I’ve been reading up on the hype of semantic search lately. You can find some of that here, here, and here.
Lance Haun thinks the hype is a response to the negative reaction to Google’s “Search Plus Your World”. It could be. There are tons of people blogging and commenting, lamenting the new search as a form of censorship, clouding knowledge of the world based on your connections. For a few techy purists, it’s a valid point, however I think most people don’t even notice it. This tech/online marketing echo chamber sometimes seems like the real world.
As many people have already said, semantic search is not that new. Google already offers semantic search for certain questions. Geoff Duncan gives a great breakdown of the difference between semantic and literal search, however my view of semantic search is creating the ultimate know-it-all. I’m sure Doug Pokorny wouldn’t like to lose his spot to Google in Facebook.
If Google created a bot that could log into Facebook, and beat Doug Pokorny in trivia, then Google will have created “The Ultimate Know-It-All”.
Jon Mitchell at ReadWriteWeb expresses in his headline about Google’s semantics search that semantic search is “bad for SEO”, however many people take it (as I think it was intended) as a “THE SKY IS FALLING” moment for their livelihood. This could be the case for the armies of link builders in far-off lands that create nonsense blog posts with exact anchor text. For those internet marketers focused on SEO for our clients, semantic search isn’t a scary thing or bad thing, it is a challenge.
SEO is about constantly learning and adapting. Optimizing for semantic search shouldn’t be on your radar unless your income is based off of advertising that floats around information that Google will scrape and display as “semantic results”.
The difference of semantic search will have on the current SEO paradigm is that people researching information will not go to sites outside of Google until they’re ready to take specific action, such as purchase a product or service. Much of this has been done with Google+. Brands are posting information to their Google+ pages, and those pages are being found via search. If you go to the Google+ page, you are not leaving Google to go to the brand’s site. Google wants more and more of the interaction to happen in their playground, and reduce users leaving Google once they’ve completed a query.
With Google’s push into finance and banking with Google Wallet, the combination of semantic search, and Google+ identity layer, Google will capture more transactions and user activity without having users leave their site for a brand’s site, or for Paypal.
The question becomes, if the juggernaut of Google succeeds by improving the user experience with semantic search, Google Wallet and Google+, will commerce exist outside of Google? And will Google’s next move be to create their own currency?
Also, forgot to mention, Google is compiling their database for semantic search with Freebase.
So it’s the second day of SXSW Interactive 2012 and I was looking for an interesting presentation to check out and I flipped through my pocket guide and came across a featured session called “The Secret Lives Of Links” given by Jared Spool. The name caught my eye and I figured it would be interesting so I went. I walked over to a huge room and waited for the session to start while watching Andrew Federman begin his Ogilvy Notes Image Think board about the session. Soon enough the large room started to fill and Jared Spool took the stage. (more…)
We hope everyone had an excellent Thanksgiving, ate lots of turkey, watched some great football (well, if you root for certain teams or like football) and found some excellent Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.
The holiday treats don’t stop there, though–as our thanks to you, we’re giving you our white paper on personas. For free. Okay, so all of our white papers are free, but free is always the best price, right?
At any rate, we hope you enjoy our latest white paper Personas: The Online Marketing Secret Weapon.
White paper description: Personas are fictional representations of typical users, well known in the development community but not as well known in online marketing circles. That’s a mistake, because Personas can be your secret weapon in optimizing your online marketing campaigns and improving your ROI. This white paper will provide you with the details you need to implement Personas in your marketing campaigns. You will learn what a Persona is (and isn’t), how to create a Persona, and how to implement that Persona in optimization of landing pages and websites. Armed with this information, you will be able to use Personas to optimize your online marketing efforts, increase conversions and improve your ROI.
Download the white paper now, and feel free to leave comments regarding your experience with personas. Do you know what they are? Do you use them at all? Do you need help figuring out who your target personas are and how to effectively implement them? Leave your comments below!
