We decorated the office with spooky skeletons and hosted our annual Halloween party.
Mask, costume, couples and party were among some of the most popular Halloween searches on mobile devices this year.
Lindsay Kenders, on 10/29/15 2:59 PM
In one week, the App Store will introduce its 25th category: Shopping. The timing of the addition is perfect for e-retailers hoping to drive mobile app engagement and revenue this holiday season.
Currently, all retail apps are housed in the Lifestyle category with at least 14 other types of apps, including parenting, travel, entertainment, and journaling. The Shopping category will be added for iPhone and iPad and will include apps for e-commerce, coupons, deals, product reviews, and price comparisons.
“This will make shopping apps more discoverable and drive more downloads than ever before, especially around the holidays,” Branding Brand Senior Development Manager Chris Brack said. “We’ll also have Top Charts support for shopping, which is huge for online retailers. These changes in conjunction with the Spotlight updates will make it even more important to have an app available in the store.”
In addition to Top Charts, it’s likely that Apple will highlight apps that accept Apple Pay and integrate with Apple Wallet and Apple Watch. Apple is managing the recategorization of pre-selected apps without any additional work from developers.
Now that apps will be listed under the Shopping category, developers and brands won’t need to list “shopping” as a keyword, allowing apps to be more descriptive and discoverable in the App Store.
Over half of holiday shoppers expect to use a smartphone to complete some of their shopping this year, according to a recent survey from Google. After the Shopping category arrives in the App Store on November 5, it’s possible that we’ll see an even bigger increase in shopping app sessions than 2014’s year-over-year increase of 174%.
A/B testing helps you gain insight on your customers and what they want from your online experience. Not all tests will be winners and they may not have as big of an impact as you hoped. In fact, not all of your winning features may win when they’re put all together, but A/B testing is critical if you want to maximize the potential of the experience your site or app delivers to customers and its return back to you.
When you start to test, don’t forget these 15 tips from our user experience experts:
Remember: Something that performs well on one site may not yield the same result for you. Take a look at A/B tests that our clients have tried to get ideas on where to start.
Lauren Maruschak, on 10/27/15 4:30 PM
Cross-channel e-commerce shoppers have distinct traffic patterns and behaviors throughout the week and at different times of the day. More people shop on non-mobile devices on weekdays, particularly on Mondays. Tablets appear to be strictly "leisure" devices and experience high use on weekday nights and weekends. Although smartphone use is steadier throughout the week than both tablets and desktops, users are still more likely to visit on weekday evenings and weekends.
Overall, Mondays are the most popular weekday and Sundays are the most popular weekend day to shop; however, on any given day of the week, we see strikingly different traffic trends across each device:
Lindsay Kenders, on 10/26/15 2:00 PM
We performed an A/B test on a sports merchandise retailer's cart page:
Can you guess which test encouraged users to continue to checkout?
Select a test to reveal the winner:
We found a home for our basketball hoop indoors, hosted a webinar with Forrester, and reminisced about Halloween 2014 with a throwback.
As new features and functionality are available, the best websites and apps will continue to get smarter, and the cutting-edge teams behind them will evolve with technology. Although there's no guide that explains exactly how you should design your site or app, the most successful solutions have one thing in common: A/B testing.
Why you need to test
We’ve already witnessed the change in customer interaction. Just a few years ago, people were getting comfortable shopping on a mobile device. It was a much simpler time because no one was expecting much from a mobile site. As long as you had a site that was readable and decent-looking on a mobile device, you were ahead of the curve.
With larger screens and advanced innovation, optimization is required. A/B testing compares variations of your site or app and measures their effects in a controlled environment in order to discover the most successful version of your digital solution. Because the experiments run at the same time, other factors are eliminated, such as seasonality and marketing efforts.
How to measure success
Goals can vary depending on the purpose of the site or app you have. For a commerce site or app, the overarching goal is typically to increase revenue, but for a non-commerce solution, like a loyalty app, the goal is much different—increase email sign-ups, loyalty members, or interactions with your brand.
