Is AB Testing Dead?

After Optimizely announced they were sunsetting their free plan as of February 28th the internet was abuzz with posts about “The End of AB Testing.” I’ll save the suspense now and tell you that “website testing” is absolutely NOT dead, but AB testing certainly has been in a slow demise due to neglect, not because of necessity.

A Tool’s Pricing Does Not Make A Tactic Worthwhile

Just because a tool may change its pricing structure does not necessarily indicate the demise of what it is solving. The argument goes that with new options such as dynamic ad and content targeting that you can no longer simply perform A vs. B tests. While that might be true of very large websites I can count on one hand the number of organizations I have talked to who are using such dynamic content on their sites. Furthermore, a decent majority of organizations I’ve talked to are not even doing simple A vs. B tests at all.

So Why Get Rid Of The Free Tier?

Optimizely runs a business. A business’s job is to make money. My guess is that offering something for free didn’t nearly net the revenue gains they were hoping for. Apple sold less devices, but gained revenue because those devices now cost more. LL Bean got rid of its lifetime guarantee because they were losing money on ‘shady’ returns. These do not indicate that people aren’t using cellphones nor do people no longer need to stay warm and dry. What it does indicate to me is that not enough people were using it. (There’s a Bears Ears simile in there somewhere unfortunately)

By Optimizely removing their free tier this should make every organization re-evaluate their testing strategy. Are you testing anything right now? If not then start looking at your conversion funnel. If it is converting any less than 90% then you should be testing ‘something’ inside it! If you are AB Testing and not doing dynamic content, well that is ‘YOUR’ next step. If you’re doing both, well there’s always room for improvement.

Is AB Testing dead? Well, maybe it has been dying a slow death, but not because it isn’t useful. Maybe it’s like the local gym… we all know we need to go, we buy a membership, we rarely go, then we cancel, then the gym loses money and we’re still out of shape. It’s time to get our website testing strategy back in shape! Let’s do this together >

What The 2016 Election Taught Us About User Research

The 2016 presidential election has come and gone. We won’t get into politics here, but I think we can all agree it was a shock that Donald Trump was able to overcome what seemed to be a large gap. But the question many have been asking is, did the gap really ever exist? Did anyone bother to ask rural America how they might be voting? This is a huge issue within many businesses as well. When was the last time you ‘polled’ your audience? When was the last time you asked your customers what they wanted? This user research is paramount to a an optimized marketing and website experience.

Customer Surveys

Conducting a survey is one of the easiest types of user research around. It’s easy to use a survey tool, such as Survey Monkey, to ask your customers what they may want to see out of your business offerings or website experience. We’ve seen the most success when surveys are short, maybe 3-5 questions, but try to never go above 10 unless you are providing some kind of offer.

Old Fashioned Talking

It’s ok to reach out to customers every once in a while to get a sense of how they feel about your brand. This one-on-one user research method can be focus groups or a simply phone call. The act of holding the conversation goes a long way with customer and audience trust. The most important thing that comes from it is that customers feel a part of your business, galvanizing their support for your brand!

Usability Testing

You’ve probably heard of AB Testing, but its cousin is Usability Testing and a really great way to use user research to get real time feedback of abandonment points on your website. Usability testing is where a moderator will walk audiences through processes or site sections to see how easy it is to perform actions on your website or compare them to a newly proposed alternative. After about 5 participants the answers start to repeat so you could do this exercise in as little as 10 total work hours.

These are all just a few ways you can connect with your audience for very little investment. If you’re interested in understanding your audience in more detail and optimizing your website accordingly contact us by filling out the form on the right hand side of this page (or below on mobile!).

Oooh look, a squirrel!

In today’s world of flashy advertising, new fangled gadgets and the seemingly limitless capabilities of the internet it is easy for us to be overwhelmed.

I’m no scientist, but as I type this Pandora plays in the background, my iPhone is at the ready to my right and I am typing this on screen number one of my two-screen setup. All of this… wait, a biker just went by on the street outside my window… where was I?

The point here is FOCUS. Although you probably need it personally, I’m not necessarily talking about personal focus. Keeping your digital strategy focused is nearly an impossible task these days. With so many new technologies, tracking and targeting tools it is no wonder marketers get so overwhelmed day in and day out. So how do we get back on track? Lets ‘focus’ on that…

New isn’t always better

If you don’t know how to drive stick shift why in the world would you ‘upgrade’ your car to a manual Ferrari? This happens all the time in the business world though. Too many companies abandon their digital strategy because a new shiny object comes out promising to pinpoint audience segments with a message specifically for them and ultimately get them to buy more. Now, this strategy works when you’re ready, but not if you don’t know how to drive stick.

Stick to the basics…

Ya, ya, the basics are boring. I get it. However, typically the sports team that wins their championship tends to focus on the fundamentals, or basics (unless you’re the New England Patriots I guess). This should apply to your digital strategy. Can your analytics track the entire visitor experience? Do your inbound marketing tactics drive visitors to the right landing pages? Are the calls to action on your site clear and noticeable? These are all digital strategy fundamentals and too many companies do not exhaust their options here before moving onto the next big thing.

It’s not working…

Brand loyalty isn’t what it used to be these days. Music tastes change by the hour. And there seems to be a new diet every second. My point is that we are always quick to jump to the next thing as opposed to seeing if what we currently have could actually work for us. Are you utilizing your tracking tools to their fullest potential? Are you driving visitors to the right landing pages? Are you taking advantage of all the segmentation features in your content management system? The next new thing won’t solve the issues of you not using your tools to their fullest. It’s sort of like a power saw because you can’t use a measuring tape when using your hand saw. Your cuts will still be way off with or without the power.

What can you do?

There are some simple questions to ask yourself before going out and spending money on that latest new technology:

  • Inbound Marketing
    • Have you exhausted your potential keyword opportunities and do you have content for them all?
    • Are you out of AB testing options for your Display, Email and PPC mediums?
    • Are you unable to target audiences any more granular than what your existing tools allow? Google has MANY targeting options…
  • Conversion Optimization
    • Have you conducted AB testing on all your landing pages through your existing testing tools?
    • Have you polled your website visitors through a usability test to see what they think you should do?
  • Website Analytics
    • Do you have more than just the basic tracking code implemented on your site?
    • Have you created Advanced Segments for several different factors including particular audiences?
    • Are you taking actions based on reviewing your analytics reports?

At the end of the day there are some really great tools out there that can absolutely help your business succeed online. However, make sure you’re utilizing them to take you to the next level, not to simply stay where you’re at. Remember that any new tool requires implementation and strategy time that adds to the overall cost. Instead of looking at the next shiny thing why not try and take full advantage of what you already have? The power is there, it is installed, but perhaps just needs a little TLC. It all starts with a strategy though… a failure to plan is a plan to fail (or in this case spend money on tools you don’t need).