Experimentation in product development: How you can maximize the customer experience

Hila Qu, Vice President of Growth at Acorns, has a theory. She says there are two kinds of product managers:…Read blog postabout:Experimentation in product development: How you can maximize the customer experience
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Hila Qu, Vice President of Growth at Acorns, has a theory. She says there are two kinds of product managers:...Read blog postabout:Experimentation in product development: How you can maximize the customer experience

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Don’t Make It Weird: 5 Tips for Balancing Privacy & Personalization

Imagine a simple scenario: Your coworkers are participating in a fun run for charity and want you to join. You’re up for it, but you know you need a decent pair of running shoes. The logical solution is to go online, search for information about running shoes and identify a few possible options. You could […]

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Imagine a simple scenario: Your coworkers are participating in a fun run for charity and want you to join. You’re up for it, but you know you need a decent pair of running shoes.

The logical solution is to go online, search for information about running shoes and identify a few possible options. You could order the shoes from an online retailer, but because proper fit is important for running shoes, you decide to visit a specialty retailer at the mall. A salesperson there is friendly and knowledgeable. The store has a pair of shoes you like, in your size. They’re a bit more expensive, but the fitting service added value and there’s no additional shipping cost, so you purchase the shoes on the spot. The next weekend, you run the race and the shoes feel great.

This illustrates a relatively traditional model of consumer decision-making. It begins with a spark that motivates a search for a product. It leads to a research phase, and a consideration set is developed. It then progresses to some type of product experience that narrows the consideration set. Ultimately, a purchase decision occurs and an evaluation of the final product is made.

But today’s online customers may notice a glaring omission from the process: It occurs a week after the run, when you visit a news website. There, in the right column of the page, is an ad for a pair of running shoes. The ad is tailored to your expressed preferences, but not personalized enough to know that a purchase has already occurred.

Seeing these ads, which follow us around the web, can be annoying, unnerving, and even potentially embarrassing. Because the targeting is so crude, it’s obvious that we’ve exchanged some degree of privacy for a marginal—in this case questionable—convenience. And, if this exchange has happened so frictionlessly with one online retailer, how often is it happening elsewhere?

If you can relate to this, you’re not alone. Research has found that consumers generally dislike targeted and personalized advertising. So if personalization makes customers uncomfortable, does this means brands should stop using tailored messages, offers and experiences?

The answer is, decisively, no.

Here’s why: the same body of literature that outlines a negative attitude towards personalization, also highlights the undeniable benefits of personalization. When an ad or message—such as an email subject line—is tailored, even superficially, there is almost always an increase in engagement with the subsequent content.

This contradiction is known as the “privacy paradox.” Consumers are willing to make a long-term trade of personal privacy in exchange for a short-term benefit or convenience, like more relevant advertising or a more specific shopping experience.

But while attitudes toward privacy may contradict behavior, they certainly shouldn’t be ignored. When an ad, message, or experience feels intrusive or creepy, it can diminish the effect personalization could have on your customer and their overall perception of your brand.

Luckily, there are many ways to deliver personalized experiences while also making your customers feel more at ease about their privacy. Here are our tips.

1. Be transparent

Numerous studies have found that the more transparently personalized content is presented, the more effective—and importantly, the more broadly effective—it is.

While making explicit references to data collection and sharing policies can increase privacy concerns, it can also diminish the effect the concern has on consumer behavior.

In an extreme example, Facebook somewhat-recently rolling out a new way for users to see their ad preferences, after the company’s advertisement platform and practices faced scrutiny following the 2016 Presidential Election.

But it doesn’t have to be that complicated. For instance, simply including ad security icons, for example, has been shown to increase the effectiveness of tailored ads even when the icon is unrecognized.

In addition, referencing privacy policies can diminish concerns over data sharing and personalization, even if consumers never read the policy. One study found that consumers interpret a privacy policy as a blank slate populated with all the usual safeguards. This means, of course, the burden is on your company to draft and enforce a responsible privacy policy whenever consumer data is being collected.