Before A/B testing, you should determine:
What you need to test
Deciding what to test can be as simple as taking a look at the sites and apps that you enjoy using and asking yourself why you enjoy using those in particular.
Many Branding Brand clients focus on the product page, homepage, and cart. If you’re not sure where to start, our experts recommend starting to test on the product page with one of the following tests to get you started:
Learn how we helped one client optimize their responsive site with A/B testing.
Nearly half of holiday browsing and buying is expected to occur online this year. While you're finalizing your plans for Holiday 2015, consider these five tips to get your team ready for the biggest shopping season yet.
Communication is key if you want to have a successful holiday. There are four basic points you'll want to discuss:
Whether you design, develop, and host your sites or apps or someone else does it for you, get your in-house and third-party support team on the same page.
Ensure that your servers are able to accommodate heavy traffic, particularly around the times that you send email marketing or push notifications.
If you work with a third-party for any of your digital solutions, they may already have load tests in place.
Consider placing one or two test orders per day. You may want to assemble a team to perform this duty manually or set up automatic testing.
Using your projections for Holiday 2015, try testing your sites and apps during the peak days and hours.
Daily checkouts are helpful, but no one wants to sit around testing their site or app all day. Use tools to monitor the uptime and availability of your sites and apps, and set up notifications for any service disruptions. If you're implementing automated testing, make sure you have notifications in place if a test fails.
Ensure that alerts are sent to the appropriate people on your support team.
Talk to your support staff. Make sure they know what the plan if a server goes down, if a major bug occurs and doesn't allow customers to check out, etc. If an issue occurs that prevents sales, make sure your error pages help direct customers elsewhere to make a purchase via phone or store locator.
The only thing worse than having an emergency is not having a contingency plan.
Looking for other ways to make this holiday shopping season successful?
Branding Brand, on 10/21/15 11:44 AM
This webinar won't be recorded, so don't miss it!
We're sorry you missed our webinar. Contact us to learn more about it!
Lauren Maruschak, on 10/20/15 8:16 AM
Ad blocking apps have gained popularity, in part, because of the public’s increasing concerns about internet privacy. These apps tout the option to peruse the mobile web while remaining anonymous, but since the blockers are often powered by loosely-defined and generic logic, the services that are actually blocked vary between apps.
Below, you'll find our exclusive list of what is affected when you use any of the four most popular ad blockers: Crystal, Purify, Blockr, and 1Blocker.
*Purify, Blockr, and 1Blocker have user-selected preferences. These apps were tested with ads and tracking disabled.
This article is intended to illustrate the far-reaching effects of ad blockers. Sites were are tested on October 11, 2015. Block lists will likely be updated in the future.
Lauren Maruschak, on 10/19/15 4:13 PM
The hottest topic in e-business right now is third-party ad blockers on iOS devices, introduced with the release of iOS 9. The primary criticism of blockers is coming from publishers, who rely heavily on ad revenue. For online retailers, the problem runs much deeper because analytics on visitors using ad blockers are not recorded and shopping experiences can be ruined by broken site components.
The top ad blockers are blindly generic about what they block, which has unintended consequences for retailers. Cross-domain AJAX requests are blocked and important site components that rely on these requests don’t work: store locators, live chat, cross-selling, personalization, and even secured checkouts. Customers are easily frustrated when they visit websites with missing content and assume the site is simply broken. It's not always clear to the end user that their poor experience is due to running an ad blocker, which ironically are installed to improve performance.
Additionally, these loosely-defined rule sets block many analytics and business insights tools. When shoppers run ad blockers, data isn't collected on their individual behaviors or orders. To quantify the difference in recorded iOS 9 visits, we tested a sample of 10 clients who have our internal analytics platform, which is not affected by ad blockers, and Google Analytics installed.
We recapped our Q3 2015 Mobile Commerce Trends report and attended the Mobile Shopping Summit, where Branding Brand CIO and co-founder Joey Rahimi spoke about the importance of analytics, optimization, and innovation.
