Two Answers Provide Endless Split Testing Potential
by Toonimo Jan 15, 2015
  Any online business has read the endless articles, blogs and interviews with leading conversion experts about the need to conduct split tests. There are an infinite number of ideas about which type of split test or multi-variant test an e-commerce should implement. How many times can the leading blogs and articles suggest to switch the colors or shift text to the other side?! There are only so many options of what to do, but the key is drive business results not spend all the time testing! Is there a secret recipe to producing solid split testing ideas? Yes! The secret to generating consistently solid split test ideas- rich targeted data about the niche audience. That's it! Why is the targeted data so important? Because once a company has this information, then the testing potential is endless. How so? A company with this rich data enables them to get a deep understanding of the behaviors, preferences, lifestyle and interests of their audience. With this information, the split testing is a cinch. Equipped with this information, it still may be difficult for a company to identify opportunities. There are two fundamental questions about the data that will make all split tests a breeze. 1. What information does the company know about their customers and potential customers? This open-ended question enables the online brand to understand the pain points and passions of their target audience. Deep knowledge of consumers means knowing the answers to: Where do they spend most of their time? What do they do during recreation time? What sites are they visiting or frequent? What newspapers or blogs do they read? Monitor customer discussions via social media. Identify forums and groups that shed light onto conversations that the customers are interested in. Use survey tools to ask existing customers. What channels and digital opportunities are being presented by the competition? Perhaps they can offer insight on how to, or not to, market to the target audience. Ideally, reach out to existing customers with phone interviews or create focus groups to gain deep perspectives on the audience. 2. Looking ahead, where do potential customers want to be? This question is a great follow up to the first one because it looks at potential customers, sometimes even existing ones, at identifies what aspects of their ideal live a company can respond to. In this scenario, the split test focuses on answering questions such as: What are customers looking to learn? Or achieve in the coming months? What are they saving up to buy? What's on their wishlists for various sites (clothing, electronics, vacation). The goal with this question is to identify an emotional connection with potential customers. Look at the major brands within a specific target audience and mimic their delivery. Clearly, deep market research within a target audience shouldn't be the only means of split testing. This method does, however, offer much more granular material for unique A/B testing ideas, which should yield results for landing pages. To review, here are 3 steps. 1. Gain a deep understanding of the target market and their interests. 2. Find brands that resonate with their specific personality. 3. Bridge the product as a viable solution between their current status and where they aspiring to be.    
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Split Testing in Email Marketing: Tips and Tricks
by Toonimo Jan 12, 2015
  For all aspects of digital marketing, split testing (aka A/B testing) is what of the most important methods of identifying success while running campaigns and conversions. With all of the emphasis on micro content and social media engagement, the strongest and most direct digital marketing channel remains email marketing. For companies to identify success in email marketing, the ideal method is to run some form of split test. We've covered many of the basic aspects of A/B testing. Here are some of our tips and tricks to split test like a rockstar and increase conversion rates in email marketing. Over Testing Every online business has a list of subscribers. Treat the list with respect. Over segmenting the data sets will only reduce the success rates. Why? Each niche data set only provides information about that market, not about the entire list. Segmenting is a good thing with a strong list but over testing or hyper-testing will either yield weak results or annoy the consumers. How many split test variations should be sent out? That's a tough call. Use a software, like Optimizely to split test and understand the variations and what success metrics should look like. Make the Right Call As soon as the email campaign is launched, the natural reaction is to check the mail host repeatedly. Allow subscribers to mull over the content and let the campaign ride for more than a few hours before drawing initial conclusions. A normal campaign should run for up to 48 hours before reviewing metrics and results. Split Testing Fresh Data Split testing is only successful if all variations are sent at the exact same time to the identified audiences. Otherwise, the data is skewed with many external forces impacting the results. The rates of the test need to be fresh, relevant and identical. Run the Marathon Not a Sprint Every business sends various forms of emails. Some are purely promotional, while others are news or don't advertise a specific product. Testing email campaigns that are only timely for a specific time frame or are non-commerce driven, may offer interesting results but provide minimal value in the long term. For the best split test results, compare campaigns that are critical to producing significant impact to a business. Sure, these tests are not as exciting in terms of raw data and take more time to produce results, but most businesses are build for long term, not short term success. Permanence is the Enemy Split tests are by default volatile and difficult to predict. Each email is its own beast. The entire aspect of testing is the wrench in the digital marketing industry because it is so difficult to pin down specific consumer behaviors. Split test results should be viewed as fluid and should be repeated as necessary before coming to any conclusion. Just because the test worked once does not mean it will work again. Patience is Split Testing's Best Friend Email marketing is filled with variables that can be tested. Every test opportunity suggested by consultants, articles, influencers or friends may not be appropriate for a specific brand. Read articles and blogs with caution and review them for relevance to specific market segments. While trying to create split tests that are campaign specific, create tests that will challenge overarching considerations that can drive future decisions. Patience is key when conducting split tests.
