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How Variance Testing Increased Conversion 45% for Extra Space Storage

When it comes to testing, A/B testing typically steals the spotlight, casting its sister procedure, variance testing, in the shadows. However, according to Emily Emmer, Senior Interactive Marketing Manager, Extra Space Storage, that’s a mistake.

At MarketingSherpa MarketingExperiments Web Optimization Summit 2014, Emily presented on how her team was able to utilize variance testing to transform Extra Space Storage’s Wild West testing culture into a wildly successful testing environment.

Before the team conducted variance testing, the company’s testing environment was structured like a free-for-all. There were few, if any, set rules in place, and, according to Emily, the person with the highest title and the loudest voice typically had their test implemented. All of this changed after the Extra Space Storage team ran some variance tests.

Variance testing measures two identical Web experiences to determine a site or page’s natural variability. This procedure generally constructs the rules for subsequent A/B tests to follow.

By focusing on variance testing and translating the results from this procedure into rules for A/B testing, Extra Space Storage achieved a 45% increase in conversion rate from the previous year. Watch the below excerpt to learn the results of the team’s test, the rules they developed and Emily’s advice on when to start variance testing and how to implement it.

 

Run variance experiments and interpret results

Emily and her team ran five simultaneous variance tests on Extra Space Storage’s homepage, which measured:

  • Experiment #1: 35% traffic per treatment (two treatments)
  • Experiment #2: 18% traffic per treatment (four treatments)
  • Experiment #3: 12% traffic per treatment (six treatments)
  • Experiment #4: 7% traffic per treatment (six treatments)
  • Experiment #5: 3% traffic per treatment (six treatments)

Taking the data from these five experiments, Emily was able to extrapolate that information into rules that Extra Space Storage could use for testing moving forward, she said. Below are the results she was able to achieve:

 

“So you can see between Experiment 2 and Experiment 3 — really big difference, right? So moving from like a four and five percent difference in conversion rate to like a 24 and 14 percent conversion rate — that was about the breaking point,” Emily explained.

Altogether, Emily and her team developed four different testing rules from this effort, including that all tests need to run for at least two weeks.

 

Advice on variance testing

Emily advised anyone who runs or plans on running A/B tests to conduct variance testing beforehand. This will give future tests a baseline for how much of your traffic you can test and still expect to gain workable results.

She recommended that companies run variance testing if:

  • The site has high or low points of traffic throughout the year (i.e., if there is seasonality)
  • Major changes have been made to the structure of the site
  • There have been any big changes in terms of the traffic

 

You might also like

Reserve your seat for MarketingSherpa Summit 2016 — February 22-24, 2016 at the Bellagio Resort in Las Vegas

Testing and Optimization: Variance testing for B2C contributes to 45% lift in conversion rate [MarketingSherpa video replay]

Marketing Mashup: Top takeaways from Web Optimization Summit 2014 [MarketingSherpa webinar]

B2C Marketing: Site and search optimization leads to 15% increase in average order value [MarketingSherpa case study]

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

Check Also

10 Crucial Steps for Launching Your B2B Podcast Into the Wild

Hey, friend, have you heard the good news about podcasts? 

Given the most recent stats, it’s highly likely you have. Over half of all Americans over 12 years of age have listened to at least one. Podcasts have well and truly hit the mainstream. In other words, the gold rush is on for brands looking to connect with a highly-engaged, long-attention-span audience.

However, getting a podcast up and running isn’t as simple as publishing a blog. We recently published an entire B2B podcasting webinar to walk you through the entire process, from conception to publication. This post will zero in on the choices you need to make and the steps you need to take to release your podcast into the wild.

B2B Podcasting Launch Checklist: 10 Steps

Sure, you could just upload your audio to your web server, add an RSS feed, and call it good. But if you want people to actually find and listen to your podcast, there are a few extra steps you should take. This checklist will help your podcast find an audience and start building a subscriber base.

via GIPHY

#1: Choose Your Hosting Platform

A podcast syndication platform makes it easy to publish your podcast and get listed in directories. Think of it like WordPress is for your blog — it hosts the files, makes them look pretty, and makes it so people can find them.

Most platforms will also give you embed codes for embedding episodes in blog posts or on a landing page. You’ll also get stats on how many people are downloading episodes, and on what program they’re listening.

We prefer Libsyn as our hosting platform. Podbean, buzzsprout, and Blubrry are also solid options. They all have a free tier of hosting, but you’ll want to pay a few bucks a month for bandwidth and analytics.

#2: Upload Your First Three Episodes

Podcasting is all about establishing a regular cadence (more on that later). But for launch, you’ll want to have at least three episodes ready to go. There are a few reasons for publishing multiple episodes for your debut:

  1. One episode may not be enough to convince people to subscribe. 
  2. Multiple episodes show you’re committed to keeping the content coming.
  3. Most importantly, Apple podcasts requires at least three episodes to qualify for their “New and Noteworthy” section. 

