People often express their generosity of spirit through gift giving. However, searching for that perfect gift can present challenges, especially if the intended recipient has a niche interest with which the gift giver is not overly familiar. For example, a numismatist might search for numismatic supplies, which at the time I searched, returned 338,000 results. However, because the gift giver might also search for coin collecting supplies, which at the time I performed, the search interestingly returned 520,000 results. Also of note is the fact that the top three paid ads on the first SERP of the two test searches were distinctly different from each other, and the organic search results returned only one supplier in common appearing on the first SERP of each test search.
This presents a clear example of the need for SEO to be closely aligned with other teams within an organization, particularly the multi-channel marketing teams. Understanding what search terms to use when planning to buy a gift can be different from searching for an item for oneself, and understanding the search terms used by consumers is critical for any enterprise. Gift giving is big business, with $704 billion being spent on gifts during the 2014 Christmas holiday season in the U.S., $20.7 billion being spent on the recent Mothers’ Day, $13.19 billion spent for Valentines’ Day 2015, and, of course, there are a host of other gift-giving occasions, including graduations, weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, and retirements, to name a few.
Today, marketers have more tools available than ever before, but choices can be confusing and new technology involves a learning curve. In a survey entitled “Digital Roadblock: Marketers Struggle to Reinvent Themselves,” Adobe reported that while 76% of respondents agree they need to be more data-focused to succeed, 49% of marketers reported “trusting my gut” to guide decisions on where to invest their marketing budgets.
I found this particularly interesting, having explored the tension between intuitive thinking and analytical thinking in a post entitled “Deep Thoughts on How to be a Better Business Person.” It may be that you, in fact, have had a flash of genius, but how do you prove this to yourself, to others on your team, not to mention to your boss? To answer this question, Thomas Alva Edison’s quote is helpful: “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” In other words, you don’t necessarily need to ignore your gut, but a reality check through data gathering, rigorous analysis testing, and refinement is in order. Let’s take a look at a company that did just that and within a decade went from being an unknown start-up to partnering with the major mobile phone operator in Japan.
Case Study: Magaseek Corporation
Magaseek Corporation, located in Tokyo, Japan, was founded in 2003 based upon the innovative concept of offering via e-commerce clothing styles produced by highly desirable brands featured in fashion magazines. Running counter to concerns that people would hesitate to buy clothing that they could not try on, Magaseek’s success spawned its outlet fashion site OUTLET PEAK. Moreover, it drew the attention of telecommunications giant NTT DoCoMo, with which it partnered to operate from mobile devices.
To remain competitive in the fashion world, staying up to date is imperative with the constant changes needed by e-commerce sites. However, Yuka Harada, director of strategy at Magaseek noted “…there is a fine line between changes for the better and changes for the worse.” Additionally, Magaseek couldn’t be sure its search functions were operating effectively. Whether a fashionable find or a serviceable sweater, intended for the end user or as a gift, Mariko Azuma, direction team leader for User Experience, observed that “We would suggest moving buttons or changing colors, but we didn’t actually know whether the new design was easier to use. There was a risk that the change would be for the worse, and we’d just continue using it.”
This is a good time to pause and consider the concern over risk expressed by Azuma, which is an entirely valid concern. In the survey referenced above, Adobe reported that 54% of the respondents stated that the ideal marketer should take more risks. However, we know that there can be a wide chasm between a foolish risk and a well-considered risk that has been evaluated many variables and uncertainties. To understand if a risk was worth taking, Magaseek turned to Adobe Analytics and Adobe Target in order to gather data, tes,t and measure the effects of changes, then refine and optimize based upon the data.
Here Are the Impressive Results Summarized:
After one test showed that a new design actually reduced sales (oops, sometimes intuition is wrong!), sales were improved by more than ¥40 million annually by learning from this test, optimizing to encourage browsing, which led to the improved sales figure.
Real-Time Campaigns and reports yielded valuable insights into time-sensitive visitor actions. For example, Magaseek was just about to launch its springtime campaign when a snowstorm hit. Real-time reports showed that customers preferred to buy warm coats on cold days, providing the confidence to align strategies with reported visitor preferences.
Customer Segmentation: Magaseek learned that its outlet site had a different audience with different preferences from its main fashion site, which allowed Magaseek to change its strategy to improve both user experience and sales.
Improved Relationships with brands: Suggestions with regard to site design and product displays were frequently offered, but with no clear indication that the suggestions would yield positive results. Through targeted testing, Magaseek generated the data to support its strategies, leading to better understanding and improved relationships.
Here is a result that is particularly close to my heart (because I highly value and benefit from)Enhanced Internal Collaboration. No single person can be an expert in every field, and even those who are multi-talented are nonetheless limited by time (and the need to sleep). To improve communication among departments, Magaseek began to hold regular meetings for the User Interface Workshop, in which interested participants from any department were invited to attend and offer suggestions for solutions. Discussion of technical aspects that undergird site optimization was especially helpful to those holding non-technical positions, leading to more interactive and insightful discussions.
Magaseek is a true data-driven success story. The risks taken were informed risks and not just spontaneous change without knowing the possible outcomes. They proved the SEO best practice of test and iterate until success is achieved is an excellent risk mitigation strategy. In doing that, it was also proven that organizational collaboration is a must and an emerging SEO best practice that all brands need to undertake in their digital transformation.
In early 2013, with approximately 100 employees, its success was so evident, DOCOMO, INC., purchased 71.28% of total issued shares of Magaseek for 2.04 billion yen (about 22 million U.S. dollars). If you own a small business, $22 million could be a gift you give yourself!
If you know a great data success story, let me know.