Contact: Trevor Klein, Senior Vice-President of Business Development
Location: San Diego
Industry: Retail, B2C
Annual revenue: Confidential
Number of employees: 110
AutoAnything.com sells custom-made automotive accessories and performance parts ranging from floor mats to car covers. When the site began in 1999, the company designed its homepage and its promotions based on "gut feel." There was no customer personalization or other bells and whistles.
But in recent years, as the e-commerce environment became more competitive, the family-owned business realized that its site needed to become more strategic. At the end of 2006, the company turned to Omniture, a Web analytics firm, and its Test&Target product.
After a few months of using Test&Target to simultaneously test different versions of landing pages, AutoAnything.com increased landing-page sales conversions by up to 12%.
For years, AutoAnything.com offered discounts at the beginning of the month because it was thought that online consumers made the most purchases at that time. But SVP of business development Trevor Klein and his marketing team weren't sure whether such discounts were very effective.
Moreover, customers were demanding a better user experience all the time as online shopping matured.
"We found ourselves giving away promotional dollars, but we didn't know what the optimal promotion was for that customer. And did we need to offer free shipping?" he recalled.
Klein wanted the ability to test different promotions, such as dollar amounts vs. a certain percentage off.
"We knew what promotions worked, in terms of margin dollars, but what promotions would maximize margin dollars?"
Klein hired Web-testing company Omniture Test & Target in December 2006 to deliver a more relevant experience for his site visitors.
A campaign was set up on the accessories page based on category affinity—the idea that if users have an interest for certain products, they should be served similar products in future visitor sessions. The intent is to deliver personalized experiences based on user behavior and provide an overall more engaging visit.
The marketing team determined that it wanted to personalize the accessory parts section of the site, based on the three category pages that existed—auto, truck, or SUV—with visitors self-identifying via the interest they express in a certain part. "We already understand that a great deal of our traffic consists of returning visitors who are interested in a specific category simply because of the car they own," said Klein.
Using those three categories, Klein used Omniture's testing solutions to deliver various product pages targeted to the segments as well as a default, control version that did not deliver personalized content. He tested numerous pages with different promotions, from a percentage off the price to $20 off to free shipping.
"Every test was and is surprising," Klein said. "I like to consider myself an e-commerce veteran, but most times we run a test I can't predict the winner."
Klein learned that subtle differences in site design, content, and navigation could affect customer behavior. "Certain creatives have a higher click-through through rate but don't result in a purchase at the end of the day," he pointed out. The best results in terms of increasing sales came after the site targeted specific vehicle accessores to their owners, such as SUV accesories for SUV owners.
After running the tests, Authoanything.com found there was up to a 12% increase in sales conversion vs. the control page when users are delivered personalized content.
The discovery changed the site. Different types of visitors are now served targeted offers based on site activity, and behavioral targeting is vital now to the company's plans for continued sales growth, said Klein. "There's no reason to serve up static pages."
The company continues to test new ideas they have for promotions before implementation, reducing valuable time spent studying the idea. "We used to get into heated debates about what a page should look like, and now I find myself saying, Let's test it," he said.
- Make sure your success metrics are clearly defined. Employees may bring in personal biases when evaluating a test. "It is very important that you are evaluating quantitative measurements at the end of the day, and you have all the key business holders involved," said Klein.
- Keep an open mind and create an environment of involvement. Some of the best ideas for online promotions—successfully tested with Omniture—came from unexpected people in the company, Klein said. "Try to create as culture whereby you are soliciting feedback from various people in the organization," he advised.