marketing and sales executives from Silicon Valley

Friday, February 10, 2012

Do You have a '3 click tire kicker'?

I recently had a conversation about website optimization and conversion, where I was asked about past tactics I've used to convert users on a website. The person asking was concerned about the numerous user types and thus the need to create many landing pages. The person was initially against the my use of personas until I explained how they mattered.

In my example, I described a persona that I summarized as the young 'female who seeks trust', where the persona could be more deeply described as a teen female who used web-based profiles for personal expression and identity gratification, but who also didn't necessarily trust new new web services. We developed that persona from research, surveys, and observation. What was of interest to me was how the 'trust' issue would play out in terms of web activity. In the field, that persona came to be renamed the  '3 click tire kicker' since this user type was typically a female 14-24 who clicked on three different services info pages before downloading and installing our software.

What was most interesting was that log analysis showed that categorically, these users did not always click on the three same service pages. As long as they investigated three or more of the available services did they convert at a higher and more dependable rate. Post-conversion interviews and surveys revealed that users felt that there was alot offered by our technology and they could save time and effort by using our software.

I used this example to explain that a persona was the start of the site optimization process. We verified the persona and used it to identify a category of users - a segment that followed a certain conversion behavior - that we could then create pages that met their needs. By applying similar practices it would be possible to identify other segments that could require additional product requirements or implications. I may have been able to reverse out the same results without creating the persona, but it was a guiding heuristic in approaching the data that lead me to focus on a type of behavior. In any view of this example - a segmentation hypothesis (via a persona in this case) was an essential part of the insight generation process.

The caveat here is that the results and analysis were not necessarily that easy. I used both proprietary non-linear path analysis and manual log analysis of log snapshots of 10,000 rows to perform the analysis.  Type type of analysis is compute or manpower intensive. In a later post, I'll discuss other segmentation options.

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Simple or Complex - the waffle paradox and the not-so-easy answer

Seth Godin's "waffle paradox" is one of those topics that seems to trip up fast acting decision makers. After all, people like simple answers, they make great sound bites -- and who needs complexity?

On the other hand, as Seth Godin points out:
"Nuance is the sign of an intelligent observer. Nuance shows restaint and maturity and an understanding of the underlying mechanics of whatever problem we're wrestling with. After all, if the solution was simple, we would have solved it already."
This goes back to a discussion I recently had over search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO). The person I spoke with had been pitched by an SEO firm which told him that he needed to pay $30,000 to SEO his site to drive more traffic, close more leads, increase revenues, etc. It sounded so simple that he could just pour money on the unverified problem, and things would magically happen. The pitch was short, sweet, and direct -- AND good enough that the person asked me if it was worth it.

My response was "it's not that simple". I had a number of questions: Did he even know if there was a problem? If so, how large was it? Were there any signs of lost business? Would he really recover the $30,000 costs through increased sales? What would he really get for that $30,000? Did he get a free audit from any of the hundreds of SEO firms that will do free SEO audits in hopes of winning the business?

I worried that my response was too complicated. My colleague appreciated the list of questions, as they justified the uneasiness he felt during the SEO firm's pitch. He wanted nuance, but that would not have captured his ear. As it turned out, nuance had to combat simplicity. Of course, I had the context to ask the right questions.

So I don't blame the SEO firm for over simplifying in their pitch. Simplicity works - increase revenue, cut costs, don't leave money on the table. That get's my ear. On the other hand, simple may get you to the dance floor, but a business relationship is closer to a Tango with intricacies that are just more complicated.