Jan 2020 Round-up: IKEA testing everything, Dell testing digital experiences, Starbucks has an innovation lab, and a list of major companies hiring for experimentation!

Welcome back for the first 2020 edition of the Widerfunnel Experimentation News Round-Up! I’ve compiled a list of top news/blog…Read blog postabout:Jan 2020 Round-up: IKEA testing everything, Dell testing digital experiences, Starbucks has an i…

Welcome back for the first 2020 edition of the Widerfunnel Experimentation News Round-Up! I’ve compiled a list of top news/blog...Read blog postabout:Jan 2020 Round-up: IKEA testing everything, Dell testing digital experiences, Starbucks has an innovation lab, and a list of major companies hiring for experimentation!

The post Jan 2020 Round-up: IKEA testing everything, Dell testing digital experiences, Starbucks has an innovation lab, and a list of major companies hiring for experimentation! appeared first on WiderFunnel Conversion Optimization.

A Well Balanced Content Personalization Diet: 3 New Years Resolutions to Increase Goal Conversions

Happy New Year, travel marketers! The beginning of January always brings its own kind of magic with resolutions and the opportunity to both reflect on the past year and look towards the next.  It’s also a time that, if I can be honest, is a little overwhelming with the pressure of setting life-changing goals. And… Read More

The post A Well Balanced Content Personalization Diet: <br/>3 New Years Resolutions to Increase Goal Conversions appeared first on Bound.

Happy New Year, travel marketers! The beginning of January always brings its own kind of magic with resolutions and the opportunity to both reflect on the past year and look towards the next.  It’s also a time that, if I can be honest, is a little overwhelming with the pressure of setting life-changing goals. And it’s not only personal goals! Working within the digital marketing space I feel that every other content piece is focused on “new year, new marketing strategy” resolutions that couldn’t be easier to implement – or so the articles read…

At Bound, we’re big believers in starting where you’re at, especially when it comes to personalization and your marketing strategy.  That’s why one of our resolutions this year is to focus on something that we know has an impact: optimizing our goal conversions

When it comes to our monthly content reports, few things give our Customer Success Managers more joy than seeing an increase in click through rates on goal related content pieces.  But as fun as these increases are to see, we are even more thrilled by increases in the goal conversions themselves. As we’ve become increasingly aware of the important relationship between clicks and conversions – and the very different stories each can highlight when they don’t align  – we’re excited to share our new Goal Dashboard and highlight three resolutions on increasing your conversions in 2020:

Read More (into your A/B tests):

When in doubt about your content, run an A/B Test!  While click through rates can certainly highlight your audience’s preferences for the imagery, copy or CTA, how do you account for the content’s impact on the actual conversion?  Within the new Goal Dashboard, you can now compare conversion rates against your campaigns, segments and pieces of content, allowing for a deeper level of insight. We recently took a closer look at an eNewsletter related A/B test we have been running with a DMO.  Month over month, we found that one content piece had consistently less clicks than the other. However, in comparing the conversion rates between the two pieces, we saw that the content piece with a lower CTR had a considerably higher conversion rate. This comparison helped us see the value of a content piece we might have otherwise removed and will help inform future A/B tests.

Exercise (your understanding of your Mobile and Desktop visitors differences):

As we’ve written about before, there are many things to take into consideration when creating content for your Desktop and Mobile visitors.  Goal conversions are no different, especially given that our Mobile visitors are often less likely to convert. Within the new Goal Dashboard, we can now dive into the conversion rates for our different segments across campaigns, allowing us to compare, for example, fly-ins served to desktop visitors and banners served to mobile audiences.  Layering in this insight can help us develop content best suited for each of our unique visitors groups.

Spend Less (time guessing how your content is performing):

Over the past few years, we’ve increasingly become fans of thoughtful “abandonment” content and the way these direct CTAs can increase conversions for visitors who have initiated, but not completed, a conversion goal.  While we often see this content with high CTRs, it can be challenging to determine how exactly this content contributes to the overall goal. Thankfully, our new Goal Dashboard takes the guesswork out of content creation and helps us see exactly which Abandonment content is best contributing to the goal. 

Our hope for your 2020 is that your conversion related content is directly increasing your goal conversions (leaving you with more time to increase engagement for your ad visitors!)   Knowing that goal conversions are a vital piece to understanding your visitors intent to travel, we’re excited that our new Goal Dashboard will bring new awareness and insight this year.  Cheers to you and your increased conversions!

Want to learn more about the Goal Dashboard or personalizing to increase your conversions?  We’d love to chat with you and hear all about your 2020 marketing resolutions!

The post A Well Balanced Content Personalization Diet: <br/>3 New Years Resolutions to Increase Goal Conversions appeared first on Bound.

eCommerce Metric Benchmarks: How to Analyze Your Online Store’s KPIs

Track 30+ eCommerce metrics? That’s too many. Here’s a list with the best KPIs to focus on and the reasons why.

Identifying your key “marketing levers” is an approach every eCommerce business can pursue. In this post, we share our philosophy for identifying the best marketing metrics to focus on without getting bogged down in unnecessary details.

Prioritizing which metrics to improve can be tricky. No metric will move the needle itself, but if analyzed correctly, they can lead to profitable insights.

That said, tracking too many metrics can make a thorough analysis difficult. We’ve seen several eCommerce marketing articles that recommend dozens of “key” performance indicators at once.

Additionally, we’ve spoken to customers who try to peg the performance of their business to an industry average.

The problem with focusing on too many metrics and industry averages is:

  1. There are usually a key set of metrics that are relevant to growing your store. What those are can depend on many individual factors.
  2. Using industry studies as a point of reference doesn’t help you decide on the best action (i.e. the best metrics to focus on improving) for growth.

Working with hundreds of eCommerce stores has shown us that the right answer isn’t “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to what marketing benchmarks to meet.

Given that each business is unique, the core concept we recommend is constant, strategic improvement. The best benchmark in most cases is where you currently are for a given KPI.

Deciding which metrics are best to use is the critical piece to get right. So, let’s dig into some guidelines.

Note: We’re pros at identifying the biggest marketing levers for your store to take action on. Contact us here to learn more.

How to Analyze Your eCommerce KPI’s

At Inflow, we focus on three core digital marketing practices:

CRO - SEO - PPC

In a past article, we’ve referred to this trio of marketing methods as the “milk and cookies” approach.

SEO and PPC are the activities that generate traffic (the “cookies”), but if CRO is missing (the “milk”), that added traffic may not lead to a significant sales increase. This is why SEO, PPC, and CRO tend to work best together.

A cartoon image of two cookies on a plate with a glass of milk, showing that SEO, CRO, and PPC all go together like milk and cookies.

Below, we’ll go over how to frame your thinking around these three digital marketing practices in a way that ensures constant improvement and fewer wasted resources.

eCommerce Conversion Metrics

eCommerce conversion metrics

It may seem like there is some average conversion rate that your store should be targeting. This is usually based on industry averages or what another store is reportedly getting. But does measuring your store to those yardsticks hold up in practice?

