About Analytics, Conversions and On-Site Surveys

Recently, I have given a lot of thought to conversions. A static website may attract a lot of traffic, but unless there is an initial CTA (otherwise known as “call-to-action”), that traffic may be of no use at all.

According to a recent study by Bain & Company, around 80% of companies say they are customer centric, yet only 8% of their customers seem to agree with this.

When it comes to online shopping, this gap is evident.

You already have my contact info, and you know exactly what I bought – why not use that information and ask me for my opinions on-site, as well as at least some feedback about the online store and my purchase experience, or at the very least the product you just sold me?

As we all know, around 90% of all online experiences begin with a search engine. Proper SEO and SEM are, naturally, of a very high importance when it comes to attempts to increase the conversion rate.

Also, to be more precise, conversions only take place when targeted traffic meets the relevant offer. It all starts with knowing who is your target audience – and with knowing what they need or want.

It is highly recommended to begin by asking the right questions.

  • Who are the target customers? And what is their ongoing life situation?
  • What do they want? And what is the biggest pain point related to that?
  • What are the exact needs of the customers that aren’t being met right now?

Surveys can be used to significantly increase conversions by directing visitors to the correct pages on site. It all starts simply by asking questions related to customers and their specific needs, or feedback on whatever is displayed on the current page being browsed.

Qualitative research can offer more insight than anything else for coming up with conversions. Whereas quantitative figures tell you “what, where” and “how much”, the qualitative information tells you “why”.

The primary goal of qualitative research on-site is to gather an in-depth understanding of a website user’s behaviour, and the main reasons for that behaviour.

It makes sense to first inquire the user’s intent – to dig into what exactly is the specific problem they were solving by visiting the site in question. Moving forward, the next relevant questions might be, for example, what mattered to them when choosing the product or service, what kind of comparisons did they do prior to purchase, or how many and which other sites they looked at, and so on. It might also make sense to ask about friction – fears, doubts and hesitations the users experienced before making the purchase.

Your basic Google Analytics tools help you in defining your questions and in placing the surveys on site.

With Google Analytics tools, it is easy to spot the exact:

  • Best performing content (Which pieces of content work best? Try and get a clear view on this one!)
  • Best converting keywords (Which keywords rank? Aim to rank better for these and similar words.)
  • Best converting landing pages (Where is the incoming traffic landing on – and does it convert?)
  • Best converting traffic sources (Where exactly is your traffic that converts visitors coming from?)

To best avoid bounce and churn rate increase, I suggest giving the conversion surveys as well as their placement on your site a lot of thought. Less is more.

Exit surveys, annoying pop-ups and prompts to subscribe to another newsletter are proliferate. With Google Analytics tools, you can easily target the relevant customers with your on-site surveys – it does not matter if they converted, or did not yet.

On the Relevance of Lifestyles in Service Design

Customers and the end users of services are obviously the best people to evaluate their experiences. This is the reason why the design of any new, innovative product or service should always be based on in-depth research on their lives, aspirations, desires and needs. By this kind of material I do not mean only data and analytics, but also qualitative interviews, or other extensive research, on people’s daily lives and habits.

Most service design methods are firmly based on the initial research conducted.

Research on people’s preferences should always be based on several in-depth-interviews, or alternatively, extensive analytics, or other quantitative material on the potential customer’s lives and lifestyles.

In literature on sociology, marketing and consumption, discussions of customer experience are closely linked with the concept of lifestyle.

And correspondingly, questions concerning value construction, lifestyle and taste lay at the core of most service design research methods.

The sociologist Antoine Hennion has written about taste as “a reflexive activity”, and as “a collective technique”. Questions of taste define our choices to a certain extent, and should not be overlooked.

Hennion says that analyzing taste helps us to understand the various ways we make ourselves sensitized to objects, to ourselves, to situations and to moments – while simultaneously controlling how those feelings might be shared and discussed with others.

Hennion has also defined amateurs as connoisseurs who have “a spiritual enthusiasm” for the things they do. In my experience, this kind of enthusiasm for a certain lifestyle is shared amongst like-minded people.

It makes perfect sense to limit initial research objectives to certain customer segments, and choose the people interviewed and researched based on their overall lifestyle, interests and enthusiasm.

Individuals are, of course, essentially, very social creatures. They do not live in a void – nor are they steady members of certain consumer segments for the rest of their lives. Furthermore, we all live in a rapidly evolving world, with technology taking huge strides all the time.

The properties of a certain product or service re-evaluated and tweaked, after the initial iteration. Service design and qualitative research on lifestyles of consumers can be of assistance in this phase as well.

The lifecycle of any iteration of a digital product or service should also perhaps be considered limited.

