Conversion Rate Optimization and the Travel Industry: 11 Questions with CRO Expert Danielle Schwolow

We sat down with Danielle Schwolow, Senior Growth Strategist for Multiplica US, a full-service digital marketing agency that offers optimization, analytics, and UX/UI services for the travel industry. Danielle’s been named a “woman making waves in ecommerce” by Ecommerce Magazine and will be co-host of an upcoming webinar with Monetate [register here]. She specializes in…

The post Conversion Rate Optimization and the Travel Industry: 11 Questions with CRO Expert Danielle Schwolow appeared first on Monetate.

We sat down with Danielle Schwolow, Senior Growth Strategist for Multiplica US, a full-service digital marketing agency that offers optimization, analytics, and UX/UI services for the travel industry. Danielle’s been named a “woman making waves in ecommerce” by Ecommerce Magazine and will be co-host of an upcoming webinar with Monetate [register here]. She specializes in creating data-driven digital optimization and personalization strategies for big brands, particularly in the travel and hospitality industries, that increase conversion rates, improve the user experience, and grow revenue.

What are the biggest trends in conversion rate optimization (CRO) that travel websites should pay attention to?

DS: AI has and is changing the way digital marketing teams create their conversion rate optimization strategies. Every brand wants to provide exceptional experiences to their customers and win bookings with the least spend… this is obviously easier said than done, but AI is making it much less difficult than it used to be. Having tools like AI that are capable of getting those results are obviously crucial to your business’s success.

What’s the most frequently misunderstood thing about CRO? 

Travel marketers and digital specialists often assume that there is just one big experience that will revolutionize the way users engage with and ultimately convert across their website. Conversion rate optimization is meant to be a series of ever-evolving experiments — not one-off experiences — that continue to improve the customer experience over time. Continual improvement means running multiple experiments in parallel across device types. There is no one test that wins them all. 

How do travel websites versus other types of ecommerce sites (like retail) differ when it comes to conversion rate optimization? 

The customer journey for someone travelling is much different than a traditional ecommerce experience. Travel websites have to accommodate users who have multiple factors influencing their decision-making. Rather than considering a single product or purchase, as in some retail sales funnels, travel users have to consider multiple decisions when booking: When will I leave? Where am I going? When will I return? What am I doing on my trip? Where will I stay? How will I get around? (And the list goes on…) They have so many more factors to take into account as they move through the funnel, which is why travellers take much longer to purchase and to plan their trips.  

What are the most important things that all travel and hospitality websites should be testing? 

Retargeting is a commonly overlooked testing segment. The returning user may or may not know what they are looking for, but retargeting can help them pick up where they left off. Users are often frustrated by having to type in long search queries identical to the the search queries they previously searched within the same session just by going back to the home page. Something as simple as storing the user’s search history within the same session (and for some time after) can improve click-through rates by double digits. 

What’s the best result you’ve ever seen from personalization? 

Actually, the upcoming webinar we are doing together with Monetate showcases one of our cruise clients and their AI use of retargeting based on destination; it yielded some of the most positive results across the board we’ve seen with personalization. The user experience that resulted from plugging in the AI to power our personalization efforts for this client is exceptional, and what’s so amazing about this experiment is that it just continues to evolve and get smarter everyday. This means the client, Celebrity Cruises, is benefiting from a kind of ongoing, continuous conversion rate optimization as the AI keeps personalizing the content in real time. It’s pretty cool stuff.

How can travel marketers move from simple A/B or MVT testing to a more sophisticated personalization strategy as competition among travel brands becomes more intense? 

Having a testing strategy that makes sense for your team and your resources is essential for entering the personalization arena. You have to realize your strengths and weaknesses as a brand and as a team. All too often big brands jump into personalizing without realizing that they need a strong team along with the tool they are using to execute personalization, and all of this should be supported with a testing structure to make things run smoothly. All of our optimization teams, for example, have at the very least a dedicated project manager, UI/UX expert, strategic lead, developers, QA tester, and an analytics expert, and everyone follows a proven testing process throughout the project.   

