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Understanding Where People Are and Where They Are Going…

  |  May 13, 2013   |  Comments

If you haven't looked at how people in different geographies are accessing your content and tried to find ways to better communicate with them, you have an untapped opportunity waiting for you.

As I write this I am on a flight with my wife to Central America for a quick anniversary getaway and then I am off to Miami for Compete's Digital CMO event. As I look around the plane there seem to be a few different types of people:

  • Business travelers - these are the pros, usually traveling by themselves, working on laptops, etc. I usually fall into this group.
  • Vacation travelers - can't miss this group: shorts, flip-flops, smiles, and often plenty of drinks.
  • Others - tough to know where this group is going; could be returning from a trip, could be by themselves, or in a small group.

These people are thinking about different things and focusing on different things as they prep to board the plane and while on the plane. But more important is how these people were feeling when they were preparing for their travels. They surely were in different mindsets, with different priorities and needs depending on which of the groups they fall into.

In fact, with a recent client we found some really surprising results and preferences when booking travel. We recently completed a round of testing (A/B and multivariate) for a "travel-related" website that allows people to book travel. We were looking to increase the conversion of identifying travel and then booking the travel that was found, as well as increasing the average booking value. We hypothesized about what could drive conversion as well as increasing the booking value (I apologize about needing to be somewhat vague, but I need to for client confidentiality reasons).

We started testing a few different areas throughout the research and purchase process around calls-to-action, wording, imagery, and layout. We chose not to test pricing differences in this round. This was not a single test but a series of tests. At first blush we were getting pretty mixed results on our different tests, most not making much of a difference on a macro level.

But then we dug a bit deeper into the data. We looked at weekday results, vs. weekend results (which often can show considerable differences). In addition, we analyzed dayparts, but didn't find anything significant with either of those.

Deeper again, we looked to understand why things weren't moving. We decided to look at where people were searching from. Meaning what city or state were they in when they were looking to book travel. Eureka - we found some amazing things. Many of the tests (not all) were showing considerable differences depending on where people were searching from. Between LA and New York you might think there could be a difference (and there was). But we also found significant differences between people accessing the site from cities as few as 300 miles apart. What was happening is that some versions were working really well in one geography and the same one poorly in other geographies. This caused the test to look like a wash in terms of results when there were some real winners hidden in there.

But we still weren't satisfied; we also looked at a few other things:

  1. What destinations people are searching for. Are they primarily business-oriented destinations or more leisure destinations?
  2. Are people searching from urban locations or more rural areas?
  3. Have they booked on the site before? First time? Or power users?

Now you can see that there are all of a sudden a ton of different combinations. Did all of them matter? No. But some of the combinations made a material impact. The impact of these changes equate to over $2 million per month in increased revenue (with a higher than normal profit margin when compared to their typical revenue).

Most of this lift has to do with tuning to geographical "tips" or hints that visitors carry with them. But our work isn't done. We are continuing to test, tune, and leverage behavioral targeting techniques to figure out ways in which we can help our client improve even more. All while also focusing on any long-term impact and softer things like satisfaction scores (which have increased slightly).

The impact of local and mobile can mean many different things to marketers. It doesn't need to be complex and you will often be surprised by what you find in terms of differences. If you haven't looked at how people in different geographies are accessing your content and tried to find ways to better communicate with them, you have an untapped opportunity waiting for you.

Give it a shot. Got to run, the flight attendant just dropped off a vacation drink, which I am going to enjoy while watching the business travelers prep for their meetings!

Image on home page via Shutterstock.

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Jason Burby

As president of the Americas regions for the digital agency POSSIBLE, Jason is responsible for leading the long-term stability and growth of the region. Jason has 20-plus years experience in digital strategy. He is a long-time advocate of using data to inform digital strategies to help clients attract, convert, and retain customers. Jason supports our clients and employees in driving new engagements and delivering great work that works.

Jason speaks frequently about helping marketers take advantage of data to make smarter business decisions and improve the success of their organizations. He is the co-author of Actionable Web Analytics: Using Data to Make Smart Business Decisions.

Follow him on Twitter @JasonBurby.

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