What is eCommerce Testing? Why and How Should You Do It?

Over the past decade, the entire shopping ecosystem has undergone a massive change. Where people once enjoyed shopping at local brick-and-mortar stores for all their needs, today they’re happy browsing through wide varieties of commodities online and making purchases as per their comfort and convenience. The shift has brought much good to the eCommerce companies…

Over the past decade, the entire shopping ecosystem has undergone a massive change. Where people once enjoyed shopping at local brick-and-mortar stores for all their needs, today they’re happy browsing through wide varieties of commodities online and making purchases as per their comfort and convenience. The shift has brought much good to the eCommerce companies in terms of incremental revenue growth, global customer base, and faster business expansion. However, it has also put them in a critical position of keeping pace with the ever-increasing, ever-evolving needs, and demands of the people. 

illustration on eCommerce testing

Experience optimizers across the globe suggest that the best way eCommerce businesses can survive today’s market heat, maintain their customer base, and ensure revenue growth is by investing much into modern marketing activities and focusing their energies on testing and optimization. These have the prowess to provide seamless and frictionless customer experiences and help businesses succeed.[1]

Assuming you’re already familiar with modern marketing activities and their importance in today’s time, we’d like to jump directly to the benefits of eCommerce testing and optimization, key challenges, and website areas and elements that you must test.

What is eCommerce testing? Why is it important?

eCommerce testing can be defined as the process of testing various eCommerce website elements such as design, specifications, functionalities, pages, and features to check their sanity and ensure they’re not harming the performance of the site in any manner possible.

When done correctly and continuously, testing can not only improve your site visitors’ overall experience but significantly increase conversions as well. Mentioned below are some reasons explaining the importance of testing and optimization.

1. Improve user engagement

As stated above, testing helps check the hygiene of a page element. It tells us which page element or process affects a user’s onsite journey and helps us rectify the issues faster. The better the user experience, the more shall be the onsite engagement.     

2. Generate marketing strategies

Testing and optimization allow you to make effective plans for your website. By reiterating your site’s problematic areas, you can engage more people and also increase their stay. 

3. Reduce risks

Many times, making major and considerable changes to your site can cause notable strategic changes or even trigger significant losses. However, testing these changes in a planned manner can help eliminate the chances of these uncertain losses.  

4. Increase conversion rates

Since you’re testing almost every aspect of your website and ensuring a smooth visitor experience through site optimization, your conversion rate is bound to increase. 

5. Better understanding of visitor behavior

It’s often difficult to map your website visitors’ needs and preferences and optimize your site accordingly. But with testing, everything is possible. It’s one of the best and quickest ways to confirm what your visitors like.  

What should you know before you run an eCommerce test?

From the source code to product pages, you can test the viability of every element of your website using an extensive range of testing methods. Some of the most common methods are as follows:

  • Functional testing
  • Usability testing
  • Security testing
  • Performance testing 
  • Database testing
  • Mobile application testing

While each of these methods has its own rules and regulations, running multiple tests using multiple testing methods at the same time can cause chaos as well as disrupt test results. Hence, it’s always advised to run one test at a time or use a good testing tool like VWO that enables you to run multiple tests simultaneously without one overlapping the other. 

Given this fact, you must prioritize the order in which you want to run tests based on the test’s impact on your brand’s overall conversion rate. Theories like agile testing[2], which is used by teams conducting software testing, can help you find the balance.

Logically, focus on significant bugs and software flaws that impact everyone through mobile app testing and website testing first. Once you’ve addressed these issues, then look at the minor bugs.

flow chart on what is agile testing
Image Source: [1]

Furthermore, it’s always a good idea to evaluate your test ideas and testing techniques on a regular basis because a poor website testing strategy can lead to loss of customers, revenue, and even jeopardize your brand’s reputation in the market. You must always carefully outline the testing scope, set the objectives, check it’s viability or chances of success, and estimate efforts in a time frame.

What are some key issues related to eCommerce testing?

The underlying principle behind a good user experience (UX) is to make life easy for your visitors. Every task on your website should be intuitive. You want people to be able to navigate around your website or application with minimum fuss.

While these principles are straightforward, it’s their implementation where things get tricky. A lot of factors play into the user experience. Think of all the stages of a user’s journey and test them from the first click on a product to the shopping cart. 

For example, through form analysis, you can track how people are interacting with various input fields. This information provides you with insights on where users are experiencing problems. You can use this data to develop a hypothesis and run a test to check whether your assumptions or assertions are correct.

Form Analytics Illustration
Analysis of a typical SaaS website form

1. Testing for bugs

Regardless of how well you develop your website, there shall always remain some bugs in your wireframe that may disrupt your site’s functionality or hinder the visitor’s journey. While developers once couldn’t do anything about these bugs, today, they can use testing to fix these issues and create seamless UI/UX designs. 

Different Types Of Bugs cycle I vs. cycle II
Image Source: [2]

Some of the most common bugs that you may find on your eCommerce website are as follows:[3]

  • Browser compatibility problems
  • Broken links
  • Inconsistencies in the catalog
  • Shopping cart issues
  • Checkout bugs

According to a study by QualiTest,[4] most of the bugs that sites encounter are of medium severity. These do not impair the usability of the site. However, they do have the potential to impact the eCommerce conversion rate and overall business sales.