In our experience: there are no standard conversion rates. We’ve seen 0.2% all the way up to 15%.

Additionally, a change in traffic can result in a corresponding decline/increase in conversion rates and this can look like an issue when it really may not be.

We’re not throwing our hands up in the air and saying that conversion rate doesn’t matter as a performance indicator. The key is that you’re always testing to improve from a base conversion rate.

Note: Different audiences and offers convert differently. For example, we have seen a very low conversion rate (less than 0.5%) for a site selling house plans because this is a high-consideration item. In contrast, we have seen very high conversion rates (80%+) for lead intake forms (which are free).

Desktop vs Mobile Conversion Rate

Conversion rates vary for Desktop and Mobile devices as well.

There are a significant amount of users shopping on both Desktop and Mobile devices. Even so, we still see more conversions come in from desktop than from Mobile to the online retailers that we work with.

This suggests that more people are using their smartphone to browse and search for products, but they complete their purchase on desktop (as other studies like Wolfgang Digital’s 2019 KPI Report have pointed out).

Since people are more likely to buy products on a desktop or laptop vs a mobile device, our own internal rule of thumb is that the mobile conversion rate should be at least 1/2 of the desktop conversion rate (if it’s less than that, there’s room for optimization).

As we pointed out in our article about increasing mobile conversions back in 2016, even now there is still an opportunity to compete in search for mobile market share. Among other tactics, stores can optimize for this opportunity using:

  1. Clear, easily tappable calls to action
  2. Trust badges like Norton or McAfee, BBB logo, Google Trusted Stores, etc.
  3. Category Page Facet Experience (such as previewing colors and sizes)
  4. Fast site speed
  5. Creating a mobile-first site

Bounce Rate and Cart Abandonment

Bounce rate and shopping cart abandonment are two conversion-related metrics we’ve seen people struggle to evaluate.

What should your bounce rate and cart abandonment rates be? The principle of simply improving from your current rates rather than finding an external yardstick definitely applies here.

Bounce Rate

Bounce rates vary widely. Even a high bounce rate (above 80%) is normal. Sure, it sounds like a lot of people are leaving. But many are staying, which means you can:

  1. Identify what type of people are converting.
  2. Do further conversion optimization work to cater to that group of people.
  3. Target those people when driving traffic to your website through PPC and SEO.

Rather than “optimizing for bounce rate,” you optimize your audience targeting, your website design, your product offerings, and your content to get more potential customers coming to your website and converting (rather than bouncing off of it).

Cart Abandonment

Cost consideration is one typical factor of cart abandonment. Customer behavior differs a lot when shopping for a low cost, low consideration item vs a high cost, high-consideration item. Low consideration (cost) items generally have higher conversion rates and vice-versa.

For an extreme example, let’s say you are selling a high-cost, high-consideration item with a 99% bounce rate and 99% cart abandonment rate. That 0.1% of people that stay on the site and convert through checkout are all you may need to drive a viable profit.

Cost consideration is not the only factor with cart abandonment. Sometimes it’s the total experience leading up to checkout vs. anything specific within the checkout process.

In other words, if a customer has a friction-filled experience up to the point of checkout, it could be that you need to improve their overall shopping experience on your website rather than optimizing your checkout process.

This is why a cart abandonment program that considers every step of the customer journey up to that point (along with the checkout design) is a must.

Of course, you need traffic from SEO and Paid ads in order to get an audience to convert. Let’s look at SEO next.

eCommerce SEO Metrics

eCommerce SEO Metrics

While SEO is an important part of a holistic marketing strategy, one of the biggest challenges is mapping SEO tactics to specific outcomes or results.

For example, if you disallow Google from crawling thousands of pages, you can’t really know:

  • When Google will detect the change
  • Whether or not Google has detected the change
  • When the result of it hits some “threshold”, and when to “call it” and take the end result

In the midst of this uncertainty, “calling it” and taking the end result would be assuming wrongly that nothing else could have influenced that result along the way.

A couple of other main misconceptions surrounding SEO for eCommerce are:

  1. Keyword rankings or traffic are the main SEO KPIs (they’re not).
  2. The one keyword or few keywords you want to rank for are the most important result (nope).

Investment into improving SEO is about more than gaining keyword rankings. More keyword rankings and traffic won’t result in sales if the visitors they generate aren’t interested in your products. This just lowers your conversion rate.

Thinking through the full customer funnel (including post-sale!) when setting KPIs helps you stay on track. We recommend starting with an analysis of your SEO metrics and their effect on your eCommerce business’s bottom line KPI’s.

These main eCommerce KPI’s are:

Main eCommerce KPIs

  • Online Sales
  • Conversion rate
  • Average order value
  • Customer lifetime value

Painting a picture of how your current SEO is affecting the KPI’s above can help you make data-informed decisions to improve them. Then, you can approach SEO strategically in pursuit of those KPI’s.

eCommerce SEO Metrics to Analyze

When onboarding clients, we assess the health of their SEO by looking at the following metrics:

  • Rankings (for target keywords, and the overall view of all keywords)
  • Impressions / Pageviews (in buckets of branded vs. non-branded keywords — both are important.)
  • Clicks and Click-Through Rate (CTR)
  • Website Sessions / Users (sometimes we’ll look at session duration)
  • New Users
  • Bounce Rate/Exit Rate
  • Conversion Rate
  • Domain Authority/Rank
  • Incoming Links

These metrics can feel like a lot to consider. But combined, they paint a picture of:

  • How people are getting to your website
  • Who those people are
  • How they behave on your site’s pages

It takes a certain amount of digging, but once you have that information, you can target specific SEO tactics.

The question is: What SEO tactics can improve the KPI’s linked to profit — such as revenue and conversions?

3 Valuable eCommerce SEO Tactics

Content marketing, link building, and technical SEO are three tactics that can lead to a revenue increase when you implement them strategically.

For example:

  • If bounce rates are high and conversion rates are low:

You can perform a content audit to identify low-performing pages to prune. You can also add strategic content designed to get traffic and conversions from better quality visitors.

  • If your Domain Authority or Domain Rating is lower than your competitors’:You can build links to your eCommerce website to increase its Domain Authority (a Moz metric) and Domain Rating (a similar Ahrefs metric). This can help the likelihood of ranking above your competitors in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Building good links to your website can also bring in additional referral traffic.

The result? More relevant traffic from search engines that increases your sales, revenue, and other main KPI’s.

When it comes to SEO there are many variables involved, a few major ones being:

  • Your website itself and its current SEO status
  • The industry you are in
  • The search results and competitors relevant to that industry

As you can imagine, these vary quite a bit. Considering these variables is our starting point for developing effective eCommerce SEO strategies for our clients.

So, how do we frame thinking around PPC?

eCommerce PPC Metrics

eCommerce PPC Metrics

PPC can be a huge growth driver for online retailers. But just as with SEO and CRO, identifying which PPC strategies to implement and how they affect the bottom line KPIs is the first step.