In addition to blocking advertising, ad blockers are gaining popularity with mobile users because they reduce data usage. According to Pew Research Center, 37% of smartphone owners say they occasionally use the maximum amount of data allowed by their plan; 15% say they do this frequently. This isn't surprising since most "cheap" data plans start around 1GB/month—the smallest data plan we found (AT&T) only allowed for 300Mb/month.
To find out just how much data is saved by using ad blockers, we tested two of the most popular (Crystal and Purify), crawling through major retail sites and measuring page sizes for the minimum conversion path for each site, including:
What are the data savings with ad blockers?
One retailer showed 15% (9.29 Mb) data savings using Crystal and 17% (10.76 Mb) using Purify. Another retailer saved 9% (1.92 Mb) with Crystal and 12% (2.70 Mb) with Purify.
Why do sites vary in overall data savings?
Data savings vary because they depend on each ad blocker, what it blocks, and the scripts included on a site, like tools for analytics, social media, cookies, ads, remarketing, retargeting, and various other scripts. Not only do these sites experience smaller page sizes with ad blockers, they also typically see faster site speed.
For retailers, ad blockers pose bigger issues: lost customer data and dollars.
We performed an A/B test on an international apparel retailer's cart page:
Can you guess which test encouraged users to continue to checkout?
Select a test to reveal the winner:
Released on September 16, iOS 9.0 was adopted faster than any other major iOS upgrade, and since then, Apple released two updates for bug fixes, including 9.0.1, released on September 23, and 9.0.2, released on September 30. Currently, approximately half of all iPhones are running iOS 9.
It appears that some users waited for bug fixes before upgrading to iOS 9. Although the majority of users update to the newest operating system version from the previous or second-newest version, nearly a quarter of users who installed iOS 9.0.1 upgraded from 8.4.1—the third-newest OS version at the time.
Overall, users are adopting iOS 9 much faster than iOS 8. This is most likely due to major bugs in iOS 8, like dropped calls in the 8.0.1 update, and the large amount of space needed for the initial download.
The latest iOS 9 update no longer allows users to downgrade to 8.4.1 without a jailbreak, so it's likely that we'll see iOS 9 market share continue to rise with new devices arrive with iOS 9 preloaded and the release of iOS 9.1.
Did you miss our Q3 2015 Mobile Commerce Trends report last week? Take a look at the recap video and see what you missed.
We went to the 2015 Shop.org Digital Summit, sported our Pittsburgh Pirates gear for the Wild Card game, and named Khloie our Dog of the Month!
From Wednesday, October 14 through Friday, October 16, you can find our team in Palm Springs at the Mobile Shopping Summit. Stop by booth #4 to meet our mobile experts or get the facts on why mobile shopping is going to be big this holiday season.
Each day is filled seminars, meet-and-greets, and panels to cover a variety of topics related to the daily theme:
Branding Brand CIO and co-founder Joey Rahimi will help kick off the Mobile Shopping Summit with his presentation "Case Study: The Touch-point of Analytics, Optimization & Innovation" at 9 a.m. on Wednesday.
Interested in setting up a meeting? Contact us!
Lauren Maruschak, on 10/7/15 2:57 PM
iOS 9 was released 3 weeks ago, and users with the latest iPhones were the fastest to adopt the newest operating system.
As of end of day yesterday, over two-thirds of iPhone 6, 6s, 6 Plus, and 6s Plus users are running iOS 9 on their devices, and just over half of iPhone 5, 5s, and 5c users installed iOS 9.
iOS 9 experienced the fastest adoption in the first 10 days after its release:
Yesterday marked the 20th day after iOS 9's release. Although adoption appears to be slowing, iOS 9 should continue to gain market share as more iPhone 6s and 6s Plus devices make their way to the market.
Learn more about iOS 9:
Branding Brand, on 10/7/15 1:12 PM
Branding Brand CEO and co-founder Chris Mason spoke with Mobile Strategies 360 about iOS 9's ad blocking apps and their affects on retailers. View the excerpt below or read the full article.
New ad-blocking software released for iOS 9 is not only blocking ads for retailers, but also blocking tracking tools and causing mobile sites to display improperly.