Severity Of Website Bugs
Image Source: [3]

When managing an eCommerce store, it’s essential to put a system to identify bugs and eliminate them as soon as possible. It is especially important to have a quality assurance strategy in place when undertaking any sustained eCommerce testing.

2. Testing conversion rates

Your eCommerce conversion rate ultimately defines the success of your business. The higher the conversion rate, the higher shall be your business’ revenue. Understandably, given the importance of sales to any business, conversion rates focus on extensive eCommerce testing.

There are various stages to any conversion rate optimization test. The first stage is to set objectives and determine the most suitable type of test. Your choice must always be based on data, rather than pure intuitions. For example, if you decide to review your brand’s purchase cycle, ensure to data back all your decisions.

The next step is to test and gather available data and form a hypothesis. Tools like heatmaps, form analytics, scrollmaps, session recordings etc. can help analyze user behavior and provide useful information. Always gather enough information before running a test to ensure you’re moving in the right direction. 

Standard statistical testing methods include A/B testing, split testing, and multivariate testing. You can use this A/B duration calculator to determine how long a test on your site will take.

Which site areas and elements should you test?

The ultimate goal of every test is to increase the conversions and revenue of your eCommerce business. You want to focus on running conversion optimization tests that provide the maximum return on investment. There are certain areas of your eCommerce website that you will naturally target to ensure a seamless visitor experience. Some of these are as follows:

1. Search and navigation

Site search and navigation are two of your website’s primary elements extensively used by your visitors to explore your website or mobile app. Ensuring they’re free of bugs and promise a frictionless experience must always be your top priority. 

Best Choice Products, an eCommerce website selling garden, music, children, and fitness products, illustrates the importance of testing your navigation. As part of a round of eCommerce A/B testing, they ran a test on their mobile navigation and search bar. They hypothesised that by improving the visibility of the search bar on the header will improve user penetration into the website. The control and variation version of the test are as follows

example of A/B testing search and navigation
Control version (left) with no search bar. Variation version (right) with a prominently visible search bar.

Running the test for about 7 days, the execs at Best Choice Products witnessed that visitors were engaging more with the search functionality. A minor change on the header resulted in a 0.1% increase in site revenue. It may not have been a game changer, but it did help the company get more revenue than before.

2. Homepage design and features

The homepage is one of the most important pages of any website, for it represents the face of your brand. Even if it’s not your primary landing page, it still deserves to be one of the most intricately designed pages. You need to offer great user experience and ensure that everything works as it should.

There are numerous forms of eCommerce testing you can run on your homepage. One thing which is becoming increasingly accessible to sites across content management systems is website personalization. The Very Group’s website is a perfect example to quote here.

Based on a visitor’s geographic and demographic information, the site shows personalized homepages to each of its visitors. For instance, and as visible in the image below, if a customer lands on Very’s homepage during the winters, it displays a collection accordingly. Meanwhile, if the customer belongs to a country experiencing summers, the website personalizes user experience accordingly.

example of personalization on home page

Personalized homepage and landing pages open new and exciting avenues for eCommerce testing.

3. Product pages

A visitor to your eCommerce store will either land directly on a product page or eventually navigate to one. Once there, you want them to purchase the product. Ask yourself, what does your potential client need to know about this product or service to get them to my payment gateway? What can I do to increase the likelihood of a person adding a product to the shopping basket?

Unfortunately, there is no one answer to these questions.

You will need to run tests to see what changes you make to the product details page that get your business the best results. For example, you can test if adding elements that emphasize on scarcity or urgency would boost sales.

Example Of Urgency And Scarcity on ecommerce product page
The text “Act now, there is only 1 piece left!” creates a sense of urgency in potential buyers

Other elements on a product page you can test include your CTA, social proof, images, videos, recommended products, featured products, etc. Changes to any of these elements have the potential to increase conversion rates to the shopping cart and onto your payment gateway.

4. Shopping cart and checkout process

It is a well-known fact that cart abandonment rates are high. According to BigCommerce, the average cart abandonment rate is 69.23%[5]. This is the number of people who put a product into their cart and leave without making a purchase.

There is a large body of information on why people abandon a shopping cart during an online purchase. The graph below illustrates some common findings.

Reasons Behind Abandonment During Checkout
Image Source: [4]

Improving your checkout and payment system revolves around addressing some or all of these issues. The eCommerce website Zalora offers an insight into how eCommerce testing on checkout pages can improve conversion rates.

They ran an A/B test on their checkout page, testing how they could emphasize the free returns policy for some products. The control is on the left, and the variant is on the right.

A/b Testing Zalora Checkout Page

The variant outperformed the control by 12%. This small change to the design of the checkout page caused an uplift in the checkout rate.

There are, of course, other elements to test. Adding more credit card payment options, security logos, social proof, and more can all lift your conversion rate. The important thing is to instill a culture of testing into your company, and experiment to discover what works.