If you missed our webinar on Wednesday, you missed a great one. “Persona Non Grata: The Online Marketing Secret Weapon” was chock full of need to know info regarding personas, including a statement that should be obvious to most marketers, but that I think all of us forgot from time to time: “More effective communications leads to increased sales.”
“What does communicating effectively have to do with personas?” you ask. It has EVERYTHING to do with personas.
See, personas allow us to better understand our target audience, the tasks they are trying to complete, their pain points, and how they interact with our company’s website and content. Knowing those things allows us to better design our site, create better content that’s much more direct in its purpose, and to essentially create an emotional connection between ourselves and the person on our website. And as all marketers know, creating that emotional connection is super important to getting that person to pick up the phone or fill out a contact form, thus getting them into our sales funnel.
Craig went over a lot more in the webinar, too, and I highly suggest you view it when you get a chance. And as always, feel free to leave your thoughts/questions regarding personas, or contact us if your company needs help developing their personas.
Personas are a critical, but often overlooked part of an online marketing methodology. Here’s an overview of 7 steps you can use to include Persona development and deployment as part of your online marketing campaigns.
Personas in Online Marketing, the critical (but often overlooked) element:
Personas (also referred to as Personae) may not necessarily be the first thing you think about when developing an online marketing campaign. You might be more worried about the message, or the conversion method, or even details like tracking and attribution. But the reality is, without properly creating and utilizing Personas prior to developing your campaign, you are in fact guessing as to whether your campaign will have the desired impact on your target audience. A better way to improve your online marketing results is to use Personas.
What’s a Persona?
According to Wikipedia, a Persona is defined as follows:
“Personas are fictional characters created to represent the different user types within a targeted demographic, attitude and/or behavior set that might use a site, brand or product in a similar way.”
Here at Apogee Results, we like to define Personas as follows:
“A Persona is a fictional representation of a common group of users who all share the same critical tasks.”
Much like the base of the pyramid, a Persona is the foundation of a good online marketing campaign. Personas have been used for many years by application development teams and usability practitioners, who use the Persona to define critical tasks the user must complete to be successful. However, Personas are still somewhat of a new practice for most online marketing teams.
Personas are Not Target Audiences:
Many marketers do know who their target audience is, but a target audience is not the same thing as a Persona. Typically with a target audience certain geographic, demographic and related marketing data is used to cluster groups of prospects. Data like age, gender, zip-code, household income and even prior purchase history are most often used to create clusters of target audiences.
But notice in the above list what’s missing. What about behavior? Why are prospects looking for information about your products or services? What problems are they trying to solve? How familiar are they with your products, your terminology, the concept of how you can help them solve their needs?
Personas are the tool you can use to answer those behavioral based questions. Coupled with related information from your target audience, you will now have a much clearer picture of whom you are targeting, what issues or needs they have, how your product and service can solve that need, and how to more effectively communicate that with your Personas.
Thus, Personas are the missing behavioral element that enables smart online marketers to be far more effective and efficient at finding, communicating with and selling concepts to their prospects. And that means improvements in conversion, and ultimately your ROI.
Applied to online marketing, Personas can help:
Shape messaging – By defining who you are trying to reach, what their key needs or problems are, and how your product or service can help them to solve their needs. This information gives you the outline for how to formulate your marketing messaging.
Define content – Understanding your Persona and what their critical tasks are makes your job of developing content easier. That’s because you have a clear idea of the Persona’s pain-points, and thus can shape your content to help them understand how your solution meets their needs.
Optimize a buy or order-flow – Knowing your Personas and their critical tasks, and understanding their expectations for how they expect to interact with you, gives you very helpful information for testing and optimizing your buy-flows or order-flows. You will have a much better sense of what the Persona is expecting, and thus can tweak your funnels to test based on behavior and knowledge, instead of guessing what elements should be tested.