One of the biggest principles that frames our thinking around eCommerce PPC is that not all PPC efforts are aimed at the same goal.

This is why when we work with clients, choosing the right KPIs and setting the right targets is an ever-evolving and necessary conversation.

We can’t tell you what a good conversion rate or ROAS target is for your business based on general trends. We can only tell you what a good one would be to start with, set a baseline, and then improve or recalibrate based on the results.

There is also a larger marketing ecosystem outside of PPC. For instance, if we decide to push some Brand Awareness campaigns heavily, that is almost certain to “negatively” impact conversion rate as that traffic is not intended to convert (and, typically, it represents a lot of traffic).

Below, you’ll learn:

  • How different PPC campaigns target different goals
  • The KPI’s to focus on for different campaigns and goals
  • Why focusing on the wrong KPI’s for the wrong campaigns can lead to big mistakes

Let’s start with how to think about the most obvious PPC metric: Return on Ad Spend (ROAS).

Return On Ad Spend (ROAS)

The most common question we get when working with clients is: “If we spend ‘X’ dollars, how much revenue will we generate?” (The return on ad spend or “ROAS”).

The answer is always “it depends,” because it does depend on many factors. Starting with the individual business.

For example, a well-established brand in any industry can get better performance out of non-branded search and shopping campaigns. Meanwhile, newer brands may struggle more.

Not all PPC campaigns should be judged by the same KPI such as ROAS. Some businesses tend to focus on brand awareness strategies (which are non-ROAS focused) to further establish themselves as the primary brand for that product.

We have attained a high ROAS such as 1,700% for some clients. But because of their particular industries, the maturity of their business, their pricing, or product margins: a high ROAS like this is “ok” to “good” in terms of their revenue growth.

By contrast, we have some clients who we’ve gained a 1,000% ROAS for, and this was stellar for them. Other clients are in the 300%-500% range and are still doing great.

This is why we charge for our PPC services using a value-based retainer. Rather than an hourly rate or charging by % of ad spend, this pricing model accounts for the range of variables involved and the range of services our PPC team provides to reach client goals.

Here are the KPI’s we recommend you keep in mind for each stage of the PPC sales funnel:

Bottom Funnel: Search, Shopping, and Remarketing

The campaigns that should be ROAS focused are at the bottom of the funnel.

Google Ads campaigns such as Search*, Shopping, and remarketing, are often built around driving revenue. For these, revenue and ROAS tend to make sense as metrics to start working toward initially.

*Note: Not all Search campaigns are bottom of the funnel. Brand awareness Search campaigns are a top of funnel tactic that we’ll get into in a moment.

We typically see branded Search and Shopping campaigns yield the highest ROAS. These are followed by, non-brand campaigns, with remarketing somewhere in between the latter in terms of ROAS.

What about non-Google campaigns such as Facebook Ads? Social remarketing campaigns* can definitely perform well here. Consumer products would be well-suited for social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Meanwhile, B2B products may be more suited for the professional audience on LinkedIn.

*Note: Not all social remarketing campaigns are bottom of the funnel either. This refers to social remarketing campaigns intended to generate a direct purchase.

Once these campaigns are driving a profit, those initial revenue and ROAS stats become less important as indicators.

There are other beneficial but less obvious metrics that we will work toward such as customer lifetime value (CLV), cost-per-acquired customer (CAC), and reach, but they come into play only once we have a better understanding of the client’s business and its needs.

Middle of Funnel Lead Nurturing and Remarketing Campaigns

Remarketing campaigns are relatively straightforward: revenue is the main KPI. You can adjust the placement and creative of these campaigns to improve their conversion rate, and thus revenue.

Many eCommerce businesses also collect and nurture leads. Rather than aiming toward direct revenue — as the goal would be in a remarketing campaign — the cost per lead and conversion rate is a good metric to measure how effectively you are building your audience over time.

For instance, you may be aiming a campaign toward newsletter signups to convert them later through email marketing. Or directing traffic at a lead form to initiate a follow-up sales call. Knowing your cost per lead and conversion rate of those leads allows you to make informed decisions regarding targeting.

If a certain demographic from your leads converts better, you can continue to push more of that audience down the funnel or through the customer journey.

Top of Funnel Search Campaigns

Top of funnel eCommerce advertising campaigns are aimed at building brand awareness. The attribution model for success for brand awareness is a bit different because the conversions that result aren’t necessarily direct. They may happen months later without attribution.

Measuring these PPC campaign types against ROAS would be a huge mistake and such campaigns are almost certainly set up for failure. Higher funnel advertising tactics are aimed toward getting a store’s name and brand messaging out there rather than direct revenue.

For top of funnel campaigns, the main metrics we pay attention to are:

Top of Funnel PPC Campaign Metrics

  • Reach
  • Impression Share
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR)
  • Cost per Click (CPC)
  • Cost per Mille (CPM)
  • Frequency

The goal is to push as many impressions as you can at a reasonable CPC or CPM to improve your reach.

At the same time, you don’t want to overexpose your ads too many times to the same person and cause ad fatigue. Frequency measures the exposure of your ads to the same people.

Note: The advertising channel you place a top of funnel campaign on affects the metrics you look at. Considerations change between Google Search Ads, Google Display Network ads, YouTube ads, and Social media ads (e.g. Facebook and Instagram).

  • Reach

Reach measures how many individual people see your ads.

For Google Search Ads, reach is not necessarily a metric that is widely measured because these ads are driven by demand (a user actually typing in the keywords into the search engine and triggering an ad).

For social media ads, you want to aim for a high reach because it means more individuals are becoming aware of your brand.

That is why paid social (among other top of funnel channels) is so important: to help generate a greater demand for your brand that the bottom funnel paid search campaigns can help capture.

  • Impression Share

Impression share is calculated by dividing actual impressions on your ads by their total eligible impressions. This metric is uniquely important as a measure of your overall performance once a campaign has been running for some time.

Once your ads have a profitable CPC, impression share is a valuable indicator of the extent to which your ads are reaching the target audience.

This metric can tell you if your campaign has the potential to continue working, or whether you should turn it off. A low impression share means the campaign can keep going, a high impression share means there are not many people left to reach with your ads.

  • Click-Through Rate (CTR)

CTR is correlated with how relevant and effective your ads are for the audience you’re advertising them to.

A low CTR means people aren’t interested in your ad or its messaging, and a high CTR means they like your ad and/or your messaging.

Impression share and CTR together tell you how many people are left to reach with your ads and whether they find those ads relevant enough to click on.

As you might suspect, changing your ad targeting and messaging is how to increase CTR.

  • CPC

For Search ads, CPC’s are going to be more important than CPM. And it varies widely depending on the industry.

For instance, a click for “used cameras” could be anywhere between $0.50-$100 in the reasonable range. A click on a “Personal Injury Lawyer” can be anywhere from $50-$200, depending on location and auction competition.

