also offers you a double threat: you can use both traditional email marketing plus email remarketing to give your conversions a boost.

The below Ryanair email is an example of how you can push specific bookings via an email blast. This email uses an incentive, with the 20% discount, as well as inspiring urgency by making the offer for a limited period.

Ryanair

The copy also then nicely sells the little-known destination by comparing it to one the recipient is likely to have heard of ‘Visit the Vienna of Romania’. The email is rounded off with some targeted content on why you’d want to visit the particular booking: ‘5 Reasons to Visit Timisoara.’

This effective trio of incentives, urgency and relevant content is the travel equivalent of fat, protein and carbs found in the most enticing meals. Use it at your will to induce action on your low performing routes.

Email remarketing

As well as using traditional email marketing, if you’re receiving a high level of abandonment from certain bookings, email remarketing is an effective way to re-engage customers.

You can tie your email remarketing in with an exit-intent overlay – getting your visitor’s details as they abandon and then using your email to follow up with either a single email or a drip campaign based on their onsite behaviour.

You can even bring this interaction full circle by welcoming them back from the email CTA to your site with a tailored overlay taking them to the appropriate booking.

Alternatively, if the visitor has already started the booking and abandoned, they may just need a nudge or the opportunity to complete at a later date. By sending them the details of their booking so far it makes the likelihood they’ll come back and convert later far higher.

Inghams

By using a mixture of reminders, incentives, urgency, social proof and relevant content you may just be able to incite that purchase in a follow up email.

Increasing visibility – segment and personalise for success

The key to all these methods of raising visibility is being able to segment your data so you can personalise your messaging and target the right users.

Although you want to get your low performing bookings in front of visitors – the messaging and content still needs to be relevant so as not to be detrimental to your customer experience.

Now that we’ve seen a few ways to get onsite visitors to see your low performing bookings, let’s look at some more specific ways to increase their conversion.

Facilitate cross-device conversions

We have a whole blog on the importance of embracing cross-device and mobile in travel, which is well worth a read for a more detailed rundown on the subject.

But we couldn’t mention mobile and facilitating cross-device if only to frame the rest of the approaches in the blog – especially when travel is well on it’s way to becoming mobile first.

Euromonitor research states that by 2017 over 30% of online travel bookings by value will be made on mobile devices.

As a result, for your low performing bookings (and all bookings really) making sure your mobile offering is up to speed is vital if you don’t want to miss out on a swathe of opportunities.

Facilitating a link between mobile and other devices is a key part of this. Of course, the ideal is to convert mobile visitors then and there. But we all know visitors will research travel purchases first and mobile is quickly becoming the prefered way of doing this.

By linking mobile with other devices, you have more opportunities to convert your user.

For example, you can collect your user’s email address on mobile enabling you to email them later with content or offers based on their behaviour.

This kind of link creates a coherent journey for your customer and increases your chances of boosting conversions on all your routes.

Use your ancillaries as incentives

Ancillaries, or extras as the rest of the world calls them, are an important part of the travel mix.

Everybody uses them and whether it’s a free glass of champagne or a discount on car hire – these supplements can make or break a conversion.

Secret Escapes use them regularly in their hotel listings (and the body copy when you click through). They position ancillaries as additional inclusive options – such as flights for the Madeira holiday below – increasing the perceived value of the booking.

Secret escapes

Again, the below Secret Escapes listing uses inclusive extras as a large part of the sell. Realistically breakfast and spa access won’t be eating into margins but they’re appealing add-ons to the customer.

secret escapes

Extras could come in a variety of forms, from express boarding to cheap upgrades on certain routes or onboard credit – just remember to make sure once you’ve committed to these deals, to make them visible, as P&O have done below.

P&O cruises

Adding inclusive supplements is a great way to boost your conversions on poorly performing bookings without having to discount too much or damage margins.

Inspire urgency to increase conversion

We’ve already mentioned urgency a couple of times, but it’s worth looking at in a little more detail as a way to boost poorly performing bookings.

Travel and urgency messaging go hand in hand. The idea of missing out – or paying more – for a train, flight or hotel because we’ve put it off for a couple of days is a powerful motivator.

All the large Online Travel Agencies use urgency messaging, but Booking.com was amongst the first and they have it down to a fine art.

Comparison site

They play on the fear of missing out by highlighting the speed the remaining stock is selling out and give an extra push by showing you how many other people are also looking at that product.

By pairing the current interest and quickly depleting remaining stock you can create a highly motivating scarcity element – even on bookings that are perceived to be less desirable.

The above example also emphasises the value of ‘today’s deal’, playing on your worries that this could change if you leave it for another day. As we saw earlier in the Ryanair email example, this can also be replicated in your emails with limited time period deals/flash sales.

If you’re lacking the resources to do produce real-time urgency messaging, there are more simplistic ways to inspire urgency. For example, if you know your best value prices are 6 weeks out from booking and your visitor is browsing during this period – tell them that. They’re unlikely to want to miss out.

You could use any of the methods we outlined earlier – from overlays to emails – to make this messaging visible.

Social proof

In the urgency section above we already saw elements of social proof on the Booking.com example: ‘just booked’ and ‘9 people are interested in this hotel now.’

This concept works in the same way as if there’s a queue for a restaurant we assume it’s probably better than the place that’s empty next door – if other people are interested we take it as proof it must be good.

As well as using this principle to show the activity around your booking, you can also use social proof in another way – reviews.

The success of sites like TripAdvisor show we’re suckers for a review, particularly in the travel sector.

If your underperforming booking actually has positive reviews then you can transform its fortunes by getting these reviews out there.

You can use customer’s feedback to market poorly performing bookings as hidden gems:
– Taking standout quotes from actual reviews, as done below by Travel Republic.

Travel Republic

– Using review scores, eg. ‘90% of visitors rated this booking as excellent’ to back up your recommendations. 

Price reassurance messaging and flexibility

With your underperforming bookings, you want to give your customers every reason to convert – for example throwing in a few ancillaries to smooth the deal.

In a similar vein, by reassuring your visitors and offering them flexibility you can reduce the likelihood they’ll abandon their booking.

Using best price guarantees or hold the price deposits is a simple way to soothe your customers’ worries that the price could go down if they wait, or that they could get a better deal elsewhere. Here’s how British Airways give their customers a bit of breathing space to encourage conversion.

British Airways

If you’ve managed to convince your visitor your product is a good deal, this kind of option can be the extra nudge they need to convert.

Similarly, the flexibility and convenience offered by deposit based schemes or long booking cancellation policies give your visitors an added layer of confidence when considering whether to purchase.

For bookings that are undersubscribed anyway, they’re well worth testing to see if they improve conversion.

Conclusion

Increasing your conversions on underperforming bookings all starts with visibility – from there on in you need to optimise individual bookings to persuade your visitors that they can’t resist clicking the book now button.

Each of the methods we’ve outlined has seen success on our clients’ travel sites. However, by no means will a one size fits all approach work. You need to tailor these methods to your site, continually testing until you unlock the campaigns that boost your underperforming bookings.

Why Travel Sites Must Embrace Mobile and Cross-Device to Satisfy Customers

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As travel site users’ behavior continues to evolve, we take a look at why travel – more so than any other industry – has to embrace mobile and cross-device optimization.

Who doesn’t love a good holiday?

The chance to kick back on the beach, sipping cocktails and getting a great tan. Or perhaps you prefer a winter holiday. A few hours every day spent on the piste, taking in the breathtaking views and clean mountain air.

Then there’s your adventure holidays. Jet skiing, mountain climbing, skydiving or any other number of physical pursuits.

That’s the amazing thing about holidays. They’re so personal.