Optimizing your shopping cart experience for conversions is one of the quickest ways to increase sales. Running these tests is a lot easier than you might imagine. Try VWO now to see for yourself.

5. Site performance across devices

As mentioned earlier, people are accessing your website through an increasing range of devices. A study by Statcounter shows that 52.03% of the world population accesses the internet through mobile.[6] At a basic level, it’s essential to have responsive websites. This allows you to adapt your site to different devices and screen sizes.

Site Performance Across Devices
Image Source: [5]

However, even if your site is responsive, you can still encounter problems. Cross-browser compatibility issues are common. To further complicate matters, the OS a website is accessed on, the screen’s size, and the internet speed all impact user experience.

As you are no doubt aware, there is a clear correlation between the amount of time a page on your site takes to load and the likelihood of someone making a purchase. The graph below illustrates this point.

the different conversion rates by load time
Image Source: [6]

There is a high probability that your website’s page load time is optimized for desktop because for most sites it is. However, mobile load time can vary tremendously. You must implement technical solutions that address problems like this alongside optimizing your eCommerce website copy and design elements. Every step a user takes through your website is part of their user experience. 

Summing up – eCommerce testing

A culture of testing will play an important role in the success of your company. Ensuring a smooth user experience is essential to customer retention. Meanwhile, updates to a site design through conversion rate optimization can have a significant impact on profits.

In this guide, we looked at the importance of eCommerce testing. We covered the types of tests you can run on your site and discussed some of the practicalities of running these tests. Finally, we discussed some of your eCommerce store’s most important elements to test, backing up each point with data and case studies that illustrate why it matters to your business.

New Feature Alert: Email + Contact Info Are Now In SparkToro

Since launch in April, showing emails and contact information inside the SparkToro app has been our most requested feature. Today, it’s here. Billions of email addresses and social contact URLs now pull directly into the Lists feature. If you&#82…

Since launch in April, showing emails and contact information inside the SparkToro app has been our most requested feature. Today, it’s here. Billions of email addresses and social contact URLs now pull directly into the Lists feature. If you’ve used SparkToro Lists in the past (and have a Standard or higher tier account), your Lists have already been updated to…

10 Things that 3 Customer-Centric Brands Get Right

Like any popular business term, “customer centricity” is often abused by businesses that shoehorn it into their core values. Unsurprisingly, this doesn’t cut it. It’s actually better not to claim customer centricity if you can’t get people across your business to really care about your customers. To be customer centric, you need to speak to […]

The post 10 Things that 3 Customer-Centric Brands Get Right appeared first on CXL.

Like any popular business term, “customer centricity” is often abused by businesses that shoehorn it into their core values. Unsurprisingly, this doesn’t cut it. It’s actually better not to claim customer centricity if you can’t get people across your business to really care about your customers.

To be customer centric, you need to speak to your customers, understand their wants and needs, and use data to inform ideas and decisions. Then comes the part where you actually start acting on the findings and feedback—experimenting with new offerings and ways of doing business to improve customers’ experience.

This is no one-off project. It’s a fundamental way of operating your business. So what does that look like?

Here are 10 takeaways you can apply to your business from three customer-centric brands.

Monzo 

Monzo is a digital-first bank that was backed by future customers. They recorded the fastest crowdfund in history, hitting a pledge of £1 million in just 96 seconds. Subsequent rounds of crowdfunding raised millions more:

Clearly, the proposition of “building a bank, together” hit a chord. But how do they fulfill that promise for customers? 

1. Throw out established processes.

It takes traditional banks 26 days, on average, to onboard a new customer. There’s a set process when it comes to setting up a new bank account—branch visits, waiting for your pin number to arrive in the post, etc. It hasn’t changed in decades, and most would agree that setting up a bank account is a pain in the arse. 

But Monzo did what none of the established banks seemed able or willing to do. They took a 26-day process and condensed it down to 5 minutes. I verified my details and opened an account while I waited on a platform for my train home. 

Monzo stripped out all unnecessary questions and removed the need to visit a physical location to show an ID. Instead, I just sent them a picture of my ID and took a quick selfie video. 

Monzo bank.

Takeaway: What established processes that cause friction could you rip up and redefine? 

2. Find new ways to fix old customer pains points.

Most of us have lost a bank card and had to wait for a replacement. Or worried about inputting our card details on a sketchy website. But traditional banks haven’t done anything to make customers’ lives easier.

Instead, I’ve seen the odd campaign warning people about the dangers of online shopping—but that doesn’t solve customers’ problems. It’s just unrealistic. 

Monzo understood that customers want—and during COVID, need—to shop online. So rather than prattle on about the potential dangers, they gave users disposable virtual cards. Each time you shop online, you can create a new virtual card number that you “destroy” after using–so your card details can’t be cloned.

Monzo plus.

They also allow customers to “freeze” a card so it can’t be used if you lose it—and the ability to “defrost” it when you inevitably find it down the back of the sofa. 

For their business customers, they created features such as separate “pots” to set aside tax payments. Previously, I had to open up new accounts (with the same bank) to save my tax payments. It’s likely a common behavior in the small business banking world.

