Tag Archives: marketing

A/B Testing Case Studies

Paras Chopra, founder of the fairly self-explanatory A/B testing company Visual Website Optimizer, provides an introduction to A/B testing that is as useful for newcomers as it is old-timers.

In the article, Chopra provides a few dos and don’ts, an overview of some A/B testing tools, a fantastic list of resources and a collection of “Classic A/B Testing Case Studies”, including:

Privacy and Tracking with Digital Coupons

Data collection and mining can be quite lucrative pursuits for many retailers, and technological advances are providing them with more novel and extensive methods of doing just that.

Data mining is a topic I’ve been fascinated with ever since I was introduced to it in university, and this look at how digital coupons track us and provide retailers with detailed data is a worthy addition to my virtual collection:

Invented over a century ago as anonymous pieces of paper that could be traded for discounts, coupons have evolved into tracking devices for companies that want to learn more about the habits of their customers. […]

Many of today’s digital versions use special bar codes that are packed with information about the life of the coupon: the dates and times it was obtained, viewed and, ultimately, redeemed; the store where it was used; perhaps even the search terms typed to find it.

A growing number of retailers are marrying this data with information discovered online and off, such as guesses about your age, sex and income, your buying history, what Web sites you’ve visited, and your current location or geographic routine — creating profiles of customers that are more detailed than ever, according to marketing companies. […]

Many companies have the technology — and customers’ permission, thanks to the privacy policies that users accept routinely without reading — to track minute details of people’s movements.

I’m mostly fine with this sort of tracking as it is typically done on a large, impersonal level: complex algorithms are used to determine when to send what vouchers to who, all without direct human intervention. The piece ends with a thought that is somewhat close to my opinion on this particular privacy debate: “I would be concerned […] if they get very granular and are tracking me specifically.”

via @Foomandoonian

Web Marketing Lessons from Cialdini’s ‘Influence’

No marketer should be engaging with people online without having read Robert Cialdini’s much lauded Influence, says SEOmoz co-founder Rand Fishkin. To this end, Rand presents his Illustrated Guide to the Science of Influence and Persuasion.

The six main principles illustrated:

  • Reciprocation: “The power of reciprocation relies on several conventions. The request must be “in-kind,” which is to say, commensurate with the initial offering. The power is increased if the give-and-take happens in a short time frame. Reciprocity’s influence increases with closer relationships, too.”
  • Commitment and Consistency: “Commitment and consistency can’t happen without that initial action of a reponse or promise. Cialdini notes that this power increases tremendously if the agreement is written, rather than merely verbal.”
  • Social Proof: “Social proof becomes more powerful when the numbers increase and when the action-takers become more relevant and, especially more like the target.”
  • Liking: “Research confirms that things like physical attractiveness (we like good-looking people), familiarity (we trust people we know), similarity (we like people like us) and compliments (we like people who say nice things about us) all factor into to the principle of ‘liking.'”
  • Authority: “Authority only influences when the target believes in the power and authenticity of that authority. The stronger the authority association, the more powerful the impact, but not all authorities work on all people.”
  • Scarcity: “Scarcity becomes more powerful when it’s clear that the resource is finite […] and when immediacy is added to the scarcity.”

The article doesn’t cover much that I haven’t before, but the article offers, for each of the above, excellent examples on how to leverage these through web marketing.

Vowel Sounds and Price Perceptions

How the vowels in words are pronounced has an influence on how we perceive the size of an item. This ‘phonetic symbolism’ has also been shown to effect how we perceive prices:

Researchers have known for 80 years about a symbolic connection between speech and size: back-of-the-mouth vowels like the “o” in “two” make people think of large sizes, whereas people associate front-of-the-mouth vowels like “ee” with diminutiveness. Marketers can use this effect to make consumers think a discount is bigger or smaller than it truly is. […]

In one experiment, researchers told consumers the regular and sale prices of a product, asked them to repeat the sale price to themselves, and then, a few minutes later, told them to estimate the size of the discount in percentage terms. Products with “small-sounding” sale prices (like $2.33) seemed like better deals than products with “big-sounding” sales prices (like $2.22).

In another experiment, the researchers used a pair of sale prices — $7.88, which sounds “big” in English, and $7.01, which sounds “small” — but are the other way around in Chinese. Chinese and English speakers had opposite perceptions of the products’ relative value.

The authors of the study have also shown how, for discounted items, we perceive the discount on items to be larger when the right-most digit of its price is small (less than 5): the right digit effect.

Text-Only Ads are the Most Effective

Advertisers are “often wrong about what attracts our attention” is the conclusion of a usability study looking at how users interact with online advertising.

The study, published in the report Eyetracking Web Usability by the Nielsen Norman Group (a usability consultancy firm from Jakob Nielsen and Kara Pernice), suggests that text-only advertising is the most effective advertising method for many websites.

Do you think you’re more likely to look at an online ad if it contains 1) a picture, 2) an animation or 3) just text? The answer: just text. […]

The headline result: simpler is better (not to mention probably cheaper to produce). Participants in the study looked at 52% of ads that contained only text, 52% of ads that had images and text separately and 51% of sponsored links on search-engine pages. Ads that got a lot less attention included those that imposed text on top of images (people looked at just 35% of those) and ones that included animation (it might seem movement is attention-grabbing, but only 29% of these ads garnered a look). […]

People in the study saw 36% of the ads on the pages they visited — not a bad hit rate. The average time a person spent looking at an ad, though, was brief — one-third of a second.

This is an evolution of what Nielsen called banner blindness, right?

via @contentini