Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Web session recording comes of age

I think I first looked at website session recording or session capture as it's also known  back in 2007 when a company called Speed Trap were in the business of web analytics. It was really a side offering to their main suite of analysis tools that didn't look dissimilar to Google Anayltics does today. Back then it didn't work. It created movie files of a very narrow subset of user sessions that you could, in theory replay at your leisure to highlight user struggle and experience. Looking back it was too far ahead of it's time. Some 8 years later, and having seen a few session recording tool contenders* I've just witnessed what we'd always looked for in such a tool. Visual Website Optimizer (VWO) from Wingify now offers a Session Recorder as part of it's already very agile testing toolkit.

*For balance let me just list the other tools I have used for session recording ;  Tealeaf, Click tale and SessionCam.

With VWO, basically you tell it what page to watch and within minutes (not hours and days) you have a selection of user sessions to replay based on multiple devices and platforms. I was immediately hooked. No jerkiness, no blank screens, no style sheet dropping just a slick, smooth replay of the users every mouse move and click. I've already waxed lyrical about VWOs heat map tool, which integrates nicely with this tool. It's fairly addictive and I found myself replaying 24 sessions in one sitting!!

The payoff?

Having watched those sessions on a checkout page it became obvious we immediately had an issue. Every single visitor without exception was missing a credit card type field and missing the validation messages associated with this. So I fired up VWOs AB testing tool and created an alternative version of the checkout page with this card field in a more obvious place. Immediately we achieved a xx% improvement in sales performance.

Below are screenshots of the session replay in action. The red lines are the mouse moves. The blue bubbles are the left clicks.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Heat maps with Visual Website Optimizer

I love heat maps I really do! These are tools that map where people click and sometimes scroll on a web page, traditionally reflecting a higher heat intensity by colour etc. Trouble is, in the past the tools I've had access to have fallen short of user expectation. Either they simply haven't worked on our content or have been hugely misleading in terms of what they have captured and finally the time lag in gathering data and reporting back.

But no more. When we procured Visual Website Optimizer (VWO) from Wingify as a testing platform back in March of this year, not only did we get a very competent testing platform  it also had a whole set of very useful kit including heatmaps.

So running a split test or MVT test will tell you which experience is best for achieving your online goals but it might not tell you exactly how people are interacting with your test experience. Below is an example of a recent test I've been running on our basket checkout. This personalization test added promo code copy, wrapped around the promo code field entry for people looking for specific holiday dates. As you can see the promo code box and call to action is heavily used at this point in the journey but it also shows people scanning and interacting with the appropriate copy. Conversely heatmaps can obviously show you when people are not interacting with your beloved copy.

Using heat maps in conjunction with testing and conventional analytics really gives you a three dimensional view of exactly what behavior you may or may not be driving.


Heatmap showing fertile and fallow areas of our product pages. People tend to click on only one image within an image set. In this case the 360 degree call to action is an outright winner. 

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Digital Content Summit 2015 - British Museum

Just back from the Digital Content Summit at the British Museum. I took a load of notes so you dont have to. Here's my key takeaways (please forgive typos it's straight out my phone memo).

Day one....

Reach - - John o'Donovan (iPlayer creator).

"Dont do anything unless you can measure it." (could not agree more)

More consumption of content on apps.
No desktop activity at weekends at all for the FT.
We're not building websites anymore, you are syndicating content to apps, Facebook and countless other platforms.

Apple watch has no browser (10m advance orders). What's your strategy now? You need to build an API - describe your content & distribute to wider audience. Api = should be your weapon of choice.
Move from volume KPIs to engagement & experience. Not mobile first - api first.
Half of ads aren't seen by humans.
Don't invest in features invest in the platforms but not too much. Strike a balance.

Recency - frequency - volume are key.
How to create gripping digital content - learn from broadcasters. Red Bee media.

Have a clear editorial positioning.
- an attitude
Waitrose - "keeping you curious about food". This was a sea change.
Be topically relevant and timely.
Tell a tale. Have a story. JAWS and grand designs are perfect campaign examples...following the following format.
Catalyst - conflict - conclusion

Arrest peoples interest in 3 secs or you've lost the opportunity. Try creating anu unexpected image and / or situation.

Brandanista - Alona

You need content no one else has.
Your tone of voice should be based on the coolest person you know.
Branding - look and feel is documented in a styleguide. Always.
What are you credible for?
Editorial - choosing creators and editors.
These should be influencers, photographers, locals and employees.
Panel debate : niche versus diverse?

Contributors : Time Out, Elle, Autotrader, Cosmo

Data informed. Measure engagement. Dwell time. Experiment with content.

Currently niche is king - seen as authentic.

