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Testing and Optimization Panel: How to optimize the customer journey

Dr. Zee Aganovic (Founder and CEO, HiConversion), Lauren Pitchford (Digital Marketing Manager, MECLABS) and Ryan Hutchings (Director of Marketing, VacationRoost)

There is one question that always plagues marketers: What do customers want?

At MarketingSherpa MarketingExperiments Web Optimization Summit 2014, a panel of industry experts attempted to answer that weighty question by explaining tests they had used in their optimization efforts.

Led by Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MarketingSherpa, this panel focused on the lessons these experts learned on the road to understanding the customer journey, with the information being presented through a contest format. Each panelist presented the background challenge he or she faced before revealing the control and treatment of their test. The audience was then given time to vote on which version they thought won before the panel announced the actual test winner.

Through this audience-interactive format, the panel was able to touch on several aspects of the customer journey in a relatively short amount of time, while allowing watching marketers to put their optimization talents to the test. Altogether, the three panelists presented seven tests to address seven customer journey pain points.

How do you make your homepage slider more engaging?

Dr. Zee Aganovic, Founder and CEO, HiConversion, presented two slider options on a page that varied in number and length.

The control featured five slider versions, or "steps," with a longer amount of copy to add more value. However, the treatment decreased the number of steps to three and compressed the copy, potentially sacrificing value. This was a large test for Aganovic since each step has the potential to learn something different about the visitor, he said.

If you sell a product that customers tend to try and buy in brick-and-mortar stores, how do you overcome the barrier to purchase?

The company for this question's test was a mattress company, which, according for Lauren Pitchford, Digital Marketing Manager, MECLABS, is a product that has a high barrier to purchase for ecommerce channels.

To solve this problem, Pitchford and her team decided to focus on an element of the heuristic they could influence with relative ease.

"We thought that [the company was] already doing a pretty good job of the value," she said. "We decided to focus on a different element of the heuristic — which we thought was really key in this decision making process — which was anxiety."

With this focus in mind, the MECLABS team intentionally placed copy designed to alleviate anxiety next to the product's CTA.

"We were anticipating, as people were getting into the decision-making process by the CTA, they were going to have that concern of 'What if I don't like this?'" Pitchford explained.

How can you gain a higher clickthrough rate from a PPC landing page?

Ryan Hutchings, Director of Marketing, VacationRoost, wanted to see if "a simple funnel from a landing page gets people into search results and product pages a lot faster."

Hutchings and his team created two versions of the same page. The control featured the CTA above the fold, and the treatment displayed the CTA below the fold. Other changes were also made to the treatment, including simplifying the CTA, decreasing the anxiety about travel agents (VacationRoost is a vacation rental service), adding more copy and including several CTAs.

Watch the video above to learn which version of each of these tests won and gain more insights into how to better optimize the customer journey.

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