Monzo gives business customers this feature at the click of a button, with a simple automation to add your tax percentage automatically to the pot. 

Monzo bank.

Takeaway: There are many ways to solve the same problem, but aligning your solution with user behavior (i.e. virtual cards) makes more sense than trying to change behavior (i.e. campaign about the dangers of online shopping). Test novel ways of solving the same problem. 

3. Do what’s best for the customer—even if it doesn’t grow revenue.

Retail banks make their money in two ways:

  1. Interest on personal loans, mortgages, and credit cards;
  2. Fees.

A few of the features Monzo built, however, go against revenue generation in favor of doing what’s best for customers. 

Their Self-Exclude from Gambling feature aims to prevent people from racking up debts from gambling addictions. They developed the first version of the feature after speaking with customers on their forum

Customers can block gambling transactions from their account. To remove the block, they have to chat with customer support, where the Monzo team asks questions like, “Has your situation changed since you first switched the restrictions on?”

Alternatively, customers can turn off the block themselves in the app but have to wait 48 hours before it lifts. These measures add positive friction to safeguard people with gambling addictions.

Block gambling transactions.

Monzo built this feature even though it affected only about 5,000 customers at the time. But their focus on doing right by each and every customer motivated them to go ahead. 

It’s not the only example of Monzo serving customers at the expense of potential revenue. Their “Recovery Space” allows people with mental health issues to focus on getting better without incurring fees, charges, or being chased by creditors.

They encourage customers suffering from mental health problems to get in touch so that they can give them space to recover.

help us better understand your needs.

Monzo uses its own forum to understand how their business impacts customers’ lives and to inform customer-driven initiatives like those above. It’s likely why 86% of their customers would recommend them—the UK’s four largest banks score 27–32% lower. 

Takeaway: Doing what’s right—even for a small group of customers—can have an impact that goes beyond those it directly affects. Look to do things that serve even small groups of your customers. 

giffgaff 

giffgaff positioned itself as David vs. Goliath, fighting against established telecoms by offering customers an alternative to expensive pay-as-you-go (PAYG) or long-contract offers.

They applied a community-powered business model to the mobile sector, similar to that of Wikipedia, hence the name “giffgaff,” which means “mutual giving.” 

Here’s what made giffgaff stand out in the customer-centricity stakes.  

4. Let customers help answer big business questions.

giffgaff kicked things off by building an online forum. Vincent Boon, Chief of Community at the time, described what it was like:

Doing this at the start was incredibly hard, with our members showing a clear interest in wanting to be involved with us on many more decisions than initially expected—which meant a lot of heated discussions around what information we could share (traditionally nothing, until after the fact), what members should be able to influence (again, traditionally nothing), and what was ring-fenced (everything). 

Changing that dynamic was hard, not just within the business but also for our community. There was a lot of distrust and skepticism that we wouldn’t actually listen, get people involved, or change depending on the feedback we’d receive, and that we would be just like any other company—great brand message, but no substance.

giffgaff forum.
The giffgaff forum. 

They set about building that trust by asking, listening, and acting on feedback. One of the first things the giffgaff community helped with was the pricing. 

Traditionally, researchers say that you can’t get accurate customer input on pricing: People won’t be able to tell you how much they’re willing to pay until you ask them to hand over the cash. But giffgaff produced a pricing structure and “giffgaff goodybag” (a time-limited bundle of text, voice, and data) that incorporated ideas and votes of thousands of giffgaff members—and worked for the business. 

The end result was “the only truly unlimited package” on the market (at that time), with no small print or hidden fees. From the forum discussions, it was clear that customers loathed “fair usage” policies and wanted unlimited to mean unlimited. So that’s what giffgaff offered. 

The pricing structure itself was a hybrid of existing market offerings. It combined bundles of data, calls, and messages–which you’d usually get only with a long-term contract–with the flexibility of a contractless PAYG model. At the time, PAYG pricing was done with a credit top-up, and data, calls, and messages were charged at a fixed per minute/text rate. 

Calls per minute.
Pay per minute and pay per text costs in 2019. (Image source)

giffgaff goodybags started at £5 per goodybag, had no contract, and if you ran out before the end of the month, you could start another goodybag right away, rather than having to wait until the following month. Or if you’d prefer you could use the credit top-up and pay per minute.

This contractless model means giffgaff has to work “bloody hard” on retention, according to Sophie Wheater, giffgaff’s current CMO. It’s also the reason why NPS is a board-level metric—happy customers stay with giffgaff even without the contractual obligation. 

Takeaway: Customer feedback may impact more areas than you expect (or are comfortable with). But your customers can often hold the answers to big business questions. If you listen to and respond to customers, they’ll give their time and ideas freely. 

5. Build genuine relationships with your customers.

giffgaff has built an active forum where community managers speak with customers every day—not just about giffgaff but their everyday lives, too. More recently, they created a “pioneer group” using Qualtrics (a panel management tool) to get more structured, regular feedback from members who opt-in to help test new ideas. 

