Cara Harshman at Mozcon 2015.

Mozcon 2015: Cara Harshman

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DISCLAIMER: This post is written as a live blog from Mozcon. There may be typos and grammar to make my high school English teachers weep. Please excuse those … it’s a fast-paced conference with back-to-back sessions and no time for proofing or even proper writing.

Next up we have Cara Harshman from Optimizely chatting about one of my favorite subjects, Personalization and literally wrote the book about A/B testing.

Cara Harshman at Mozcon 2015.

To begin with – personalization is the idea of personalizing ads or content for an individual. You probably know that but worth making sure.

A great example is CB2. They target emails based on what they’ve seen people browsing and the number of times. Worked on Cara. Nice acrylic table Cara (attendees with know what I’m talking about). 😉

So now … how to think about it:

  1. Who are you targeting? How do you slice and dice your visitors?
  2. What do you show them?
  3. How do you prioritize?

There are three main ways to target:

  1. Context – what is their status? Logged in? What device? Keyword?
  2. Demographic – where are they from or who are they?
  3. Behavior – what have they done?

Personalizing the landing page based on the keyword increased conversions 32%. A massive savings as Quality Score goes up.

AdRoll offers re-targeting services and has a subtle difference based on context. A small block shows a phone number pre-sale and a link to support for post-sale. A great time saver.

The Climb is a great example of behavioral targeting. They found the leading indicator of a purchase is a previous sale. For this reason they’ve created a different experience for their past purchasers and showed Oakley products given that higher margins. This lead to a 10% increase in their top profit items.

Next we’re looking at what to show your audience …

You will never hit 100% of your audience and A/B testing should be a serious part of it. For example, a tour for a new visitor vs. an email signup for a returning visitor. You could also offer a discount if people return after 90 days.

A big rule of thumb though is … don’t be creepy. Be mindful of how people will feel when they’re being advertised to.

Perhaps the big question is, how do you prioritize?

  1. Potential business impact
  2. The technical effort to execute
  3. The requirements to sustain it

Essentially – how hard is is to do and what can you get if it’s successful?

When you’re thinking about it and just starting out …

  • Take big bites for big impact. New vs returning. Mobile vs desktop. Geographic. Etc.
  • Be realistic about the technical effort.
  • Don’t slice your audiences too thin. Too many segments is too difficult to manage and reduce ROI. Focus where it matters.
  • Give your audience the chance to surprise you. If you focus them too much then they won’t have a chance to show you what else they’re interested in.


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