The image below describes the situation from the viewpoint of a design team. This picture has been initially published in a book called “The Convivial Toolbox: Generative Research for the Front End of Design” (2013) by Elizabeth Sanders and Pieter Jan Stappers.

 

 

Tips for Marketing to Millennials

Millennials, most commonly defined as individuals born between 1980 and 2000, essentially aspire to be trendsetters, trailblazers and nonconformists.

However, there are a couple of things this generation of individualists has in common. As I am a millennial myself, I decided to write a post about the most common characteristics of this generation and about marketing to this segment.

Let’s first take a look at how many we are.

According to the Search Engine Journal, millennials currently make up a trillion-dollar demographic on a global level. Millennials make up approximately 25% of the population in the first world countries. By the year 2025, we will make up 75% of the global workforce, and our purchasing power will rise even more.

It is paramount to avoid targeting the “millennial” audience as a general segment in terms of marketing.

When attempting to reach out to this generation, it is best to try and target highly specific niche audiences.

In general terms, millennials do not trust traditional advertising and marketing – according to Forbes, this notion applies for well over 80% percent of millennials. And according to Ogilvy & Mather, around 60% of millennials would rather spend money on experiences than material items.

Also, concerns for the well-being of others and the environment heavily dominate the purchasing decisions of this generation. Millennials strongly prefer brands that demonstrate some level of corporate social responsibility. So showcasing the company values and encompassing these in marketing strategies becomes increasingly important – especially when it comes to being environmental-friendly.

In addition to this, most millennials seek peer affirmation, feedback and recommendations from others.

Personalization makes all the difference, when it comes to millennials. As a rule of thumb, any product or service will be more appealing to this group, if it has some customizable features, and if the related marketing messages are personalized. It should come as no surprise, then, that the favourite forms of advertising of millennials are online offers and personalized email marketing.

In an article in the Search Engine Journal, Mindy Weinstein, the founder of the digital marketing agency Market MindShift, offers 14 pro tips for marketing your product or service to millennials:

  • Create an experience in which Millennials can participate.
  • Develop content that encourages shares.
  • Provide Millennials with the opportunity to live the story with your brand.
  • Align your brand with a cause, so that Millennials will align with you.
  • Recognize the evolving lifestyles of Millennials and don’t be afraid to change with them.
  • Disrupt the market with an innovative approach to pricing and marketing.
  • Increase brand loyalty by embracing trends and joining in the fun.
  • Allow your customers to contribute to your marketing and be involved in the development of a new product line.
  • Create ads that speak directly to a personal moment in a Millennial’s life.
  • Go where the Millennials are (social and mobile).
  • Focus on a product or service that is convenient for Millennials.
  • Offer something that speaks to the Millennial’s desire for uniqueness.
  • Make your product personal and customizable.
  • Solve a need for Millennials and create a marketing message to back it up.

You can read the full article by Mindy Weinstein online here: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/trillion-dollar-demographic-10-brands-got-millennial-marketing-right/135969/

A presentation of the Nielsen Company report “Millennials – Breaking The Myths”: http://www.slideshare.net/recsportsmarketing/nielsen-millennial-report-2014

 

On Brand Advocacy and the Transcendent Customer Experience

How to create brand advocacy through customer journey mapping? And what kind of a customer experience do strong brand communities promote?

Brendan Richardson, the author of “Tribal Marketing, Tribal Branding”, has stated that “the fundamental purpose of the marketer who seeks to engage with contemporary communities of consumption in whatever form is to identify, and where appropriate and possible, support the linking values that unite these communities” and to thus “facilitate” the “transcendent customer experience”.

In a paper entitled “Transcendent Customer Experience and Brand Community”, John W. Schouten, James H. McAlexander and Harold F. Koenig have stated that “Transcendent customer experiences (TCEs), which have aspects of “flow and/or peak experience”, can generate “lasting shifts in beliefs and attitudes, including subjective self-transformation” while “delivering a particularly strong form of brand loyalty.”

Brand advocacy is, naturally, the most mature level of customer commitment here, and that is always based on shared values.

A flow experience, according to psychologist Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi, produces a state of transcendence, a suspension of temporal reality, and a sense of separation from the mundane, and a sense of unity with some higher plane of experience, whereas, similarly, a peak experience, as discussed by Abraham Maslow, is characterised as a sudden epiphany – both signifying a connection to a something outside the self.

Skydivers, for example, according to Schouten, McAlexander and Koenig, “report consistent types of extraordinary experience, beginning with the thrill of first time engagement” and “progressing through milestones of personal achievement and periods of individual and shared transcendence”.

According to the authors, furthermore, it is shown in studies that people engaging in outdoor activities “report dramatic life- or perspective-altering transformations in themselves”.

So what do skydivers essentially experience?