To measure ad performance accurately, we recommend becoming more familiar with the typical CPC range for your industry and the products you sell.

  • CPM

Cost-per-mille (CPM) measures the cost per thousand impressions of your ad or landing page.

On Google Display Network and YouTube, CPM of your ads is going to be much more important. What that ideal CPM number looks like is largely anchored by whether the campaign is prospecting against new audiences, or re-engaging via retargeting campaigns:

A CPM on prospecting should be substantially lower because the audience is much lower, and thus frequency is going to be ~1 ideally.

A CPM on retargeting is going to be much higher, and depending on the size of the retargeting list, could range from $5 – $20.

  • Frequency

Frequency measures how many times each person sees your ads.

It’s important to ensure your ads aren’t being seen too much by the same people to a point where it could turn them off to your brand.

Our general guideline on healthy numbers for frequency are:

PPC Frequency Guidelines

  • Top of funnel ads: Less than 2x frequency
  • Middle of funnel ads: About 2x or 3x frequency
  • Bottom of funnel ads: About 4x frequency

If conversion rates significantly start to go down as frequency goes up, this could be a signal that your ads are being overexposed.

Conversion Rates from PPC Traffic

Conversion rates can vary greatly based on the product, its cost to the consumer, and competitive pricing for that product.

In some cases, a low conversion rate can be highly profitable as the AOV is high, as are margins. In some cases, a conversion rate can be off the charts but not profitable as margins are so razor-thin.

In general:

  • Branded search campaigns (such as “Apple” or “Apple airpods”) should have the highest conversion rates.
  • Non-brand Google Shopping campaigns should be the next highest.
  • Non-brand search campaigns (such as “wireless earbuds”) come after shopping campaigns.
  • Remarketing campaigns tend to fall somewhere in between the last two.

Attribution

Finally, all of this should be grounded by good and accurate tracking. For instance, even with revenue-driving tactics, are you sure you’re tracking all revenue?

For example, some eCommerce businesses do a good amount of sales (30%+) from phone orders.

This traffic source will not be tracked in Google Analytics or other tracking tools without call tracking set up (and double-checking to make sure that you are getting results attributed to the appropriate campaigns from your call tracking provider).

Multi-channel attribution is necessary to ensure that you are accurately measuring your results. Yet, many retailers still have blind spots in their attribution tracking.

We recommend attributing as many sales as you can to the channels they came from so that you can make better-informed marketing decisions.

How SEO, PPC, and CRO Work Together

Let’s quickly consider a couple more aspects of how SEO, CRO, and PPC are integrated.

One specific benefit of SEO is that it can actually improve your conversion rate and your PPC campaigns as a cross-over effect.

For example, improving the quality of your landing pages in terms of their SEO often involves adding better content like images and text to the page. These improvements to a page’s quality can often help improve the conversion rate of that optimized page because visitors may have more trust and interest as a result of the added content.

Additionally, improving PPC targeting to more relevant audiences and/or doing SEO to target those same audiences with content can also help improve the conversion rate.

As complementary practices, SEO, PPC, and CRO are true drivers of eCommerce business growth.

What Are Your eCommerce Store’s Next Marketing Benchmarks?

We hope this discussion has shown you how comparing your business’s KPI’s to general averages is not the frame of thinking that leads to growth. The general theme here is:

  1. Make sure you’re profitable.
  2. Keep improving that profit by identifying and improving the metrics that contribute to it the most.

When we work with new clients, we holistically assess the health of their PPC, SEO, or CRO (or all three) to find out where the biggest levers for their business are.

As these three digital marketing practices affect each other, and work better in tandem, we hope you choose to pursue all three.

Note: If you would like our expert team to assess your eCommerce website’s marketing and make data-driven recommendations to drive growth, get in touch with us here or use the form below.

How to Scale Organic Traffic (Without Writing a Million Blog Posts)

In-house SEOs and consultants alike are routinely challenged to find new opportunities to expand organic traffic. But the classic approach of researching new keywords then writing articles for those that match your domain strength doesn’t work for all sites. Take Quora, for example. It’s one of the largest social platforms, with over 300 million monthly […]

The post How to Scale Organic Traffic (Without Writing a Million Blog Posts) appeared first on CXL.

In-house SEOs and consultants alike are routinely challenged to find new opportunities to expand organic traffic. But the classic approach of researching new keywords then writing articles for those that match your domain strength doesn’t work for all sites.

Take Quora, for example. It’s one of the largest social platforms, with over 300 million monthly active users and nearly 54 million pages in Google’s index. Even with a team of writers, you couldn’t create enough high-quality content to yield big results.

Instead, you have to identify scalable solutions that drive organic traffic—new information types or page templates. In other words, new features!

Quora did just that. In mid-2019, they launched a new feature called “spaces,” which allows users to create content around topics instead of questions. Topics are an important feature for social networks, just as genres are for music or categories for ecommerce sites. (Twitter recently introduced topics, too.)

Quora Spaces is already gaining traction in organic search. It’s a great example of how product features can drive organic traffic. In fact, new product features are the most underrated driver of SEO growth for large sites.

In this article, I show you:

  • How user intent can help you brainstorm product features;
  • The step-by-step process to narrow your list of potential features;
  • Keys to deploying those new features in an SEO-friendly way.

Why opportunities are different for “inventory-driven” websites

SEO growth works differently for sites that scale with content (e.g., blog posts) compared to sites that scale with inventory (e.g., movies, songs, products, profiles, etc.). I call the later type “inventory driven.”

As such, SEO opportunities for sites that scale with content (“content driven”) are mostly new topics and keywords to feed article creation, whereas inventory-driven sites scale with new product features.

For inventory-driven sites, the website is a big part of the product. It’s more than just a distribution channel. It provides the platform that users act on and a solution to one or many problems.

For a feature to have SEO value, of course, it has to be publicly exposed. Anything behind a login or on a native app doesn’t work. The feature also has to address a need that people are searching for.

Whether it improves the quality of an existing page (and, therefore, rankings for keywords you’re already addressing) or justifies new page creation (to rank for new keywords), there has to be demand.

Let’s look at a few examples of SEO-focused product features:

  • Quora spaces;
  • Youtube hashtags;
  • Twitter moments;
  • Pinterest topics;
  • Owler’s competitive analysis of Twitter followers;
  • Crunchbase showing SimilarWeb data;
  • Amazon Q&A;
  • Trello templates;
  • Databox templates.

Those features are helping sites ranking for thousands, even millions, of keywords.

Quora Spaces

quora topics organic keyword growth.

Twitter moments

twitter moments organic keyword growth.

In each case, an extension to the existing solution was shipped in a search engine–friendly way and now drives a lot of organic traffic, while also improving the product.

Look at Amazon. They rolled out an indexable Q&A for obvious reasons—users have all sorts of product questions.

amazon product q&a keyword growth.

