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My experience with mobile phone and tablet optimization

The mobile is a big thing. Let me rephrase it. It is a huge thing. On our swedish Postcodelottery site the traffic from mobile phones and tablets have reached the 50% mark.

This upward trend is a challenge for all of us that work with digital channels since it affects everything from how your design process is to how the technology should be implemented. We are far from cracking the mobile landscape but we are working on it. Currently we are focusing a lot of making things mobile optimized. Our landing page, our sales funnel, our navigation and so on.

Approximately a years ago we launched our responsive site which was a step in the right direction but in all honesty it was done a bit hasty. Now that w have reached the 50% mark a more comprehensive approach needs to be taken. We need to fix stuff so it runs smoothly on mobile devices. A few months ago we did our first mobile only AB test. We tested a mobile friendly landing page vs a non mobile friendly. Unfortunately the test result was inconclusive which is interesting in itself although I cannot draw to many conclusions from just one test.

The second big mobile optimized test was our sales funnel. While changing the plattform we took the oppurtunity to make it more mobile friendly. AB testing a sales funnel is always a sensitive business, but it was done with great care. Unfortunately the results were still inconclusive. In other words the old non mobile friendly sales flow was as good as the mobile friendly. Strange but it can probably be exlained by the super attractie offer we had – no matter how hard you make it for the users they want the offer so they will push through your sales funnel.

So my take on mobile is still shaping. I can see that the trend is more and mobile and the more companies offer a mobile friendly experience the higher the customer expectation will be. To sum it up my key learnings from mobile so far are:

  • Depending on how you do your marketing will determine your mobile traffic volume. The more emails you send out the more mobile traffic.
  • Mobile screen real estate is extremely valuable so you need to prioritize hard which makes it a struggle especially if you have multiple products/services.
  • AB testing for mobile is more complicated than for computers and you need to consider several key factors such as different screen sizes, operating sytems etc.
  • Going forward responsive sites it the future but my limited AB test have so far not given me numbers to support that decission.
  • The big success with mobile optimization will probably come when we develop our mobile offerings further, so the value to the users are more clear.

What are your thoughts?

Online people need to clone themselves

Lately I have been to a couple of conferences about online business. The topics have touched everything from email marketing to conversion optimization to customer insights to relationship management and many other. Although they have been some really enjoyable sessions what hit me was the vast amount of knowledge you have to have to be able to make good decisions today. Driving online business today is much harder than it was just 3 years ago.

I have a feeling that the complexity has increased exponentially the last couple of years. This puts a lot of pressure to be able to know a bit of everything since everything is interrelated. How much more complex will it become? My spontaneous answer is much more complex.

So if it is already complex how will it be possible for a manager to possess knowledge in all fields to make good decisions. There are so many parameters to keep track of that it makes it impossible to know everything. Time has become such a scarce resource that you need to clone yourself to manage things effectively.

Let me give you an example of the complexity one faces.

If you had an online business a couple of years ago you would probably do fine with a website and some adwords buying. Then you hook up emails. After that you had to consider SEO. After that user reviews was a big thing. Then you had social media. Then you had conversion optimization. Then you have retargeting. Then mobile apps. And so on, I think you get the picture. Considering the technical aspects, such as load time, responsiveness etc you more or less need to be a super human to know everything.

Of course you have professionals in each position, but if you want to be successful as a business your top managers have to make good decisions. To make good decisions you need to know the key aspects of each area. To truly know the key aspects of each area you need to have hands on experience. No human, or at least no normal person has worked within all of these areas especially in a larger organisation.

I think that many companies today have not adjusted themselves to the complexity of an online world. The complexity of everthing being interrelated has huge implications on how you make decisions and how you create an effective organisation. The bigger the organisation is the bigger the challenge.

So if you are an online manager the only solution is that you should clone yourself ;). Then you get double time. Just think how much you can accomplish.

Conversion maturity – who has it?

The other day I was reading a post about the analytics maturity of organisations and I want in this post reflect not over our analytics maturity but rather our conversion maturity.

If you have worked in a managerial position for a company that produces a fairly complicated product or service you know that your success depends largely on how competent your co-workers are and also how you are structured to handle your daily tasks.

Since I joined my current company two years ago we have taken some critical steps towards becoming a smarter organisation with smarter co-workers. If you look from a bird perspective we have taken ten steps forward but in the same time five steps back. Let me explain what I mean by that.