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Holiday Shopping Isn’t Over: Beating the Competition with these Headlines
by Toonimo Dec 25, 2014
It was the night before Christmas and all the presents are wrapped. With the gifts tucked under the tree, many consumers take a deep sigh of relief that they've successfully survived another holiday shopping season. To the e-commerce businesses, however, the shopping season is still in full swing through New Year's because there are many who return gifts and are looking to return or replace the less than exciting stocking stuffers. With the a few good days until the official end of the holiday season, we wanted to offer a few more tips on how to beat the competition from the initial point of contact- in many cases that's the email. The consumer inbox is definitely crowded, and the holidays season means getting to the top of consumer inbox, even more difficult. What does this email marketing efforts for e-commerce companies?  As e-commerce companies get further into the trenches of sending holiday emails, staying ahead of the competition is critical. Carefully crafting a subject line can motivate the consumer to click through and delete a competitors' content. Here are a few tactics for writing email subject lines that convert. Spell it out in the subject line Consumers prefer companies that are direct, especially during the holiday season. This time of year, customers are on the prowl searching for good deals on the best gifts. By being clear in the subject line about the deal to catch consumer attention. Deal should be a primary part of the subject line. New Year's Special $200 off is much more engaging than New Year's Sales Going on Now! Go Personal The best way to call the attention of consumers, is to call them by name in the body of the email. Keeping the subject personal but still including the deal in the subject will increase conversion potential. For a more advanced personalization experience, segmenting the list based on gender and sending each group specific deals based on their interests will also increase the conversion potential. Keep Message Short Seize the opportunity to focus the subject line. Attention grabbing emails will make this holiday season emails stand out and convert. Subject lines over 75 characters are considered too long, so focus on keeping the message tight and clean. An alternative is to creatively add an icon (like a heart or New Year's hat) into the actual subject line. These tips are only a few of the bold moves for creating holiday subject lines that convert to ensure that customers click through this holiday season. Once they've clicked through, engaging customers requires finessing their navigation experience through use of a virtual guide that engages consumers and responds to triggers to ensure that every customer is satisfied.
