In partnership with Newport, Extractable developed Newport’s new mobile version of the plandestination.com website. The new site gives retirement and executive benefit plan participants the ability to quickly and conveniently view important account information from their mobile device.
Participants can view account balances, personal performance, statements, past and pending transactions, and investment portfolio details. In addition, the site offers a consolidated view across multiple retirement and benefit plans.
The new mobile experience is compatible with the leading devices and platforms, including Apple, Android, and Blackberry.
Members can access the site directly by entering the plandestination.com URL into their smartphone.
The Extractable team just returned from the exciting Forrester Customer Experience Forum in L.A. where we met and shared stories with many attendees. Conversations were centered around the customer scenarios and challenges that many companies are facing today. As one attendee stated, ”while a very important part of managing customer experience is understanding our customers, it’s really only half the battle.”
We found that many companies are working to improve the experiences for customers, but they are lacking in the tools and processes needed to do this consistently and rigorously. We also found that many companies are banking on analytics that may prove to be misleading.
What was most exciting about the conference was the passion shared by the attendees for improved CX and one thing became clear: In a customer-led universe, many companies are currently fighting to play catch-up. Now, more than ever, digital marketers need to shift the paradigm and rethink their digital strategy and approach. The future of their brands may depend on it.
Extractable Booth - Forrester CX Forum West 2012
We are working on a fun mobile financial site then enables customers to view the performance of their investments from any mobile device. The secure site provides users with a variety of tools for charting, comparing, and analyzing various retirement strategies and investments.
As we started to design the various types of charting functions the strategy team asked some important questions around horizontal vs vertical layouts and scrolling pages vs accordions which show/hide important functions. We looked at the available research on mobile site usage and while we did find some good data to inform the designs, we didn’t feel it was conclusive. We decided that we needed to track some data in this space. I worked with Ian to create a custom set of tracking tags in Google Analytics to answer the following questions.
- How many times a user changes orientation during a session?
- Are there pages that a user prefers to view horizontally vs vertically?
- Are there some pages that a visitor changes orientation multiple times because they cannot get the right dimensions?
- How often does a session start in one orientation (i.e. vertical) and then end in another (i.e. horizontal)?
- Are there specific devices (i.e. iPad vs iPhone) that cause visitors to be more picky about their orientation?
- If we utilize space saving features such as accordion menu/functions, will visitors utilize them?
We implemented the tracking on the mobile site and are now tracking the data. We are anxious to see a good data set to better understand these types of behaviors on mobile sites. If you would like a copy of the tracking code, please feel free to email me (first initial + last name @ Extractable.com).
Excitement filled our office with the launch of the new Logix Federal Credit Union website. From the beginning of the project we had a non-movable launch date and time, 9am Monday July 9th. Logix was formerly Lockheed Federal Credit Union and they were launching a new name and new branding across the whole organization the morning of July 9th.
Extractable helped to refine the brand as well as created the Robot mascot which has become an integral part of the brand experience. Logix is even running an awesome “Name The Bot” contest to name the Robot mascot. You can vote on your favorite name here!
The new site helps show-case the large brand impact the credit union is working to develop. They want to move away from the historical focus on Lockheed and bring in an expanded member base. The new site creates a showcase for new features like the custom designed calculators and a platform to evolve over time.
In addition the site showcases the extensive financial education materials Logix provides its users.
Hope you like the new site as much as we do!
What it is:
Early Lab based usability testing is aimed at measuring a user’s ability to complete tasks.
How it works:
A moderator using a script conducts the test in a usability lab. The participant is asked to complete a series of tasks on a prototype or a beta version of the actual website simulating the experience they would have on the final design. Here at Extractable we encourage this practice early in the design phase for the following reasons.
The opportunity to get the right sample of participants is excellent.
Taking the time to recruit a handful of your users based on the top few personas really pays off in the end. Usability research supports that 80% of your major usability issues are found with just five users. Testing a few users that align well with the top use cases ensures the likelihood of usage and repeat usage.
Optimize the most significant areas of the project such as conversion paths or new features.
Pave the cow paths is a popular term in usability. It refers to the paths that are already being formed by behavior to formalize their occurrence rather than ignoring the commonly used path. Knowing what navigational elements users click on to get things done allows you to optimize that behavior for them. You may decide that there is a way to make it easier or use that path as an opportunity to up sell and cross sell. Lab testing allows you to record what users are doing and where they are navigating for an accurate measurement of these cow paths.
Measure qualitative insights as you probe into problematic areas.