Two people could go to the same resort and have vastly different experiences. No two holidays are alike.
But often, that level of personalisation isn’t apparent on many online travel stores.

The days of sitting down with your local travel agent and planning out your perfect escape are long gone. The travel industry has to face the facts that, like everyone else, more of your consumers are moving online.

It’s a shift which is causing numerous problems – primarily stemming from modern shoppers’ online shopping habits and the popularity of using multiple devices to complete a single purchase.

A potential customer might begin researching holiday destinations on their phone whilst on the bus. They’ll then look at hotels on their work desktop, only to continue by researching activities or sightseeing tours on their tablet that evening in bed.

According to eMarketer over 47% of digital travel research will at some point involve a mobile device. This number is set to increase to over 54% for next year and will continue to see steady growth over time.

emarketer travel statistics

This habit of jumping between devices makes it incredibly difficult for retailers to track individual users and offer the personalised service so closely associated with the travel industry.

However, this disjointed customer journey can be negated by taking a few smart steps towards implementing a cross-device strategy.

Focus on improving your mobile experience

In recent years there’s been a huge increase in mobile use resulting in mobile overtaking desktop as the primary device for online browsing.

mobile users statistics

As you’d expect, this has also caused an increase in the number of users who are shopping on mobile devices. While mobile conversions aren’t yet up to the level of their desktop counterparts, they are steadily increasing.

Statistics point to mobile soon catching up to and perhaps even overtaking desktop for conversions. For the travel industry specifically eConsultancy predicts that over 30% of travel bookings will be made on a mobile device by 2017.

The mobile market is not to be ignored. Your mobile campaign deserves as much attention as your desktop campaign. However, it’s also a completely different beast that requires a unique approach.

The basic rule for improving the mobile experience and conversions is to simplify every aspect of the customer journey. For instance:

  •  Simplify complicated form fields that could seem intimidatingly long on a small screen
  • Simplify the purchase journey
  • Understand the design differences between phone and tablet
  • Use large, easy to read text and images

Whilst simplification should form the basis of your mobile site and funnel design you should also consider the differing habits of mobile users. As mentioned above, conversions on mobile devices are on the rise. But there’s still a lot of studies that demonstrate the popularity of cross-device campaigns.

cross-device e-commerce infographic

Instead of relentlessly pursuing the purchase on mobile devices consider facilitating the cross-device experience. For example, include messaging that encourages hesitant visitors to save their bookings for later – enabling them to return and convert on another device.

We’re not advocating shunning mobile conversions, far from it, but you should have something in place that helps facilitate your customers’ growing cross-device habit.

Establish customer experiences that account for all cross-device journeys

Cross-device journeys are nearly always depicted in a linear fashion:
A user starts their journey on mobile before moving to desktop to complete the purchase.

However, this isn’t really how things work. Cross-device journeys can take myriad paths. Users will jump back and forth between devices. The above cited Criteo study shows us that users will use the device that’s most convenient for the action they want to take.

The linear path belief likely springs from the outdated information of mobile’s poor conversion rate. Because mobile historically converted at a lower rate, it wasn’t worth our attention. It was a starting point in the journey and unthinkable for anyone to convert on such small displays.

The smart marketer’s curse is to focus (often too heavily) on the metrics that directly impact our bottom lines. Conversions, revenue and sales.

Obviously conversions are great, and your bottom line is the most important metric to track. But in this hyperconnected age, businesses live or die on their reputations. A few bad customer experiences could lead to poor reviews that lose you future custom.

Customer experience is just as important as actual conversions and needs to be taken into consideration when optimising for cross-device customers.

You shouldn’t act on the now outdated advice ‘mobile doesn’t convert’ . Having a cross-device journey that pushes people toward desktop for conversion’s sake creates a bad customer experience. You’re forcing your customers to take an action they might not necessarily want to take.

Your cross-device campaign shouldn’t be linear. You should look at all options and paths and offer different services and experiences based on different start and end points of the journey. For instance:

  • Offer easy addition of boarding passes to mobile phones for those who complete their purchase on mobile devices (more than 50% of people have expressed a desire for mobile check in).
  • Follow up on ticket purchases with in app recommendations of activities or popular sightseeing destinations.
  • Create an automated after sale email campaign to instruct and educate users on their destination. Email campaigns are great because they can be viewed on any device.

None of the above have anything to do with increasing conversions. They are, however, paramount for improving customer experience, something that will help you gain more repeat business and higher levels of referrals in the future.

Planet of the apps

Apps are largely overlooked in mobile optimisation debates. Which is strange considering they convert at a higher rate than mobile sites.

Apps can yield amazing results for online businesses.

Not only do they convert at a higher rate, but they offer more options for increasing customer loyalty.
Think about it. A customer who lands on your desktop or mobile site through Google is likely a first time customer.

Those who download your app are going to be previous customers who have been impressed with the service you offer. They’re already interested and invested in your brand providing you with ample opportunity to offer an amazing service and build some customer loyalty.

This interests manifests in a higher user interest. App users typically spend three to four times longer browsing than their web surfing counterparts.

Session length stats from Adobe

The interest is also a golden opportunity for you to pursue some lucrative upselling opportunities whilst building trust and loyalty within your audience.

Below are just a few examples of the ways you can use an app to stay at the forefront of your audience’s mind and establish yourself as a helpful, knowledgeable source.

  1. Real-time communication. Through the use of push notifications you can keep users informed of the latest deals, developments and news. A method proven to re engage those who have downloaded your app.Percentage of apps not used
  2. Increase customer loyalty through app-specific incentives.
  3. Offer enhanced support. This could be through 24/7 in-app communication or something similar to Domino’s in app pizza tracker.
  4. Apps often require the user to sign up. This offers better data collection on individual users for a more personalized and improved customer experience.

A comprehensive mobile campaign simply isn’t complete without considering how apps fit into the equation. Apps are already proving to be a huge asset to online businesses and seem set to become one of the major influencers in user experience and conversion optimisation.

The travel industry needs to embrace the mobile revolution

Mobile optimisation is too often a case of simply tacking a responsive design on your desktop site and leaving it at that.

That approach once served as enough. But not any more.

Online shoppers now favour mobile devices across the board. It’s important for any brand to optimise the experience for any device and purchase journey progression. But it’s even more important for travel brands specifically.

Travel purchases are comparatively more fragmented. A user isn’t researching a single product, they’re looking at the logistics of travel, accommodation, insurance and every other facet associated with a holiday.

Purchases of individual products benefit from an optimised cross-device journey. Purchases in the travel industry require an optimised cross-device journey.

It’s no longer a case of keeping up with the current trends and more a necessity for future proofing your business.

The points in this article are a starting point, but there’s a lot of work and testing that needs to go into any cross-device campaign.

We’ve got loads more advice in our resources section to help you face up to the challenge of optimizing for an ever-evolving audience, including free guides on travel optimization, mobile optimization, and the cross-device journey.

11 Need-to-Know Magento Extensions for Your eCommerce Store

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Finding the best Magento extensions isn’t easy, to give you a helping hand we’ve selected 11 need-to-know extensions to optimize your Magento eCommerce store.

Magento is relied upon by over a quarter of a million eCommerce sites around the world to sell their wares.

The dependable platform’s allure is made all the more appealing by the sheer number of plugins and extensions available on Magento Connect to use on your eCommerce store.

By carefully selecting the right extensions, you can take your site to the next level – while also reducing your workload. Sounds good, right?

But, with so many extensions and potential integrations to pick from, it’s not easy to know which Magento plugins will have a positive impact on your website.

Of course, the mix of extensions you choose for your site will depend on your specific goals. However, despite your unique needs, there are plenty of common optimization opportunities for eCommerce sites that we see every day.