7 Steps to Using Personas in Online Marketing:
Developing a Persona or Personas and using them in your online marketing campaigns can be broken down into 7 broad steps. Here’s how to incorporate Personas in your campaign development methodology:
1. Conduct Persona Research – With usability practitioners, typically this research is conducted through contextual observation and research, meaning going out to where typical customers or prospects are and observing them using applications or websites. In online marketing, this can be done, but is expensive and very time consuming. A better way is to carefully interview your top sales team members and key stakeholders, learning from them what the typical issues or concerns are. Ask the top sales reps what terminology prospects typically use. Are there any patterns in common needs shared by prospects that are communicated with the sales team? How does the sales team address those issues, and communicate how the product or service solves the prospects issues?
2. Conduct Competitive Persona Audits – Another way to gain an understanding of Personas is to audit your competitor websites and online marketing campaigns. How are your competitors communicating with their prospects? What terms do they use? How are they defining the needs, and how their products and services solve those needs? What order are these communications in? This information can be very useful for helping you to better define your Personas. But do be cautious! Your competitors may not be communicating effectively or correctly with their prospects, be a good judge and use the data that seems most appropriate and relevant.
3. Analyze Website & Product Data – Examine your website and product sales conversion data carefully. What content seems to resonate best with your prospects? Where are you achieving your best conversion, and where are you not having good conversion? What content are your prospects avoiding or not interacting with? How long are your website visitors spending on key product or information pages? If you are capturing form data, which forms have the highest percentage of starts, abandonments, completions and errors? This data is helpful background data that will provide patterns you can use to better understand your prospect’s behavior.
4. Conduct Prospect Research – A great way to better understand your prospects’ critical needs is to ask them. If you have phone logs, plug in to hear the conversations your prospects are having with your sales teams. Likewise, going out and interviewing your prospects directly is an amazingly powerful way to capture information about what needs they have, how they picture a product or service helping them, and the terminology they use to define what they are looking for.
5. Define Your Persona – With this research, you can now start to build your Persona or Personas. Your Persona should be a fictional representation of a set of typical prospects based on what critical tasks they share in common. The Persona description should include a story with enough information to define who they are, what problem they have, and what they are looking for to help them. You should also include additional detail, like their domain expertise (how familiar they are with your industry, products, terminology, etc.) and if applicable their channels of interaction (PC? Mobile? Phone? Email? etc.). Based on your research you should aim for several Personas. Just one or two might be enough, but if you find yourself with 7, 8 or more you are most likely being too specific with your tasks. It is very hard to make design decisions when trying to optimize for a set of 7 or 8 unique groups, instead, concentrate on just the top 3 or so.
6. Vet Your Personas – This step is often missed, but is very important. Be sure to confirm with your sales team and key stakeholders whether they believe you have correctly identified your Personas. Don’t assume that your first pass of Personas is correct. Ask your top sales team members to review the Personas with you. Have you correctly identified the critical tasks? Are your Personas truly representative of that group of prospects based on the needs, domain expertise and related details? Once your top sales team and other key stakeholders have given you approvals, you are ready to deploy your Personas in your online marketing campaign
7. Use Your Personas – Your Personas can be used to help optimize your online marketing campaigns. Create messaging and creative that directly reaches your Personas, by addressing their needs, concerns and how your product and service can solve their needs. Use the terminology your Personas are comfortable with throughout your campaign. Optimize your buy-flows or order-flows based on their expectations for the interaction. Test variations based on whether the Personas’ tasks are helped, and define your success via conversion data. Refine your Personas based on this data, and continue to optimize and test.
Conclusion, Personas in Online Marketing:
Utilizing Personas as part of your online marketing campaign does take some effort, as you’ve no doubt noticed! But the results of using Personas to make better informed decisions will be demonstrated in your increased conversions and lower cost per lead and cost per sales metrics. Incorporating Personas and using data to continually test and optimize based on solving your prospects needs is one of the fastest ways to improve your conversion. We’ve seen this time and time again here at Apogee Results, which is why we start all of our engagements with Persona research and development.