Building relationships with customers can go beyond ideas and feedback. As the giffgaff community developed, members started to help the business in a number of unexpected ways: 

  • Community member Ian built a Windows version of the giffgaff app. The app is updated regularly by Ian, who now works full time for giffgaff, managing a group of community members who help test it.  
  • When rival network 3 claimed that “no other network gives you more for £10,” community members launched (and had upheld) a complaint against 3 with the Advertising Standards Authority.
  • Pownum, a customer review website, tweeted about giffgaff’s score of “2 out of 10.” This led giffgaffs’ social media and PR manager, Heather Taylor, to blog about the unfair practice of allowing consumers to comment for free on Pownum but charge companies to reply. giffgaff’s community members agreed and began leaving their own comments, pushing giffgaff’s score up to 9.47—and pushing down Pownum’s own score to 7.29. Pownum then decided to allow companies to reply for free. 
  • When Apple changed the size of its SIM card slots, there was no prior warning. Overnight, giffgaff SIM cards become incompatible with the latest Apple device, and it was going to take three months to produce SIM cards that fit. Within a couple of days, members found a stamp cutter that converted old SIM card sizes into the new micro size and shape. Members set up a website to cut and ship giffgaff SIMs manually, producing more than 100,000 micro SIM cards—all managed by members. 
  • Members produced banner ads that beat giffgaff’s own ad performance.
Giffgaff branding.
Example of a user’s banner ad (Image source) 

Takeaway: Speak to your customers every day—get to know them by name, understand their lives, what’s important to them, and how your business impacts them. Don’t be afraid to accept their help, and consider how far you want to enforce brand protection over user-generated content that can help members feel ownership over your brand. 

6. Co-create the experience.

giffgaff community members co-create the giffgaff product alongside giffgaff staff. Anyone can see new feature ideas in development in a public Trello board as well as a dedicated “Labs” part of their website. 

As giffgaff doesn’t have a call center, intuitive self-help tools are critical. When the giffgaff team noticed members were contacting online support agents about closing their accounts, they invited six members of their pioneer community to their office to discuss the topic in more detail.

That meeting led the team to send an open-ended survey to all pioneers to get their thoughts on closing accounts. By working alongside their customers, the team could confidently design a feature to add clarity in direct response to customer apprehensions:

Closing my account.
The solution for closing your account.

Takeaway: Find ways to work alongside your customers, whether that’s online voting on ideas to UX sketching workshops in person. Share updates (through forums, emails, blog posts, etc.), including the reasons behind business decisions. View customers as members of your team. 

7. Help customers help customers.

Thanks to the success of its online community, giffgaff has a program to reward its own customers for solving issues–they don’t need a call center. Official online giffgaff agents handle only a fraction of users’ questions.

After visiting the help and support board, only 1.59% of users get in touch with an agent. (giffgaff reports these figures monthly within the forum itself, too.)

Their members have helped solve 38,648 cases on the community forum (around 3,000 a month), and questions were answered within an average of three minutes, compared to the industry standard of 15.

From a customer’s point of view, there’s nothing more powerful than being helped by someone who’s been in your situation. Members receive “payback” by answering questions, giving ideas, and referring new members. Some members have reported making large sums of money, paying for weddings, or supporting themselves alongside a full- or part-time salary. 

How does payback work?
The giffgaff payback scheme.
Tiers for giffgaff.
giffgaff’s Super Recruiter program lets customers earn cash for referrals.

The initiative has built additional brand advocacy among members like Chris: 

It’s truly an incredible feeling, it’s like the perfect world. Every time you see someone responding to a giffgaff message is always a happy, positive experience. The word “community” to me is under-rated where giffgaff is concerned, it’s more like a family. 

There isn’t another company out there I can say that about. More and more as time goes by, it’s affirmed—I know I’m on the right network. It’s my giffgaff, our giffgaff. 

Takeaway: Customer-powered business models—where customers fulfill roles traditionally held by employees—can work. Consult your users/customers on which financial or emotional rewards would incentivize them and split test the ideas. 

Ocado 

Ocado, a premium, digital-first supermarket, has become the biggest grocery retailer of its kind in the world. They even created a B2B technology agency called Ocado Solutions to help build other online supermarkets.

So what have they done to become so successful? 

8. Show you get it with little touches.

Sometimes, it’s the small things that matter—like their delivery date picker. It looks great and is easy to use but also shows that Ocado has really thought about what’s important to their customers.

They highlight delivery slots when they’re already delivering in your area. That helps customers feel good about reducing the emissions of delivering their food, while also increasing efficiency and reducing costs.

Choose your time slot.

Takeaway: Work out what really matters to your customers—beyond their use of your product or service. Are they worried about their kids leaving for university? About their environmental impact on the planet? Customize your offering so that it matters more. 

9. Make the most of one-on-one experiences.

Ocado has focused on maximizing the value for the limited interactions with its staff.

The email I received on the morning of my first delivery was written as if it were from the driver himself (to my husband, whose name was on the account):

Here's your receipt.

When the delivery driver arrived, he already knew it was my first order and made a point of talking me through things. He explained how the shopping bags were color-coded depending on whether the food was for the fridge, freezer, or cupboard, then told me there was a little welcome gift, too.