I went out with a skydiving guy a few years ago, and could not help but wonder. Extreme sports is definitely not for me. However, I can easily agree on this one when it comes to the experience of biking or hiking outdoors in the middle of nature, for example.

All of this may seem to have a religious undertone to it.

Maslow’s view on religion, however, was somewhat blunt.

According to Maslow, a religion mainly exists to provide a framework for understanding the ephemeral, ineffable nature of the experience. And the function of a religious institution, according to Maslow, is to offer texts, symbols, rituals, and a community that can act as triggers for future transcendent experiences.

Now let’s take a step back, and discuss the triggers in relation to an outstanding customer experience.

The triggers of such an experience are individual and vary – but these may include, for example, a sense of a personal crisis, a sense of romance or a sense of encountering “exceptional beauty”. McAlexander and Schouten have identified that in relation to consumption, the triggers may include sensory experiences, such as experiencing sights, sounds and smells; or a sense of “unexpectedly gratifying interpersonal encounters”, and also, intriguingly, a sense of “personal achievement” that “exceeds people’s expectations”.

It seems that great customer experiences have the power to significantly enhance people’s relationships with other people, as well as their relationship with objects, as the authors of this article suggest.

The research cited above clearly indicates that “customers desire to transcend mundane consumerism”.

This tendence is typical of strong brand communities.

The authors of this paper also refer to the dark, addictive and escapist side of the customer experience.

Colin Campbell, for example, has written about what he calls the “romantic” modern consumerism as a type of addiction, in his view caused by the global advertising industry that caters for fantasies. Max Weber’s critique of capitalism is, of course, a primary reference here.

I find brand communities and the concept of a transcendent customer experience to be ripe with yet untapped, hidden potential for promoting a more sustainable lifestyle worldwide, especially among millennials. At the end of the day, the brands that promote a healthy, happy planet may generate stronger communities and more loyal customers than brands that do not pay attention to sustainability issues.

Geckos, Data and Metrics

Imagine a world where everyone in your company or team has all the information needed to be successful. A world where everyone uses relevant KPIs to quantify and measure their team’s performance, so everyone knows exactly where their projects stand, and they can easily deliver progress reports based on goals.

How to make this happen? Which metrics matter most? And which tools should be utilized in the process?

Let’s start with the basics.

First of all, your team needs to identify the KPIs that are aligned to the company’s current strategic goals. Only then can the team start pulling in the relevant data, and crunching the numbers that matter most. Creating a data-driven environment starts with setting up the KPIs and a dashboard to access these.

The often repeated qualifications for the best metrics are, of course, “the three A’s”: good metrics are Actionable, they can easily be Audited, and they are Accessible.

In “Lean Analytics”, Alistair Croll and Ben Yoskovitz introduce a framework for deciding whether the metrics you’re tracking are good metrics or bad metrics. This distinction is crucial.

According to Croll and Yoskovitz, a good metric is:

  • Understandable — A good KPI should, of course, be understood by everybody who has access to it.
  • Comparative — KPIs should ideally be able to be compared over periods of time or against industry benchmarks.
  • A ratio or a rate – Absolute KPIs can be useful, however, rates and ratios generally provide a bigger context.
  • Behavior-changing — Can someone in the team take action based on how the KPI changes? If not, then this metric may simply be noise or a vanity metric.

KPIs can also be qualified using the IPA Rule. This rule stands for Important (Is this KPI important? Does it matter?), Potential improvement (Does this KPI have potential for improvement?), and Authority (Do you have authority or means to improve this KPI?).

Several dashboard tools can be of assistance in communicating the KPIs and making the data accessible to everyone in the team. I highly recommend Geckoboard, which makes it easy to create beautiful metrics dashboards with just a few clicks, and has pre-built integrations with software tools like Google Analytics, MailChimp, Salesforce and Zendesk to save time. Other nice, similar options are DearLucy and Leftronic.

Effective dashboards are powerful. They are, essentially, tools that make statements as to what a company or a team considers to be valuable.

One of the most interesting things utilizing a dashboard software makes possible, is to simply track leads and conversions. And in order to track these, the team only needs to agree on which specific actions define each stage of the customer journey, and then build these into the dashboard and the reporting system.

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) — that is, the percentage of people who would recommend your company’s products or services — seems to me like one of the most relevant metrics.

Measuring the NPS is not the only relevant metric of success, however, nor should it be.

Relevant KPIs should be set for each stage of the customer journey. It is important to focus on a single overall macro KPI, but also to monitor the whole customer lifecycle.

Dave McClure, for example, suggests the following macro metrics according to different phases of the customer journey:

  • Acquistion metrics –- How do the customers find you?
  • Activation metrics –- Do the customers have a great first experience?
  • Retention metrics –- Do the customers come back?
  • Revenue metrics –- Does your company make profit?
  • Referral metrics –- Do the customers tell others about you?