2. Be public about your data security efforts

Unsurprisingly, reassuring your customers of data security and describing the efforts you’re taking to protect their data can make them feel more at ease. But the effectiveness of this approach really depends on how much your customers trust your brand and your site. Building this relationship is difficult and can be easily destroyed.

But, if your brand has built a relationship of trust over time and is authentically dedicated to preserving this relationship, referencing the care you have taken to secure private information can not only be a boon to overall perceptions but increase the effectiveness of personalization.

3. Be personal to the right people, at the right time.

In marketing, timing is everything; and the same goes for personalization, it turns out. In e-commerce, personalization is most effective when your customer has established a consideration set and a final decision is about to be made. Additionally, as your customer engages more with a product category or brand, they begin to expect and look forward to a more targeted, relevant experience.  

4. Let newer customers opt-in to personalization

When it comes to moving customers toward a purchase, personalization is more effective in the “pull” direction than in the “push” direction. This means that you should implement personalization with more loyal customers and especially those who have requested more tailored experiences.

For new customers, we suggest waiting to provide personalization until a visitor has shown a specific interest in your company or product: they’ve viewed a few pages on a website, downloaded your app or signed up for your email newsletter. Once this happens, offer a dialog asking “Would you like a more personal shopping experience?”

While it’s true that many visitors may choose to continue on their own, others may not. This also gives you an early opportunity to show your brands’ interest in providing a relevant, convenient shopping experience, which may come into play later once they become loyal customers.

5. Let your customers run the show

Perhaps the most unsettling recommendation for balancing privacy and personalization is to give up some control over the degree of personalization consumers experience. Doing so evokes many of the tips we’ve already covered: it improves transparency, allows consumers to opt into personalization, and helps to build trust. Additionally, offering this service has been found to dramatically improve the effectiveness of personalization, even when some customers actually change settings beyond the default.

Personalization is a powerful tool. The effect personalized messages and experiences have on customers, however, is variable and possibly unpredictable. It’s important that companies balance concerns for privacy and general feelings of intrusion when delivering personalized experiences. Testing these approaches we’ve outlined above will help make your personalization efforts feel less creepy and ultimately, increase the effectiveness of the customer experience.


Transform your customer experience through personalization.

Brooks Bells’ Personalization Jumpstart Program uses a comprehensive, five-step process to help top brands incorporate personalization across their customer experience. Learn more today >> 

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Business evolution happens in experimentation sprints: Insights from André Morys, GO Group Digital

But transformative change really happens in sprints. That’s because experimentation is the agile approach to business evolution. When it comes…Read blog postabout:Business evolution happens in experimentation sprints: Insights from André Morys,…

But transformative change really happens in sprints. That’s because experimentation is the agile approach to business evolution. When it comes...Read blog postabout:Business evolution happens in experimentation sprints: Insights from André Morys, GO Group Digital

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Emotional tactics tested: Two e-commerce experiments that show the power of emotional marketing

Both variations increased conversions, demonstrating that highlighting the value proposition helped to reduce anxiety over signing up. More people now…Read blog postabout:Emotional tactics tested: Two e-commerce experiments that show the power of emo…

Both variations increased conversions, demonstrating that highlighting the value proposition helped to reduce anxiety over signing up. More people now...Read blog postabout:Emotional tactics tested: Two e-commerce experiments that show the power of emotional marketing

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Unlocking the True Power of Testing & Other Takeaways from Brooks Bell’s Interview With Ambition Data

Recently, our Founder and CEO, Brooks Bell, sat down with Allison Hartsoe, host of the Customer Equity Accelerator—a podcast produced by Ambition Data. Listen to the full podcast or read on for a few highlights from their conversation:  On what inspired her to build an experimentation consultancy… Originally, Brooks founded Brooks Bell Inc. in 2003 as […]

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Recently, our Founder and CEO, Brooks Bell, sat down with Allison Hartsoe, host of the Customer Equity Accelerator—a podcast produced by Ambition Data. Listen to the full podcast or read on for a few highlights from their conversation:

On what inspired her to build an experimentation consultancy…

Originally, Brooks founded Brooks Bell Inc. in 2003 as a website development agency. After working with a few local clients, a chance introduction led to her first major experimentation client, AOL.