I know most people wouldn’t be that impressed with a free tea towel, but it wasn’t expected at all. I really valued the gesture.

Takeaway: Even if you’re an online brand, make any one-on-one experiences in the customer journey as personable and memorable as possible. 

10. Surprise and delight.

My first shopping experience was really easy, and the little surprise meant that I had started telling friends how good Ocado was.

But the service comes at a premium, and I walk past the local supermarket every day. I wasn’t sure whether I’d shop again. Then this happened:

Ocado surprise and delight.

Free champagne or chocolates if I shop with them four more times? I don’t get that from Tesco. I counted each order I made after that point, looking forward to the shop when my bottle of champagne would arrive. 

There are some subtle psychological techniques at play here—user delight, the “power of free,” loss aversion, and priming about the value of shopping with Ocado. But it also wasn’t a simple email I read and filed away. I had to engage with it to choose which gift I wanted. I spent time thinking about it and reacting to it. 

Neuroscience research shows that humans are hardwired to crave the unexpected. Surprises can influence consumer behavior, encouraging word of mouth, loyalty (craving the next surprise), and increased spend. There are positive effects even if the gesture is small. 

This initiative also helps customers create new routines. Habits help put the decision-making part of the brain in sleep mode. You’ve probably noticed this yourself—if you drive the same route home every day, sometimes you arrive home without remembering driving at all.

Ocado does this by letting customers reserve the same delivery slot each week and adding frequently purchased items straight to your basket to help you shop on autopilot. 

Takeaway: Use psychological principles to help understand how your customers think and what you can do to enhance the business and experience you offer.

Conclusion 

These three businesses offer a ton of ideas to help you focus on your customers. From ways to get feedback consistently to doing what’s truly best for them (even when it seems counterintuitive) to techniques that surprise and delight. 

Here’s a recap: 

  1. Throw out established processes.
  2. Find new ways to fix old customer pains points.
  3. Do what’s best for the customer—even if it doesn’t grow revenue.
  4. Let customers help answer big business questions.
  5. Build genuine relationships by speaking with your customers daily.
  6. Co-create the experience.
  7. Help customers help customers.
  8. Show you get it with little touches.
  9. Make the most of one-on-one experiences.
  10. Surprise and delight.


Now the question is—what will you work on first? 

The post 10 Things that 3 Customer-Centric Brands Get Right appeared first on CXL.

Thinking like a Bayesian

Hi 👋  I am Paras Chopra, founder & chairman of VWO. Every fortnight, on this blog and on our email list, I’ll be posting a new idea or a story on experimentation and growth. Here is my 3rd letter. I recently finished reading a book on the history of the Bayes’ theorem (appropriately called the theory that would…

Hi 👋  I am Paras Chopra, founder & chairman of VWO. Every fortnight, on this blog and on our email list, I’ll be posting a new idea or a story on experimentation and growth. Here is my 3rd letter.

I recently finished reading a book on the history of the Bayes’ theorem (appropriately called the theory that would not die) and thought you may enjoy my notes from it.

the theory that would not die book cover image

1/ Statistics is all about calculating probabilities, and there are two camps who interpret probability differently.

  • Frequentists = frequency of events over multiple trials
  • Bayesians = subjective belief of the outcome of events

2/ This philosophical divide informs what these two camps usually bother with.

  • Frequentists = probability of data, given a model (of how data could have been generated)
  • Bayesians = probability of model, given the data

3/ Most often we care about the latter question and that is what the Bayesian way of thinking helps with.

For example, given that the mammography test is positive, we want to know what the probability of having breast cancer is. And given breast cancer, we usually don’t care about the probability of the test being positive.

4/ These two questions sound similar but have different answers.

For example, imagine that 80% of mammograms detect breast cancer when it’s there and ~90% come out as negative when it’s not there (which means for 10% times it comes as positive even if it’s not there).

Then if only 1% population has breast cancer, the probability of having it given a positive test is 7.4%.

5/ Read that again:

80% times the mammography test works and yet if you get a positive, your chances of having breast cancer are only 7.4%.

How is it possible?

6/ The math is simple:

  • Chances that the test is positive when a patient has breast cancer = chances of detecting breast cancer when a patient has it * chances of having breast cancer in the first place = 80% * 1% = 0.8%
  • Chances that test is positive when a patient does NOT have breast cancer = chances of detecting breast cancer when a patient DOESN’T have it * chances of NOT having breast cancer in the first place = 10% * 99% = 9.9%

Now, the chances of having breast cancer on a positive mammogram are simply: 

% times you get a positive mammogram if you have breast cancer /  % times you can get a positive mammogram. 

We calculated these numbers above, so this becomes

 0.8%/(0.8%+9.9%) = 7.4%.

Voila! So even if a test works 80% of the times, it may not be very useful (if population incidence rate is low, which is 1% in this case). This is why doctors recommend taking multiple tests, even after a positive detection.

7/ When you understand Bayes’ theorem, you realize that it is nothing but arithmetic. 