What I think is best about KPIs and metrics is that the overall process of sourcing and communicating data can spark intense discussions that at times can strike right at the core of the business and its purpose.

Dashboards and metrics may not be something that everyone is passionate about. But collecting and reporting data can have a huge impact on accelerating the company’s and the team’s performance.

Visit the Geckoboard website and get your free trial of Geckoboard now:

https://www.geckoboard.com/

Check out Meltwater’s Growth Hacker Brendon Ritz’s brief guide on analytics and data:

http://www.meltwater.com/insight/keys-kingdom-making-marketing-team-data-centric/

 

On the Properties of the Content that Rocks

By now, everyone is doing it. I think it is safe to say that content marketing does not make any difference. What matters is compelling content.

According to Google, 90% of any customer journeys now span at least five different channels. A very fundamental goal in content marketing should be to reach the customer on each relevant touchpoint over the journey. But in addition to reaching out to the right people at the right time, what does it take for content to create an impact?

I recently wrote in this blog about the need for proper content management. Content remains king, and for content to rule, content management is very important.

But I said very little about what best content is made of.

As a rule of thumb, of course, all of the content online must be very brief, focused, distinctive and memorable. And in order to create leads, there should be a clear call to action involved.

Making it a point to set these parameters as your internal content goals makes a lot of sense.

Identifying your own goals is of course important, but what really makes all the difference when it comes to your content, is identifying the goals of the target audiences. People are rarely online just browsing and prowling around, in fact, in the most common case they are online in order to get something done, and using a search engine or one of their favourite sites to do that.

And this is when your content must come through as compelling.

Successful content meets the target audiences needs and attempts to fulfill them. Based on the identified goals of each customer segment, it should be easy to plan the general themes that will be discussed with the target audience, and to start creating the editorial calendar. The customer’s goals may be quite abstract in some cases, and, of course, in some cases they are not.

It seems to me, however, that the abstract goals related to purchasing a product or using a service dominate our decision-making over the customer journey. According to Joseph Pine and James Gilmore, the authors of the “Experience Economy”, the most desirable customer experiences, and the ones that we are also willing to pay more for, are ”transformative” in nature, employing our emotions.

Emotions dominate most aspects of our lives. Having multiple devices with internet access does little in the way of solving our emotional issues. But the content we connect with online can certainly be of assistance here. Tapping to the power of the positive emotions and focusing on the potential for a transformative customer experience is what should drive content creation.

Read more about the overarching trends that will shape next year in content marketing: http://hub.uberflip.com/h/i/160667652-7-ways-content-marketing-will-evolve-in-2016

 

Space for an Engaging Experience

Click, click, click. Your brand, company or organization may attract one million or more visitors to its website annually, but how do these visits eventually turn into revenue?

I think that conducting quantitative or qualitative research on customer experience is a fundamentally critical factor in turning the organization’s website visitors – be they passers-by or returning – into customers and later on into brand advocates.

Using this approach has the benefit of being able to better anticipate customer needs and desires and adopt to the mindset of the customer. Customer experience, in short, is the cumulative impact of multiple touchpoints over the customer journey, which result in an emotion-based relationship feeling, or lack of it. Now that the numerous different digital services have multiplied the potential touchpoints, lack of proper customer experience management may have disastrous results for the brand.

“Customer experience … is a fundamental dimension of how a company competes”, says Joseph Pine, who has coined the term in 1999 in his book entitled “The Experience Economy”, co-authored by James Gilmore. Pine underlines the importance of the shift from service economy into experience economy. This shift may be as remarkable as or even more important than the shift from selling commodities to making and marketing goods.

The importance of research cannot be overrated here. It is precisely getting to know your customers and having a discussion with them that helps you better understand their journey.

Once you have the results from the research, be it extensive quantitative material or in-depth interviews with selected few, it is possible to start mapping and managing the customer experience.

This can be done, for example, by creating customer profiles. The customer profiles may help in identifying the customer journeys that really matter, and vice versa.

Creating a customer journey canvas can also be a useful tool here.

What the customer of the 21st century expects now when purchasing a product or using a service, is, most of all, to have an engaging experience.

I think that creating this kind of emotion-based experiences should be the main area of expertise in the Museum Industry for these institutions to keep attracting customers in the future. Most major art institutions have indeed been very successful in creating an environment where this kind of engaging experiences take place. However, when it comes to their online services, not so many museums seem to have put so much effort in creating a space for exceptional engagement.

How to make the magic happen online?

I have no easy solution for this one, but creating digital customer profiles based on extensive research may be the best starting point in creating a composed customer experience. Having a streamlined digital strategy and implementing it throughout the organization is also needed.