The nature of moderating a lab testing session allows you to directly observe both interface and user reactions. This creates the perfect opportunity to ask relevant questions timely and contextually gaining most accurate answers to indicative behaviors. In a quick and early game of completion rates and numbers there is a unique opportunity here for a significant amount of insight as well.
Where lab testing can be expensive, Costs can be cut on the prototyping. A paper prototype is often quick and economical solution to this challenge. Mocking up interfaces in a wireframe or sketch and printing it out should allow for completing the same basic tasks as a fully rendered clickable prototype.
Fixing a minor usability problem in an early prototype or wireframe takes a matter of minutes. In a graphic design mock-up it might take an hour or two, and in coding and Quality Assurance it can easily take 10 hours or more.
Image Credit: https://pinterest.com/craig885/gone-country/
I will be giving a session on data drive personalization at eMetrics in Boston this week. The session will focus on insight based personalization, user centric personalization, and outcome based personalization. If you are attending eMetrics please come by and say hello.
Visitor scoring can be a highly valuable tool in gauging the success the digital channel, ongoing optimization, and the proficiency of a web team. Good scoring systems will enable your team to quantify a visitors interest in your product, how close they are to making a buying decision, and how close of a match they are to the ideal customer profile. As visitors perform actions on your site (i.e. use calculators), consume content (i.e. videos), and perform tasks the visitor starts to accumulate ‘points’ to contribute to an overall score of the visitor.
One of the hardest elements of a good scoring/grading system is determining which actions/content should contribute to (or reduce) a score. Let’s look at one data point – Pageviews. Is it safe to say that a visitor that looks at more pages than the average visitor is more likely to become a lead and then a customer and then a long term customer? For most companies, the answer is we don’t know. So what is the best way to figure out which data points are confidently influential to a score?
Your web analytics platform should be able to tell you which pages, phrases, actions have the highest conversion rates and the highest value. From these reports, every company can start to construct an initial scoring system. Overtime, your team can start to add or eliminate datapoints as well as revise the influence that specific content/actions have on a score. The following is a list of datapoints that are often used in scoring/grading systems.
- Specific Keyphrases: Visitor vocabulary determined from external search, internal search, knowledgebases, chat tools, and/or ticketing systems can often help determine the level of the prospect visiting the site (i.e. ‘can I qualify for a mortgage’ vs ‘how do I get the lowest mortgage rate’).
- Attributes from IP Address: There are several services on the web that can tell you company name, company revenues, company location, number of employees, and DnB score from an IP address.
- Tool Usage: Interested and determined prospects will often use tools on the sites such as ROI calculators, product wizards, and search filters.
- Multi-Channel Visitors: Visitors that engage your organization in multiple channels (i.e. email, social, mobile) are typically more serious about understanding your offering.
- Referrer Sources, Partner Sites: Often visitors that come from (or visit) a partner during a sales cycle convert at higher levels. Especially if the partner helps qualify the visitor.
- Frequency: Individuals and companies that are involved in a multi-visit sales cycle (i.e. B2B software) often increase their frequency of activities/visits when they are getting close to a buying decision. In cases where the product/service is a big ticket items the increase in frequency can come from multiple visitors.
- # of Visitors from an Organization: Medium to large size organizations often require multiple influencers before a decision is made. Seeing that multiple visitors from the same organization are visiting and consuming content about the same (or similar) products can be a good indicator of interest.
Some data points are also used to track which actions can negatively influence a score. For example, if a visitor spends more time on the careers section than on the product section or the visitor has not visited the sites in months, these types of activities might signify a poor prospect. Too much visitation may imply the visitor is incapable of making a decision. In some cases, the scoring can be conditional. For example, if a visitor to a mortgage refinance page has visited every week for several months, it is likely that the visitor will not convert until the mortgage rates decrease to a specific level. A good analyst can often find values in the data the strongly imply the visitor will never convert.
In any scoring system it is important that the data points be reviewed by the team on a periodic basis so that the accuracy of the scoring system can be improved. Overtime, the team will be able to determine which fields have no influence over accuracy and which fields have the most importance.
Image Credit: www.leadlife.com
Siloed data is becoming a thing of the past (That’s so 2010!). Organizations now analyze customer data from first impression to prospect to customer to long term relationship, in one set of reports.
