I'm so busy I can't even wait to read this headline

Lack of speed kills customer satisfaction. Slow sites also kill profits. One second can boost conversions by 2% One of the leading online retailers, WalMart Labs has an engineering team in Silicon Valley and is strongly focused on web performance. The goal of WalMart is building a “zero-wait” experience for users. Its research found that customers who converted to a sale experienced page load times of 3.22 seconds. Customers that browsed but didn’t buy experienced page load times of 6.02 seconds.

After Walmart optimized its sites to improve page load times, the Operations team recorded that every 100ms improvement led to a 1% increase in incremental revenue and every 1 second improvement led to a 2% boost in conversion rates. In other words, a quarter of the time it takes you to blink can mean an incremental revenue boost or decline of 1%. Given this clear evidence that speed is profitable, one would think that web publishers would be rapidly speeding up their websites.


Most Marketers Flop at Real-Time Customer Interactions

Businesses are now used to thinking about customer lifetime value as well as customer equity, which is the sum of the customer lifetime values across the customer base. What they are just now getting their heads around is how the super-amplified word-of-mouth machine that is Twitter, Facebook, and other forms of social media speeds everything up and has an almost instant impact on customer equity. The value of the company, which is directly related to customer equity, can now go up or down very quickly. The result is that the average lifespan of an S&P 500 company is now only 18 years. These dinosaurs had better learn to scurry faster and smarter, or those little rodents under their feet will take over.


Genius: Points from Wearables Used in Nike Branding Play

Free Nike gear sitting in the middle of a public place? This will either go down in the books as a damned clever marketing move or a great way to cause a panic.

Early this morning, we started hearing whispers of a vending machine that had been plopped down somewhere in New York. But there’s a twist! Two twists, really. This vending machine only dishes out Nike gear… and it doesn’t accept cash. To get something out of the machine, you’d need to cough up some points from a Nike FuelBand.

Source: TechCrunch

Search is Even More Important After We Leave Home [PDF]

Long gone are the days of glossy travel guides and oversized (un)foldable maps - and gone, too, are the days of printing out directions and information in advance. Today’s traveler is more likely to use a smartphone or tablet to search.

Here are the Key Findings:

Discovery: Search engines rule - more than four in five consumers use them for research when planning a vacation.

Proximity: A nearby location trumps brand for many types of purchases on vacation.

Brand Affinity: For essential purchases, travelers tend to search for specific brands, and for other purchases they use broader category searches.

Mobile: Vacationers do much of their online research once they reach their destinations.

Loyalty: Consumers aren’t loyal to a particular brand if presented a better offer or if they have trouble finding a location.

Trust: Difficulty finding a store or restaurant location on vacation negatively affects consumers’ impression of a brand even once they return home.


Airports Need to Act More Like the Glorified Malls That They are

Retail expectations and habits will change based on destination and demographic. For example, a quarter of US and UK travelers indicated that they’d like to buy duty-free items, destination activities, upgrades from their mobile device or a kiosk. The proportion jumped to half for respondents from China and UAE.

The report sums up the similarities as, “Just as shoppers don’t make all of their purchases in the store, travelers want the ability to buy travel-related goods and services at points beyond the check-in lobby.”


eBay Gets Shafted by Google After Getting Out of Branded Search

eBay ran a series of controlled tests with Steven Tadelis, a business professor at the University of California-Berkeley, and two collaborators. To start, the company pulled ads next to its own name from Yahoo and MSN, but left them running on Google. They found that these ads bought little gain for eBay, but were costing them money. So they scrapped them. Search for eBay. Unlike Nike, its own non-advertised, for-real link comes up.

The second test was for product ads. In certain geographic regions in America, eBay stopped buying ads next to normal product keyword searches, but left them going in others. So in parts of the country if you were looking for an electric guitar or an iPhone, ads for eBay product listings would come up. In other parts of the country they wouldn’t. The second part of this test also scored badly for Google. Frequent eBay users found their way to the site with or without the ads.


7 Trends in Travel This Year from PCW

Trend One – Video: Essential to customer engagement

Trend Two – Search: Just getting started

Trend Three – Taking aim at the travel experience

Trend Four – Can’t get enough mobile

Trend Five – Hands free, ubiquitous and always-on

Trend Six – Big Data = Big Actions

Trend Seven – Social marketing: The business embodiment of social media


Cutting Through the Bullshit with McKinsey

When we work with clients, it’s interesting how much they tend to focus on big tools and systems and large-scale algorithm development, when a lot of this is about smart decisions, organization issues, and process design.

We find a need to be ruthless about prioritizing: What data do we really need? Let’s focus on getting that together and work on it.

Then, from a design perspective, let’s get the right people in the room, with the right incentives so they’ll work together and have shared common goals; and they’ll be in a setting where it’s comfortable to work together, where they’ve got the right project team, with the right leadership behind them that’s supporting the fact that they’re doing this—instead of everybody out for themselves. And, then, working through all the obstacles that hinder rapid-cycle test and learn, and accepting the fact that you’re going to be out there constantly testing things.


Sometimes You Have to Say Screw the ROI

At Netflix, ROI calculations don’t rule the day. In fact, the company’s decisions are based on both data and belief. Case in point: dropping $100 million on season one of “House of Cards.” In this vein, Netflix is like many progressive companies. (Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google are certainly in that cohort.)

For its part, Netflix knows that (accurately) predicting ROI is impossible. In fact, we can only partially understand ROI in hindsight. What’s more, it’s important to embrace probabilistic thinking. That is, to paraphrase Nate Silver, we should trust the process, not the outcome.


Site Speed is Killing Your Revenue

The biggest and easiest value/page view jump is from 8 second to a 5 second load time. While the biggest revenue jump is between 2 seconds and 1, going from 8 to 5 seconds is easier and generates an 18% value/page view increase.

Page load time: Go from 8 to 5 But every second you shave off your site’s average page load time (without shedding page views) means an 8% improvement in page value, so keep going.