So before you publish, have at least three episodes completed, and be ready to follow up with more at your promised publishing cadence.

#3:  Register with Podcast Directories

Podcasts are peculiar in terms of content delivery. Your hosting platform makes the files available, but most people will listen to your podcast on their chosen podcast app. Each app maintains its own directory — think of it as a search engine for podcasts. 

Your podcast needs to be listed in their directory, or people won’t be able to find you. I recommend registering with at least these six:

  1. Apple Podcasts
  2. Google Podcasts
  3. Stitcher
  4. Podbean
  5. Spotify
  6. TuneIn

Each of these sites will ask for the RSS feed of your podcast, which your hosting platform will generate for you.

I created a podcast tracker to keep track of all these directories — sign up for the webinar and you can download it for free.

B2B Podcast Tracker

#4: Promote Internally

Gaining visibility on a podcast directory is tricky business. Apple and Google are where the majority of your listeners will be, and each employs an algorithm to promote podcasts in search results and feature pages.

How do you get an algorithm’s attention? Engagement! Start by promoting your podcast to all of your employees. Encourage them to subscribe on Apple or Google, give a rating, and write a brief (and honest) review. What’s more, draft some social messages and encourage everyone to promote the podcast to their networks, too.

That base level of initial engagement will help your podcast start finding its audience.

#5: Activate Your Influencers

Most podcasts are Q&A-style interviews with influential guests. If your podcast includes influencers in your industry, make sure they know as soon as their episode goes live. Give them the tools to promote the podcast easily:

  • Sample social messages
  • Social media images in the correct sizes
  • Embed codes

If your podcast doesn’t feature influencers, it’s worth re-evaluating your strategy for your next season. Influencer content not only is more valuable to your audience, it’s an indispensable channel for promotion.

#6: Publish Blog Posts

The one downside of audio content: It’s not super crawlable for SEO purposes. Granted, Google has started to auto-transcribe episodes and add them to search results, but the technology is still in the early stages.

To truly get some SEO juice from your podcast, we recommend embedding each podcast in a blog post. This example from the Tech Unknown Podcast by SAP* shows how simple it can be. All you need is an introduction, a few pull quotes, some key takeaways, and a transcript.

#7: Add Paid Promotion

As with any content, you want to use every tactic available to make sure it gets seen by your target audience. That’s especially true with podcasts, since podcast search engines are incredibly competitive.

Targeted, paid social promotion can help establish your subscriber base and get your new podcast some much-needed visibility.

It’s also worth considering cross-promotion on other podcasts. Consider both paid advertising and trading guest spots with a podcast that shares your target audience. 

#8: Solicit Listener Feedback

Ratings and reviews are essential to your podcast’s success. They’ll help provide social proof for new listeners and boost your search visibility in podcast directories. 

The best way to get ratings and reviews? Ask for them. Make it part of each episode’s sign-off. You can even encourage thoughtful reviews by reading the best ones on future episodes. You will engage your listeners and solicit more reviews at the same time.

#9: Keep Up Your Cadence

As with blog content, there’s no single “right” frequency to publish a podcast. Some of my favorite podcasts publish weekly, biweekly, or even monthly. The best cadence for your podcast is “However frequently you can reliably, regularly publish quality content.”

Choose your cadence with an eye to long-term sustainability, and tell your listeners explicitly how frequently you’ll publish. Whether it’s “See you next week,” or “PodcastTitle is a monthly podcast that…” listeners will find it easier to make your podcast a habit if you stick to a schedule.

#10: Repurpose, Repurpose, Repurpose

In my last post on the content marketing benefits of B2B podcasting, I mentioned that podcasts are a content machine, and I’ll say it again. It’s easy to finish an episode, publish it, then forget it and move on to the next thing. But don’t do that! 

Pull snippets of audio content for social media. Turn them into short videos, too: Add a still image or a simple looping GIF for visual interest.

Use your transcriptions as fodder for future blog posts, quotes for influencer marketing, or even a stand-alone asset. 

Any way you can reuse that content can help bring more listeners to your podcast. What’s more, putting the content in a different medium can reach an audience who might not be into podcasts (yet). 

Check, Check, One Two

Launching a podcast is a little trickier than launching a new blog, especially if you’re new to the format. But if you follow this checklist, you can make sure your podcast is available on all the right channels and is ready to start attracting an audience.

Need more podcasting help? Check out our B2B Podcasting Webinar. In addition to learning the Four P’s of podcasting success, you’ll see me make this face:

B2B Podcasting Face

*Disclosure: SAP is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post 10 Crucial Steps for Launching Your B2B Podcast Into the Wild appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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