Keep It Simple and Keep It Fun!

On June 10, 2015 the researchers from Marketing Experiments presented data that should serve as a good reminder to us all – do not ignore the simple changes in favor of more complex solutions. Sometimes going for complexity takes us away from our ultimate goals – in this case to maximize conversion.

The first experiment conducted was an A/B test on behalf of a local tourism board. The goal was to assess whether the test format would increase response compared to the control (as seen below). In this case the treatment and its more visually heavy format underperformed compared to the control (37.3% conversion compared to the control’s 56.4% conversion rate).

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The question then becomes one of why did the branded test campaign underperform? First is the concept of fostered conclusion. This concept states that a brand is the aggregate experience of the value proposition. Brands represent the sum total of experiences in the marketplace. In short, brands exist as a form of mental shorthand for a particular set of fostered conclusions. They create an expectation, not a promise.

Second is the notion that brands leverage short-hand symbols to encourage a connection to a desired, fostered conclusion. These short-hand symbols take on three forms: Voice (either the written or spoken tone of the message); Style (design elements such as colors, shapes, etc.); and Marks (iconic marks associated with a brand – for example Steve Jobs’ face associated with Apple).

Both the control and treatment have a voice that is intentionally laid-back and fun. The style uses tilts, fonts, textures and colors in an attempt to communicate cultural diversity, creativity and an air of fun. Marks that are used represent the city’s abbreviated name and an emblem.

So still we ask why did the branded treatment lose out to the control piece? To answer this we move to the third element – that of proper application. While the treatment had all of the proper elements, it created a layer of complexity. Note in the control the single header photo – now compare that to the many photos encapsulated in the treatment’s header.

The treatment used a sign-up form that put white text on a colored background. This makes each field more difficult to read. Black text on a white background is easier to read than white text on a contrasting background. All marketing elements should help the consumer to make a decision, not hinder them in the process.

Some key takeaways include – complexity, as appealing as it may be, can get in the way of our ultimate goal. Creative complexity can hinder the consumer from making the right choice in the decision process. Test more complex designs against a simpler control piece to see there are shifts in the metrics you follow.

Greg Timpany directs the research efforts for Global Knowledge in Cary, North Carolina, and runs Anova Market Research. You can follow him on Twitter @DataDudeGreg.

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