Optimizing for Best Conversion: Wake Your Inner Data Scientist

By aiwpadminFebruary 7, 2018

by Kieran O’Brien Kern

Does releasing each new version of your site trigger more anxiety than the first day of school? Before you start passing notes that inquire “do you like me – yes or no?,” Conversion Sciences Founder Brian Massey wants to help. He’ll show you how behavioral science can provide insights into what resonates with audiences from propositions to graphics and layouts in his session, “Everyday Behavioral Science for Conversion Optimization.“

Massey encourages marketers to put on their lab coats and embrace data science – no Ph.D. required.

“Being comfortable with data and the basic rules on how to value the data collection means marketers will be making good decisions when it comes to modifying landing pages, websites and ads. From analytics underneath their website to business intelligence databases and data warehouses providing insights at the other end of the spectrum, companies of every size are investing in data,” according to Massey.

He stresses that marketers need to understand how to interpret data and/or have the basic vocabulary to ask for the correct data in order to evaluate the relevance of the results. He explains this by paraphrasing Mark Twain: “There are lies, damn lies, and analytics.” In other words, you can get the data to say whatever you want. “Whether they’re looking at a time series graph or table of values, marketers need to become good at discerning what might be lying to them and how to generate or request data that tells the truth of the matter.”

Massey shared how behavioral science positively impacted conversion for an addiction treatment center. “We take this space very seriously; it can save an addict and their family.”

The center’s landing page was performing well with a straightforward headline: “We Can Help.” The Conversion Sciences team hypothesized whether a more emotional headline would increase visitors’ conversion. The top three choices were: “Are You Ready to Start Healing? We Can Help,” “Speak to a Compassionate Rehab Specialist,” and “Are You Ready To Stop Lying? We Can Help.”

Without a means to collect data around these three options, the team never would have chosen the third title. “It would have been too risky,” Massey explains. “The fact that we could do an A/B test and find out results enabled us to be more creative and take more chances.”

The data paid off when that third title resulted in a 43 percent increase in calls for that page. He notes that this freedom can be business and brand changing. With data collection becoming easier to achieve and increasingly less expensive, it makes a classic situation obsolete. “A marketer has a great idea and thinks about it all weekend until Monday morning when he or she realizes there is no way to sell it to their boss,” Massey notes. “That idea dies.” The accessibility of A/B test studies, user studies or even eye-tracking studies make trying those out-of-the-box ideas possible.

Prelaunch optimization tools enable marketers to conduct studies about the best positioning for statements. “Tools such as usabilityhub.com, Helio and usertesting.com help determine which headlines and images resonate with audiences the most.” For those still working with an existing site, Massey suggests thank you page surveys that ask questions such as “What almost kept you from buying?’” are a great source for hypothesizing what confounded users on a site. After launch, conducting testing with tools including heat maps and work session recordings (watching people use your site) enables continuous tweaking for the best overall optimization.

Testing is not an annual, quarterly, or even monthly routine. Massey insists that every time you add something new to your site, you should test it. Continuous testing enables marketing teams to keep tweaking and stop hypothesizing prelaunch. “So much marketing is safe, boring and generic. When you awaken your inner behavioral scientist, you’re enabled to experiment and see how content performs.”

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