In light of this, we’ve put together this selection of highly regarded extensions in the hope that you’ll find at least one or two that will help improve your Magento store.

So – without further ado – here are our 11 need-to-know Magento extensions to optimize your eCommerce site.

1. Full Page Cache by Mirasvit

Full Page Cache

First up, a simple but crucial extension.

Load time is vitally important for both your site rank and your user experience.

For every second it takes for your page to load, you’re losing potential customers.

With your users abandoning site (and their purchases) at the suggestion of a slow loading page, a small investment in keeping your site up to speed is likely to pay dividends in no time.

Full Page Cache reduces load times and improves website speed and performance. Not only will this boost your website rank but you’ll see a healthy uptick in conversions too.

2. Product Matrix (WebShopApps)

Product Matrix logo

As an eCommerce store, if you can’t fulfill your shipping, you won’t be around for long.

One of the most common reasons for cart abandonment is a lack of clarity around costs – shipping being one of them.

If you don’t have your own ducks in a row with your shipping rates you’re probably not making it clear to your customers either.

This extension helps define shipping rates according to destinations, products, weight etc. So you can tailor them to your site and bring some clarity – both internally and externally – to your shipping.

3. AddThis

Addthis logo

As well as being a fantastic place to engage your shoppers, social media is a burgeoning market within itself – accounting for around 5% of online retail sales in 2015.

AddThis lets your users share content to 350 of the most popular social networks and content sharing (yes, there really are that many).

The service also has helpful features showing you how visitors are sharing content and what’s shared the most.

4. Advanced SEO Suite by Mirasvit

Advanced SEO suite icon

You’re probably more than aware of the benefits of showing up near the top of search engine rankings.

If your site isn’t showing up on the first page for relevant search terms sadly you’re verging on anonymous on search engines.

As a result, optimizing your SEO is a must to make it easy for potential customers to find you.

This extension gives you the opportunity to do this with its full SEO tool.

It makes implementing SEO essentials such as H1 headings, search engine friendly URLs, product tags, image tags, and metadata easy.

5. Simple google shopping

Simple Google Shopping icon

This extension enables you to export products from your eCommerce store to your Google Merchant account.

Selling your product on Google Shopping is a no-brainer to attract potential customers Googling goods from within your product range.

The search engine’s shopping platform will give you greater visibility to a wider audience and make it more likely your products will be found by browsers that haven’t visited your store before.

6. Yieldify

Yieldify logo

Despite visiting with the intention to buy, frustratingly, two-thirds of your visitors will abandon the site without purchasing.

Yieldify helps customers solve this eternal eCommerce problem with its onsite and email remarketing products.

Its tech predicts and reacts to your customers’ behavior – serving them personalized, timely content to increase conversions.

The Yieldify Magento extension offers the same global fully-managed Yieldify product and service, but with an even simpler way to integrate the tag.

The extension also lets users benefit from future technical improvements and new functionalities as they become available.

7. Sweet Tooth

You may have heard the one about it costing 5x times more to get a new customer than to keep an existing one.

Loyalty programs are one way to avoid this cost – encouraging repeat custom by cultivating brand advocates and boosting your sales and engagement in the process.

The Sweet Tooth Magento extension gives you a range of rewards programs options, giving you the opportunity to achieve these attractive goals.

Loyalty programs are also a smart way to encourage customers to create an account on your site – giving you more data and enhanced personalization opportunities.

8. Fishpig wordpress integration

Fishpig wordpress integration icon

The value of having a blog on your eCommerce store can’t be underestimated. It’s a place to tell your brand’s story, hone your voice, engage with your customers and boost your SEO.

By linking through to your product page your blog can also easily entice a visitor into making a purchase.

This extension gives you access to all these blog benefits by integrating your WordPress blog with your Magento store. The plugin also has a couple of nifty features such as keeping your Magento theme on your blog and associating blog posts with products.

9. Olark Live Chat

Olark live chat icon

Sometimes your customers just need to talk to a person in real-time. In these cases, live chat is a handy solution.

An ATG Global Consumer Trend study found that 90% of customers consider live chat helpful.

While eMarketer.com found that 63% of customers were more likely to return to a website that offers live chat.

Olark Chat is easy to integrate chat that lets you quickly talk to any customers who are having problems. Rather than waiting for a ticket, it means you can address any problems there and then – hopefully helping to reduce lost sales.

10. Yotpo Reviews

Yotpo icon

Social proof and reviews are a powerful way to convince your visitors to click ‘buy’.

Shoppers have come to expect reviews and 61% of customers claim to read online reviews before making a purchase decision.

The Yotpo extension encourages your customers to generate these reviews. And it’s probably worth it:

They hold far greater weight than your own copy with consumers nearly 12x more likely to trust peer testimonials and reviews over professionally written content.

11. Trusted Shops with Trustbadge

Trustbadge icon

Shoppers, whether consciously or not, are on the lookout for relevant trust seals.

If you don’t demonstrate that both your site and payment processes are secure, visitors will be reticent to part with their cash and are likely to abandon the site.

Seals like Trustbadge reassure visitors you’re who you claim to be. This badge offers the Trusted Shops guarantee on your site and serves as a money-back guarantee (with the option of reviews if desired).

Integrating this simple extension, or other trust seals like it, is amongst the easiest ways to boost your conversions and sales.

4 Common and Costly Conversion Rate Optimization Mistakes

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We’ve highlighted some lesser-known but highly damaging conversion rate optimization (CRO) mistakes which could be costing your eCommerce site customers and cash.

Optimizing for conversions is a tricky process.

It requires an analytical mind, a keen eye for on-page errors, and an in-depth knowledge of psychology behind persuasion.

It’s all too easy to make a mistake and lose out on potential income.

But it doesn’t have to be.

You can find a wealth of free information on the internet to help you increase your overall conversions. However, the advice always looks at the positive side to conversions – it outlines the basic actions you should take to see meaningful increases.

What’s often overlooked are the pitfalls that trip marketers up. The little known, but highly damaging, actions that can leave your business losing potential customers and hemorrhaging money.

Now, we don’t want to come across as negative Nancys, but we thought we’d highlight a few of the pitfalls we’ve discovered to help you avoid falling short of a successful campaign.

A Lack of Specificity

Marketers love to make bombastic claims.

  • “We’re the number 1 business at what we do”
  • “The best business in the area”
  • “The greatest product for achieving X, Y or Z”

Claims like these litter sites across the web. But do such claims really instill trust or convince anyone that your product is better than your competitors?

It’s doubtful.

Why? Well, it’s mainly down to two reasons.

First, who says you’re the best? What proof do you have to back up your claim? Is it just the usual hyperbole inherent within slimy sales pitches and empty marketing ploys or is it a sincere claim?

Second, it’s too general. No one believes in general claims. When a business makes loose claims it’s usually because they don’t know what they’re great at – and you know what they say about a jack of all trades…

Instead, your grand claims need to have an element of specificity to them.

Narrowing the focus of your hyperbole helps you better target your campaigns. You can target your message to an audience who’s looking specifically for that particular benefit.

Adding proof is also far more effective. ‘Join 5,000 happy users’, ‘X magazines’ favorite product of 2016’ or a specific award adds credibility to your claim.

Stop focusing on the general and get specific.

Outline exactly what you’re the best at and add the proof people need to see.

Focusing on the business

“We’re the best at what we do.”

That’s all well and good. But 99% of your prospects don’t give a damn about you or your business. They’re looking for a solution to a specific problem. A problem they’re facing at this very moment.

That problem is all-encompassing to your prospects, all they can think of is finding the solution.

Making huge claims about how great you are isn’t going to hook their attention.