Met office - create a knowledge center.
Simon Swan.

Create your own market and stop contesting hostile ones.
Identify a USP - points of differentiation.

Mosiac profiling from Hitwise. This helps find your USP.

Strategy - editorial calendar widely shared across the whole organisation.

Google Analytics - find gap opportunities in keywords. If your not active on some keyword area try being there.

Social - help don't hype.

Create evergreen content hooked into seasonality and cyclical events etc, update and re-use.

Panel discussion: how to increase views of your content and build community.
Reach out to key influencers, these are (sigh) bloggers, celebs and commentators.

Monitor social sentiment. Listen.
Facebook is now short-form content now. Twitter hyper-short.

X-platform content strategy
David Jenkinson

C21 media
Video is king and people and companies are desperately trying to win back control of it.

Note to self. Tascam audio combined with static image combo is a cost-effective alternative to rich video.
Day two

Panel: should brands and publishers be partners or competitors?
Msm, Mofilm, news international, Sothebys reality.

Content is either bought-borrowed-built.
Needs to be in context fundamentally.

Traditional media can be cut out of the brand space through viral - gorilla brand activity.

Apps have a lot higher dwell time than web (really?). Try it.

The current Msm 'dontcha'  tv campaign is pure cut through and reach orientated, there was no intention of getting direct revenue returns but the cut through means msm is worth a fortune.

You've got to be provocative or evocative.

The Jon Claude van Dam Volvo truck ad cut through audiences and Warbutons basically stole it with that Stallone but not as good. Don't steal, you'll fail.

These are all opportunities to tell the company story.

Unilever - their green publicity campaign - but who cares? How is this content going to reach peoples lives anyway. If you want to change the brand perception walk the walk and be what you aspire to be and the public perception will change over time. True. True. True.


Keynote: Quantcast, Amit. Advertising.

It took 500 years to create 8 advertising channels. That has accelerated massively to many many platforms today. No one had kept pace. No one.

Search was the perfect channel as users show intent = advertising utopia. But tech is changing all the time creating new problems.

Broadcast - reach - display ads now getting more targeted based upon intent through behavior. But...

Most data is not used but you can use it with insight. Finding signal amongst all that noise.

Re-targeting - prospecting.

Reach rate + visit rate = conversion rate.

Customers who saw display ad were 60% more likely to convert versus someone who just did an organic search at 50% conversion.


Panel: peer to peer, threat or opportunity?

Contributors: Just eat, Fruugo, Currency fair, We are social.

Are you disrupters? Msm didnt push anyone out of the market. Just drove up costs ridiculously!

Just eat. Peer to peer businesses fail due to lack of suppliers.

Does it pass the mum test? Would your mum use it? For example AirBandB and WhipCar.
Charlie Cottrell (we are social) : Resistance to peer to peer is it trust? As long as opportunity and need exist the business should succeed. 


Panel: putting a price on trust - personalisation vs privacy.

Contributors: Guardian, My health pal, Action for children.

People want access, transparency and control of their data.
Need a culture change in companies so that you CAN use customer data to improve their experience.

We need a new moral code of conduct in terms of data usage. 

...and that's as far as I took it. Happy testing

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

New company, new job, new kit

I haven't posted for a while and the reason is I've moved jobs in the last few months, moving from finance and banking to the wonderful world or travel and tourism. I am still in the website optimization game but now I get to play with a whole new set of challenges, tests and testing kit.

So, to kick off I've recently procured Visual Website Optimizer for the new company as it's testing platform of choice. I've already got a couple of optimization exercises set-up and I'm already very impressed with this nifty offering.

I'm not going to do a direct comparison between other kit and testing services I've used before. A full listing of testing tools sorted by popularity is available here.

What's impressive about VWO:

  • It's affordable, the Enterprise solution doesn't run into 4 or 5 figures per month like some solutions out there. You're not tied into a contract and can flex your usage  upwards & downwards. Flexibility is the key word here.
  • At enterprise level you get a plethora of optimisation toolkit to play with; AB testing, Split testing, MVT testing, Heat maps, Click maps, Personalization, Website Reviews, Onsite feedback, AB testing of native iOS apps and more. This is not a stingy offering :)

  • Test progress reporting is simple, straight-forward and intuitive. I'd forgotten what it was like to get excited about running a test and wanting to constantly check progress. The summary report acts as a heartbeat for any test you have out there allowing you to dig down for more detail if you need it with the Detailed Reports interface but not overwhelming you with countless filters and segments that end up raising more questions than answers.

I still need to really get under the skin of this tool but so far the price, functionality and customer service has really impressed. I will do a follow-up on this post looking at the personalisation offering in VWO as that looks pretty interesting. Happy testing.