Apple’s iOS 9 update released Sept. 16 allows consumers with newer iPhones to download software that will block advertising consumers would otherwise see when they visit websites via a smartphone browser. It’s a handy feature for consumers who don’t want to be bombarded with ads, but it can pose significant problems for any company with a mobile site, including mobile retailers.
That’s because some ad blockers, such as Crystal, have a default setting preventing the display of content with tracking codes or content from vendors that share data with advertising companies. That’s because it deems such content as an ad, even though it may not be, or it deems the content as an invasion of privacy since it is tracking consumer activity. This can create major problems for online retailers, says Chris Mason, CEO of technology vendor Branding Brand.
“If you think of a retailer’s website, (oftentimes) 50% of that page experience is brought by third parties loading assets onto your site,” says Mason, who says a tracking tag can raise a red flag for the ad-blocker or a third-party itself because of its affiliation with an advertising company. Crystal did not respond to a request for comment.
9.0% of U.S. ad agency professionals think ad-blocking software across all devices is a major concern, and 46.3% say it is somewhat of a concern, according to a survey of 80 U.S. ad agency professionals in May 2015 advertising agency Strata Marketing Inc.
Some ad blockers are less aggressive than Crystal in their default settings, such as Purify Blocker, which is currently the No. 2 most-downloaded paid app overall in the Apple app store.
“If you are downloading Purify and decide to use the default setting, you should have very little problems with content delivery,” Mason says.
Part of the appeal of ad blockers is that they not only block ads, they also speed up mobile site performance since more elements are blocked, Mason says. In fact, Purify Blocker’s tagline is “No Ads. No Tracking. Lightning-fast Safari.”
Even if retailers figure out how to get their mobile sites to display properly, what’s alarming about some of the ad blockers is the loss of tracking, Mason says. That means personalization and recommendations might not appear. Mobile retailers also can have problems seeing which ad brought a consumer to the site.
“Your Omniture, your Google Analytics, your Coremetrics, those things aren’t registering the users on the site,” Mason says. “The more people who download ad blocker, the more we are going to have an issue.”
So what can retailers do? First, Mason suggests seeing if their mobile site is affected by reaching out to all third-party providers that contribute to the m-commerce site and working them to change any coding that could flag their applications as advertising.
Learn more about iOS 9 and ad blockers:
Lindsay Kenders, on 10/6/15 4:46 PM
Happy customers convert, so start thinking user experience and consider these best practices for your sites and apps that will keep shoppers coming back even after the holidays are over.
Provide a menu button for navigation
A menu button streamlines the shopping experience and ultimately decreases page load time because it gives your customers a way to shop anywhere on your site without having to navigate back to the homepage. This particularly applies to smartphone sites, but it could extend to your tablet site and mobile apps.
Bonus: Implement a smart menu that acts like breadcrumbs and follows users wherever they are on the site.
Implement type-ahead search
Shoppers who use on-site search are more likely to convert, and type-ahead search (also known as auto-suggest search) makes this experience much faster, especially on mobile devices, because it doesn't require users to type as much. It's a smarter way to search, and it's likely to satisfy customers over a typical on-site search.
Bonus: Add product images to type-ahead search to help shoppers find what they're looking for quickly.
Set up options to filter and sort products
Dozens of product pages can be daunting to customers, especially those who are looking for something specific. Make filtering and sorting easy-to-find and intuitive.
Bonus: Let shoppers choose everything they want to filter before reloading the page rather than reloading every time a filter is selected.
Display large product images
Large product images help shoppers see details that they would be able to experience in store. One- or two-column grids are typically best on smartphones and tablets, while desktops can show more columns of products depending on the layout.
See what happened when one of our clients tested one- and two-column product grids on its smartphone site.
Anchor the page
One of the most aggravating experiences in online shopping happens when you've scrolled through a product index page, clicked on a product, navigated back, and found that you're at the top of the previous page with no indication of where you left off. It's even worse if the site has endless scrolling, so anchor the page to help the users continue shopping.
Pagination is helpful for cross-channel shopping because it allows users to find products much faster on multiple devices. Shoppers who begin shopping on a smartphone and resume shopping on their laptop have a much better chance of finding a product with the help of pagination.