Adding Q&A pages not only makes visiting Amazon more attractive (because you get answers to your questions), but it also addresses questions people might type into Google search. In return, customers might first get to Amazon through an off-site search, then buy the product there.

But what if the high-potential feature isn’t obvious? How do you make new feature ideas something other than speculative?

User intent + Jobs-to-be-done = a match made in heaven

New product features are built with a variety of methods:

  • Gut feeling (e.g., Steve Jobs);
  • Brainstorming/hive mind;
  • Quantitative research (i.e. what customers are doing);
  • Qualitative research (i.e. speaking to customers);
  • Customer requests;
  • Strategically, to attack a market.

No conversation in SEO can exclude user intent. If you don’t meet user intent, you won’t rank. That makes it more of a ranking enabler than a ranking factor—even more so since machine-learning technologies like BERT help Google understand intent better.

The Jobs-to-be-done framework (JTBD) was invented by economist Clayton Christensen and is a great way to identify user intent for a topic and define the right features. A “job,” in this case, is a micro task that’s connected to context—the circumstances in which the user is trying to get a job done. The main goal is to have a list of jobs for which you can build new features.

JTBD follows 5 steps:

  1. Identify the focus market;
  2. Find core and side jobs customers try to get done;
  3. Categorize the jobs;
  4. Create job statements;
  5. Prioritize opportunities depending on how well they’re served at the moment (over-served, served right, underserved).

For many inventory-driven sites, the JTBD framework is a better alternative to personas. It’s difficult to target personas when you may have hundreds of sub-audiences. Instead, looking at the jobs your audiences are trying to do—and in what context—is more fruitful. Jobs are agnostic to personality or preferences.

Let’s run through a hypothetical example with Spotify. 

  1. We can flip “focus market” to “target topic”—the topical space in which your product provides value. For Spotify, the target topic would be “music” because it’s core to Spotify’s product.
  2. Define jobs: “listen to music,” “share music with friends,” “explore new genres,” etc. (There are probably hundreds or thousands of jobs.) Simply describe interactions your target audience has with your product.
  3. Cluster your jobs into groups like “listen,” “share,” or “explore.” Think about the action that users take.
  4. Write job statements consisting of an object, a verb, and context. For example, “listen to music on a plane”; “share music with friends while texting on WhatsApp”; or “explore new genres when I’m bored at work” (which never happens, of course).
  5. Prioritize the jobs according to your core product value—the main thing users get out of your solution. This is when you look at the importance of each job for your business and categorize them as “main jobs” or “side jobs,” depending on how important they are for the customer.

The final outcome is a prioritized list of important problems your audience is trying to solve.

For Spotify, the new feature could be a set of pages for the most shared songs in every genre or weekly charts per genre. They already scale SEO with artist, album, and genre pages. To take it even further, they could get into the lyrics game and publish lyrics on song pages (just an idea).

spotify artist pages organic keywords.
Spotify’s artist pages rank on Page 1 for more than 800,000 keywords.

Don’t neglect the emotional context

The emotional part of a job, provided through its context, is crucial. Remember, we almost always make emotional, not rational, choices. Even Google recommends looking at the emotional contexts in which users search, defining them as “needs.”

They’ve identified six needs:

  1. Surprise me;
  2. Thrill me;
  3. Impress me;
  4. Educate me;
  5. Reassure me;
  6. Help me.

To merge this emotional context with the JTBD framework, use needs as filters. Each job should satisfy at least one need.

emotional needs of searchers.
Searcher needs, as defined by Google.

Empathy is central to getting user intent right. As Google states

Each need state is made up of a combination of emotional, social, and functional needs. Emotions are the foundations of need states. The truth is, decision-making is not a rational process, but one driven mainly by how people feel. The rational brain layers on reasons for our choices only after they’re made.

So far, we’ve gone through half the process:

  1. Use the JTBD framework to identify user problems.
  2. Cross check jobs with emotional needs.

Now, it’s time for the remaining steps:

  1. Feed job ideas with SEO data, like search volume.
  2. Deploy the feature in an SEO-friendly way.

5 ways to pair jobs with SEO research

People search with queries. Whereas classic SEO opportunity analysis focuses on finding new keywords, features should focus on patterns—queries with a common syntax.

Syntax describes the word order or arrangement. Query syntax, therefore, means how query patterns are structured. When you find queries with the same syntax that you don’t rank for, you can build a new feature to address them.

The point is not to find a few queries with high search volume. It’s to find a query pattern or template that scales across thousands of searches, which—in sum—add up to a lot of traffic. 

Let’s consider some examples:

  • Imagine YouTube users were searching for “[title of video] English subtitles” on Google. This would indicate that users want to see English subtitles for videos. YouTube could build a feature to show English subtitles automatically. To make it search-friendly, the transcription could be added on the page and provide additional content for Google.
  • Say you find that queries with the pattern “investors of [company]” have a lot of search volume. That would indicate to a site like Crunchbase that they might want to build a feature to let users see the investors of any company (if the information is available) on the company page.
  • A query syntax like “[business type] reporting template” would indicate to a company like Google that they should build standardized, industry-specific templates for Google Data Studio.

In each case, the identified demand can be addressed and lead to more organic traffic (and, of course, happier customers). You simply tweak standard keyword research methods to unearth queries with a shared syntax.

Here are five ways to do it.

How to discover queries with a shared syntax

1. Competitor analysis

Use a feature like SEMrush’s “Keyword Gap” to discover keywords that your competitors rank for but you do not.

content gap analysis in ahrefs.
Ahrefs’ Content Gap tool.

You want to identify query patterns just like you would look for new keyword opportunities, but at scale and with the same syntax. The easiest way to find new opportunities is among long-tail keywords, so set “Word count” to a minimum of 3 words.

content gap report for ebay and amazon from ahrefs.

The example above compares eBay’s keywords to Amazon’s, with a minimum word count of 3. It quickly shows that “[item] for sale” is a query syntax eBay ranks well for but Amazon doesn’t.

As a result, a (theoretical) opportunity for Amazon would be to add a feature that lists item categories “for sale” on its marketplace.

2. Hidden gems

Sometimes, established sites rank for queries with a certain syntax—but not high enough on the SERP to earn many clicks.

Depending how well existing pages meet user intent for those queries, you could improve existing content or create new pages. Taking what you have to the next level is a viable strategy and often more resource-friendly than building new things.

You can find them with rank tracker tools. In Ahrefs, filter your domain’s keywords for a higher word count and lower position:

  1. Plug your domain into the search field.
  2. Go to the “organic keywords” report.
  3. Filter for lower positions (e.g., 20–40).
  4. Filter for a higher word count (e.g., 5+).
crunchbase long-tail keywords in ahrefs.

In the case above, I used Ahrefs to find a new (hypothetical) feature opportunity for Crunchbase: the net worth of companies and people.

From here, use your eye to spot patterns, or export the query list to a spreadsheet and categorize each of them until you start to see the pattern. Also, play around with the filtering options. Some sites need a higher word count, others start showing patterns with fewer words.