What do travel brands not understand about the customer experience? 

I think sometimes travel brands (and potentially all marketers!) will get so caught up in achieving their own goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) that they forget about the goals, needs, challenges, and desires of the customer. We see this a lot in end-of-funnel testing when brands try to guide users to create an account in order to checkout or book a trip; they get it wrong when they show too many required fields to the user and ask for too much information. It’s clunky and can annoy users. who don’t want to be bothered at this point by filling out a lot of unnecessary fields. 

When we test this type of experience with travel clients, one of our biggest winners time and time again is showing users the option to create an account by simply entering a password during checkout. By not forcing them to log in with long form fields or to create an account reduces friction, prevents cart abandonment, and improves the overall customer experience.

Is there an analytics or data skill you recommend all travel marketers try to master? 

Mastery is a strong word; to get the most out of your efforts, I would advise travel marketers to have useful skills that can be applied to everyday situations that make their lives easier and the teams run more smoothly. For example, hover over an element on your website and left or right click (depending on your mouse) on “inspect element.” You can now edit the element, and it’s only visible on your computer. This is what developers use to find bugs and such. But marketers can also use it to manipulate various elements on the website without getting their dev teams involved. It’s just a nice quick workaround to have in your wheelhouse. Say you want to see a different text or change a button color… You can simply do this instead of burdening your creative or dev team with minor tasks.

It’s already holiday travel planning season prep time for many travelers. Any trends or tips for this season on how travel websites can capture more holiday bookings and increase online revenue this season? 

One of the biggest trends this holiday season will be multi-touch retargeting. For example, if you know the user is interested in a particular product, you can showcase this to the user via retargeting by placing it on the homepage, recently searched, or even at the top of their search results. Making it easy for the user to engage with the products that interest them in the least amount of clicks as possible will always be a big conversion rate winner, holidays or not. 

How do you determine the success of an optimization project? 

Before we begin an experiment, we always ask ourselves, what is the goal(s) and how will we measure success. We establish clearly defined KPIs, and they are often tied to the control and the variation to determine overall impact. We take into account what we need to achieve our goal, and how long will it take. Once we know what we want to achieve and have a clear strategy for performance tracking throughout the process, we can set up overall measures of success. 

What are the biggest challenges travel brands face in conversion rate optimization, and how can they solve them? 

Lack of data or poor data, lack of a clear strategy, and a fragmented marketing stack are three of the biggest challenges I see with travel marketers. I discuss this in greater depth here, but, in short, don’t bite off more than you can chew when optimizing. If you want to run five experiments a month, for instance, but your team doesn’t have the resources to support this and make it all worthwhile, then start a bit smaller and keep your goals simple. Be smart, deliberate, agile, and data-driven when you’re scaling your optimization strategy, and recognize when you need to bring in additional resources to support it. 

Danielle Schwolow is a Senior Growth Strategist for Multiplica US

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The 4 big reasons agencies need marketing automation to survive

Agency life is hard. Everything is due tomorrow – or yesterday. Clients demand stellar results. Your competition is trying to underbid you. Your creative team wants tacos. Meanwhile, you’re juggling:1. Marketing your agency to bring in new business2. Keeping current clients happy to gain their loyalty There are ways you can accomplish both revenue and […]

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Agency life is hard. Everything is due tomorrow – or yesterday. Clients demand stellar results. Your competition is trying to underbid you. Your creative team wants tacos.

Meanwhile, you’re juggling:
1. Marketing your agency to bring in new business
2. Keeping current clients happy to gain their loyalty

There are ways you can accomplish both revenue and agency growth. The answer: Use marketing automation to increase sales revenue for both your agency and your clients.