You need to focus on the user. Find their problem and tailor your copy so that it focuses on the solution they’re looking for.

Check any successful business and you’ll notice that they lead with a value proposition that’s focused on the customer or their problem. Here’s a great example from Evernote.

Evernote website screenshot

They could make a vague claim to being the best organizational app around but they don’t. They focus on your problem and tailor their copy to tell you how they help you solve it.

Ignoring user behavior

Test, test, and test again.

The first rule of CRO!

It’s a great little motto and forms the backbone of a comprehensive CRO campaign.

Yet what most marketers overlook is what they should test. They take the motto and assume that it refers only to results.

They track the CTR, conversion rates and overall revenue. These results form the basis of the changes they’ll then make. But tracking only the results tells you the what, not the why.

You’ll find out that users aren’t clicking the button from stage one to stage two in your funnel or are abandoning their cart at the last second. But that’s not going to help with the why.

You need to know why they’re not clicking through or converting. Use heat maps to check user click habits, implement an exit-intent campaign to see if all they needed was an added incentive, check your analytics to see where they went if they didn’t click the button you wanted.

When you understand the what and the why you can implement tests with a greater effect on your campaign.

Lack of strategy

If I change this button, I should see an increase in conversions.

OK, but why?

Your strategy is like your roadmap. Without it, you’re going to get lost. You need to know your destination and the route you’re going to take to get there.

In this study by eConsultancy, they discovered a lack of strategy as one of the major concerns for online marketers. In fact, it was the most mentioned word by respondents in the open-ended question of the survey.

econsultancy study on CRO

Reading an article online and deciding to implement a few changes is not a comprehensive strategy. You need to understand how those changes will impact your wider campaign, how they’re going to help or hinder your progress to your destination, and what they mean for your business overall.

The problem many marketers encounter is that each CRO campaign needs a wholly unique approach. Every business will require a different methodology and figure yours out is tough.

Your campaigns are no different. They need to be tailored to specific audience segments and optimized based on how that segment reacts.

While it’s a complicated process, the majority of CRO campaigns follow the below basic six-step approach (of course tailored to your site’s needs and nuances):

  1. Understand shortfalls in your site
  2. Analyze user behavior
  3. Create a hypothesis
  4. Implement tests
  5. Analyze results
  6. Repeat

Don’t fall prey to basic mistakes

Conversion rate optimization is one of the best ROI strategies you can implement. That is, of course, providing you implement it well.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of marketers out there who don’t.

They focus too heavily on their own business and ignore the user’s needs and behaviors. It’s an easy mistake to make, especially when you’ve just finished reading a kick-ass article about how someone helped a brand achieve a huge ROI.

But just as you should be aware of the best practices in any field, you also need to know what could potentially go wrong.

This list is by no means a comprehensive breakdown of the problems you need to avoid, but they are some of the most common. If you’re new to CRO, they’re the perfect place to start.

Empowering Yieldify with Data: What Has Looker Done for Us?

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Business Intelligence Analyst Demis Bhojoo looks at how Looker has changed the way we work at Yieldify by empowering employees with easily accessible data.

I recently stumbled upon Justin Kan’s old post The First Time I Used Programming at Work.

The post reminded me of my time at Rangespan – where my colleague and friend, Charles Dupont, wrote an excellent article on why learning SQL is important for any business team.

The article describes how, through the use of data, a small team managed to automate 90% of repeatable tasks (obviously a huge time saver) and enabled individuals to delve deeper into the reasons why specific actions were successful or not.

Having taken the leap early on, any new hire was able to use data to learn and develop effectively – and that’s how I got started in Business Intelligence.1

This short blog post reflects on how Looker has changed the way we work at Yieldify by empowering employees with easily accessible data – here we go.

Business Intelligence or Intelligent Business?

Since being deployed, the Business Intelligence (BI) team hasn’t become a bottleneck for data – instead we’ve thrived as a sounding board for feedback from various teams, helping decipher what information is needed to drive growth. The most recent example of this is the integration of Hubspot with our systems to measure the impact of our Content Marketing on Inbound leads.

So, what else has Looker enabled our BI team to do?

  • Decisions are all backed by data – every request can now be answered in seconds, the simple interface allows anyone to easily run a report to test their assumptions. This has made all our teams smarter in how we do business. Making decisions that actually impact clients and their campaigns – understanding success to make everyone successful.
  • Automate everything that is repeatable – once we know what we need, automate the report to ensure that you can work on the highest value action. The BI team is pushing more notification reports to be built in Looker to ensure we can see the root cause there and then.
  • Challenging the current processes – we learn more from accurate and clean observations of our processes. Testing various legacy actions to see whether they apply: one of our Account Managers has even started creating an improved Client Report.
  • Even more data – empowering each team to be self-reliant means that they begin to ask more data – eg. running funnel analysis on marketing strategies or understanding what campaign attributes are seasonally affected. This helps BI and Data Engineering prioritise what matters.
  • Technical interest – with more interest in how everything works and what affects the outcome, we have had more interested team members wanting to learn SQL – a gateway to driving the business to have more technical knowledge.

Looking further

While working at Amazon, I saw that there was a steep learning curve for anyone not familiar with SQL (or programming) and realised how this can inhibit any team.

The Looker platform enables us to do more with very little time – it integrates with just about every platform (Amazon Redshift, Google Big Query and Oracle, to name a few), the UI is simple and intuitive and for any technical professional, data modelling is handled by LookML, a simple yet effective modelling language.

Every release patch, I see Looker becoming even more powerful for the business team. As we continue to strive to empower everyone at Yieldify with data – we are only limited by what we want to do.

If you’d like to hear more about how we work at Yieldify check out our 2015 Year in Review here. 

Resources

1 Two great resources for anyone in Learning SQL – SQL in 10 Minutes, Sams Teach Yourself and Code Academy’s SQL Course

How Yieldify Grew by 110% In 2015 by Making Every Interaction Count

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Yieldify’s vision has never solely been about our technology.

It’s about empowering our customers to create great experiences online.

Our mission is to create smart and simple technology products that predict customer behavior and optimize customer experience with brand revenue.

2015 marked a great year for Yieldify. It was the year we took our company to the next level and we were able to do that because of the trust our customers place in us.

At Yieldify, we start by putting customers at the heart of everything we do.

We’ve taken a commitment to delight our customers at every interaction across our business. (… actually not only our customers, we want to make every interaction count with everyone… our partners, suppliers, employees, prospective employees… the list goes on)…

Below is our first annual Year in Review, where we’ve summarized what we believe were some of Yieldify’s key achievements in 2015.

Download the entire review or have a look at our 2015 snapshot our first-class design team put together.

Yieldify 2015 in numbers infographic

Thank You!

Whether you’re a client, content consumer, partner, employee or just a start up enthusiast – thank you for 2015.

You are the reason why Yieldify exists. We’re excited and proud to be on this journey with you and appreciate your trust, your support, and your ambition.

4 Simple Rules for Writing Must-Open Email Subject Lines

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The blood, sweat and tears you pour into crafting that perfect email are pointless if an irrelevant or uninteresting email subject line doesn’t entice your reader to click open – here are 4 simple ways to craft must-open subject lines.

Do you ever get tired of the number of emails you receive?

Thanks to popular marketing clichés such as, ‘the money’s in the list’ our inboxes are constantly bombarded with emails from companies and services we’ve patronised in the past.

In fact, according to The Radicati Group the average consumer email count stands at just over 93 per day.

With inboxes fit to burst it’s no wonder the open rates for email marketing rarely break the 25% mark.

It seems many marketers are happy with open rates that hover in the high teens, often citing their focus on social media, SEO or referral traffic as a bigger boon to their business.