Within two years we have created a sharp analytics organisation with all the necessary tools to pull critical business data. This process took approximately a year and a half. We have now started to do the fancy stuff like segmentation analysis, usage of scorecards, a bit predictive analytics and so on. This knowledge is pushed towards the organisation, which slowly becomes more and more data driven. This process is fun and exciting but you also have to respect big challenges of this process.

In the same time we added new products to our portfolio expanding the company and forcing us to learn a new area of expertise. The new products have made us take five steps back. Firstly it is about organisational issues and secondly it is about competence issues. I am not going to go into details but want to turn my focus on the conversion optimisation aspect of our journey. All organisations are different but I think more or less everyone has to go through the below steps.

 Conversion steps

First step – Data

The absolutely first step to become a highflying conversion organisation is to have control of your data. Clean data is a must and you need to recognize which data is important for your business model. This step involves the part of installing tools properly and configuring them for critical business data. This was our absolutely first step.

Second step – Testing

Start do testing even if you haven’t fully implemented the first step. A good start is to tell your stakeholders to do minim of two AB tests within the next 2 months. If you can put someone in charge of your AB testing. To get the fast lane to conversion optimisation you need to start doing AB testing. You can do this in two ways. Either you just pull two-three ideas and test them, or you let someone analyse the user flows and recommend an AB test. The second one is to prefer because you will get more accurate optimisation tests. We got to the testing phase within 2 months that sets a good tone for becoming more data driven.

Third step – Analyse

Analyse your tests and analyse your website data. This step is probably the hardest part but doing this properly is critical if you want to spring to a high converting organisation. Understanding how to read data and how to use it for actions is highly tied to the competence of your employees. Hire good analytics persons who can do this job.

Fourth step – Knowledge

Your company is as good as your employees. To get the whole company to the next level you need to constantly grow in knowledge and through challenges. The knowledge you get from analytics and testing needs to be packed in a smart way so new people entering your organisation gets quickly up to speed. To package knowledge in a good way is really hard which I have seen first-hand. The problem lies mainly on the knowledge level people are at. Some will be more experienced with working with data and some will be less. Getting your organisation to a high level take a lot of time.

Fifth step – Building on success

When you have reached a certain knowledge level within your organisation you can start doing the right stuff. On this level you will build on past success and manage to replicate them. This step is extremely valuable since your input will be low and your output very high. In other words here you are super effective, you do the right things and everything runs like a well-oiled engine. In our case seen through the holistic view we touched this level before we added new products forcing us to take two steps back for a time.

Sixth step – Segmentation

Some people might argue if this step should be on the previous one but I think that most organisations will sooner or later start segmenting their users. Applying this practice puts a lot of strains in an organisation that you really have to think carefully how you will solve the multiplying workload. As soon as you cater for different segments you need to scale up your content department, your design department and your analytics department. If you are like us a large organisation with a lot of customers the complexity of segmentation could be a ball breaker in the sense that it could create cracks in your performance. Of course doing segmentation correctly will most likely increase your revenue tremendously. Without revealing too much I can say that we are currently working on this step.

Seventh step – Software

To handle segmentation you need smart software. This is when you evolve to one to one marketing or in other words personalisation. The software will help you to optimize your efforts allowing you to maximise your conversion in real time. We are currently preparing for this step that I think will be a lot of fun. More on this in another article in the future.

Eight step – Automatitation

Automating your converting content is a big step if you want to scale up your business. When you understand how to produce high converting content you can automate this to various degrees. Information technology has allowed many businesses to be more effective, to produce more with less. Companies like Amazon uses recommendation engines to automate the content you are being served when surfing through their website. I think the way it is being done so far is very crude. Although lately Google has moved towards this way, integrating many different sources to give you a more personalized surfing experience hence increasing online conversion. I think in the near future we will see many interesting start-up companies within this area.

Conclusion

Moving through all these steps is a challenge. The bigger your organisation is the more complex and challenging it will be. I think that if you want to survive in the long run as a smart Internet company you NEED to move through these steps. You need the investment in people and technology, you need the dedication of your organisation and you need to be persistence in your efforts.

I am really excited where we are today soon getting into the segmentation and personalisation area. I think it will take a while until will master segmentation and personalisation as an organisation but I hope we can become so smart that we figure out how to automate high converting content production.