The demand for digital marketing services has skyrocketed in recent years as more businesses – B2B and B2C – have shifted marketing spend away from traditional tactics. Traditional marketing and advertising services are moving in-house, and service lines are blurring. One-time projects, inconsistent income, lower value relationships and cobbled-together solutions with no unified reporting will lead to failure.

To survive you must change. The answer is a fully-integrated marketing automation solution where every piece works together to help you drive leads and sales for your agency and clients.

We’ve all heard it – deliver the right message, to the right person at the right time. Marketing automation delivers nurture tracks triggered by prospects as they navigate through your marketing funnel. It’s the service clients and agencies need to grow and cultivate leads to sales.

But there are four more reasons marketing automation is vital to agencies:

1. Research says you can’t afford not to automate
2. Higher-value relationships
3. Prove value to your clients
4. Recurring revenue streams

You can’t afford not to automate:

It’s time to face the facts regarding agency growth. According to Ad Age’s Agency Report 2018, U.S. agency growth is the slowest it’s been since 2010, except for those offering digital marketing services – those grew 7X the revenue.

Couple this with the fact that marketing automation spend is projected to grow 14 percent annually over the next five years, per Forrester. In addition, CMOs say they don’t have the data necessary to feel confident about their spend. Enter marketing automation. It’s the answer to what clients need right now. With marketing automation, you’ll create new revenue streams, attract more clients, provide iron-clad proof of ROI and provide a service that clients feel is just too big and complicated to do in-house.

Higher-value relationships:

Ever wish you had a stickier relationship with your clients? Ever wish you provided a service that not every agency you compete with provides?

Marketing automation is a service you can completely manage for your clients. Many agencies just haven’t caught on to the fever. And, oh my, the services you can provide:
1. Initial marketing automation technology adoption and strategy
2. Creation of email templates, nurture sequences and landing pages
3. Ongoing builds of campaign assets, metrics analysis and optimization
All of these services, plus the investment in the initial learning curve, makes it difficult for clients to change agencies.

Recurring revenue:

Cha-ching. Marketing automation is the key to recurring revenue. Why?
1. You’ll move from unpredictable project work to retainer-based relationships.
2. Marketing automation is necessary for most clients.
3. Clients struggle with the technology.
4. Clients are confused with how/where to personalize.

What this all adds up to is your chance for your agency to be a consistent go-to resource for marketing automation and digital marketing.

Prove value to your clients:

Ever had a client claim they just can’t see what they’re getting for the dollars they’re spending with you? Ever feel like all you do is run numbers and try to show worth, more than you are spending time creating – which was your dream when you got into the agency biz?

Marketing automation solves that, too. You’ll be able to show clients measurable results with comprehensive lead-to-revenue reporting. After all, marketing automation is rooted in data, providing the math you need to help your clients figure out what to double down on and what to toss. The investment in marketing automation and your agency pays off the longer you both use it. You can keep showing improved results month over month while you let the platform do the number crunching. You can make more time to do the things you love.

But not all marketing automation platforms are created equal. When considering marketing automation, keep in mind you want a platform that allows you to manage and control your clients AND gives you the margins you need to grow revenue for your agency.

The post The 4 big reasons agencies need marketing automation to survive appeared first on Marketing Land.

Time to Get Personal

As a destination marketer, one of your main challenges is turning your website visitors into destination visitors. Before a visitor comes to your destination they compare you their other options. During this research phase, you tailor your ads to match their interests, you utilize search engine marketing tools to make sure your advertising and social… Read More

The post Time to Get Personal appeared first on Bound.

As a destination marketer, one of your main challenges is turning your website visitors into destination visitors. Before a visitor comes to your destination they compare you their other options. During this research phase, you tailor your ads to match their interests, you utilize search engine marketing tools to make sure your advertising and social content is targeted to their search results, and you hope these visitors click through to your site to consume and engage with the top content you’ve created.

But what are the best practices in turning these online visitors into destination visitors?

