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Online Experimentation Trends for 2018: Part 2


Part 2: 2018 Predictions

All of our predictions for 2018 revolve around a central theme: Experimentation programs are maturing and the needs of companies will evolve to reflect that maturation.

1. Behavioral Science Takes Center Stage

At Brooks Bell, our vision is “to discover the people behind the data.” At its core, this is a message of behavioral science. We need to understand the motivations behind people’s actions in order to uncover why they make decisions, and in turn, how we can try to influence those decisions.

Experimentation teams are starting to recognize that in order to take their programs to the next level, they need to become better educated on the principles of behavioral science. Principles like “social proof,” meaning when people are unsure of the best course of action, they look to their peers’ decisions and actions for guidance.

In 2018, we anticipate experimentation teams investing in learning more about behavioral science and how to apply it to their testing programs.

2. Data Scientists and Analysts in high demand

As mentioned previously, optimization software has really upped the game of experimentation teams, but if you’re trying to analyze which tool is better suited for you, you have to first look at the strength of the data you’re putting in. The bottom line: just like any recipe is only as good as the ingredients going into it, software tools are only as good as your data and the people running them.

Software needs clean, accurate data to be effective. Of course once the data is clean, you’re still going to need analysts to develop and implement testing strategies. What’s the point of having the fastest jet if you don’t have someone who can pilot it?

In 2018, we predict that data cleansing for optimization will become an even bigger priority for companies, and that data scientists, analysts and developers who can wield these optimization tools effectively will be hot commodities.

3. Personalization picks up steam

We had lots of clients executing PoCs for personalization in 2017 and expect that number to grow in 2018. When the uplift from a company’s optimization programs begin to plateau, many find themselves turning to personalization as the next opportunity for incremental growth.

This year, we’re predicting that there will be continued acceleration in the personalization field. Personalization providers are getting a lot of attention and funding, and we’re betting that we’ll see some consolidation in the market in the near future.

Conclusion: The best and worst-performing strategies

To wrap up 2017 and give some guidance for 2018, we’ve reviewed our test results to uncover the best-performing and the worst-performing strategies.

Caveat: Even though we’re ranking some of these strategies, it’s still important that you test everything as results may be very different based upon your product/service offering, industry, goals, etc.

That said, some of our best-performing strategies, with 2X the average win rate, are as follows:

    • Best Value Messaging
      • Consumers want to know that they are getting the best value for the product/service as compared to others. This is often evidenced by a comparison chart or badging that spells out “Best Value.”  You may recall seeing this when choosing a subscription level, or while browsing a category page of products.
    • Reviews
      • Reviews assuage consumer anxiety by showing high customer satisfaction, providing an unbiased opinion (theoretically) that increases the consumer’s confidence in a purchase. This is a great example of the principle of social proof in action.
    • Monetary Value
      • Indicating to the customer the monetary value of the product/service is a great strategy for less tangible purchases. For example, sharing the monetary value of a free gift with purchase makes it seem more valuable to the consumer. Though it might sound obvious, it’s worth another look at your site to see what value you are leaving unannounced.
  • Call to Action (CTA) Copy
    • Changing what the call to action says, for example, changing “Buy Now” to “Add to Bag,” was a winning strategy for our clients. We frequently experiment with CTA copy and have seen a wide range of results. What’s important is that your CTA accurately depicts the next step and isn’t clickbait.

We also had some less-than-stellar performers that taught us a lot:

    • Benefit to User
      • We discovered that users responded more positively to monetary value than intangible benefits. For example, telling a consumer that a new skin cream has SPF 15 to protect them from harmful UV rays was not as effective as showing them how much the product was worth, how steeply it was discounted or how its pricing compared to similar products.
  • Image Addition
    • Sometimes less is more, and that is what we found to be true with image addition. Creating more mental effort for consumers by providing more images for them to consume actually led to losses.

That concludes our learnings from 2017 and predictions for 2018. Keep an eye on our blog for more interesting findings throughout the year, and feel free to reach out via [email protected] to find out how the Brooks Bell team to help you master these trends in 2018.

The Brooks Bell Team