The inside view of conversion optimisation

Have you ever wondered what conversion optimisation people do? Is conversion optimisation all about AB-testing? Does conversion optimisation really yield bottom line results? These are some of the questions I get from people interested in the topic. In this post I will give you some insight on my work as a conversion optimisation manager for a medium sized organisation. I will try to show you how conversion optimisation is a very broad field and that you are required to get extensive knowledge from all parts of your online business.

Building a rocket

Let us start with the major misconception that conversion optimisation is just AB-testing. AB-testing is a large part of it but it is just a methodology to gain insights. It is like if you were building a space machine. You want to know which engine is the most effective. You test your various engines. You gain some knowledge on which engine is the most effective and then you fine tune it further. This is what AB-testing process is and it might sound pretty straight forward. The problem is to gain the knowledge to build the right type of engines to test. That knowledge is hard to get and will demand hard work from many different experts.

Website optimisation is almost like rocket science

When you have your engines you also need to consider the design of the rocket. How does the engines fit in the rocket? How should the shell of the rocket be designed? How much workload can it handle? What is the optimal design of the cargo bay? I would say that online conversion optimisation is almost equally complex. You have the users, you have segments of users, you have your organisation structure, you have the knowledge level of your key co-workers, you have the sophistication of your tools, you have the strategically and tactical layers and many other things. All these factors ads to the complexity level of the optimisation work.

Two years of conversion optimisation

As I have progressed through the various organisations and their maturity phase I have come to realize that online success depends on many factors and that you continuously have to work on them or you will loose your competitive advantage.

The below figure illustrates some of the highlights of my work at PostkodLotteriet during a two year period. I created this illustration to give you an illustration of what type of work a conversion optimisation specialist does. Click on the image for a larger picture.

Conversion Optimisation Work

My journey started two years ago. Our first focus was to get clean data from our web analytics tool. We needed to capture the metrics that were driving the business. I view the web analytics data as my prime tool for conversion input. You need to be able understand what the data tells you and then react.

We moved on to start optimize our most important sales channels, email and ad words. In the same time we looked to create a high converting landing page. One of the important factors was to create a page where we could more or less copy every time we had a new campaign. This saved us many work hours and has effective our work tremendously.

Having a good landing page made a huge difference in our conversion rate.  The optimisation of our emails continued for a long time. In the end we had found the right expressions, the right amount of text, the right form and the right headings. When we felt that further optimisation would only lead to incremental gains we stopped optimising. The process of sending out emails is now extremely effective. We have built the competence among us so the email process demands minimal of resources.

During the email optimisation we needed to dig more into the user behaviour. The web analytics data gets you far but deeper user data about your customer is a must. The business intelligence department was under construction and data was slowly sipping down to our fingertips, which gave us further insight on the user behaviour.

After a year

With the start of my second year at PostkodLotteriet a decision was made to redesign the site and add more products. While we were feeding knowledge to redesign consultants we kept optimizing further. We tried everything from external links on our landing page, the effect of a video, the effect of trust logos in the buying process, testing of payment options and many other things.

Releasing the new website changed the user behaviour. Most redesigns lead to a drop in conversion, but not ours. We hade built the sale structure in a way that the conversion rate was not affected. Further we placed a strategic function behind a log-in, which allowed us to identify the user. Information like this will in the near future be used to personalize our content.

With a new site and changed user behaviour my work has more or less started again from the scratch. I have analysed and put forward a conversion plan on how to optimize our website and equally as important how we work with the website. The additional products have added another complexity level and everything has to be reconsidered.

What you do not see

What is not shown in the illustration is what is happening behind the curtains so to speak. The hour’s put into analysis is substantial. You constantly need to monitor the data and depending on your activities you have to assure the right data is collected. Further you need to raise the competence level of everyone around you. After all your success is a direct correlation of your team member’s competence level.

Another aspect that is not discussed so much in the online forums is how much more effective your organisation becomes. This equals to huge savings in time and money. I have mentioned a few examples so far but we also have the direct effect on the marketing budget. We know which sources are profitable so we have saved a lot of money by placing our money on what works.

Is conversion optimisation profitable

The short answer is yes. I have seen though examples where a single test yield a conversion increase but when implemented on the site the conversion is not affected much. This is of course do to several factors but in the end of the year you should look at your bottom line. During the two years I have worked we have exceeded the sales targets every year. In the process we spend less money to get there.

Now the trick is…and this probably my most important advice…to see conversion optimisation work as a cross function within the organisation. Conversion optimisation needs to be on everyone’s mind. The organisation has to put emphasis around it, build the structures, ensure the knowledge is being used and transferred and be in it for the long run.