You can split hairs and make excuses all you like, but really, we all know the reason why many marketers suffer sub par email open rates.

They fail to motivate prospects to open their emails.

They take a laissez-faire approach to their email marketing ensuring their email doesn’t stand out or grab attention. When the average consumer sends and receives nearly 100 emails a day, it’s incredibly easy to be ignored.

So, what’s the solution?

Well, as with any content, the first hurdle you need to clear is grabbing the attention of your prospects.

With blog posts, sales letters and even social media this task falls to your headline. But with emails, headlines are secondary. A prospect will only read your headline if they decide to open your email. With email marketing, it’s your subject line that grabs attention and elicits an open.

Subject lines are the deciding factor. Without a compelling subject there’s only one place your prospects will be sending your emails. Straight to the trash bin.

With email being the number one channel for ROI there’s a lot riding on your ability to excite prospects with your subject lines. Let’s take a look at some proven subject line formulae you can employ before clicking ‘send’.

Short and descriptive

Sometimes great open rates aren’t the result of witty or psychologically influenced writing. They come from getting straight to the point.

subject line study from Mailchimp discovered short, descriptive subject lines are among the most successful.

Short descriptive subject lines are best used when the recipient is expecting an email such as a confirmation or notification or you’re following up with a cart abandonment email. They aren’t, however, ideal for situations that require more persuasion.

Intriguing subject lines

If you’re looking to hook attention and get that open, playing on your audience’s curiosity is the way to go.

Human nature makes us naturally curious. It’s why we touch walls with wet paint signs and can’t stand to hear only half a story. When something is started, we need to finish it.

Play on the curiosity of your prospects by finding something that’s important to them and hinting at a solution inside.

Popular formulae for curiosity laden subject lines include:

  • The Secret of [BLANK]
  • What Everybody Needs to Know about [BLANK]

The two above examples work because they cause the prospect to question. “What is the secret?” “What does everyone need to know?” “Do I already know it?” The only way they’ll find out is by opening the email.

You can also play on curiosity by asking questions that hint at useful information inside. Here’s a great example from SMARTassistant.

I see this and immediately have three questions I need answered.

  • What are the four shopper types?
  • Are my clients ready for them?
  • Am I ready for them?

I’ll open it because it’s piqued my curiosity on a topic pertinent to my interests.

The solution subject line

Along with number/list subject lines, solution subjects are some of the most popular formulas.

Generally speaking, people want content that is useful to them. Highlighting how your email could help solve their problems is a sure fire way to capture and retain their attention.

Thankfully the formula for these headlines are rather simple.

  • How to [BLANK]
  • End Your [BLANK] Problems Once and For All
  • A quick Way to Solve [BLANK]
  • Here’s How/Why [Person/group of people/item] [Achieved something desirable]

Most of these subject lines were developed with content in mind, however, you can adapt them to incorporate the benefits of a product and highlight how those benefits will solve the problems of your audience.

The aspirational subject line

You know who buys executive stationery and briefcases? It’s rarely CEOs or top level management. More often than not it’s people who aspire to one day be in those positions and believe having ‘CEO level’ goods gives them a foot up on the ladder.

It’s the reason why sportsmen and women are paid ludicrous amounts to promote sporting goods. “If I buy Cristiano Ronaldo’s boots I might score more goals”.

You can tap into your audience’s desire to be like the pros with your subject lines.

  • [Do something] Like [Notable Person]
  • Here’s how [Person] Does/Achieves [desirable result]

Don’t be afraid to play on your audience’s need for an improvement in their field. Highlight your product as the catalyst that can take them to the next level and they’ll be chomping at the bit to learn more.

Your post-writing checklist

Once you’ve got a few potential subject line drafts you’re going to need to edit for maximum effect.

I recommend using the following insanely useful advice from The American Writers and Artists association. This is their four U’s approach. According to the AWAI, all headlines and subject lines should be:

  • Unique
  • Ultra Specific
  • Useful
  • Urgent

Before you click publish or run any A/B tests be sure to run through your headlines with the four U’s in mind. If you fall short on any of the U’s, see if you can edit to incorporate it or perhaps re write the subject line to ensure it hits with maximum effect.

Formulae and templates are just the start

The templates laid out on this piece are just the start.

Your audience is unique and you can’t expect a generic headline that’s worked for a few others to bring you the maximum effect. You need to play around with various headlines and find what resonates best with your audience.

Run split and multivariate tests and be certain to continually measure not just the open rates, but also your overall ROI.

Want to find out how Yieldify can increase your conversions? Get in touch with one of our conversion specialists today.

Skyrocket Your Conversions with Countdown Timers This Christmas

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How to use countdown timers over the holiday season to incite action and improve your customer experience – leading to increased conversions on your eCommerce site.

The Christmas period presents a huge opportunity for eCommerce stores. Last year 40% of Christmas shopping was completed via the internet and, if Black Friday results are any indication, this year’s numbers should be even higher.

eCommerce is the perfect solution for Christmas shopping. Customers don’t need to navigate the high street crowds, they have a huge product selection just a button click away and purchases are delivered directly to your door.

Christmas almost equals Black Friday in its ability to send customers into a shopping-fuelled frenzy. The potential for stock shortages or late deliveries can cause a month long period of panic buying.

The holiday season’s innate sense of urgency forces customers to spend more money. The fear of missing out convinces customers to make purchases they may otherwise have waited to complete.

Whilst the holiday period comes with its own inbuilt element of urgency, it can’t hurt to bolster the need for immediate action with the tactical use of countdown timers.

Below are a few of the potential countdown timers you could use in your Xmas campaign to increase urgency and drive extra conversions.

The delivery countdown

Few people have their Christmas purchases planned in advance. Barclays reports that nearly a quarter of Brits struggle to find a suitable present with 10% waiting until Christmas day to buy their presents.

The struggle to find the right gift isn’t just related to not being able to find the right product. According to MetaPack’s Delivering Consumer Choice, 51% of people surveyed failed to complete an online order because of delivery options – this included not being able to guarantee a certain date.

A countdown timer highlighting the order deadline for Christmas day deliveries is a huge benefit to your customers. Knowing they’ll get their delivery “in time for the tree” could be the difference between a customer choosing to complete a purchase or taking their custom elsewhere.

The above is an example from Ruroc.com. They’ve soothed delivery worries with a site wide countdown banner. This banner lets customers know exactly how long they have left to order for Christmas shipping regardless of which page they’re on.

The remaining stock countdown

The run up to Christmas often sees stores run out of popular products.

Customers, despite being aware of this possibility, will put off purchasing now in the hope of finding a better deal elsewhere. They leave your site without purchasing because they think they have plenty of time to shop around.

You can reduce the number of people who abandon their search by adding a product stock count to your products.

Notifying potential customers that there are only a few products left catches attention and prevents them from leaving. It reinforces the fear of missing out and urges them to take immediate action.

There are a number of different ways to approach remaining stock countdowns. A basic stock counter will likely do the job.

However, if you want to reinforce the need for immediate action we recommend following the lead of travel websites.

Here’s how booking.com reinforces the need for immediate action.

Booking.com countdown

Booking.com increases the fear of missing out by highlighting how quickly the remaining stock is selling out and how many other people are currently interested in that product.

Including the speed your products are selling increases the desire to act now. By coupling a display of current interest with the remaining stock number you create a highly motivating scarcity element.

The sale countdown

Black Friday may well be over but customers are still looking for the best deals.

They want to know where they are when they’re happening and what they can get.

As with any promotional event you need to build a little buzz for a successful launch. An online sale is no different. Include a timer on your site which signifies the start of the sale to ensure customers flock to your site the second discounted products are offered.