In the highly competitive nature of today’s internet landscape, it is essential for your company or business to have a high performing website. It is more important than ever to have a marketing plan that will not only draw in visitors but convert them to customers. Is your site not generating enough leads? Are you experiencing a high bounce rate on your landing pages? If so, you may be in need of some good ol’ fashioned Conversion Rate Optimization (aka CRO). CRO focuses on persuading your site visitors to sign up for newsletters, make purchases, or take actions that allow engagement with your site. CRO involves several different techniques to optimize your conversion rates, but the main idea behind this marketing strategy is to improve your website so that it persuades your visitors to act. Steps taken to optimize pages include:
1. Usability testing and user experience reviews
2. Landing page design and testing
3. Persona development
4. Website satisfaction survey intercepts and analysis
These are just some of the steps taken during CRO, however, every site will have specific needs. In order to address them, proper testing and analysis must be completed before proceeding with your CRO efforts. The benefits of doing so are substantial.
How will CRO help you?
Why should companies invest in CRO as opposed to paid advertising or PPC? Simply put, CRO is an investment for the future. Good optimizers will continuously optimize their sites and utilize CRO as a way to ensure conversions over time. If done properly, CRO can help you:
• Generate more leads
• Increase customer retention
• Create more page views
• Increase profit-per-visitor
• Increase number of email list sign ups
• Enhance website credibility (increasing chances of someone linking to it)
With the overall benefits of CRO, your business will become more competitive and experience an increase in profits. Sounds great, right? Why doesn’t everybody do it? Surprisingly, most companies use CRO as a last resort when they should be considering it as a first step. Many companies don’t know that if properly utilized, CRO will expand your business and open up opportunities for advertising and other marketing efforts.
Walk up to any public bulletin board in your city and you will most likely spot one—if not dozens—of square-shaped bar codes prominently displayed on music posters, educational flyers, and announcements of all kind.
These codes, labeled “Quick Response Codes” due to their distinct design that specifically enables rapid decoding of contents, are utilized by myriad industries across the US and throughout the world.
How does the QR code work its magic? Say you see a sign that reads: “Free Bruce Springsteen tickets!” with a QR code right below the text. You pull out your smartphone, scan the code with a barcode reader application you downloaded yesterday on a whim, and discover to your satisfaction that the code takes you to Bruce Springsteen’s official website where your free tickets to tonight’s show are waiting. You print them off and thanks to this QR code promotion, you spend the evening Dancing in the Dark with thousands of other screaming Springsteen fans. Not too shabby.
Hailing from Japan, these unique 2-dimensional matrix barcodes were created by Toyota subsidiary Denso-Wave in 1994 to track parts in vehicle manufacturing. Today, however, QR codes link mobile users to content that is as vast and varied as the locations in which such codes are found.
Companies and individuals alike are pushing the limits of creative new ways and places to use QR codes. In Jay Baer and Amber Naslund’s highly interactive book, The Now Revolution, the authors incorporate 22 QR codes that link to a range of media, from videos of people mentioned in the book to downloadable charts and graphs.
Others use QR codes on signs, banners, clothing, product bottles, and almost everything in between. One Parisian tattoo artist even inked a scan-able QR code onto a man’s chest.
Quiring Monuments, a Seattle-based headstone company, introduced “Living Headstones” that feature an engraved QR code linking to an online obituary profile for the deceased person.
From an SEO standpoint, one of the best things you can do is continually update your site and produce new content. QR code generators provide another way to do this by adding another up-datable element and then pointing mobile users to the freshest content on your site.
According to Search Engine Land author Marc Lyne, “If you add (QR codes) to your website, the search engines will see that your pages have changed and that you are updating pages. The search engine will see a new image and index it accordingly. At some point soon, the search engines will likely recognize QR codes and possibly index the content in them.”
In an article Tom Martin wrote for Small Agency Diary, an AdAge Magazine blog, Martin said that “QR codes are inherently trackable. You can view how many scans, where those scans came from, even what type of phone scanned the code.”
Professionals in the social media and technology sphere have yet to come to a clear consensus about the usefulness and future of QR codes.
