In most markets, where styles and customer demands change rapidly and frequently, chief marketers require the ability to recognize fluctuations and respond to clusters of users. This is the overall direction of Web site testing and targeting today. Once the domain of IT, the job of Web site analysis and optimization has migrated to the marketing department, where visitor data has become the key ingredient of conversion and personalization strategies for CMOs.
With this trove of information now firmly held and mined regularly by the CMO, new trends are emerging in Web site testing that bridge the gap between analytics and action. Innovative e-businesses are fully embracing a wide range of testing and analytics tools to discover and connect marketing decisions across a variety of online channels. These activities enhance the customer experience, deliver tangible return on investment, and establish a successful foundation for other Internet-based marketing activities.
What should CMOs look for with respect to Web site testing today? Here are five of the most current trends and tips in personalization:
1. To gain market share, CMOs must build an internal testing culture. In many industries, the competitive landscape is now so dense that the common path toward expanding market share is by attracting competitors’ customers and/or reaching into foreign markets. Delivering truly personalized content is an effective way to do that, but, first, marketing teams need to build support for testing internally. With a global workforce, CMOs must break down internal walls to create a foundation for success.
CMOs who go after quick, early testing wins succeed in demonstrating the potential of testing and create cheerleaders who spur on the team for more complicated, impactful optimization projects.
2. Take three steps before testing: Plan, plan, and plan. Before running any type of site optimization activity, organizations must standardize on key performance indicators they want to track improvements against. Often overlooked and commonly without consensus, marketing teams have to select their measurement metrics before optimization efforts begin. Take note of the particular issues in which the company is struggling and identify the places on the Web site that need improvement. Perhaps the conversion rate is unacceptable or revenue-per-visit is unexpectedly low. Whatever the goal, ensure all internal stakeholders agree on short- and long-term objectives before testing begins. Then gather and create supporting elements, such as testing tools, a time line, and an enthusiastic supporter who can get the team excited about the process.
3. Successful Web site testing builds on existing data. CMOs are mining the data they already have to determine where to begin with testing strategies. Web analytics platforms answer critical questions, such as, “Where are our highest bounce rates?” “Which pages of the site are underperforming?” “Which user groups are more important in terms of KPIs?” Additionally, many companies leverage CRM and marketing automation solutions today to gather intelligence about their visitors and customers, which add to the growing amounts of data. The answers to those questions should set the stage for the testing schedule.
4. Make the most of A/B and multivariate testing and consider targeting add-ons. A/B testing is extremely effective for solving many of the glaring problems on a Web site in a low-cost environment: time, resources and expense. Multivariate testing allows for more insight, knowledge, and opportunity when afforded more traffic and time. Once you answer a few unknown questions and build support, consider designing more complex tests that benefit from targeting to different visitor personas.
The move toward content targeting reflects a maturing understanding of consumer behavior, off-site campaigns, and now Web site optimization; one option cannot be the best performing for all prospects in a broad category. Marketers are aware that their targets are individuals who, while they might live in the Southwest or arrive on a Web site via Facebook (both common visitor attributes), are also influenced by many other more unique factors. Site targeting provides CMOs with the ability to capture data and convert it to action so that individual visitors see the offers, images, and content that are most likely to convert them.
5. Introduce automated targeting capability to the Web site landscape. The goal of Web site optimization is to match the right message, image, and offer to every individual, every time. Rules-based targeting is important to that process, and automated decisioning engines introduce deeper capabilities to help CMOs reach that goal. Today’s technology enables CMOs to uncover similar visitors and group them automatically without the heavy lifting typically required in data-mining processes. With this results-orientated approach, marketers can think strategically about their brands and the users’ experiences, and deliver on the goals of the business. Automated targeting moves online messaging significantly closer to truly personalizing content to each and every prospect.