It’s perhaps the simplest but most powerful framework I know. If you want to build a better intuition about it, I recommend reading this visual introduction to Bayes’ theorem (which also contains the breast cancer example we talked about).

8/ The key idea behind being a Bayesian is that *everything* has a probability.

So instead of thinking in certainties (yes/no), you start thinking about chances and odds.

9/ Today, Bayes’ theorem powers many apps we use daily because it helps answer questions like:

  • Given an e-mail, what’s the probability of it being spam?
  • Given an ad, what’s the probability of it being clicked?
  • Given the DNA, is the accused the culprit?
  • And, of course, given the data, is variation better than the control in an A/B test? (FYI – we use Bayesian statistics in VWO)

10/ That’s it! Hope you also fall in love with the Bayesian way of looking at the world.

If you enjoyed reading my letter, do send me a note with your thoughts at paras@vwo.com. I read and reply to all emails 🙂

Usersnap: The Snappiest Way to Get Customer Feedback

The relationships between online businesses and their users are getting more intimate. Users now have the ability to voice their satisfaction or displeasure with an app or website in just a click. The traditional way of getting product feedback by fill…

The relationships between online businesses and their users are getting more intimate. Users now have the ability to voice their satisfaction or displeasure with an app or website in just a click. The traditional way of getting product feedback by filling out a form is not only outdated, but it forces a dull task on […]

Martech responds to the pandemic

MarTech Live and guest Anita Brearton discuss the role of marketing operations during the COVID pandemic.

The post Martech responds to the pandemic appeared first on Marketing Land.

Every industry has had to deal with the effects of COVID differently, and in the martech world that means record demand for some companies while others have seen business grind to a halt.

“When the pandemic broke out we saw people freeze in place and being asked not to spend money so there was not a lot of technology activity going on,” said Anita Brearton, CEO of CabinetM during a recent Martech Live broadcast.

After the pause the outbreak put on martech, two distinctly different groups emerged—those who experienced immediate revenue decline and those that have had to respond to a sudden increase in demand because of the remote work and home-based lifestyle.

“For the companies badly hit by COVID where sales have come to a halt, there was a mandate to rationalize the technology being used,” said Brearton. “There was a lot of redeployment to channels that were still open because we live events disappeared.”

Certain sectors like online education, alcohol and spirits and grocery stores had to deal with a sudden increase in demand that lead to their marketing operations teams having to address both their martech stack and personnel.

“[Marketers] had to look at technology in its current environment,” said Brearton. “They had to see if it would support growth.”

The overnight digital transformation required by COVID made certain marketing tactics obsolete. Direct mail was experiencing a resurgence in the B2B world until remote work ending corporate mailing. Corporate IP addresses also become irrelevant so with both a surging tactic and a successful tactic being placed on the shelf, marketers are still facing how to work in a reality for 2021 and beyond.

“The digital transformation imperative that effects both types of companies have to be accepted into this changed world,” said Brearton. “I always thought that AI would be the catalyst in making digital transformation real, but in reality it is the business environment as a whole. People are looking at tech and how it can transform business.”

 

This story first appeared on MarTech Today.

 

 

The post Martech responds to the pandemic appeared first on Marketing Land.

The driving force behind the new Porsche digital brand experience

Building a digital experience for the 21st Century.

The post The driving force behind the new Porsche digital brand experience appeared first on Marketing Land.

The Porsche brand has been one of the most well-known in both the automotive and luxury markets over the past 50 years. However a reputation that was built in the 20th century didn’t guarantee success in building a digital brand experience fit for the 21st century.  

From internal training to customer engagement

The Porsche AR Visualiser app evolved from five years of building the digital brand experience, first as an internal human resources training tool, then as an immersive engagement with the history, brand and vehicle marketing of Porsche. 

The internal digital training experience was developed by 8th Wall, a software platform that allows interactive web-based augmented reality (WebAR) and virtual reality (WebVR) experiences to operate on mobile devices, and innovation.rocks, which builds and implements AR and VR content solutions. Innovation.rocks is familiar with the luxury auto sector as it has a client list that includes Porsche, Audi and Bentley.

“[The Porsche AR Visualiser app] started as a native app for onboarding new employees,” said innovation.rocks CTO Felipe Sequerra. “Now the Porsche brand can be experienced digitally with a solution that works on 90% of mobile devices.” 

The Porsche WebAR activation took the best practices learned from its internal implementation and used them as a foundation for consumer engagement.

“[The app] gives users the ability to actively experience Porsche’s brand story,” said 8th Wall CEO Erik Murphy-Chutorian. “The brand achieves a deeper and more meaningful connection to customers through this process of immersion. Customers are allowed to explore and learn about the company in a way that is natural, engaging and memorable.” 

The Porsche experience

The Porsche digital brand experience on the AR Visualiser app is separated into three distinct basic chapters—past, present and future—led by an avatar, a Porsche employee.  The past is a review of the brand history, the present showcases current vehicles and the future reviews innovation opportunities and advancement within Porsche.

The platform’s origin as an internal onboarding tool allowed for the reuse of many assets, starting with the ‘host’ avatar that serves as a guide throughout the entire digital experience. 