Jim Nichols, vice president of digital strategy for communications agency Stern +Associates, hails QR codes as an efficient means of “providing quick, simple and timely information,” according to a post he wrote for Media Mixer, a Forbes blog. Nichols went on to say that QR codes are a great tool if they are not abused and “as long as marketers remember their purpose: delivering additional, valuable information at a specific point of time.”
Other industry professionals are not as impressed. Peter Kafka, columnist for AllThingsD.com, voiced his disdain for QR codes via Twitter:
Whether QR codes saturate the market and become the term on everybody’s lips or die out within the next decade with the ever-evolving media, one thing is certain: QR codes provide an efficient, effective, and express avenue for engaging consumers and directing them to your site. If you follow best practices and do not abuse the code, it will help you make direct customer connections and maybe even get you free concert tickets from time to time.
Where do you stand on QR codes? Do you think they’re here to stay, silly, a somewhat useful tool or simply a passing fad?
About the author: Brionne Griffin is a communications major at the University of Texas, and currently serves as an intern for Apogee Results.
Robert shares a tip about SXSW. His friend says the weakest sessions are on the day when people are nursing hangovers, on a Monday. I think for me his friend was wrong, as I hit my wall yesterday and am doing MUCH better today after a solid 7 hours of sleep.
And here we go. Robert is going to reveal the steps backwards, because that’s what his clients do, starting with step 5 and going to step 1. He says he’s doing this because that’s the way most companies do it – backwards! He reminds us to NOT do it in reverse order, to actually start with Step 1. Robert says Step 2 is the most important step.
It all starts with a bad product. Usually companies start realizing UX problems when customers complain, conversion sux, and nothing is happening. You’re doing a bunch of work, but not progressing to the next level. He shares a story of a customer that stops a client going to the next level of productivity, which is why they were hoping for a better UX.
Robert asked a few questions about client usage on the website, so client opened GA and revealed:
75% coming from search engines
95% content page
73% bounce rate
1:05 time on site
So an obvious goal for this client, which was advertising oriented, was to get more page views and more time on site. The data was obvious, based on metrics. Any changes made can be checked against those metrics, to see if improvements helped.
The 5 UX Strategy Steps, starting in reverse order:
STEP 5: Measure! Measure the four points as mentioned by Joshua Porter. Acquisition metrics, Conversion metrics, Engagement metrics, Satisfaction metrics. These are the four major aspects of the user experience you can measure and iterate on. Watch the numbers while trying new designs or tweaks of the existing design. Many companies tweak the design too much, to where it becomes a problem.
A client of his decided they could make the numbers change, so they went into Production Mode. They built code, updates to their application every Friday. But they didn’t do any design work, they didn’t figure out problems, brainstorm solutions, try solutions, etc. The problem is, code makes a BIG difference in the UX, because of all the decisions that have to be made in the code. Thus building code means you’re eating your own dog food, especially before actually conducting design.
STEP 4: Implement. There is no UX without code. Work closely with your coders, if you don’t code yourself. You should make your coders your friends/partner because they can tell you about the constraints. Use your code, to learn what’s good and bad about it.
The problem is, if you code and add features, that’s not really well thought out, which leads to rationalizing the problems with the design. Implementing changes without first designing them means you will rebuild, will rethink, and will become frustrated. Thus, spending time on the design might be a good idea (he shows a slide of a rough storyboard). His client decided they needed to use wireframes to think the problems through before building them.
STEP 3. Plan. Identify the problems that need to be solved, identify the constraints involved, both technical and business. Start using sketches, wireframes, prototypes before you get to the expensive coding part. You want to design the end goal, figure out what the thing looks like a long time from now, then implement designs that get you to that goal. Go far enough out that the current design is not constraining to the new design.
His client created a whole stack of wireframes, but they still contained problems. But this time they found out about the problems prior to coding by hiring a usability expert. The client gave the wireframes to the UX expert, who then provided commentary about what changes need to be made to improve the design. His client, a library software firm, was getting information from librarians, basing their design decision on the wrong user group, not the people that were the actual users. The librarians only provided tweaks, not bigger solutions to the overall design issues.