Today, you might think of AOL as one of the [now-extinct] internet dinosaurs, but even back in the early 2000s, the media giant was facing its fair share of challenges. According to one story by Time Magazine, despite having 34 million members in 2002, AOL was battling slowing subscriber growth, falling ad revenue and exorbitant operational costs. 

So, the company turned to experimentation. “AOL had the right environment to build a testing culture,” said Brooks. “They had a closed technology environment, their own analytics platform, and their data was clean and connected.”

Back then, AOL relied on pop-ups to drive new subscriptions. Working with Brooks, the company issued a challenge: design a new subscription pop-up that would beat the control experience. And so, drawing from her background in design and psychology, she did—and then she did it again, and again, and again.

But that was just the start. As other large companies began to rely more on the digital space to drive their business, Brooks saw an opportunity to help them tap into the power of experimentation.

“We realized that no one was testing!” said Brooks. “No other large companies had the data, culture and processes in place to test. So we set out to help them build the data fidelity and really recreate what we saw at AOL in those early years.”

On the difference between optimization and experimentation…

It’s one of the more common questions we get: “Brooks Bell is an experimentation consultancy. What’s that? What’s the difference between experimentation and optimization?” As Brooks explains it, it all comes down to science.

By definition, experimentation is the application of the scientific method to determine something. And while optimization is one potential outcome of an experiment, true experimentation requires running tests without a prescriptive outcome or application.

To put it simply – you’re testing to learn. And as long as your results are statistically significant, there is always something to be learned from experiments—even those with flat or negative results.

On how to unlock the real power of experimentation…

Today, in the age of Amazon, a customer-centric experience is critical. But for some established companies, this requires a bigger paradigm shift in culture and processes.  

“Customer-centricity requires rethinking metrics, the type of data you collect, how teams are organized, how teams are incentivized, how you communicate and also your core values,” said Brooks.

The true power of experimentation lies in its ability to align your customer needs with your company’s strategic goals and your program’s agenda. Furthermore, you can use experimentation to learn new things about your customers in a scientific way.

“Having statistically-sound customer insights can totally change how you organize your store, how you train your team, and how you structure your website,” said Brooks. “This is where testing programs can really drive change.”

To that end, we recently celebrated the launch of Illuminate, our customer insights software for testing teams and executives. Illuminate not only provides a place to store, share and learn from your experiments, but also a means to develop impactful customer insights.

“We launched Illuminate to provide a repository of great test examples, to learn from each other, and to build a library of great test case studies,” said Brooks.  This is because outside of the testing program, any key learnings from an experiment can get lost within the data. Illuminate solves this by encouraging deeper thinking about customers, their needs, preferences, and behaviors. 

Learn more about Brooks Bell’s experimentation consulting services. 

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Moving the needle: Strategic metric setting for your experimentation program

Once you have your metrics and KPIs set, you’ll want to devise a system for tracking and sharing your results….Read blog postabout:Moving the needle: Strategic metric setting for your experimentation program
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Once you have your metrics and KPIs set, you’ll want to devise a system for tracking and sharing your results....Read blog postabout:Moving the needle: Strategic metric setting for your experimentation program

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How to Get More Google Reviews using Neuroscience

Reviews can make or break your business. Here’s how to get more on Google.
The post How to Get More Google Reviews using Neuroscience appeared first on Neuromarketing.

Get More Google Reviews Using Neuroscience

Reviews can make or break your business. Here's how to get more on Google.

The post How to Get More Google Reviews using Neuroscience appeared first on Neuromarketing.