Lessons from 2010

What worked and what didn’t in the last 365 days of experimentation


If there is one thing consistent about online customers, it’s that they are consistently changing. Trying to pin down marketing tactics that work from year to year can be a daunting task. That’s why it is essential to always be testing – especially testing those “best practices” that are commonly accepted across the Web. As our researchers discover again and again, it’s often our biggest assumptions that are the biggest hindrances to conversion. This year (2010) was no different, as new tests revealed what worked and what didn’t – with a few surprises.

During this live Web clinic, our analysts reviewed the important lessons they learned from this year’s most telling experiments. Tests focusing on areas like offline and online integration, traffic source quality, graphic design, and social media were used to help the audience draw six essential lessons they should take away from our 2010 research.

LESSON #1: Do not underestimate the effect offline media can have online
As noted by Associate Director of Research, Gaby Paez, our tests revealed that there is a significant conversion potential in connecting offline and online marketing campaigns. She presented an experiment in which one of our Research Partners made this connection with some simple imagery changes, and saw a conversion lift of 124%.

LESSON #2: Do not assume the “marketing masses’ are going in the right direction
The next lesson, from new Research Analyst Dustin Eichholt, was that marketers should not assume that just because a specific page design is popular that it is effective for their own situation. He reviewed a particular test in which a tabbed Web page template, one that you’ve probably seen countless times across the Web, actually hurt conversion by 3%.

LESSON #3: When it comes to metrics, relying on tools alone is never enough
Research Manager Corey Trent then brought the important lesson that marketing departments should not rely solely on metric tools. During this part of the session, he reviewed a case study that demonstrated how improper analysis of data could have easily led to wrong conclusions about a test’s results. Underneath it all, Corey says, “it’s people that make metrics tools effective.”

LESSON #4: Channel motivation is still the most predictive force of offer response
Next, Research Manager Jon Powell reviewed a test that initially saw the dramatic lift of a 534% increase in conversion rate. He points out that as the research team began to apply the gains from the first test to other traffic sources, the results varied widely, underscoring the essential lesson that channel motivation is a force of conversion that must be reckoned with.

LESSON #5: Strategy over style
Adam Lapp, Senior Optimization Manager, presented a case study that dealt with one of the most common tensions experienced in designing a Web page: strategy or style? He revealed key takeaways from a series of tests, and makes the point that optimization strategies will always have primacy over design and style – at least for those who are interested in results.

LESSON #6: You may know more than you think about optimizing social media campaigns
Finally, Web clinic moderator Daniel Burstein chose a lesson of his own from all of the research that came across his desk as the Director of Editorial Content. He walked through a case study where basic optimization principles (friction, value prop, etc.) were applied in a very successful Facebook strategy. He states that, “marketers may know more than they realize when it comes to social media.”

This unique “round table” of researchers also fielded some of the most common questions submitted by the audience, including:

  • What is the fastest, easiest way to increase conversion?
  • What’s next for social media?
  • What online marketing and testing tools would you recommend?
  • What is an acceptable conversion rate?
  • Is SEO becoming obsolete?

View the clinic replay, or listen to the audio recording (mp3), to learn from our researchers as they present these important insights from 2010.

Download the MarketingExperiments Quarterly Research Journal:

Q4 2010

View a replay of this presentation:

Webinar Video 2010-08-11
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Daniel Burstein
Gaby Paez
Dustin Eichholt
Corey Trent
Jon Powell
Adam Lapp

Austin McCraw
Daniel Burstein

Technical Production
Joelle Parra
Nicole Evans
Cliff Rainer

Additional Contributers
MECLABS Conversion Group

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