At this point, his client decided to step back. That is the important point in the process. You have to ask, what is it you’re trying to do? Why do you care about this? It’s NOT about making money. The real question is, why does all this matter to you? What is it your company wants to achieve for people?
STEP 2. The big think, Define the vision. Clarify what it is you’re doing, and how it’s going to change your users, and what belief it’s based on. It MUST come before all other decisions.
“Purpose is not derived from products. Products are developed as a result of the purpose. The clearer the purpose, the better the products.” Simon Sinek
A user experience vision is critical. A user experience vision gives you a big target, it’s where you are going and why. All decisions become easy when based on the vision. Without it, everything is a guess. Most of the brands that work well today are founded on these very clear, very singular ideas, the Mission Statement. Everything they do is based on those ideas.
How to establish a user experience vision:
1. Synthesize a story. Talk to everyone involved, try to figure out what this thing is and why it matters to people. What is the problem they are trying to solve. When you see patterns from taling to everyone you get it into a single sentence.
2. Create a vision onesheet. This is the most important step. Put the user experience vision and strategy on a single document rhjr.net/s/onesheet is a PDF sample you an use. It should be short, 2 pages max. They need to be easy to read. It will dramatically raise odds of people reading it if it’s short, concise and clear. First section of the document is the summary, then the situation (who is using it, why are they using it, who what when where why), next is design criteria (the rules or guidelines, statements of what key notes to hit, based on customer data and executive priorities), then the success metrics.
However, Robert believes you can’t design an experience, there’s stuff out of your control. But we can aim for something, this is what we would like our user’s to feel, to think after using it. Spend time on this kind of thinking and base it on research and competitive analysis.
After creating the vision Onesheet, you MUST communicate it. Make sure everyone reads it, understands it and knows it. Your user experience vision is the north star of product design. Everyone in the company should understand, know and feel like that reason is the reason they come to work.
STEP 1. The Audit. If the product already exists, you do an inventory of it to understand what it is, what’s good, what’s bad, what are the roadblocks that may keep people from doing what they’re wanting to do.
Jesse Zolna, Manager/User Research Barnes and Noble
Karl Steiner, Player Research Manager at THQ
Seriously, I just ran a mini marathon for eye tracking! I just had to run (well, ok, let’s call it a fast walk) to get from the Hilton waaaay across the street, to get over here to the C ballroom in the Austin convention center! That may not sound like a distance, but take a few wrong turns, walking up and down four flights of stairs (twice) and you’ll quickly arrive at my mileage. I’m thinking I need some oxygen. Anyway, let’s focus now on the often debated subject of eye tracking. Is it real research, bogus or somewhere in the middle?
The audience is asked to all stand up. I stand up with everyone else. We are told to sit down if you think eye tracking is a legitimate research method. Most of the audience sits, but I stay standing. I am not saying I’m opposed to eye tracking, but I am somewhat dubious that results can be heavily relied upon at all times. There’s a place for it, when used with other corroborating data, in my opinion.
However, for purposes of this live blog I shall remain neutral, as any good reporter would.
We start with a video reel of little circles moving around a screen, superimposed over a movie, the circles are chasing around the screen in a somewhat organized pattern. It’s a demonstration of eye tracking, the dots representing the eye tracks of many users who were recorded observing the same movie. It’s called a bee-swarm video, because the behavior of the spots looks something like a swarm of bees following a queen bee around.
Jennifer, Ania and the panel walk us through how they use eye tracking for research. How Key Lime does it is they use eye tracking research for clients who want visual presentations of what’s happening using quantitative information. She demonstrates an example of a set of fixation points that move around the screen, with circles gradually getting large in radios for fixation points, where the user’s eyes held at a point.
The next visualization demonstrated is opacity or focus maps, demonstrating where people are not looking. Areas where the users don’t look are black, where they do look is shown.
A third example is heatmaps of fixations. Red areas are high volume fixation points, yellow is medium, and the green and blue shades indicate low volume areas. She says you must always preface what you asked the participant to do when presenting eye tracking data to a client.