3. Internal search

Looking at internal search keywords in tools like Google Analytics, Algolia, or Looker has many benefits. One of them is understanding features that users are looking for, or informational needs that you could turn into a feature.

To find internal search data in Google Analytics, go to:

  1. Behavior;
  2. Site Search;
  3. Search Terms;
  4. Look at the “Search Term” column.
how to find internal search terms in google analytics.

As with previous keyword research methods, the goal is to look for queries with the same syntax and identify patterns. (Text analyzer tools like this one can help scale the process.)

4. Use tools to discover new topics

Certain tools, such as Exploding Topics, Ahrefs’ Content Explorer, Google Trends, Alexa Content Exploration, or Buzzsumo can help you discover topics gaining traction on the web.

exploding topics.
Exploding Topics tells you how topics are trending over a period of time.
alexa's content exploration tool.
Alexa’s Content Exploration tool shows trends for the number of articles published and social media engagement.

Those topics can be translated into new features, but you have to start with a “seed idea”—a hunch (based on your JTBD research) for what users might want that relates to your product.

buzzsumo topic discovery.
Based on an entered topic, Buzzsumo provides subtopics, questions, and keywords.

These tools can validate your ideas and explore the topic further. Find the problems and needs of your audience and translate them into new features.

5. Ask your customers

One of the best ways to inform new features is to ask your target group directly! If you can’t invite people into your office and squeeze a new feature out of them, you have two options: Use social networks or a user-testing platform.

Simply asking “What feature should we build?” on Twitter or Facebook can lead to interesting conversations. You can also mine or monitor mentions on social networks and look for complaints or requests for features. The same goes for customer support: What features are customers regularly complaining about or requesting?

Sometimes, however, you need more, like what you get from remote user-testing. Platforms like Userlytics, UserTesting, or Lookback allow you to record or survey users and find out what functionality they’re missing.

How to make new product features SEO friendly

Now that you’ve identified a job and associated query syntax, the question is whether you can (or should) build a new page template or add to existing pages. The answer is given by user intent:

  • If your existing pages already target a clear intent, and the new feature would dilute it, create a new page for it.
  • If the new feature is additive or complementary, integrate it on existing pages.

There is no cookie-cutter answer that’s true in every case, so use your best judgment. Deploy the feature at a small scale to test how well it works for users and whether the new feature helps you rank for a query pattern you already rank for or a new one.

At G2, for example, we learned that a query syntax like “free [software name]” can’t be solved with a filter on a category page. To be search-friendly and provide the best answer, it needs a new page template. Users don’t want to come to a page and click on a filter to see free software; they want access only to free solutions when they search for them.

When creating new pages or updating existing ones, here are things to keep in mind.

Keys to adding SEO-friendly features

SEO-friendly features mostly come down to providing information, creating page types, integrating UGC, and providing templates on product or category pages. When you develop and ship them, you have to keep three factors in mind to get the most organic traffic out of them.

1. Accessibility

First, they have to be publicly accessible for users and search engines. That means search engines need to be able to render any scripts or frameworks they’re built with and parse the content.

A big part of that is speed and mobile friendliness. Test new features with Google’s rendering tool in Search Console, PageSpeed Insights, and their Mobile-Friendly Test:

Google Search Console

  1. Go to URL Inspection;
  2. Insert URL into the search field;
  3. Click “Live Test”;
  4. Click “Screenshot”;
  5. Make sure the URL has no problems.
url inspection in google search console.

Google PageSpeed Insights

google pagespeed insights.

Google Mobile-Friendly Test

mobile-friendly test by google.

2. Discoverability

Second, these pages need to be discoverable for search engines, which comes down to internal links and XML sitemaps.

Make sure new pages are not orphaned or anchored too low in crawl depth. Crawl your site on a staging environment with freshly deployed features and compare metrics like crawl depth and internal links to similar pages on the live version of your site.

crawl depth report from screaming frog.
A crawl depth report in Screaming Frog.

Rolling out a few thousand pages at once without linking to them properly can do more than just lower the success of a new feature—it can lead to crawl budget problems as well.

One way to avoid this issue is to add a homepage module that links to hub pages (often category pages) on which the new feature pages are linked. Also ensure that you link between new feature pages to make it easy for:

  • Google to understand their relationship;
  • Users to navigate between them;
  • Link equity to pass across the new page template.

3. Relevance

Third, features need to address a new user intent or job-to-be-done (i.e. provide value). Examine the queries you’re targeting with the new feature and make sure the information and value you provide are sufficient for users to get something out of it. Optimizing for search without optimizing for your users, brand, etc., has no future.

In addition to monitoring rankings for targeted query patterns, look at user satisfaction metrics, which depend on the original intent of the query. In most cases, it’s either time on page, scroll depth, or a triggered click event. I recommend a mix of all three, if possible.

Making a case for new product features

Unless you’re a small, agile startup, shipping new features isn’t as simple as it sounds. You’ll likely have to make a case to get developer and designer resources and bring your asks into the right formats for product teams to push them forward.

Three things will help you with your pitch.

1. Know the process

If you’ve never heard the term scrum or agile before, you’re behind. New features need to be written in user stories to fit the scrum framework.

The pattern follows, “As a user, I would like to…” and describes the final outcome for users. Then, developers can create tickets for each piece that leads to the outcome.

Also note that developers work in sprints, usually over two weeks, with a planning and retro session. If you can, be present in both to assess whether the feature is getting built the way you envision.

2. Define value

Product leaders often want to see an estimate of returns. Resources are scarce and need to be prioritized according to potential impact. In plain words, asking a team to build something “just because” isn’t enough. You need to bring numbers.

Luckily, it should be relatively simple to estimate traffic from the queries you identified during query syntax research. Your job is to connect the potential traffic to a number that reflects business impact—dollars, ideally.

3. Start small

Launch Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) when you can. Either roll out a new feature on a subset of pages or with limited functionality. MVPs allow you to prove impact quickly, get more resources, and back up your roadmap.

Make sure you benchmark performance before you launch an MVP feature. Have a plan for measuring success and document your findings.

Conclusion

SEOs are often handed lofty goals and work under high pressure. They need to prioritize their efforts in a way that shows results; otherwise, they risk losing credibility and resources.

Companies that scale organic traffic with their inventory rarely need backlinks. More often, they need technical SEO. However, even the best technical SEO reaches a point when 90% of opportunities are maxed out, and growth slows. In this case, new product features in the form of new page templates or information types are key.

If successful, feature-driven SEO opportunities can help a company expand vertically, by targeting more verticals, or horizontally, by offering new services. SEO is a pull channel, and search volume is indicative of demand.

The biggest challenge is to get the necessary funding to go after such opportunities, and the way to overcome it is to make a strong, data-driven case.

The post How to Scale Organic Traffic (Without Writing a Million Blog Posts) appeared first on CXL.

Improve Your Sign-Up Form with Off-White Text Fields

When designing an app, most designers put all their effort into the content pages but overlook the sign-up form.