To really stir your customers into action, let them know exactly when the sale ends. You can do this with a secondary countdown timer that replaces the first or by reaching out to customers via email with full details of the sale.

Playstation reaches out to their customers with an email campaign in the run up to their December sale.

The email provides a link which forwards you to a page outlining the 12 deals and in which 48 hour period each deal is available. It’s a simple yet effective method as it notifies of both the start of the sale, what’s on offer and when each deal ends.

One potential pitfall with countdown timers

Countdown timers are a simple yet effective way for eCommerce stores to increase conversions, especially during a period already rife with panic buying habits.

However, there’s one golden rule to adding any scarcity or urgency element to your site. It has to be honest.

There’s a temptation to reduce the number of products or display fake deadlines to really drive panic conversions. This is a very risky approach. If customers suspect that you’ve lied to earn a little extra money you destroy their trust in your brand and reduce the likelihood of them returning to your site.

Whatever form of countdown or stock timer you implement, be sure that the time or stock limits are 100% honest and accurate.

A little urgency never hurt anyone

Urgency is a key factor in driving conversions and countdown timers are one of the best methods of increasing the perceived need to act. They’re effective even in the slower periods of the year as they pander to the customer’s fear of missing out.

Using countdown timers this festive period potentially offers a win-win solution for you and your customers. You gain increased conversions by harnessing your customers’ fear of missing out, but you also provide an improved customer experience by giving clarity on stock levels, sales events and delivery times.

4 Reasons Your Mobile Customers Aren’t Converting

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As mobile use continues to rise, we pinpoint the main sticking points and false beliefs preventing marketers from achieving m-commerce success.

The average smartphone owner checks their device 221 times per day, using it for everything from getting directions to purchasing goods.

The mobile market has changed faster than any other and in 2014 internet usage on mobile devices exceeded PC usage for the first time in history.

So why is it, with such a vast number of people using their mobile devices so many times every single day, that mobile conversion rates are so low?

The problem lies in how we optimise for mobile. Too many marketers view their mobile campaign as a simple add on to their overall optimisation efforts. It isn’t given the respect or time it deserves and as a result, fails to perform.

The first step to increasing your mobile conversion rates is to allocate enough time to properly optimise your mobile funnel. However, before you get stuck into your optimisation, let’s take a look at the main sticking points and false beliefs that prevent marketers from achieving M-Commerce success.

The common consensus that mobile is for browsing/research

There’s a prevailing view that mobile is used only to browse and research products. For a long time this belief held true. The small displays and lack of mobile friendly designs made the purchasing process too much of a chore. It was easier to complete the purchase of a product you’d discovered on mobile when later sat at a fixed point device.

This habit leads to marketers almost overlooking any optimisation of the mobile process, instead focusing on encouraging cross device conversions.

However, the larger displays of tablets and phablets and the introduction of mobile optimised sites have seen a dramatic shift in M-Commerce behaviour.

We’re seeing huge increases in the number of customers who are progressing past the browsing phase of their journey, often completing their purchase on a mobile device.

Japan, whose mobile habits have historically acted as a precursor to those across the globe, recently saw over 50% of eCommerce transactions via mobile. Japan isn’t alone in seeing these gains. South Korea has similar statistics with the UK not far behind.

If the global mobile market follows its historical pattern by mimicking Japanese developments, it won’t be long until mobile conversions across the globe exceed 50%. Now is the perfect time to look at your mobile site and get it ready for what seems set to be a huge increase in M-Commerce sales.

The mobile purchasing experience is dreadful

Thanks to a lack of mobile optimisation the purchasing experience on mobile devices is extremely poor.

As a society we’ve moved past the need for shopping simply for necessities. We don’t buy clothes based solely on their usefulness or practical application but rather for the way they make us look and feel.

We’ve turned the experience of shopping from a gathering of necessary items into an enjoyable, often social activity. And this is where poor mobile optimisation lets you down.

Mobile sites are confusing, difficult to navigate and make the whole process seem more hassle than it’s worth. Thanks to poor optimisation there’s little joy to be found in M-Commerce purchases.

The problems manifest around two primary related areas. Below we’ve listed these areas and how they affect the overall mobile experience.

Mobile displays are too small

Smartphone displays are incredibly small. Whilst phablet screens are managing to strike a balance between smartphones and tablet sizes their screen still causes design problems and makes navigation quite difficult.

With such little on screen real estate to play with it’s often difficult to display key persuasion elements such as reviews, background information or even comprehensive product images. Many marketers rely on responsive themes to properly arrange the design of their site. Whilst this will include everything that you can find on your desktop site, it’s a poor solution to the problem.

Responsive themes treat content like water, pouring everything from your desktop site into different display sizes with no thought about what would work better for conversions. Not cutting any content or using mobile specific elements can make mobile navigation and use incredibly confusing.

Take the below phone comparison page from Apple as an example.

If you relied on a responsive design the outcome on mobile would be pretty horrific. Whilst it works well on a desktop, customers would have to scroll numerous directions for an average understanding of the comparable stats.

However, Apple hasn’t relied on responsive design and has done a great job of optimizing the above page for mobile. Instead of repurposing all content, they’ve chosen to reduce their display to the two most popular options.

The same tactic needs to be applied to all design and copy elements. You can’t rely on responsive design to fix all the problems. You need to look at the various elements of your page, decide what’s important and choose how best to display them on the smaller screen size.

It’s less about the actual design of the site and more to do with user experience. Ask yourself if you’re optimising your site to look good on mobile, or if you’re taking the beneficial steps of making it easy to use. Only the latter leads to higher conversions.

Network speeds

Website speed has always been a big issue with conversion optimisation. Whilst mobile network speeds have come a long way, they’re still nowhere near the speed or reliability of a desktop connection.

Audience attention spans are short meaning prospects won’t wait around for your page to load. Various studies have been conducted into the area of page load times and the general consensus has the ‘tolerable wait time’ pinned at between two and three seconds.

This extremely low tolerance poses huge problems for the M-Commerce marketer, problems which are often addressed in one of two ways:

1. Leave responsive design to handle the transfer to mobile and hope for the best

2. Strip your page of all unnecessary visual elements to speed load time

Neither of which is a good fix. As already mentioned responsive design simply reorganises all on page elements which will actually increase your mobile load times.

Stripping your page of all unnecessary elements makes for an incredibly bland and boring experience. Without product images you’re taking further steps to suck the excitement and joy out of online shopping.

So what can you do?

As with design you need to carefully select the elements that are going to be displayed to mobile users. This should reduce the time to load whilst also avoiding major negative impact to your key persuasion elements.

However, there are also two smart tactics you can employ to help speed up the process.

1. Develop an eCommerce app and pre load information customers might ask for to reduce loading time

2. Use button and on screen animations to mask the longer loading times while key information is downloaded

Reducing load times is one of the more difficult aspects of optimisation as you’ve got to strike a balance that enables quick loading but doesn’t sacrifice the persuasion points. Remember that when you’re looking at the design it’s not just about aesthetic preference, you’re aiming to reduce load times and improve the user experience.

In conclusion

You can’t afford to overlook your M-Commerce campaigns anymore. The number of users relying on mobile devices has already exceeded their desktop counterparts in certain world territories and it seems set to continue along that path.

Everything points to mobile devices becoming the go to method for online customers to browse, research and purchase their products. Giving your mobile campaign the time and respect it deserves isn’t just about increasing short-term conversions, it’s about future proofing your brand.

Do You Know Who Your Most Powerful Customers Are?

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Yieldify’s Head of Strategy Jacob Ajwani talks customer value and what brands can do to better measure and boost engagement and acquisition.

Call it: Customer-led, Customer-driven, or Customer-centric. Most businesses are preparing for a significant shift, setting aside one size fits all marketing to establish One To One dialogues with their customers.

