Learning from the Facebook Debacle: How NOT to A|B Test on Consumers
|Paras Chopra in Marketing & Promotion Wednesday, September 17, 2014|
Public outrage about revelations that Facebook manipulated items in users’ news feeds without their consent once again points to the thin line companies tread when they violate users’ privacy in the name of marketing. Nobody likes to be spied on.
As willing as many people are shown to share their personal data with Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms, there are lines better not to cross, both from an ethical standpoint and simply because they could annoy the heck out of users.
The same principle goes for marketers eager to test different website options with their users. A/B testing exists to help marketers learn about user needs - not to invade privacy or create the feeling among consumers that they are somehow being manipulated. That means always keeping a happy balance between data gathering and user privacy. Here are a few ways you can avoid stepping over the line.
Don’t chase your users: A sure way to spook potential customers is to be too aggressive in retargeting visitors to your website, based on their past purchase history or behavior. Marketers love retargeting largely because it works - retargeting display ads to consumers who have visited a website has been shown to make them 70 percent more likely to make a purchase, for example. Nonetheless, a little goes a long way. Don’t seek to fill in every last digital space that a consumer may see after visiting your site. And put mechanisms in place to ensure that someone who has already purchased a product will not continue to be shown ads. Failing to do so will only irritate your target audience.
Don’t post fake offers: Remember hating that sales guy at the health club who pressured you to join today, because the offer would disappear tomorrow? Online consumers just as easily see through such hokey marketing ploys. Posting a fake 'Offer Only Available for Next 24 hours' when you actually have this offer on an ongoing basis can leave a bad aftertaste. You may fool customers once or twice, but if they visit your site enough times, they will lose faith in you. This tactic may increase conversions in the short term but at the cost of long-term customer acquisition.
Keep prices consistent for the same product: It’s also not cool to show users different prices on the web for the exact same product. If some users find out that others are being offered a lower price for the same item than they are, they may create a fuss on social media or elsewhere. That doesn’t make your brand look good. If you are going to A/B test different price points, you should offer two products that differ slightly to justify the price differences. Similarly, if you are a travel vendor, you should never increase prices (e.g. for airline or hotel rooms) based on the knowledge of the visitor’s past interests.
Don’t make users login: This belongs more in the category of customer annoyances. As much as your company is eager to get each Web visitor’s personal email to build your list, you need to respect the user to make that decision for themselves. Requiring logins also leads to cart abandonments and can have a negative impact on conversions. For more on this, read our blog post on the topic.
Being honest and upfront with users, while also making life as easy for them as possible, goes a long way towards leaning in towards your customers.
Read more: https://vwo.com/blog/facebook-login-reduces-sales-...
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