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Whoomp! There It Is: Content Optimization’s Tag Team

Posted by Mark Simpson on October 4th, 2012 at 8:48 am

Testing and personalization. When it comes to optimizing content, these two solutions go hand in hand. Online engagement is all the rage, and more and more CEOs cite “getting closer to their customers” as a top priority. While many new technologies have popped up to support A/B and multivariate testing, others that claim personalization—the ability to test and refine your content while, at the same time providing personally relevant experiences —are no doubt the future.

In our daily lives as marketers, we live in a content-driven world. Cutting through the content noise to even get online visitors interested is only the first phase. Discovering what content works best to drive visitors through the funnel is yet another phase. But engaging those same website visitors on a one-to-one basis by providing personalized, relevant and proven content, is the Holy Grail. By optimizing content with testing and personalization, online businesses can not only boost conversions, they can also significantly increase revenue as well as reel in more loyal brand followers—making cutting through the content noise a little bit easier.

Testing: Amazing, outstanding, demanding
As marketers, we’re all guilty of making decisions based on our “best judgment.” After all, we’re put in charge of our brands, content and websites for a reason—our experience and creative thinking. But as humans, we’ll never be as accurate as the data that digital technology can provide. A/B and multivariate testing highlights the use of data to make more informed content decisions. Whether you have a large conversion funnel, a homepage overhaul, or simply making some changes to a landing page, testing solutions can optimize content to significantly increase conversion faster, and more precise, than the human brain can. One online retailer discovered that simply placing an "Add-to-Cart" icon below each product image increased conversion rates by 63%—proving that the dollars really are in the details.

However, to be truly effective, testing must be integrated into a company’s culture, repeated in multiple areas of the site, and coupled with personalization solutions. A leading travel site was looking to quickly evolve its website to remain competitive decided to test 15 call-to-action variants, which led to an 18% increase in booking revenues. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, this allowed the company to make decisions based on analysis rather than subjectivity, and glean crucial insights about visitor behavior based on time of day, day of week, previous trips/searches, and gender to start getting more personal with their customers.

Personalization: What's it's all about
One-size-fits-all websites are a thing of the past. You have about four seconds to capture a visitor’s attention, while delivering a relevant and engaging experience. So you have to ask yourself: Is your site content primed to keep all your visitors engaged, no matter where they click?

Providing personalized content to website visitors is a crucial step many companies miss. Repeat visits are assured if the content offered is targeted and relevant. Product and service recommendations are the most widely recognized forms of website  “personalization”; however, true personalization—recognizing each customer’s known interests and attributes on an individual level—provides a powerful platform from which to optimize content and offers a vital key to long-term engagement and loyalty. Since every website visitor has a unique profile on the web, there is no reason not to use that valuable data to your advantage.

Don’t forget that the design, layout and presentation of site content, especially personalized content, are equally as important as relevancy. Testing content ensures that each individual visitor is compelled by what they see and finds the content relevant, and increases the chances of converting visitors to customers.

Can you dig it?
If you look at the Internet’s brand giant Amazon, testing and personalization are at the heart of its business and have been since the company started. In fact, $2 out every $3 of Amazon’s sales comes from repeat purchasers who appreciate the ease of use and personalized service they get. Yet the industry average for sales from repeat purchasers is .70 cents. Ouch.

Content optimization isn’t the be-all, end-all to solving your marketing problems, but if you look at where your marketing dollars are being spent, I’m willing to bet not much is being put toward conversion. Increasing pay-per-click and SEO spend is not content optimization. Hiring a new agency to redesign your website is not content optimization. Even improving your social media marketing is not content optimization. But testing and personalization is—and taking advantage of both strategies will reap you the biggest returns on your budget spend.

One Response to “Whoomp! There It Is: Content Optimization’s Tag Team”

  1. "dollars really are in the details."

    Sometimes the smallest things can have a lasting impact, but you don't know until you try them out! In my opinion, I don't like testing too many things at once because it makes it harder to see exactly what is and isn't working.

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