Treating anyone who engages with your brand online as an individual will encourage a purchase. This is the point of personalization.

But what customers are most valuable to your brand? And how can you tap the buying power of different kinds of customer?

Customer Lifetime Value: fast becoming the most discussed metric

In lieu of constantly chasing new prospects, swathes of brands are focused on engaging existing customers with strategies that aim to inspire brand loyalty.

They are doing this in a variety of ways, from producing killer content to nurturing their branded communities on social media. This makes sense. After all, it costs five times as much to attract a new customer than it does to keep an existing one.[1] Also the probability of selling to a returning customer is 60% – 70%, far better than the probability of securing new custom (5% – 20%).[2]

It’s also hard to argue with the fact that existing customers spend 31% more than new customers.[3]

Building a trusting relationship with your existing customers is a vital building block in the foundation of your brand. Use Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) to measure how much an individual is spending with your brand. CLV indicates how the marketing team’s efforts improve profitability of customer relationships long term.

Don’t forget first-time shoppers

Tailoring your messaging to first-time customers is another way to extract value. If you focus all your attention on keeping the people who already buy from you happy, you’re bound to neglect new prospects. If you ran a brick-and-mortar store, you wouldn’t ignore the vast majority of your customers – so don’t do it online. You can’t afford to only preach to the converted.

Segment your prospects and identify their traffic source. This lets you make smart choices on how to tailor your content to each individual user. Messaging should vary depending on where your visitor has come from, whatever their origin, but stay focused on giving your first-time users a reason to stay. Ways in which this can be achieved include directing them towards existing offers, offering free delivery or giving them 10% off their first order. Also split-test different messaging to optimise those interactions. Will, for example, serving 3 of your KSPs or 6 better encourage a purchase from those visitors first landing on your site?

Court casual buyers

New customer acquisition is as much about quick wins as it is about cultivating loyalty and long-term custom. The fact is 77% of consumers admit they have no relationship with a brand.[4]

But this presents an opportunity.

Engage prospects with bubblegum incentives such as limited timeframe discounts, free gift offers or engage them in competitions. If you can entice light buyers, you will grow your brand. Driving up your market penetration is just as healthy an objective as fostering loyalty. And pushing the former will influence the latter.

Simplify the user journey

Whichever form your on-site visitor takes, don’t risk basket abandonment with a cumbersome checkout process. Strip out arbitrary stages from your buyer process and you will lift on-site conversions.Provide, for example, a guest checkout option and you’ll reduce casual buyer drop off. It’s telling that 8 out of the top 10 US retailers already offer a guest checkout.[5] ASOS cut their abandonment rate in half just by removing any mention of registering to create an account.[6]

Customer-centric marketing is about having the ability to establish enriched and profitable relationships with your customers. But this doesn’t also mean you should assume all your potential shoppers can be converted into big brand advocates. There are endless variables at play within broad groupings of potential buyers. Start by distinguishing returning customers from new visitors. From there, you can deepen segmentation and targeting criteria to speak to users in a highly personal way.

By taking all potential customers seriously, you can deliver experiences relevant to each individual shopper, encouraging custom from everyone who comes into contact with your brand.

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/alexlawrence/2012/11/01/five-customer-retention-tips-for-entrepreneurs/

[2] https://www.helpscout.net/75-customer-service-facts-quotes-statistics/

[3] https://www.getelastic.com/customer-acquisition-vs-retention-infographic/

[4] https://hbr.org/2012/05/three-myths-about-customer-eng

[5] https://econsultancy.com/blog/10355-eight-out-of-top-10-us-retailers-offer-guest-checkout/

[6] ibid.

When Data Is Not Enough: Why You Need to Learn the Art of Data Visualization

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Data visualization is changing how brands can optimize their e-commerce channels in 2015. Every day, new streams of infographics populate the blogs we read, visualizing everything from spend trends to device usage to purchase geolocations.

But data visualization isn’t just a novel way to broadcast a data set. As Dr Johanna Kieniewicz, Head of Outreach and Engagement at the Institute of Physics points out, data visualization is a tool of discovery as well as communication.[1]

Business managers who use visual data discovery tools are 28% more likely to find timely information than peers who only use managed reporting and dashboards[2]

So what is the commercial application of data visualization? And why should your brand be using it to influence your online strategy?

Visualization helps tell the story of your data

Humans are visual creatures. We consume information more rapidly when demonstrated through diagrams than when expressed as text.

Big data visualizations are appealing and helpful when we have large data sets because they allow us to conceptualise by dimension; it is difficult to conceptualise data beyond three variables. Visualization helps us to intuitively build relationships between variables to get the full story from your data. 

Saurabh Johri, Data Scientist, Yieldify

Visualization gives you better ownership of your brand’s data and enables you to understand the dynamics of your customers

At this moment, humans are better equipped to see visual patterns than computers. Machine learning algorithms are growing ever more advanced but their accuracy depends on having access to a body of images and words to train from. We are still some way off a computer being able to compete with the human eye and brain.

It’s not just about answers: visualization helps you ask the right questions

It’s easy to think that visualization is supposed to give you all the answers. Most people anticipate a visual will immediately reveal the source of a problem or, for example, that there is an obvious pattern of abandonment for a particular item.

In reality, visualization should help you ask more questions and better questions. Effective visualization helps push you towards finding better hypotheses. It should be a key stage in a constant iterative cycle of testing and refining.

Data insights: a visualization (Gregor Aisch) [3]
Data insights: a visualization (Gregor Aisch)[3]

Following this back-and-forth process, you can work out if the data is making it difficult to tell a particular story or whether it is telling a different story altogether.

Good visuals do not always mean good data

Whereas it is clear that data visualization has real benefits, better data and better visuals do not go hand in hand. We tend to immediately attach credibility to data visualization because displaying findings in this way makes them look objectively true. But it is possible to skew what you are trying to present. This is because there are many details that are hidden in a visual. If you were trying to make a point about data by using text rather than an image as the medium, it would be much easier to point out what you disagree with.

Be attuned to how that data is presented so you can prevent yourself from being misled by a bad visual. Take, for example, color scheme: this can have a big impact on how the data presented is perceived. Often cosmetic choices can lend more credibility to the data than it deserves.

If for example, you highlighted an area on a map in red, it would scream out to you, when actually this would be a completely subjective choice made by the person who created that visual.

badgraph2

The color would trigger mechanisms that humans are primed to react to. You should always be aware of the quality of the data that has gone into a visual.

In industry, data is siloed

Data visualization is often seen as a way of making your results look more quantifiable. In fact, they are not quantifiable in the same way that a robust scientific study would be – where others have access to that data so they can repeat the experiment.

“In industry, people can’t replicate what you’ve done to test its validity. Also, often what is seen in a scientific study ends up being glossed over in a commercial context in order to create a captivating visual. This is because you want to show something more direct to tell a clear story.” Saurabh Johri, Data Scientist, Yieldify

Be mindful that data visualization always has an editorial side.

Visualization enables data democratization

Ultimately, your organization is stronger when everyone gets it. Displaying data internally using visualization can excite, inspire new approaches and communicate insights that had before now been closed off to the rest of your team.

By building data visualization into a constant cycle of learning, new actions to improve your strategy will frequently become visible. These actions would have remained hidden possibilities if you hadn’t taken advantage of this game-changing practice.

4 Audience Targeting Strategies Driven by Behavioral Segmentation

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Every brand has an ideal customer. Here’s how behavioral segmentation can help you develop smart audience targeting strategies to reach them.

Maybe it’s the coveted and highly influential 18-24 demographic. Maybe it’s the tech Dad who’s got his eye on the latest tablet. Either way, targeting the right customer at the right time can be tricky for a lot of brands.