When designing an app, most designers put all their effort into the content pages but overlook the sign-up form. What users end up getting is a form that’s visually unappealing, stale, and clinical. A white background, plain text fields, cluttered text, and harsh black outlines everywhere doesn’t motivate users to sign up. If your form looks like this, there’s room for improvement.

clinical-form

Some users who want to use your app are likely to sign up regardless of how your form looks. However, others who are undecided are likely to pass once they see your clinical sign-up form. You could be losing many potential users on the first impression. By making your sign-up more usable and appealing, you’ll push those undecided users over the edge.

Visual Appeal Motivates Users

A research study found that first impressions of interfaces are influenced by visual appeal. Users tend to judge interfaces with low visual appeal as uninteresting and hard to use. This finding infers that users are likely to perceive unappealing forms as difficult and time-consuming, which deters them from filling it out.

Making your form less clinical and more appealing can motivate users to take action on it. However, there’s a limit to how much visual appeal it should have. Making it too attractive can distract users from their task at hand. At the same time, the form needs to have high usability. Luckily, there’s a way you can achieve both by following a simple technique.

Off-White Text Fields

The technique that’ll make your sign-up form more usable and appealing is to make your text fields or their background an off-white color. Off-white is a shade of white mixed with a pale hue. When you apply it to your form, it’ll turn the stale, clinical appearance into a fresh, stimulating one. Not only that, but it’ll also strengthen the visual cues on your text fields and reduce the visual noise around them.

off-white-text-fields

Off-white text fields draw attention to each field quickly so users can interact with them right away. They also provide a clearer focus on the input so users can type, check, and correct them easier. Clinical text fields, compared with off-white ones, produce more visual noise. Any text outside the fields will clash with the input text and make it harder to focus.

off-white-background

An off-white background also provides a clearer input focus. It does this by accentuating the white space in each field and diminishing the text outside them. The results are stronger text field cues and more clarity on the input.

Brand Theming Your Form

When choosing an off-white, you don’t want to use any random color. You want one that’s consistent with your brand so that your form looks professional. To get the right off-white, take your brand color, and adjust the brightness and saturation levels.

brand-theming

Increase the brightness close to 100% and decrease the saturation to around 5%. Lowering the brightness a few degrees below 100 will add a tinge of gray to the color. Reducing the saturation will lessen the hue in your off-white. You can also add a slightly darker off-white for the field border to give it more depth.

Freshen Up Your Form

Sign-up forms don’t always have to look stale and clinical. A clinical appearance will turn most users off and away. Adding more visual appeal doesn’t require a lot of time or advanced design skills. By choosing the right off-white color to enhance your fields, you can freshen up your form and get more sign-ups than before.

Website Heatmap – A Look Into the Cons and How to Overcome Them.

What is a Website Heatmap? Website heatmap is a tool that graphically represents data on how various pages of your website are performing. It records user activity on web pages and presents them using colors on the generated heatmap. The use of website heatmaps usually entails employing a hot-to-cold color or warm-to-cool scheme where the…

The post Website Heatmap – A Look Into the Cons and How to Overcome Them. appeared first on Blog.

What is a Website Heatmap?

Website heatmap is a tool that graphically represents data on how various pages of your website are performing. It records user activity on web pages and presents them using colors on the generated heatmap. The use of website heatmaps usually entails employing a hot-to-cold color or warm-to-cool scheme where the warm color tones indicate the most popular sections of your website pages.

warm to cool color scheme
Image Source[1]

Broadly, there are 5 different kinds of website heatmaps, namely, heatmap, clickmap, scrollmap, mouse tracking heatmap, and eye tracking heatmap. They record visitors’ clicks, scroll depth & pattern, mouse movement, gaze & eye fixation behavior, and the data thus gathered can help you identify popular sections of various web pages, discover friction areas by identifying redundant links, images, content, and so on, and can enable you to find your website’s most optimized version.

Are Heatmaps Actually Too Good to be True?

As goes the rule, before crossing the road, look both left and right for oncoming traffic. One wrong step and the story ends then and there. With heatmaps too, before choosing it as the ultimate visual behavior analytics tool for your website, you need to weigh in both the pros and cons.

Heatmaps weren’t always what they are today. From the first heatmap being made in 1873 using a color palette that was limited to shades of black and white, heatmaps have evolved quite a lot. And like any other tool or software in the process of evolving into its perfect version, heatmaps too have a long way to go.

There are a lot of articles about how website heatmap is a tool that does not falter. But, to make truly informed decisions, and to be sure the drawbacks and challenges that come with it do not hamper your visitor behavior analysis, it is important to keep its cons in mind as well. For all we know, your requirements might be better catered to with other tools.

Let’s look at some of the most commonly experienced drawbacks or challenges accompanying website heatmap usage:

1. Lack of Time Records

When a heatmap tool records the clicks, scrolls, mouse movement, or eye movement of visitors, it does not present the plotted data with a timestamp for each user interaction.

This essentially means that there is no way to know when in a visitor’s journey, they clicked on a certain element, or they stopped scrolling on a page, or they clicked on the exit button. It may very well be that 10% of the visitors whose engagement story your heatmap tells landed on your website by mistake, or maybe they clicked on an ad by mistake. It will just give you a colorful picture of the data it captured without any context, and you may end up making unwarranted changes to your website.

For instance, a visitor lands on your website, navigates through the homepage to the product page, clicks on a few elements, comes back to the homepage, and then exits the website. Another visitor lands directly on your product page when they were actually looking for the homepage so they click on some elements, go back to the homepage and then exits. Now, the reason for these two visitors exiting your website may be very different. But because heatmaps do not timestamp visitor activity, there is no way to realize that the two had different reasons for exiting the product page. 

Heatmaps fail to tell you when a user did what they did on the website. They only tell you that they did it without any context about their journey or experience.

2. Inability to Track Dynamic Elements’ Performance without Complex Configuration

It’s the start of 2020s, and everything is now dynamic in the online world – the elements on the websites keep on changing, moving, or updating. Heatmap’s inherent design is best suited for fixed and unchanging elements. Until the heatmaps tool you choose has an added dynamic heatmap feature, you will have to make do with incomplete data and thus incomplete information. And no matter how much precision you show in setting it all up and then analyzing the collected data, you will never truly get a complete picture of how each page of your website is performing. 

Without the ability to track visitor behavior on pages and elements with dynamic URLs like visitors’ profile, their cart page, account settings page, drop-down menus, and so on, the heatmap plotted may be beautiful but not as useful or accurate.

3. Data Distortion Through Visualization

Not every click means the same thing. Not every scroll connotes the same scrolling pattern. Not every cursor pause means the visitors are confused. Additionally, a single visitor can click on a single page multiple times on multiple elements. A single visitor can click on the same element multiple times. It is here that lies the biggest problem with using website heatmaps.