Karl: How he uses eye tracking at THQ, is for video games. With video games, rewards and motivations are the main difference between games and other subjects, like PCs or websites. Game users want challenges, but not too hard challenges, so determining how well the game is satisfying the user is important research for them.
A chart that defines eye tracking measures:
Number of fixations
Number of times a participant gases at a given area
How easy it is to find a given element
Amount of time spent fixating in a given area of interest
Information clarity, processing demands, information density
Percent of users fixating on an area
How often do they go back to an item
Karl continues, the traditional think aloud method doesn’t work for games as it takes away from the core of the user experience, he utilizes eye tracking to gather the information without interrupting the user. Eye tracking can give lots of information about where to look in 2 dimensions. But with 3d games it’s more complex, objects and camera may be moving, which makes identifying fixations more difficult. It’s a central challenge to us, he says, in gathering and using eye tracking data.
Ania: In addition to gaze patterns other measures can give a more detailed look beyond what’s available in traditional usability testing.
Eye tracking data includes;
These are all helpful measures of cognitive load. You need to also include outcomes, to help understand where patterns are helping or hurting a task.
With eye tracking you can measure time to determine pass/fail by time on task.
A really important use is to guard against what people say they do vs. what they actually do. Think aloud may miss something, if you ask users, “did you see this part” and they say yes, but they didn’t mention it because they think that it was unimportant, you may have missed something important. Eye tracking shows this however, it shows actual behavior vs. what people say they did.
Karl continues, for games, we watch users go through the experience, watching them failing time after time. Body language and posture indicate stress, but if we ask them later about it, they may say, “I was fine.” This data may not come out in think aloud, but can come out in eye tracking.
Three Methods of Usability Research:
Think Aloud, user talks while attempting to conduct a task. Challenge with eye tracking is you’re observing interaction with the screen, while pulling the users eyes away from the screen and task to talk about it with the moderator.
Retrospective, user conducts the exercise uninterrupted, and is recorded via eye tracking. After the test the user is walked through the steps with the researcher, while displaying the screen interaction, talking about what they did at each point. The problem here is sometimes people don’t reflect what they were thinking at that time, or may not think something enough to report to the researcher.
Debriefing, User conducts the test uninterrupted. After testing is complete, the user is questioned about their interactions.
Jennifer: There’s a big difference between what people see versus what they say they see, how do you (asking the panel) deal with that?
The panelists explain, In a talk-aloud they may miss a button, and you won’t know what happened because they may not know whether they “saw” something or not. But eye-tracking identifies what is seen, and what is missed.
People say eye tracking is not that worthy because the eye moves across things, and are people scanning and comprehending that information, or simply passing their eyes over it without comprehending or seeing it? It’s an issue you must address as you use eye tracking.
Karl: For games, when things go so fast, we have to use retrospective think aloud and debriefing to gather the details of whether someone saw that real quick gun-flash or warning message in the game. We combine eye tracking with debrief, because we don’t want to use think aloud which is interruptive to game-play. We like combining research data to get a clearer picture of what’s going on.
Ania: We often get asked to do think aloud because clients want to know what’s going on, when they are observing in the back room. This is a positive about think aloud.
For eye tracking, how long does it take to find a Registration link on a website? I might benchmark the current site, to establish the minimum dwell time. We might blind the user and run tests with multiple competitors to get benchmark across the client and competitor sites.
Karl: We use both methods, quantitative and qualitative, to understand what’s going on behaviorally during game play.
Eye tracking equipment has come a long way they say. They then proceed to scare the audience by showing shots on the screen of old-school eye tracking, (I’m shuddering), picture people with their faces covered in huge appliances or big dive mask goggles covering their faces, wow.
Today’s equipment is much less frightening, for the audience sitting here and the participants of the eye tracking study! The latest equipment is much less threatening, they show headsets and glasses and other appliances that seem easier to deal with.