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Packing an E-Commerce Punch with Personalized Emails
by Toonimo Dec 16, 2014
With the holiday season still in full force, now is the time for e-commerce brands to invest heavily in personalizing their email marketing campaigns.  According to recent Salesforce research, 60 percent of shoppers will eventually complete their originally abandoned cart if they receive a personalized email from the e-commerce store that they visited. In fact, those personalized emails encouraged shoppers to spend up to $36 per click, in addition to the generated revenue from the original shopping cart. That's a lot of potential money being left out in cyber space. The interesting results of the study, as mentioned by Salesforce, is that only 15 percent of the e-commerce brands actually took the time to invest in incorporating a perosnalized email system to customers who abandoned their cart. Why such a low number?Online retail brands should be capitalizing on targeting their engaged consumers in a more strategic fashion. Email marketing is the easiest form of personalization, since the consumer opted in to receive the content.  Why are companies so resistant? Many brands have phased out email marketing because they think that with newer distribution channels like social media, consumers are using email less. Email marketing may be old, but it is not dead. In fact, the results speak for themselves. Successful online marketing campaign for any e-commerce website (or any business) are based on email marketing efforts. Here are 3 reasons email might be still be the best bet. Targeted Reach Even today, email remains one of the best tools for targeting specific niche groups of consumers.  Unlike social media strategies, email marketing offers a much more accurate success rate. Using metrics, analytics enables a company to reach only the most relevant consumers with the highest potential for conversions. Supports Overall Content Marketing Efforts Content marketing is the newest form on customer engagement. Blogs and articles, producing videos and webinars, sharing presentations, and creating infographics and podcasts all are opportunities for brands to communicate with their community. While style and focus may vary, the idea is to keep producing quality to encourage the consumer to return. That's where email marketing comes in. One time visitors are nice, but engaged consumers that return because they see the value in the content is the ideal. Email Still Offers Best ROI With all the buzz of other marketing platforms and strategies, email is still showing its value as the most cost-effective marketing tool.Email marketing campaigns have been know to yield an average ROI of $40 per $1 spent. Compared to SEO, the next in line, with whopping $22.24 per dollar, the numbers speak for themselves. It is pretty clear that email marketing isn’t dead yet—and it shows no signs of slowing down in the near future. However, figuring out how to apply this knowledge isn’t always as clear-cut as one might hope. Below are several ways you can improve your email marketing campaigns and see awesome returns for your ecommerce business. Email is not dead. People are looking for value. It's just time to get personal and remain consistent. Social marketing leader, Gary Vaynerchuk, recently wrote that email is not dead. In fact, it's a very strong platform now.
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Customer Service:Changing the Face of E-Commerce Purchasing
by Toonimo Dec 09, 2014
Today, companies are shifting from just simple brick and mortar stores to e-commerce sites that focus on clicks and conversions. With this change in how consumers buy, customer service is quickly turning into a critical aspect of a company's success.  According to recent research, 37% of customers view in-store customer service as declining in its effectiveness, while 34% are impressed with a noticeable improvement in online customer service. Interestingly, with the decrease in brick and mortar customer service, primarily due to unpleasant sales reps or inferior store experiences, customers did raise concerns about shipping times when completing a purchase online. While most of the complaints for both online and offline shopping focused on customer service, many of these issues could be resolved by offering e-commerce solutions that can shorten the waiting time. For brick and mortar stores, technology could enable sales teams to walk around with tablets and mobile check out options. For online e-commerce stores, adding an in-store pick up option, reduces the waiting time and keeps customers involved with the brand both online and offline. An alternative option to enhancing a customers onsite experience is to integrate a virtual agent or chat feature to respond to customer questions and concerns. These technologies will guide customers to the right information or sufficiently engage a consumer to gain brand loyalty. With the increase of online shopping, many customers are spending more time researching products for the best price. In some cases, customers can spend over 30 minutes before making a purchase. Of those that engage in researching a product, most of their decisions are based on online customer review sites, crowdsourcing via social media, and most importantly how a site presents its information on the e-commerce site. An e-commerce site should offer added value to the product and highlight the many uses of the product. Additionally, the customer should gain new information and be able to access specific details about the product that only the brand would know. E-commerce stores need to increase utilizing existing social platforms and other technology opportunities to simplify the consumer product search. Sourcing information shouldn't be a challenge. By making the research process simple, e-commerce sites are adding significant value to their brand and product. With e-commerce continuing to grow, one way for brands to position themselves as unique in the saturated market is through superior customer service. A recent article in Marketing Mag highlights some important consumer preferences in terms of customer service. While the study was conducted in Canada, the ideas and concepts can easily apply to the global market. 1. Customers are willing to pay premium prices if they know that the brand has a history of exemplary customer service. Think of Zappos. Customer service is the best in the business not because they focus on churning customers through the system but because they can personalize the experience. 2. Close to 60% of customers left or ended a purchase due to a poor customer experience. How's that for leaving money on the table? 3. Almost 94% of those surveyed are active about promoting both the positive and negative customer experiences to their network. With these major customer service oriented points, any company should quickly work on improving their customer facing staff. Changing and enhancing customer experiences will directly result in an improvement of word of mouth promotion and an increase positive perceptions about the brand. 