Whereas targeting used to be as simple as positioning a large billboard over a motorway or taking an advert out on one of the five channels on offer, the Great Optimization has made audience targeting a great deal more complicated.

Now, the ways brands can drive users to their products are far more sophisticated. Aside from how there are far more channels of influence, modern brands can no longer afford to just think in terms of demographics. They need to be able to treat their consumers as individuals – and that’s where behavioral segmentation comes in.

Proactive retailers have realized that tracking and using consumer’s onsite behavior is the key to creating a highly personalized and immersive eCommerce experience.

Read below to learn our 4 quick tips on audience targeting and behavioral segmentation in the age of information.

4 audience targeting strategies driven by behavioral segmentation

1. Target by basket value

1% of your customer base can spend as much as the bottom 50% combined.

Which customer is more valuable to your business: One with a single £10 lamp in their basket or the one who’s on the verge of buying a roomful of furniture? In-store, you’d certainly put a lot of effort into making sure the latter customer got what they wanted. Why not do this online?

How? Create a series of tiered incentives that can be offered to a user when they abandon a shopping basket or based on basket value. In the example below, beauty brand Kiehl’s offer free delivery based on basket value, and even tell users how much more they need to spend to qualify!

Audience targeting - Targeting by basket value

2. Target by geo-location

86% of campaigns in local languages outperform English-language campaigns for both click-throughs and conversions, according to MarketingProfs.

The Internet allows people to shop from anywhere, but this doesn’t mean you should ignore where that ‘anywhere’ might be. Say you are selling concert tickets. Offering users based in Manchester tickets for a gig in Cardiff is not going to be as effective as offering them tickets to a gig where they actually live.

How? Imagine a user is browsing your website in the vicinity of one of your branches. Why not invite them in for a chat with a mobile overlay when they go to leave your page? Or send them a discount code that they can only redeem at that particular branch – encouraging them to come in and have a browse. Menswear brand M.J. Bale highlight in-store services for those consumers who might need a little more encouragement:

Audience targeting - Targeting by geolocation

Behavioral segmentation creates personalization, which breeds brand loyalty. And this is one of the most powerful tools in a retailer’s arsenal.

3. Target unique and returning traffic differently

Some 98% of first-time visitors don’t make a purchase, according to Inc.com.

But these visitors are a paradox: They are the hardest to clinch but present the biggest opportunity for capturing lifetime value if you treat them right. Brands need to make an effort to secure that first purchase and get users on board.

With returning customers, on the other hand, you already know they’re willing to make a purchase. You just need to foster their loyalty with tailored promotions to make them feel special and valued.

How? Point them in the direction of products you know they might like. Personalize their journey through your site so they only see the most relevant on-site material. In short, target the right customers, reward them for their loyalty and they will stay happy – and frequent – patrons of your site.

4. Target by items viewed

56% of online shoppers are more likely to return to a site that shows product recommendations, claims Invesp.

If you go into a business negotiation knowing what the other side needs, you stand a better chance of success. Similarly, if you know what products a user is interested in and why then you’re already ahead of the game.

How? If someone spends a lot of time looking at, say, headphones, then dynamically changing your in-page content and recommendations or delivering headphones-related offers in your email remarketing campaign are great ways to increase conversion rates.

In the example below, skyn ICELAND recommends a complementary product based on the item in cart:

Audience targeting - Targeting by items viewed

Learn more about your visitors with behavioral segmentation

Think back to the billboard. It worked at the time but today, the impersonal, blunderbuss approach to online marketing is becoming less and less effective. In an era of choice, understanding your consumers and building a personalized connection with them is crucial to ensure consistently high conversion rates.

Behavioral segmentation plays an essential role in building these relationships and the benefits of doing so are readily apparent.

Localized eCommerce offerings can increase conversion rates by as much as seven-fold and geolocation can help reduce online fraud rates dramatically.

As individuals, consumers are all completely unique, each with a broad spectrum of taste and buying behaviors. For a brand to become a leader in any market, this level of personalization needs to be reflected in every online communication with customers.

The Advertiser’s Crash Course In Online Attribution

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Yieldify Partnerships VP Ollie Jones explores the current state of play in online attribution and forecasts the direction of the debate in 2015.

91% of marketers recognize the importance of attribution and 35% consider it critical to their plans.

But attribution is a persistent problem for online marketers. Which partner takes credit for the sale? How do you attribute value to a branding display banner that leads to a website visit, that leads to a product search on Google and an eventual purchase? Much is still based on a Last Click model and we still don’t really have a solid method of attributing money spent on branding or social.

Attribution models and tools are useful but they’re no magic wand.

Eric Eichmann, Chief Revenue Officer, Criteo

Yet being able to calculate ROI and accountability as accurately as possible is crucial not only in order to justify and optimise your online ad spend, but also to make sure your chosen partners feel properly motivated to drive value to their brand partners.

Last Click works but the system is flawed

In an ideal world, you would be able to monitor user behaviour based upon on-site dwell time, time elapsed since coming through an affiliate partner and the order in which a user interacted with each affiliate or channel (search / social / display) in order to find out who should be allocated credit for what.

In reality, the industry leans on a ‘last click wins’ model. Its central flaw is that a partner can drive the traffic to the site in the first place, only to be overridden by a voucher code at the last hurdle. The model doesn’t give fair credit to the entire user journey. Pay Per Click wins out in a big way following Last Click because people search for a brand on their way to conversion. They do this because it is convenient rather than because it has actually had an influence on their intent to buy.

There are winners and losers here, but the biggest losers in Last Click are the advertisers themselves. If those driving the highest value leads do not receive an excellent ROI from their clients, they will lose the motivation to continue driving value.

Advertisers need to be more aware that Last Click has not been defined as an industry standard – it doesn’t have to stay this way and all signs suggest that the scales are tipping towards a more intelligent system of attribution.

Multi-touch attribution is the future

Rather than spotlight the last form of media the customer was exposed to, multi-touch attribution recognizes the importance of every interaction and opportunity to interface within the consumer’s journey from awareness to actual purchase.

Multi-touch attribution is widely expected to mature in 2015. The ideal model – whereby the credit for revenue driven is distributed across touchpoints – promises to provide fair and valuable allocation of credit. The systems necessary to crunch user interaction data in real time are only coming to fruition now.

The big players are driving this change – Google and AOL’s acquisition of Adometry and Convertro last year signalled to the market that it is only a matter of time until Last Click is replaced by this more dynamic and reactive model.

Disjointed buyer journeys complicate attribution

It is well known that the online buyer journeys is fragmented between channels. Right now, nobody knows how to track cross-device purchases without personally asking the consumer. Cross-channel journeys further muddy the water. There will be over half a million click-and-collect purchases made in 2015. Likewise users frequently use the high street as a showroom for online transactions – and websites as a webrooms to inform brick-and-mortar purchases.

These scenarios all raise further questions as to how sales can be properly attributed when the purchase path crosses between offline and online. Attribution therefore requires a strong omnichannel strategy as a platform where user behaviour can be properly tracked across all channels and devices.

Trust the teams behind new tech

Whether products initially drive traffic, bring users back to a site or encourage users not to leave in the first place, it is worth remembering that all these solutions are being built from the ground up by dedicated teams who are working with the intention of improving brands’ online user journeys.

Partners only stand to profit if the client does…in principle. They should only profit if they claim the sales or cross a threshold of clicks; it is the analyst’s job to establish whether these sales are truthfully assigned. But transparency should go both ways. If marketing managers are prepared to share insights that might serve to assist their partners in optimising their offering, that conversation stands to benefit both parties.