Bonus: Drop-down menus work really well for pagination because they give users the freedom to navigate to any page.
Allow shoppers to add to wish list
If shoppers don't buy the product today, it doesn't mean they don't ever want to buy it. 3 in 4 say they're interested in using the wish list feature. Wish lists can act almost like a to-do list for shopping, and they're a great way for users to organize holiday gifting.
Bonus: Add an element of personalization by sending an email or push notification to tell customers when something on their wish list is almost out of stock or goes on sale.
Don't send shoppers to cart (or wish list)
Don't redirect shoppers when they've added an item to their cart or wish list. Instead, offer to navigate to their cart, checkout, or wish list. It's best to A/B test these to find out which option your customers prefer.
Check out how one retailer increased its conversion by testing the add-to-cart interaction on the product page.
Present the correct native keyboard
Providing the correct native numbers or email keyboard is crucial on smartphones and tablets, especially during checkout. Less friction typically results in higher conversion.
Provide free shipping
Whether you're offering to ship to the store or to customers' homes, free shipping is a big incentive to buy. In fact, approximately 60% of shoppers say they will spend more to qualify for free shipping.
Offer free returns
The absence of a physical product has always been online shopping's largest setback. Without something to hold or try, many shoppers are hesitant to purchase. They'll be even more unwilling if you have a return or restocking fee.
Bonus: Let your customers return an online purchase in-store. When they come into the store, your associates have the opportunity to make it an exchange or upsell them on something else. It's a win for everyone.
Bonus round! The following best practices don't apply to all retailers, but they're just as important.
Offer buy online, pick up in store
For retailers with brick-and-mortar stores, buy now, pick up in store or reserve in store connects online and in-store shopping for a truly omnichannel experience. 86% of app shoppers are interested in using buy now, pick up in store, and approximately 40% of online shoppers used it last year, particularly for electronics, according to eMarketer.
Display "Add to Cart" button on the product index page
If your products are available in a limited number of colors and shoppers usually only purchase one type of item per order, this may be an option for you to test. Placing an "Add to Cart" button on the product index page reduces the number of clicks and pages required to purchase, but it's typically not recommended for apparel sites, where there is a wide variety of colors and sizes.
There are many ways to incentivize users to sign up and reward them for being loyal customers. Loyalty is especially important on mobile apps, where users are looking for unique and native device experiences. In a consumer survey, we found that shoppers are most likely to download a retailer's app if they receive something in return, like earning loyalty or rewards points or get a discount on their first order.
If you have a loyalty program, consider giving shoppers a discount or a free gift with their next purchase when they sign up for email or download your app. Once they're a loyal customer, consider giving them rewards or credits for each purchase, show them their loyalty points, and tell them how close they are to receiving their next reward.
It's all about personalization, and this is a pretty easy way to make it all about your customer.
Make it secure with Touch ID
Authenticating user accounts and payment methods is fast, easy, and secure with Touch ID. 59% of people say they're interested in using Touch ID to sign in to an app. It reduces the amount of typing required while providing an extra layer of security, and now that Android devices support fingerprint recognition, there's no excuse not to include this powerful feature in your iOS or Android app.
Remember: What works for one retailer doesn't necessarily work for everyone, which is why A/B testing is so important.
Download the best practices lookbook to keep your customers happy through the holiday and into next year.
iOS 9 was released late last quarter, and iOS 7 and older operating system versions' share of total smartphone visits decreased 38% and revenue decreased 30%, according to new data from the Q3 2015 Mobile Commerce Trends report.
The report analyzes data from a sample of 100 mobile sites running on Branding Brand's platform from July 1 - September 30, 2015. It also reveals that iPhone 5 and 6 models account for 51% of total smartphone traffic.
Check out the Q3 2015 monthly trends:
Branding Brand, on 10/1/15 2:04 PM
Despite challenges presented by the introduction of iOS 9 ad blocker apps mid-September, smartphones saw a 49% year-over-year increase in visits and a 98% year-over-year increase in revenue. Revenue per visit improved across all channels compared to the same month last year.