In creating informed dashboards, organizations are often integrating web analytics with sales/support applications such as Oracle, Microsoft, Eloqua, Marketo, and RightNow. One of the most common integrations that we perform is integrating a web analytics platform with a CRM such as SalesForce for marketing, sales, and support data. The most common integrations are below:
- Form Data: This integration involves posting web form data to the CRM (and any other systems)
- Web Analytics Tracking on Marketing Sites: Ensuring that any customer/prospect activity on sites hosted within the CRM are tracked across the entire digital channel.
- Synching Prospect/Customer Visitation History to the Digital Channel with the CRM: This complex task involves identifying important visitor data that can improve marketing, sales, and support efforts and sharing the data with the CRM. For instance, if a prospect is viewing specific products repeatedly this is data the sales team can use to better serve prospects.
All of these points of integration are useful. The 3rd point of integration requires significantly more planning and participation than the first 2. The sales and web analyst teams need to work together to determine what types of data promote better service, better timing, and help build customer/prospect confidence. Web analytics data integrated with CRM data can help organizations better serve prospects/customers by reporting data that helps answer the following questions:
- What information do I know about the prospect before their first contact with marketing and sales?
- How interested is a prospect in a product or service? How loyal is the customer?
- How many stakeholders at the prospect/customer organization are reviewing our products and services?
- Is the customer interacting with the organization through multiple channels (i.e. social, email, web, mobile)?
- How does the customer prefer to interact with the marketing, sales, and support teams?
- How does the prospect describe their product/support needs? What is their vocabulary?
- What product elements are most critical to a prospect/customer?
- Where the prospect/customer is in the sales, onboarding, or growth cycle?
- What problems or support needs does a prospect/customer have that needs to be solved?
This level of integration gives teams context for interactions making each contact with prospects and customers more meaningful. Furthermore, the lifecycle data on customer behaviors from source to lead to customer to account growth enables the entire organization to better understand how to serve all customers.
Photo Credit: Mongoose Metrics
These days every site we work on needs to cater to audiences from mobile phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, and in many cases web TVs and gaming consoles. The resolutions vary significantly between devices and the content/functional needs vary as well. We are very excited about building sites that cater to all audiences across all digital channels and devices and lately we have been building more and more sites with Responsive Design. Responsive Design templates require a different mindset and require unique thinking from strategist, designers, and engineers. There are some cases when it makes sense to simply build 2 or 3 sets of templates to focus on the mobile/tablet and laptop/desktop audiences independently. Below is a partial list of pros and cons of Responsive Design templates to consider when building new site templates.
- The Mobile Site Is No Longer An Afterthought. Creating a site with Responsive Design force the entire team to constantly consider the specific needs of mobile and tablet audiences during site development. We don’t have to annoy mobile or tablet users (like me) with poor sites anymore.
- Remember The Saying, “Keep It Simple Stupid”. As folks are planning out Responsive Design templates, they often start with the larger resolutions (i.e. Desktops) and then shrink the layout to mobile resolutions. During this process they are eliminating content, design, and functionality that is unnecessary or undesirable. This practice is great! It forces the team to start considering what is really important on every page.
- Content (and Functionality) Is King! We’ve been saying it for years. But often content takes a backseat to design.
- It’s cool. This sounds like an impractical “Pro” but this is why most of us got into web development in the first place. We like building new and cool things.
- Easier Maintenance: With only one set of templates to work on, your maintenance becomes more focused.
- Better SEO: With one set of URLs to in your linking strategy (instead of one for mobile and one for other), you can make better strides into building effective backlinks.
- You’re Preparing For What Is Next! Let’s face it, we can’t predict what is coming next. Car dashboard displays, window browsers that actually appear on the windows in your home, a web browser that appears on the lenses of your glasses, or even web enabled TVs with 60 inch displays….. Implementing a Responsive Display layout gets your team thinking about all sorts of web users.
- Twice the Effort: It takes a lot of smart thinking from strategist, designers, engineers, and copy writers to make and well-designed adaptive set of templates. We find that it often takes over twice the effort to build Responsive Display templates as it does to build to sets of templates (for mobile and laptop).
- Design And Content Concessions Are A Must: The design team and content team may need to be a bit constrained with their creativity as Responsive Design brings in more limits.
- More Difficult Maintenance: Yes, I included this as a pro and a con. When performing maintenance, the team will be forced to think of scaling resolutions even when making the smallest (most common) updates to the site such as adding a new press release.
- Challenging SEO: Again, I’ve included this as a pro and a con. Currently mobile search engines give preference to mobile sites. Because Responsive Display templates are so unique, it is not clear if search engines like Google can decipher whether or not an adaptive template is relevant to mobile audiences.