Leading destination marketers from Explore Branson, Elkhart County, Indiana, and Visit Williamsburg believe website personalization is a cost effective way to turn their website visitors into destination visitors. In Time to Get Personal, these three destinations highlight some of the ways Bound’s personalization solution has helped them stand out amongst their peers and convert their online visitors into destination visitors. Some of their results include the following:

  • Explore Branson has seen a 560% increase in e-newsletter sign-ups by using a personalized pop-up targeted to different website audiences.
  • Elkhart County, Indiana used Bound’s A/B testing capabilities to increase travel guide conversions by 253%.
  • Visit Williamsburg used Bound to maximize the value of their paid media campaigns. ince targeting paid media visitors to the website with personalized landing pages, they have seen a 41% increase in time on site.

Read more in this report to learn how these destinations got these results and to see if now is the right time for you to explore personalization for your destination’s website.

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The post Time to Get Personal appeared first on Bound.

The A/B Testing Guide to Surviving on a Deserted Island

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E-commerce Abandonment Rates

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Bayesian vs Frequentist A/B Testing – What’s the Difference?

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Increase Conversion with Personalized Live Chat

Being greeted by a sales associate is more pleasant than not being addressed. However, the interaction rarely goes beyond, “welcome in” and perhaps a “hello” back from the person browsing. It’s an impersonal, passive interaction because you know that’s what they say to everyone who walks through their doors. Wouldn’t you be more likely to […]

The post Increase Conversion with Personalized Live Chat appeared first on Bound.

Being greeted by a sales associate is more pleasant than not being addressed. However, the interaction rarely goes beyond, “welcome in” and perhaps a “hello” back from the person browsing. It’s an impersonal, passive interaction because you know that’s what they say to everyone who walks through their doors.

Wouldn’t you be more likely to engage with the sales associate if the conversation was tailored to you? What if, instead of “welcome to Apple!”, they said, “how’s your iPhone 6 treating you?” (Yes, I have a 6. No portrait mode for me.) Or, “did you know that we have a new iPad accessory specifically for demand gen marketers?”

Now, compare this to the impersonal, digital buying experience. B2B marketers have realized the importance of having live chat on their site. Statistics show that, on average, only 2% of website visitors convert to an inquiry or sale. However, live chat can help this abysmal conversion rate by helping generate 4-8x more leads.

B2B marketers know that a website visitor who engages with onsite chat is more likely to result in a conversion. Now, they’re taking it a step further by dynamically changing a generic greeting to a custom one served to the right person at the right time.

Benefits of Personalized Live Chat

Marketers are increasing engagement with live chat when the message is tailored to an attribute about the visitor. Visitors are more likely to respond when a chat prompt speaks to their industry or function.

Marketers are increasing quality of live chat conversations by choosing who should be invited to a personalized chat. It’s easy to waste time responding to chats with out-of-market visitors. Instead of greeting everyone who walks in the door, greet only those who fit an ideal customer profile.

Marketers are increasing conversions from live chat by choosing when to serve personalized chat. Most visitors aren’t ready to talk to someone after gathering only three seconds of information. Live chat is most effective when served on a second page in a session or even a second visit.

Personalized Live Chat in Action

A large IT solution provider connected a messaging platform to the Bound personalization platform to serve a personalized live chat feature on their website. The company’s goal was to earn more qualified leads from live chat conversations.

First, they segmented their audience into key industries including finance, quality assurance, IT, consumer, consulting, and general traffic.

Chat icons and CTAs based on industry

Then, repeat visitors were greeted with an industry-relevant message in the chat box, leading to successful conversations 6 out of 10 times the personalized live chat was served.

Do you think you could generate more qualified leads from online chat? Contact us to find out how we help B2B marketers serve custom chat messages that convert leads faster.

The post Increase Conversion with Personalized Live Chat appeared first on Bound.

Costs and Benefits of A/B Testing: A Comprehensive Guide

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