September 08, 2009

OMS: Optimizing Landing Pages

In old-school catalog marketing, it was hard to isolate the impact of any spread in a catalog. But in e-commerce, we have better metrics, metrics that help us understand the best ways to merchandise our website. We're grateful that we have talented web analytics experts and great software to guide us through the decision-making process.

Now we have the Online Marketing Simulation, the "OMS". And for many of us, we finally have a tool to understand the long-term impact of a shift in merchandising strategy.

In one dataset, I looked at thirteen merchandise divisions. Two of the merchandise divisions underwent significant online changes, one was featured prominently due to conversion rate improvements, one was de-emphasized because conversion was poor.

Given the results, I can simulate the five-year impact of this short-term decision.

In terms of annual sales, there was no difference between the old strategy and the newly optimized strategy, over a five year period of time. In essence, we emphasize one division, shifting business to that division. But long-term, customer spending habits are unchanged.

What did change was the distribution of sales by merchandise division, over time. After five years, here's how merchandise sales were altered:
  • Merchandise Division #1 = +4.2% (this division was emphasized due to optimization results).
  • Merchandise Division #2 = +2.4%.
  • Merchandise Division #3 = +0.9%.
  • Merchandise Division #4 = -2.6%.
  • Merchandise Division #5 = -6.0% (this division was de-emphasized due to optimization results).
  • Merchandise Division #6 = +1.2%.
  • Merchandise Division #7 = -0.3%.
  • Merchandise Division #8 = -1.5%.
  • Merchandise Division #9 = -2.4%.
  • Merchandise Division #10 = -1.8%.
  • Merchandise Division #11 = -3.1%.
  • Merchandise Division #12 = -2.1%.
  • Merchandise Division #13 = -2.7%.

By making simple changes to the merchandising of your landing pages, you unwittingly impact the long-term sales trajectory of many of your merchandising divisions. You subtly shift customer behavior.

The Web Analytics practitioner and Online Marketing expert can both benefit from the OMS environment. Imagine being able to sit with your Executive leadership team, helping them understand how decisions being made today impact the future of your business? We move beyond simple conversions and KPIs, instead gaining insight into what our business looks like in the future. Who wouldn't want to know what the future of our business looks like? Who wouldn't want to know how his/her own personal actions are influencing the future trajectory of the business?

And if you don't think this information would help your organization, why not use the comments section to describe the reasons why? There's nothing wrong with a dissenting point of view, it may make for a good discussion!