Tag: optimizely
Jessica Magyar

7 Tips for Transitioning to a New Agency

If you’ve decided that it’s time to make the move to a new digital agency, then it’s likely the following has also occurred to you: 1) breaking up is hard to do and 2) the transition has a lot of moving parts. How are you communicating the change of direction? Is there a plan in place to ensure campaigns can persist without disruption? And who the heck has all the passwords to the technology platforms? Companies planning for or in the midst of a switch can benefit from these tips to ensure the new agency is able to get up and running as seamlessly as possible, with less downtime for your marketing efforts and more opportunities to improve the process.
  1. Own your tools. From AdWords to Optimizely to everything in between, your company should own the contracts for these solutions, rather than using your agency’s platforms. Should your engagement with an agency come to an end, you do not want to be in the position of fighting for your data, nor do you want to receive it in the form of a bitter Excel dump—the equivalent of finding your precious belongings in a cardboard box in the hall. All too often, clients stay with an agency simply because they are “in too deep.” Owning the contracts will keep you in the power seat.
  2. Be the master key holder. Keep company accounts for your platforms, in addition to enabling individual access. You’ll want to hold the master key. This prevents getting locked out of an account if a key person leaves the organization, and it also makes transitions between agencies less challenging. Let’s face it, no one enjoys asking for their key back (awkward!).
  3. Have a prenup. The best time to form a contingency plan with the new agency is while you’re on great terms and optimistic for the future. Take what you learned from your previous experience—both the good and bad—and draft a plan for what happens if the new partnership doesn’t go as planned. This may include how you want certain elements such as campaigns or automation setup or structured. Lay the groundwork now, while love is in the air.
  4.  Ask for assets and reports. Before the transition is complete, ask your existing agency for any assets, files, images, videos, presentations, or reports that you may want to use for reference. You’ll also want to compile a list of all reports, including:
    • Automated reports and dashboards. Make certain those reports are distributed from an email address in the system that will not be deactivated when the current agency is removed
    • Manual or semi-automated reports/dashboards, including where the numbers/queries are pulled from.
  5. Create a Solution Design Reference. It’s critical to make sure you request any applicable documentation on how your accounts and campaigns are set up, tracking convention(s), tag management solutions, any custom Javascript on your sites and applications, etc. Ideally, a Solution Design Reference would be created during initial implementation that contains all of this information and is updated as needed.
  6. Get context and instructions. Set aside time to have a conversation with your outgoing agency about decisions and customizations that require explanation and instruction. There may be items that are labeled or codified in such a way that deserves an explanation. Find out if the team had a specific way of doing something, such as generating reports or adding segments to emails, or if any workarounds are in place (and why). All of this knowledge will be needed in order to transition smoothly. You don’t want to be stranded six months from now with questions no one can answer.
  7. Share the wish list. When Smart Panda Labs takes over accounts, we always like to know what was on the previous agency’s to-do list for the future. What plans did they have in the pipeline? Were there different technologies under review? Are these still goals that you want to be executed? If the new agency is anything like we are, they will want to keep your dreams alive.
Moving to a new digital marketing agency can seem daunting, but sometimes it’s the right thing to do and
well worth the effort. Whether you feel like your current agency isn’t meeting your needs, or you’re seeking
new expertise and insights, turning the page may be the best way to meet your goals. Keep these tips in
mind to ensure a smoother transition and to set the new team up for success.

Key Takeaways

  • Take what you learned from your previous experience—both the good and bad—and draft a plan for what happens if the new partnership doesn’t go as planned.
  • Before the transition is complete, ask your existing agency for any assets, reports, instructions, or context that you and your new team will need going forward.
  • Create a Solution Design Reference during initial implementation that contains applicable documentation on how your accounts and campaigns are set up.
  • Be the keeper of passwords and contracts. While it’s important that everyone have access to the tools they need, make sure you are the owner of your own data and can never get locked out of your own accounts.
Tag: optimizely
Shamir Duverseau

What We Learned from Opticon ’17 — and Office Space

My colleagues and I recently returned from Optimizely’s annual conference, Opticon 2017, in Las Vegas. The focus of this year’s event was on building and scaling a culture of experimentation across teams, channels, products and device. The three-day conference was attended by more than 1200 executives, product managers, marketers, testing novices, experimentation gurus and developers. As well as four smart pandas.

Experimentation—from simple A/B tests to rigorous analysis—is at the core of everything we do at Smart Panda Labs, and it’s how we’re able to optimize digital experiences that drive ROI and customer loyalty for our clients. Suffice it to say that we were like kids in a candy store (or, pandas in a bamboo oasis) at this year’s Opticon.

Here are our top three takeaways from the conference. And because we love drawing analogies to cult classics almost as much as we love testing, we’re waxing nostalgic for Office Space on this one.