“The investment up front for a high quality experience for employees as an internal training tool really paid off when we had to reuse the assets,” said Sequerra. “We used a past internal project with the Porsche Cayenne to promote the new Cayenne to the external audience.”

To compliment showcasing the new luxury vehicles to sales prospects, the animated 3D avatar had many new features developed or enhanced, including automation for more movement and interaction with consumers, and enhanced speech capabilities.

For consumers interested in purchasing more than the past, present or future of the Porsche brand, the WebAR platform allows the user to place a Porsche in their real-time environment. Users can also sit in a virtual Porsche, or even take a quiz on the history of the brand. 

“Creating the new chapters of content was definitely the biggest challenge of this process,” said Sequerra. “There was a lot of learning involved but we kept the architecture quite modular so we can expand in the future and add experiences based on consumer demand and corporate direction.” 

Future corporate direction includes working with new vehicle models, covering innovations and technology. The digital experience is also built to scale as consumer demand continues to grow.

Whether behind the wheel or the digital experience, Porsche wants their audience to drive away with a clear concept of their history, luxury and innovation.

 

This story first appeared on MarTech Today.

 

 

The post The driving force behind the new Porsche digital brand experience appeared first on Marketing Land.

Merkle’s Evolution, From Direct to Digital

When Merkle launched as a direct and database marketing agency 30 years ago, it had no idea how relevant these skill sets would be to digital marketing in the future.

Fast-forward to today, and Merkle’s expertise handling first-party data, building CR…

When Merkle launched as a direct and database marketing agency 30 years ago, it had no idea how relevant these skill sets would be to digital marketing in the future.

Fast-forward to today, and Merkle’s expertise handling first-party data, building CRM databases, and resolving customer identity are at the heart of marketers transitioning to a post-cookie world.

We’ve Gotta Stop Using “Lifestyle Business” as a Pejorative

For a long while, American business culture has worshiped at the altar of big. Entrepreneurs want to build “big” companies, because they believe that’s how they prove their worth. The media tells us that’s true when they report …

For a long while, American business culture has worshiped at the altar of big. Entrepreneurs want to build “big” companies, because they believe that’s how they prove their worth. The media tells us that’s true when they report on every move made by big companies, but barely cover small ones. Speakers on stages and webinars reinforce it when they talk…

Recharge Donor Giving through Gamification

It’s fair to say every nonprofit marketer and fundraiser is likely facing challenges today as they navigate the “new normal”.

From wondering how we can keep our donors engaged amid so much competition for donors attention and generosity, to figuring o…

It’s fair to say every nonprofit marketer and fundraiser is likely facing challenges today as they navigate the “new normal”.

From wondering how we can keep our donors engaged amid so much competition for donors attention and generosity, to figuring out how to reconfigure fundraising events to still deliver memorable experiences, we are all looking at ways to leverage this moment effectively to benefit our supporters and our organizations.

It’s never been more important to inspire and engage our donors and deepen their loyalty and passion for our causes

This new situation requires new thinking to be successful:

Understand Donors’ Goals

First, we must gather insights about why donors support our causes and what drives their engagement, behaviors, and loyalty. We want to have top of mind the reasons donors engage with our causes, what they value, and what they gain from supporting our organizations.

Design Experiences that Spark Engagement

Based on those insights, we can then craft donor experiences that recharge their engagement by using gamification to unlock and build connections with donors in new, fresh ways that reinvigorate fundraising.

Build Loyalty and Value

And finally, we want to re-energize donor participation by delivering more meaningful experiences that build long-term commitment through defining shared goals and actions.

The good news is there are ready-to-use tools that can be implemented in a short amount of time to bring to life new experiences that will captivate and cultivate your donors.

Gamification is one way to motivate donor engagement. We can help you create a solution that fits your organization and your donors and start recapturing lost revenue.

Gamification is widely talked about as a way to make experiences fun

While that can certainly be true in some cases, smart application of gamification can do so much more than that. We believe that gamification is a way to motivate brand engagement by applying techniques found in behavioral science to spark emotion, short-cut human biases, build habits, and design meaningful experiences.

In fact, you may have experienced gamification in your daily life. Perhaps you are a Starbucks rewards program member and you’ve used the Starbucks for Life app to earn discounts and free products. Or, you’ve tracked your exercise on Fitbit checking the leaderboard, and participating in some friendly competition with others.

You’ve probably used gamification in fundraising, too.  Tactics such as a campaign goal thermometer, countdown clock, or fundraiser badges are common tools used to motivate donors to act now, with urgency and generosity.

Gamification works best when it is done from a consumer-centric perspective. We want to tap into the emotion donors feel when they engage with our causes and use that as the foundation for creating powerful experiences for donors.

What motivated donors to engage

Use gamification to spark engagement

During this time, everyone is likely wondering how to continue to inspire and cultivate their donors. Consider incorporating gamification solutions into your fundraising strategy. These tools will help you create new, exciting ways to engage with your donors, deepening loyalty and value not only now in the near-term, but also as an integral part of your fundraising program going forward.

Want to learn more? Check out the other blogs in this series here.