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Stop the Seasonal Promotion Banner-Swapping Madness! It’s Partially Your Fault


DATA-DRIVEN CMO is an ongoing series on the Brooks Bell Blog that focuses on topics for the modern-day data-driven CMO.

It’s the beginning of spring, and you’re ready to roll out new springtime promotions on your website. But instead of creating a lush, personalized and highly relevant seasonal experience around your campaign, you resort to swapping out the primary banner image on the home page.

Trees in all seasons

Does this scenario sound familiar? Let me guess: When the website was designed and created, it was built to include only a few set areas reserved for promotional swap-outs. As the new template launched, the marketing department was given parameters that defined where they were allowed to work. Any request outside of those boundaries required an additional specific task for your developers and was added to the queue.

Eventually, it will get done and will publish at the next code release cycle. Of course, by that time it isn’t the Spring 2013 promotion you will be worried about; it will be rolled out in Spring 2014.

We hear that story all the time.

You see, the barrier to providing the best experience for your company is not in your team’s strategy, but in the limitations of your template, your restrictive mBox placement or the constraints on IT has on your code resources—and that is frustrating.

Here are the reasons why banner promotions are a problem when it comes to truly effective conversion optimization:

Imagine a brick and mortar location, where the store window display features an Easter bunny and pastel colors. But when you walk in the door, the rest of the store is completely devoid of any Easter branding.

Seasonal banners are the equivalent of a holiday decal on a window next to the door. Not only is inconsistency apparent between your entrance display and your actual store, but due to banner blindness, repeat customers skip right over your single display, and your new customers just aren’t impressed.

Which brings us to the second reason banner promotions are a mistake: the sheer limitations. When you focus on selling ice cream to the kids in the sandbox, you ignore the fact that there are sweaty, hungry kids (with money in their hand) by the swing set. Optimization is defined by the need of the customer—not the allotted real estate on your page. 

Now for the tough love part of this post. This scenario is partially your fault.

You may not be the cause, but as CMO, if you aren’t pushing for a solution, this limitation is on you. You may not have put the process in place at your organization, and you may not have even been there when the current site structure was implemented. But if you want to do more than create incremental lifts in your optimization, it’s your mess to clean up.

Here are three steps to get your organization out of the banner-swapping madness!

Step 1: Challenge and Inspire

We recently worked with a client that had this problem for over three years. This was the reality for their team. It was the process dictated to them when they joined the company, and by the time we started working on their optimization program, it was so ingrained in their mindset that they had trouble breaking out of the thinking. Luckily, with the flexibility of global mBoxes, this was no longer an IT-only issue.

It’s an expectation issue with your team. As CMO you must challenge and inspire your team to think outside of your restrictions and think strategically. 

Step 2: Demand Site-Wide Promotional Messaging

Demand that your seasonal campaign and offers enhance the customer experience throughout the conversion path. Want to tout a new product? Continue that thought through every page of your site. Otherwise it’s like handing out free samples at the front door, rather than the moment someone is debating adding it to their cart.

Step 3: Prove the Value to the CIO

Your team members may be the ones complaining about the limitations, but only you can forge agreements with the CIO. Test it out with your testing tool, prove the value, and then push for a change. It won’t be a flip of the switch, but the ball needs to start rolling somewhere, and it’s up to you to give the initial push.

I’m not out to bash individual departments. This problem may stem from an imbalance of resources when it comes to your optimization program. It’s time for you to inspire your team and lead the charge for more effective testing campaigns.

It’s not the testing platform. It’s not the strategic thinking. It’s you. Go get it!