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Three Main Points An Over-Gadgetted CMO Should Remember

Today’s CMOs are armed with an arsenal of digital data analytics tools that are supposed to make our jobs easier, more accurate, and increasingly efficient in understanding our clients. But why is the crucial goal of increasing website conversion rates still so difficult for many businesses?

In my experience, there is so much focus on big data and analytics that we can sometimes lose sight of the basics. Marketers are focused on conversion rates of 3% or 5%—but what happens to the other 97% of customers who fail to engage or make a purchase? The truth is most CMOs don’t know. They know what customers did, but not their motivations or the emotional factors driving their actions.

To drive growth and revenues, it’s clear that marketing has to be coupled with a serious data-driven component, but there is a danger in focusing too much on the data. So here are three things over-gadgetted, and often overworked, CMOs should remember:

1. Customers Are Emotional
In a digital and data-driven world, businesses can sometimes reduce customers into statistics, bits, and bytes, but this doesn’t tell the full story of whether a customer is happy or frustrated, sad or successful. By contrast, in a traditional bricks-and-mortar store, you can ask customers how they feel and why, for example, they are returning a product. If enough people tell you, you can rectify the problem.

In digital, this crucial element of marketing can become lost. Although it’s possible to monitor the mass behaviour of tens of thousands of customers clicking on your site from a range of locations, but how do you make sense of what you see?

If marketers are to discern patterns in customer intentions, mood, and motivation from these behaviours and draw relevant insights, this data analysis has to be combined with psychological insights.

Long web pages, for example, can often be disorientating as one large retailer we worked with found. Customers were not scrolling down and page bounce rates were high. Why was this? Customers are people, and, like all people, they like to feel they are in control.

Our resident web psychologist Dr. Liraz Margalit noted: “Imagine a situation where you are unaware of what is happening around you. Very quickly, the ‘stress’ button is switched on, and you try to do everything you can to regain control. You can regain control by ‘sticking to’ something familiar such as adopting an old pattern of behaviour or relying on someone you trust.”

Our recommendation is that marketers can, therefore, increase visitors’ confidence by using sticky navigation to create something familiar. Once the example retailer implemented this, it found that page bounces reduced and conversions rose by a not insignificant 3%.

2. Resist The “Me Too” Mentality
Peer pressure is rife in marketing. When you’re in a board meeting and the chair asks why your competitor’s site has design X or why the new startup in your space is doing Y and you’re not, it’s tempting to succumb to follow suit and switch into a “me too” mentality.

But what is all the rage in one sphere will most likely be highly ineffective in another. And what’s right for startups is generally not a fit for enterprises.

Video add-ons are one example. Although a very popular website option at one point, close analysis finds that they tend to work well for companies wishing to entertain only. Among businesses targeting visitors needing to make a significant decision, such as buying insurance or financial products, video features were found to drive users away.

Before implementing a new marketing tool or strategy, never forget who your audience is and the psychology that drives them.

In analysis of purchaser and non-purchaser behaviour on hundreds of e-commerce websites, the same pattern emerges. Customers buying into certain categories such as insurance policies or financial products expect to put in some hard cognitive work. But in other, “nice-to-have” categories, exposure to too much information is hard work and customers, instead, head down a rational path rather than the emotional behavioural path that often leads to a purchase, as Dr. Margalit discusses here.

E-commerce sites that combine insights like these with their analytics data and go on to organise their product information differently, have consistently seen conversions go up.

Our brains like to recognise patterns that have previously resulted in successful interactions. In “Why Behavior Matters More than Thought Leadership,” Dr. Maraglit reminds us that “Brains are happier when they are not thinking … Your brain loves routine.”

When this is applied to websites and apps, users are more likely to engage when they see familiar patterns. Creating associations that lead to habits will ultimately allow you to connect with your users’ needs.

3. Stay On Your Toes
As any good basketball player will tell you, staying on your toes ready to change direction is a vital key to winning. It’s the same with marketing: given the fast-paced changes all around us, we need to continually challenge our own assumptions and even those of our superiors. Here, data plays a vital role in checking whether a new marketing technique could work in your particular ecosystem.

Today, businesses are already crowdsourcing, but they are often not taking the crucial step of interpreting the data collected in order to understand the full story about their customers’ needs.

Website visitor numbers are not enough in themselves. They should be correlated with data and patterns discerned. Don’t fall into the comfort trap and remember that everyone (including you) is subjective.

Data visualisation can help you see how your website is used and what needs to exist, instead of just relying on basic stats, A/B testing, or even your CEO’s gut instincts.

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