The discussion turns to some new online services that enable low-cost, remote eye tracking. GazeHawk, who’s here in the audience by the way, has a new technology. These new systems use a webcam to track a person’s eyes without headsets.
High-end eye tracking systems are expensive, $30k to $50k for the current technology. Smaller agencies may need an alternative. New technologies can help researchers conduct eye tracking remotely using a person’s webcam, which is perhaps not as precise, but does provide data. As researchers, you must understand those tradeoffs.
The two webased are tools are YouEye and GazeHawk, and other technologies include. GazeHawk uses a community of testers to conduct a test.
The online marketing paradox refers to the same concept as that old familiar standby; what came first, the chicken or the egg?
In the case of online marketing, this paradox is; when you examine your spend, do you find yourself torn by a decision that is difficult to make? Where do you place your spend? Is it:
Do I spend my budget on generating traffic to my website or landing pages? If so, which sources and how much for each? Or…
Do I spend my budget on improving conversion on my website or landing pages? If so, where in the lead flow should I start and how much should I spend? Or…
Is there some mix of spend that provides the best possible traffic flow AND conversion? And if so, what is that best mix?
In many cases, the online marketing paradox is caused by a root issue; the lack of accurate and actionable data as it relates to achieving marketing goals across the spectrum of the lead-flow process.
As an online marketing authority with many years of experience in assessing website and lead-gen analytics, we have found that the vast majority of our clients have inaccurate or not fully optimized analytics packages. This forces the online marketing paradox of trying to guess what the correct spend should be. And without solid data, you’re left guessing at what should come first.
Typical reasons for the Online Marketing Paradox
Pick any of these that best describes your current analytics situation:
Google Analytics, Omniture or related analytics systems were set-up by a technical team without the benefit of a complete set of marketing reporting requirements, resulting in sub-optimal online marketing data
Changes to our website over time are not accurately reflected in our analytics package, resulting in sub-optimal online marketing analysis
Some traffic sources provide inadequate or no tracking data into our analytics, resulting in missing or incomplete marketing information
Back-end systems are not directly connected to our analytics system, thus we are forced to estimate sales conversion and related website metrics, resulting in the potential for error
All of the above, we’re a hopeless online marketing data mess
There are many reasons why your analytics may not be as optimized as it should or could be, but the key impact this has on you is it forces you into the online marketing paradox.
You just don’t have the detailed information you need to make accurate marketing spend decisions. And that’s not a good place to be when you have to meet or beat your marketing goals. So how then do you get out of the online marketing paradox?
How to fix the Online Marketing Paradox
To fix your online marketing paradox, we believe a robust and deep evaluation of your reporting package is required. Our experience over the years has shown that addressing your marketing analytics first and foremost is the best way to have real, actionable data. This accurate data can be the basis of your online marketing spend decisions. This improved data gets you out of the online marketing paradox, and enables you to adequately gauge where and how to deploy your spend.
Our methodology for addressing analytics optimization is simple, but effective:
Conduct a detailed analytics audit, paying special attention to cross-domains, as well as to the set-up of goals and the sales reporting funnels
Rank the issues found in the audit by creating a prioritized list of the items found, ranked by severity
Evaluate potential solutions for each issue found, some may be easy and quick fixes, while others may require more programmatic solutions
Create a spreadsheet with four columns; a) issue, b) severity, c) potential solution, d) final ranked order of fixes
Execute the fixes in order
For the spreadsheet, the last column, column D is probably the most important, because some fixes may by necessity have to wait, while others may need to be addressed immediately. Having the order clearly defined makes it easier for everyone to know what’s being fixed and when, enabling a far more efficient optimization process.
The online marketing paradox resolved
You can only resolve the online marketing paradox after you are confident that the data and reporting from your analytics package is accurate. Having better information will help you determine whether to spend your money on traffic, conversion or some mix of the two. By determining where to spend your marketing dollars wiser, you will most likely help lower your overall Cost Per Lead and ultimate Cost Per Sale (or Acquisition). This helps you achieve your marketing goals, enabling you to finally rid yourself of the dreaded online marketing paradox.