 Don’t relegate testing to the basement

Successful experimentation doesn’t happen in isolation. It’s not Milton in the basement, alone with his red stapler. Testing requires buy-in from leadership and a team-wide understanding of its value among. Give testing a seat at the table and it can become an integral, mission critical part of an enterprise’s ability to meet goals, solve problems and make decisions. Of course, getting this level of buy-in takes time and effort. In the overwhelming majority of organizations, this means it will be a journey, not a light switch.

Call in “the Bobs”

Sometimes testing strategy and effective CRO requires the help of experts. Even the notorious consultants from Office Space have a place sometimes. Believe it or not, Optimizely supplements their own team of testing gurus with the B2B experts at FunnelEnvy to help them increase the number of tests they can run, the speed with which they can implement them and the resulting insights and iterations. The right outside experts can help companies achieve much greater ROI from their testing efforts.

Avoid printer rage

While testing may start with button colors and headline copy, it’s much more than that. As your experimentation evolves beyond simple tests, so grows its complexity. You may need to factor in elements like revenue management, inventory or pricing algorithms. Without the right tools or planning, testing can become a behemoth undertaking that never works right. It’s the always-jamming printer that you love to hate. However, with the right technology, proper implementation and continuous integration you can manage these complexities and execute tests that improve the ROI of an entire process. And you can leave your baseball bat at home. (You know you want to see that scene again.)

If you’re ready to up the ante on your company’s experimentation but could benefit from expert guidance, Smart Panda Labs can provide smart testing, thoughtful analysis, marketing technology support and strategic optimizations. Don’t hesitate to contact us. We promise we’re not at all like the Bobs.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Successful experimentation doesn’t happen in isolation. Take the time and effort to get by-in from leadership and the entire marketing team. This is how testing can become an integral part of your company’s decision making.
  2. Ask for help. Even Optimizely enlists outside consultants to help achieve the greatest possible ROI from their tests.
  3. As testing sophistication increases, so does complexity. You need the right tools and expert implementation planning to keep your tests from underperforming (or failing altogether).

 

Tag: optimizely
Shamir Duverseau

4 Methods for Improving Conversion Rates

Conversion rate optimization— it’s a mouthful. It’s also a science and an art … and frankly, a lot of work. But few aspects of your digital marketing strategy are more important than this cumbersome term.

Our crowd of friends at Wikipedia define conversion rate optimization (CRO) as, “a system for increasing the percentage of visitors to a website that convert into customers, or more generally, take any desired action on a webpage.”  If you just totally zoned out, or assumed this was just a fancy way of talking about split testing, we understand. At Smart Panda Labs, we define CRO a little differently—it’s a way of thinking about all the digital experiences you offer.

As with any strategy, the first step is defining a goal. Are you trying to sell more of a particular product, book more hotel rooms, register more participants, increase the number of leads or increase the quality of those leads? Once you have a clear goal in mind, you can work backwards from that destination, thinking through the various touchpoints along the route. And then the fun begins.

Here are four of our favorite methods for increasing engagement and conversion rates across your digital channels.

#1: A/B Testing

I’m sure you guessed we were going to say this—if you know anything about us, you know testing is a panda’s best friend (as we like to say, Always Be Testing). To determine the optimal experience for your consumers, you must constantly and repeatedly test every element, measuring and analyzing the results and leveraging those insights to inform your next test or segmentation. Testing should play a role in everything related to CRO.

Really, you can’t test too much. From entire web pages to a series of pages (like a checkout process) to specific sections (like the navigation) to page elements (headlines, images, and buttons), testing them against alternate versions will keep you busy …  forever. You can test one or more version against your current baseline, and you can show that test to all your visitors, a percentage of them, or even just select audiences (like consumers coming to your site straight from paid media). These tests should help you find pain points and roadblocks on your site—touchpoints where you can improve the experience, remove anxiety and influence people towards a specific action.

Tools tip: A key to testing success is to arm yourself with the proper tools. A free tool like Google Optimize is a great way to get started if you are new to this, or if you’re trying to get leaders to buy into a testing strategy. However, if you really want to do some fancy and exciting stuff, investing in an enterprise tool like Optimizely will enable you to generate insights capable of truly transforming your business.

#2: Targeted Messaging

People don’t often associate targeted messaging with CRO, but special promotions or social proof (such as a testimonial from an industry expert, or a message to the effect of “5000 people are looking at this hotel right now”) are designed to nudge people toward making a decision, right? These are tactics are intended to optimize your conversion rates.

The key here is to use the method that best aligns with your goals. For example, if your goal is to sell more products, book more rooms or generate more leads, then perhaps a cart or form-abandonment message would be best. When someone is about to leave the site without converting, try injecting a message that offers a special discount or gift for completing the process then and there.

