Live from MarTech: Experience optimization should drive your website redesign

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Are you regularly testing your company website for optimization success? If not, Chris Goward would likely be wagging his finger at you.

The CEO of Wider Funnel has built an entire company around the concept that testing offers the framework for successful experience optimization. He recently spoke at MarTech, a marketing conference taking place in San Francisco.

Technology has changed the way B2B marketing is done, with great advances in features and data opening up a universe of possibilities marketers could only dream about a short while ago. But while technology has ushered in endless new possibilities, it cannot solve the many problems marketers face on its own.

Testing allows organizations to optimize for best customer results, with small changes having the potential to make big differences in client results.

In one example, Goward shows how slightly altering an element as seemingly simple as a website button can result in significant change. A “submit” button may seem pretty innocuous at first glance; the goal is for site visitors—potential customers—to click to sign up for, say, a monthly subscription. But who really wants to “submit?” By changing the button text to ‘become a maven,’ you can add the element of social inclusion will boost subscription orders, Goward notes. Alternately, button text reading “I want in!” could add a sense of urgency, also ideally increasing subscription orders.

How can you tell which changes are helping, or hurting, your business? It turns out that in the example above, the social inclusion tactic actually reduced orders by 6.5 percent, while the urgency approach resulted in a 0.5 precent drop in subscriptions. Goward warns that we should be skeptical of untested “best practices,” as even minor changes like button text can have major consequences.

Imagine, then, the havoc that a complete website redesign can wreak. “Website redesigns must die because they suck,” asserts Goward, who illustrates what he calls the “wedge of suckiness.” Websites often fall behind between redesigns, which typically occur every two to five years, as technology develops at an ever-increasing rate.

Goward urges evolutionary site redesign, not major overhauls. He points to Amazon, whose site never really changes despite the fact its customers are subjected to a new experience every 11.6 seconds. Goward notes that fully 76 percent of marketers are unhappy with their latest website redesign; that’s a warning to go evolutionary, not revolutionary, when it comes to site updates.

Goward stresses that experience optimization should drive the decision-making process. He illustrates this point with what he calls the ‘lift model,’ with increasing value proposition represented by the nose of an ascending airplane. Relevance, clarity and urgency are forces which lift and propel our metaphorical plane, while anxiety and distraction drag it down.

Testing potential website designs to determine whether emphasizing savings prominence, selection breadth or what Goward calls “selection breadth plus” can really boost conversion optimization. Combining elements of social inclusion and value to increase conversion is a tried-and-true method, he notes.

This depends on your customers, of course, with certain demographics more likely to respond to a social inclusion pitch, while others may be drawn to an emphasis on quality. Combining, for example, social inclusion and value, can also increase conversion. “You should always test your value proposition,” stresses Goward. “Is your message aligned with your customer?”

Which value proposition approaches should you test? Goward says prospects’ desires, your features and your competitors’ features are akin to a Venn diagram, and the intersection where all three overlap are known as points of parity. The overlap between prospects’ desires and your features comprise your points of difference, while your features that fall outside of prospects’ desires and competitors’ features are your points of irrelevance—sorry, engineers! Goward says landing pages are the best locations to test value propositions.

There’s more to the story. Goward says marketers should follow these three steps: prioritize strategy and process before tools; seek frameworks to answer questions; and focus on creating powerful hypotheses. Ultimately, marketers should test and test again, always with an eye toward optimizing experiences for best results.

For more MarTech coverage, go here and here.

Photo via Brett Wilkins

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Brett Wilkins

Brett Wilkins

Brett Wilkins is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for U.S. news. Based in San Francisco, he is the editor and publisher of Moral Low Ground and is a Yahoo! Featured Political Contributor.
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