In short. Conversion optimisation is so much more than just AB-testing. If you want to become a cutting edge online department you have to put conversion optimisation in the heart of your organisation.

Online checkout – a conversion killer

Have you heard the story about the 300 million dollar button. Just by adding a button in the checkout process wher you did not havet o register to buy gave an online stor a boost of 300 million usd. Simply amazing how a small change can affect your online salse by so much.

When beginning your optimisation work always start backwards, meaning start with your checkout process first. This video from Google is a fantastic example on how many factors can kill your online sales. It is very funny!

How to become a web analytics dictator

I am fascinated by human nature. I love to try to understand why we make choices as we do. Everything from choosing a particular product to choose our path in life. Recently there has been a lot of talk about dictators being overthrown around the world so I thought I would go against the current and write how to become a dictator within a company; a web analytics dictator.

Of course this post is on the funny side since we all need to rest our brains from all the data.

Statistically speaking there should be plenty of people with the same traits as a dictator working as web analysts. Actually there was a study done not long time ago that concluded among the CEOs of major corporation the narcissistic trait was overrepresented compared to the population as a whole.

So how do you go along to accomplish your task? Just imagine you just landed a job at a major corporation and want to see your move up the ranks. How do you do that? How do you become so powerful that people fear the sound of your walk? How do you topple your competitors? How do you get so hated that everyone wants to revolt against you? Well, follow these steps and you will be on the right path.

Step 1, be mentally prepared

The right mental mindset is crucial. Just like a professional football team that wants to win the world cup you need the mental preparedness or you will not succeed.

You need to believe you are entitled to unlimited praise and deference. You should also believe that your will and desire is the only game in town.

Focus on fantasies on unlimited success, power and intelligence. Visualize how you could rule the company and all the praise you will get.

Like your mother used to say, you are “special” and unique, and can only be understood by other special people with powers. Believe that your fellow web analysts are not on that level.

Getting this mindset might be difficult for an untrained brain but don’t lose hope. Everyone can become a dictator with a little bit of training so repeat the three paragraphs sentences a few hundred times in front of the mirror and you will get there fast.

Step 2, strive for attention

Be like a spoiled child. Continually claim for attention and admiration. In a meetings talk a lot. Even if it is lies that come out of your mouth continue to speak unrestrained. Get all the lights to focus on you. Dominate the meetings. Use your knowledge in data. Make your arguments extremely high tech so people cannot question you. Also tell a lot of impressive lies even of events that never occurred like how you went on a fishing trip with Obama.

Step 3, use people

Other people should be seen only as an extension of the self to be manipulated and/or eliminated as needed. You should develop an inability to relate to people as people. Suck up to those in power and kick on those below. Feed important people with only favorable key data while keep the others in the dark. Try to give other people wrong data and deny it when they claim otherwise. Leave no paper trail to point back at you.

Step 4, turn off your feelings

Practice to disconnect your feelings towards others. Ideally you should have a strong inability to recognize or identify with the feelings, needs, and viewpoints of others. Ignorance is bliss as they say. Your web analytics field is the most important game in town. When other people have an opinion, bring out your web analytics guns. Prove them wrong time after time with data that has been manipulated in your way.

If you are being criticized on your data or behavior be hypersensitive. Insults (real or imagined), criticism, or defeat should be met with rage, shame, and humiliation. Do not give your coworkers any breathing room.

Step 5, manipulate data

To get what you want you will need to be able to argument for your case, and with data you can turn it either way to support your case.

You should misrepresents facts and ignore data that conflicts with your fantasy world. Based on the data you should opportunistically shifts positions and be overly confident.

The game is to be perceived as an intelligent web analyst with superb performance. You should have control of the perception of data and when you are challenged you should respond as of though your very survival is at stake.

Step 6, surround yourself with yes sayers

Until you reach that unquestionable tyrant position you will be dependent on others. Surround yourself with codependents, enablers and followers and if anyone of them challenge your authority  just discard them as they never existed, because the victim only matters in relation to how he can support the grandiosity of your dreams; beyond that he is faceless nameless and worthless.

There it is. Your six step guide. Easy as 1-2-3. Now you have no reason not to pursue this path J.

A small note. Of course following this path will classify you as insane and I highly do not recommend you to follow it. On the good side maybe you can use it to identify an upcoming dictator within your web analytics group or your company as a whole.