However, if your end goal is to increase average order value, total revenue or lead quality, try testing the abandon message against showing social proof, like the number of people who bought in the last month or how many people have this item in their shopping cart at this very moment. While this may not get as many conversions as the promotion, it may be better for your bottom line. Again, it goes back to starting with your goal and working backwards.

Tools tip: A great tool for this method is Yieldify. Their platform offers a number of options, from overlays with forms to message bars with counters, and allows you to test them. You can also use tools like Optimizely to run these tests, but their experimentation platform is not designed to run targeted messaging 24/7/365.  So, if you don’t want to invest in another robust tool, use Optimizely to test what works and then a simpler tool to inject the winning messaging.

It’s also important that your tool allows you to show different messages to different audiences. While promos may work great on returning visitors, social proof may be the key for people coming via paid search. Test your messages to determine what works best for whom. Then get crazy and further target your messages. This is when the fun really begins.

#3: Personalization

The more you know about the people on your site, the more you can surface the content, products or services they most want. Remember, we live in a world of instant gratification, so the more you can reduce their effort, the more likely they are to convert.

Start by segmenting the people on your site, landing pages or mobile app into different audiences. For example, you can split users up by metropolitan area if you’re in real estate or by new vs. returning customers if you’re in the retail industry. The more information you have, the more personalization you can perform—and the more personal, the better. (As general rule, make sure your segments don’t get too small for what you’re able to manage and analyze.)

Once you have performance data for these segments, try to discern what the different drivers are for these audiences. Also be sure to review past A/B tests and parse them by those same audiences. Insights from these steps should drive your ongoing personalization campaigns.

As you continue to create and customize these campaigns, think about ways to personalize headlines, homepage messaging, navigation. And remember to Always Be Testing. Even once you know this personalization campaign works, you’ll want to continue to test against a control group to ensure you’re getting optimal results.

Tools tip: Optimizely has a specific platform designed for personalization. It can be fed data from a number of different sources, including the data it’s able to collect on its own. However, if it were up to me, I would use something like Tealium in conjunction with Optimizely for my personalization efforts. Tealium will gather mounds of data for your analytics, ad tracking, CRM, ESP, etc. It can be easily configured to send whatever data is needed to a personalization platform like Optimizely.

If you’re getting a flood of traffic and want to try personalizing to some very small audiences, Qubit is also a great tool to consider. If you’re in an industry like gaming, or you’re a large retailer, this may be a good way to go.

#4: Triggered Emails

People don’t often think of emails as an optimization tool, but they should. There are a number of industries, both B2C and B2B, in which people need time to make decisions. These decisions may involve multiple visits to your site or perhaps an online conversion that leads to an offline sales process. So how do you continue to influence your audience when they aren’t on your site or in your mobile app? Emails.

By determining proper trigger points, you can send targeted messages that help move people toward online and/or offline conversions, surfacing relevant information. Emails are a great way to remove anxiety, focusing on one singular goal with each communication. These communications start knocking down barriers at each touchpoint, giving a person the chance to make a decision and convert.

And, of course, test. Split test your messages, email designs and imagery, the points at which they trigger, frequency of the communications, subject lines, headlines and more. Remember, this is not a light switch, this is a journey. You have to help your audience in the right way, at the right time. If you were on a road trip, you care about the location of the closest gas station only when you’re low on gas. If you just filled up, a gas station is irrelevant to you. Figure out when your prospects need to fill up, and be there with the gas.

Tools tip: There are a lot of good email service providers out there that enable triggered emails, from Salesforce Marketing Cloud to Adobe Campaign. The key here is to use your ESP to do the triggering, not a third-party tool. Keep all things email-related in one place across the enterprise. You won’t believe how much easier this will make your life!

All together now

All of the above methods work great in and of themselves. But, if you really want to provide the best possible digital experience, do them all—and do them in concert with one another! Sync your A/B testing with your targeted messaging as part of a personalization campaign that includes triggered communications. Boom. Make every facet of your customers’ journey feel like it’s all about them.

To accomplish this, you need to understand who the person is—or at least which audience they are a part of—across multiple digital assets. Here again is where something like Tealium comes into play, serving as a central hub for all this information. Then, the data can be segmented and pushed to Optimizely and Yieldify and Salesforce Marketing Cloud, enabling these powerful tools to perform in harmony.

The methods above will help you provide a digital experience that removes barrier after barrier at every single touchpoint, reducing and removing one anxiety after another and significantly increasing conversions. If done properly, you won’t just have a one-time customer, you’ll have created a loyal fan who keeps coming back and brings others will them. And that is what true CRO is really about.