- Slower Development: Responsive Design takes unique mind set and a more thoughtful approach to layouts. This typically adds time to wireframes, design, and implementation of templates.
- Link Sharing Is Less Predictable: The Responsive Display template not only adjusts layout for different displays but it also adjusts content, imagery, and functionality often eliminating elements for small browsers. This means that when you share a link with someone, they may be looking at a very different page than you intended for them to see depending on what device you are looking at the page with and what device they are using.
- Browser Compatibility: Good Responsive Design often utilizes new technologies such as CSS3/Media Queries and HTML5. Currently not all mobile browsers support these new technologies meaning that the team not only needs to consider different resolutions but also needs to consider older mobile/desktop browsers.
We are very excited about building adaptive templates that deliver the best experience to all types of audiences (even old BlackBerrys ) and we are even more excited about seeing the direction that Responsive Design templates start to take the web as new development and testing tools come to the market. If you have some new tools for building Responsive Designs or have seen some great sites that demonstrate Responsive Design, we’d love to see them.
Here are a few of my favorite sites with Responsive Design:
As we start projects and need to gather data to help inform strategy and design, we often need to add new custom tags to web applications that are already built. Because we don’t necessarily have direct access to the engineers that originally developed the applications we commonly run into hurdles caused by the fact that the original developers never thought about tagging the web applications. Below is a list of 11 simple steps/processes that application engineers can take to make tagging easy.
- Unique URLs: Much of web analytics tracking is based on page URLs. Make sure that dynamic pages, forms, and filters have unique URLs. When URLs follow standard SEO best practices, it is very helpful to analysts. For example, www.yoursite.com/productcategory/product is much better for tracking than www.yoursite.com/page?id=704077.
- URL Variables: When web applications use URL variables to communicate the state of the session (i.e. search queries, filters, customizations) this is great for analysts. Consider the following URL, www.hotelsite.com/denver/findaroom.aspx?startdate=7/14/12&enddate=7/17/12&pref=nonsmoking. From this one URL, the analyst can see the intent of the visitor (finding a room), the location, the duration of the trip, how far out the trip is being planned, and the smoking preferences of the visitor.
- Tag Container: Once applications are implemented, it can be tricky giving analysts access to the necessary files for updating page tags. Setting up a tag container will decrease the amount of time and resource needs to add/optimize site tracking.
- Styles / Classes: Much of the custom tracking in analytics today can utilize classes and style elements to manage tags from the tag container. Ensuring that all of the major elements (links, headers, form elements, menus, etc) have unique classes will help the analysts track visitor behaviors without requiring application engineers to update the code on the site.
- Define Custom Tracking Early: Before implementation begins, the analysts should document all default and custom tracking. This documentation should be reviewed with the engineering team. This important step accomplishes some basic successes:
- Source to Sale to Support tracking can be accomplished as the engineers understand what back-end data needs to be tracked in the web analytics (i.e. SKUs, customer IDs)
- Tagging Tactics are learned by the engineers. Sometimes it is hard to understand that web applications developed with server-side scripting are very different than web analytics functions created with client-side technologies. It’s great for the application engineers to get an early understanding of how tagging is implemented.
- Integration of Data Sources: Before site development begins, the analysts and the engineers should identify all disparate systems that need to contribute data for effective tracking. For ecommerce sites this would include inventory systems, financial systems, CRM, and possible customer satisfaction surveys. Support sites, promotional sites, investor sites, career sites, etc all require data from external sources.
- Video: More and more video content is appearing on all types of sites and site developers often forget to tag/track this highly interactive content type.
- Content Management System: When possible the engineers should implement auto-tagging through the content management system so that content developers do not be mindful of tracking. Good CMS development can auto tag event tracking such as button clicks, video plays, scrolling, and drop down menu usage.
- Errors: A commonly overlooked aspect of analytics is tracking any errors that visitors encounter. Engineers should be sure to use analytics tags to track all errors including zero search results, application errors, authentication time outs, form errors (i.e. required fields) and broken URLs.
- Assume Post-Production Updates: Testing helps minimize production errors in tagging. But production data and usage always uncovers bugs in custom tracking code. The majority of the time, these bugs are unnoticeable (even undetectable) by visitors/users and quality assurance team members. The team should assume that the analysts will need access to the tags post launch to make fixes once live data is brought into the system.
This is definitely not a complete list. But following these simple steps will significantly improve the teams ability to understand how visitors interact with a site/application and will decrease the amount of time needed to gather the right data post launch.