For heatmaps, a click is a click, a scroll is a scroll, and so on. It does not pause to consider the above-mentioned possibilities. Hence, it plots these activity markers exactly as it records it – just because a visitor clicked on the login button does not mean they actually logged in, just because they clicked on unlinked images does not automatically mean they were expecting it to be linked to something.

Then there are ‘Parkers’. Parkers are visitors who keep their cursors stationary irrespective of which section of a page they are on, what they are reading or what they are looking at. Now, when using a mouse tracking heatmap, you may notice that some visitors are leaving their cursors at random places on the page for a long time. This does not automatically mean that the content on those sections of the page is confusing, and that is why visitors have their cursors on those sections for so long. The heatmap you use may not rule out such caveats of visitor behavior and presents it as a breakage in user experience. 

Coupled with the problem of lack of timestamps, this type of data visualization only distorts the collected data.

4. Inability to Take Screen Diversity Into Account

In the first decade of the 21st century, mankind forged histories in terms of technological advancements. It began with only a few owning computers, which were all similar, with close to duplicate configurations and features, if not the same. Today, every second person owns multiple devices with varying screen sizes, and the market is swamped with different companies that are producing smart devices of all shapes and forms relentlessly.

Therefore, to record visitor behavior on every such device, the tool used should be as versatile so it can record and distinguish between different screen sizes and resolutions of the devices being used by different visitors to your website. For instance, 100 pixels by 100 pixels does not mean the same thing for a device with a 16:9 aspect ratio and one with an 18.7:9 aspect ratio. Till the time website heatmaps ignore these peculiarities, you will not see the actual, but a statistically insignificant averaged data being represented on a heatmap.

Are Heatmaps Useful Then?

All the above-mentioned cons of using website heatmap can be overcome through one solution – preventing the use of website heatmaps in isolation from other analytics tools, both quantitative and qualitative. 

Using website heatmaps in combination with other tools like Google Analytics (GA) and session recordings, website form analytics, website surveys, and so on, you can compare the data collected from two or more tools and then corroborate or rule out the findings of your heatmap. 

This would solve the problem of lack of time records, inability to track dynamic elements, visualization leading to complete data distortion, and aspect ratio. Plus, website heatmaps come with a huge package of benefits that outweigh the pitfalls that accompany it.

By having multiple tools gather data on the same visitors and their journey, you can use the heatmap data to fill in the blanks left by the findings of session recording and vice versa.

Conclusion

Like any other software, website heatmaps too, have their fair share of drawbacks. But none of these are irreparable flaws. With a few extra precautions and by following some industry best practices to avoid making heat mapping mistakes, you can make the most out of what website heatmaps have to offer.

The post Website Heatmap – A Look Into the Cons and How to Overcome Them. appeared first on Blog.

Tools and tips: the world’s fastest projects; 3X your speed with kaizen; and how to use heat maps

Happy New Year! We hope your 2020 turns out to be as good as its name sounds. (Not since 1999 and 2000 have we had such good year names, and we won’t have another till 2222.) Take inspiration from projects that were completed “impossibly” quickly Strip…

Happy New Year! We hope your 2020 turns out to be as good as its name sounds. (Not since 1999 and 2000 have we had such good year names, and we won’t have another till 2222.) Take inspiration from projects that were completed “impossibly” quickly Stripe’s CEO, Patrick Collison, has compiled a list of projects […]

How Loyalty Programs Create Identity to Power Personalization

No matter the product or service, marketers face similar challenges: identifying desirable target audiences and proactively creating authentic and informed interactions that build long-term loyalty. We hear a similar refrain from consumers: “I don’t sp…

No matter the product or service, marketers face similar challenges: identifying desirable target audiences and proactively creating authentic and informed interactions that build long-term loyalty. We hear a similar refrain from consumers: “I don’t spend my time or money with brands that don’t get me.” Simply put, brands want to create enduring emotional connections with consumers, which consumers want as well.

We call this relationship the Human Loyalty – where customer expectations are met at various states of needs requiring a proactive approach using personalization to deliver relevance and meaning. This is achieved by using a combination of consumer data and people-based marketing technologies. Human Loyalty solutions are the key to building long-term customer relationships. These solutions create consumer identity and apply people-based technologies that enable personalized moments and messaging. When this type of personalization is done well, marketing becomes more effective, consumer relationships become more enduring, and brands are rewarded with increasing revenue.

Turning Identity into Personalized Moments

When a consumer opts in to a loyalty program and goes from anonymous to known, brands create identity and can begin to move from “one-to-many” to “one-to-one” personalization. However, this is not possible without first-party data and marketing technologies.

Unknown customer to known

With data privacy on everyone’s mind, loyalty solutions provide the permission brands need to collect, access, and use personal data. Acting on transactional data alone will not deliver authentic and meaningful moments. Combining multiple data attributes together paints a clearer picture of what consumers think, feel, see, and do. Loyalty solutions can provide the single source of data that brands need to have a richer consumer understanding, including purchase data, engagement data, contextual data, and self-reported preferences.

However, having the data isn’t enough to create meaningful personalization. You need a people-based MarTech stack to support data management, insights, orchestration, and activation across the brand journey. Human Loyalty solutions provide rich, foundational data sources that fuel the bottom of the tech stack. Combining this data with a full suite of omni-channel decisioning and activation capabilities enables you to effectively deliver personalized messaging based on the need state. At the top of the stack, an evergreen loyalty program gives brands the platform to efficiently activate, test, and optimize messages with a known and receptive audience. Data collected is fed back in to the MarTech foundation so that brands can learn, iterate, and become increasingly one-to-one.

The Technology Data Use Gap

Personalization makes consumers feel that brands “know me and my needs” because personalization strengthens emotional connections.  Savvy brands know personalization is only possible through technology. Over half of clients we surveyed increased investments in loyalty platform technology, data management capabilities, and emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI). These investments create the marketing infrastructure needed for one-to-one personalization. Furthermore, 63 percent of clients surveyed said they have fully connected loyalty and CRM data, and over 80 percent have the tools and organizational structure to coordinate and deliver personalized experiences across channels.

Take, for example, self-reported preferences. These are things that consumers explicitly tell the brand they like and don’t like. Yet, only 59 percent of respondents use preferences in personalization.  When you dig down to channel use, just 35-50 percent of respondents use preference data in their digital marketing channels like site, email, and app.

What’s clear is that, even with an infrastructure in place, brands aren’t using the internally generated and immediately actionable data they collect to its maximum marketing potential. This gap between what brands have available and what they use reinforces the consumer sentiment that brands aren’t marketing to them as individuals.

Using Identity to Meet Customer Expectations

Using identity matters for one simple reason: today’s consumers seek authentic and seamless interactions with brands and they expect it across the entire brand experience. Brands need identity and rich consumer data – like that available through a loyalty solution and enabled through marketing technologies – to meet demanding consumer expectations, unlock the ability to provide meaningful one-to-one experiences, and build Human Loyalty with consumers.

Want to learn more? Check out Merkle’s Q4 2019 Customer Engagement Report here.