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5 Things Customers Expect From Your E-commerce Store
by Toonimo Nov 30, 2014
  According to Quora, by mid-2014 2014,110,000 e-commerce sites were registered in the United States. What does that mean for your e-commerce business? It means that competition is fierce and your e-commerce site needs to live up to customer expectations. Especially during the holiday season, which started with Black Friday, online sales grew by 8.5% from alst year. With this kind of growth, your e-commerce site can't afford to fail. Here are 5 things customers expect from your e-commerce store, don’t disappoint them! 1. SPEED The loading time of your site is crucial. Today, people expect and demand instant gratification. A slow loading site will drive customers away, in search for another comparable site. A recent Kissmetrics study concluded that even “a one second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions." For the sake of clarity, “if your e-commerce website makes $100,000 a day, a 1 second delay could potentially cost you $2.5 million in lost sales every year”. Loading time counts! 2. Free Shipping and Promos Once a customer arrives, make sure that it's filled (but not crammed) with promotions. The initial visit by a customer is like "window shopping."  So offering limited time promotions, like giving a discount that is only good for today, encourages customers to make take their online shopping navigation a bit more seriously. Adding a countdown timer of when the sales will end, gives customers an extra sense of urgency,which can increase conversions. Customers love free stuff! So, when possible add a small gift or coupon for their next purchase to give them a reason to return. The holiday season is ideal for these giveaways, since customers are looking for good deals and free things, make a deal even better. In today's highly competitive e-commerce market, free shipping is something every business should be giving. There's almost no reason to make customers pay for receiving their package in a timely manner. 3. Customer Service By now, it should go without saying that excellent customer service in the e-commerce industry is expected by all consumers. Not only is it a necessity, but it's also an excellent way to establish trust with customers, even in the digital space. Today, consumers don't appreciate automated responses, they are looking for a brand that adds a personal touch along their digital journey. Perosnalization is the new form of bridging the digital barrier with customers and every e-commerce can easily integrate this tactic. By including personalized emails, chat features, or with a virtual agent, the e-commerce site can strengthen the customer relationship to the brand. In addition to excellent customer service, the FAQ page should be easily accessible, simple to understand and offer concrete value, leaving no room for any customer to feel dissatisfied with the site. 4. Social Media Links In today's hyper- social digital space, social media is the new form of communication with brands. Social media buttons should be visible, live, and easy to use. Many customers will actually search social profiles to see if a brand is active and engaging with its customers before making a purchase. Keep your channels active by offering content that is valuable. Each channel has a distinct style, so cross posting without respecting each platform will show some brand weakness and lack of understanding. Take the time to learn the ettiquette of the platfom. A good way to add value is to share content from other brands or relevant articles from within the industry. Not every post should be brand centered. A great feature that can add social value is to encourage customers to share that they just completed a purchase from your e-commerce site. Many brands are integrating this feature now and enables a brand to leverage every customers social network . People love to share what that they like, so let them share their shopping experience with their social media circles. Social media links can increase visibility and engagement. In some cases, active social networks will bring sales. 5. Pricing Shoppers don’t like surprises unless it’s a fabulous discount at checkout! Provide as much information on the product as possible as well as the full pricing. Ensure that your site can accept as many forms of payment as possible, including the safety secure payment badges to gain trust with customers. These five tactics are becoming the new norm for e-commerce sites. Take the time to do it right.
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