6½ digital growth hacks you need to know for 2019!

Jonas Hager Leader UX & Design, PwC Switzerland 23 Oct 2019

Digital marketing will change in 2019, and what worked in the past won’t work anymore. So in the next few weeks I’ll be sharing my thoughts on what you need to change to be successful in 2019, in the form of 6½ tips. Here are my tips:

Digital Growth Hacking
Tip No. 1

Why content marketing is dead when it comes to generating traffic

Let’s be honest, whenever you search for a specific term online you get overwhelmed by bought ads. Not only that, but blogging has been so popular in the last couple of years that just about every topic has already been written about several times by multiple bloggers. That means it’s very hard to write new exciting content that hasn’t already been covered by other websites. Even if you’ve come up with a good article, you have to wait weeks or months to get a high rank on Google. And in addition to that, you’ll need to make a lot of noise on different online channels for your post.

The shift in Google searches

When I talk to other digital marketeers, they confirm that they see a drop in organic traffic and growth in paid traffic from Google. Of course this is precisely in the interests of Google.

For me, one huge argument for paid traffic is the costs of writing good content. Let’s assume you spend two or three days creating a well-structured blog post with nice graphics. The costs quickly add up to two or three thousand Swiss francs − money that could probably buy you ads for a couple of months for a specific niche.

This means that the only opportunity I see for content marketing for 2019 will be in long tail niches.


Digital Growth Hacking
Tip No. 2

Why competition is for losers and conversion optimisation is the only way to stay ahead.

More and more organisations are buying online ads on various digital channels:

2018 and beyond are projections.

Spending per channel (all amounts are stated in billions). 2018 and beyond are projections. Source

For obvious reasons: Online advert expenditures are completely transparent in terms of their impact, as you can target your audience better month by month thanks to further and more sophisticated targeting options along the customer journey of your potential customers. And you can immediately see the ROI results of your online campaign. There are, of course, many more advantages.

But for me, the biggest advantage of online ads is the fact that you can experiment with different versions of your ads (content, images, videos, ad formats, ad places) and you can directly measure what kind of advert will work best for your campaign and what drives your CTR (click-through rate).

All this creative freedom inevitably increases ad prices, we therefore need to find other ways of optimising our marketing efforts. In my opinion, the most important distinguishing factor these days is the on-site conversion rate.

The only way to stay ahead of your competitors is to optimise your conversion funnel. The more you optimise your landing pages and your conversions killers, the more funds you will save, funds that will help you to reach a much broader audience or retarget a visitor for a longer period of time across different channels.

Conversion optimisation will have a great impact on your CAC (customer acquisition costs). And as long as your CAC is in line with the CLV (customer lifetime value), not even the sky is the limit.

Here are my three ways to optimise your conversion:

  • Start always using A/B testing and set up multiple-nested A/B tests. You should run at least 10 to 20 tests at the same time in order to understand what type of content or funnel drives the highest conversion rate. The more data points you collect, the better you will understand your customer. Keep in mind, you need several thousand data points for a conclusive A/B test.
  • Start asking your visitors for more information. As long as you offer your customers an added value, they will be ready to share information about themselves. You could perhaps offer a voucher or offer a free digital e-paper download in return for an e-mail address.
  • Do not stop experimenting, exploit your ideas. Let me explain what I mean: I am often surprised that conversion improvements have come about by enhancements along the user journey that I did not think would impact the conversions at all. In other words: Every idea can work. Even the smallest of changes such as a switch in word order or button colour could have a positive impact.

This is what I mean by saying „competition is for losers“: Avoid expensive online ad placement battles and optimise your conversions instead.


Digital Growth Hacking
Tip No. 3

Why mobile speed bombs or boosts your business.

Have you ever browsed through an e-commerce site on your mobile and then quit, because the page would not load fast enough?

You are not alone. 53% of customers quit a website if it takes more than three seconds1 to load. In fact, just two seconds can increase the drop rate by 103%2. Here is why: Waiting in general makes you feel stressed, similar to when you watch a horror movie. An impressive 79% of your customers will not visit your page3 a second time if the slowness of it has caused them stress.

Do you need more facts that mobile speed is crucial for your business?

A lag of just one second may decrease your conversion rate by 20%4. Shorter loading times go hand in hand with higher revenues per session. The good news is: If experiencing slow mobile speed discourages shoppers, fast loading times can attract and keep them.

Let us take the German retailer Otto Group as an example. They created a better user experience and increased loading speed; as a result, the bounce rate has dropped, while the conversion rate has increased by up to 13%. With an annual e-commerce revenue of € 7.9 billion, these simple tweaks have had a significant impact on Otto Group’s e-commerce business5.

The effects of a fast mobile page may, on the other hand, not always be directly linked to monetisation. A mobile page should also represent the brand and offer the user a great brand experience especially with brands that sell products that customers are not (yet) inclined to buy online (e.g. cars).

Another example: BMW, for instance, have redesigned their mobile page. It is now based on AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) and PWA (Progressive Web Apps), which make it faster and more SEO-friendly. It is also in line with the brand’s philosophy: performance, usability and design. Improving the page’s customer experience resulted in 49% more visits from SEO and a 50% growth in mobile users. But, most importantly, the page tempts users to actually buy one of their vehicles. Traffic from BMW.com to the company’s sales page has increased from 8% to 30%6.

Albeit crucial for user experience – the importance of speed goes far beyond that. On Google, the speed of mobile pages has become a major ranking factor for mobile searches. Speed seems to affect everything, from awareness to traffic to conversion.

Here are our four tips how you can make your mobile page faster:

  1. Analyse
    Know your status quo. Analyse the loading speed of your mobile page and benchmark it to competitors. Understand what affects your loading speed and how it impacts your revenue.
  2. Decide
    Define a speed budget. Loading time should not exceed three seconds. Prioritise optimisation opportunities.
  3. Optimise
    Adapt your page for accessibility and usability. Test new technology such as AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) to increase speed.
  4. Measure
    Measure progress continuously and keep optimising. User expectation increases with positive experiences.

Digital Growth Hacking
Tip No. 4

Reimagine Customer Journeys for Growth

Companies are realising that there is no way around designing great customer journeys and superior user experiences. When customers feel appreciated, companies gain measurable benefits – not just financially. The payoffs for valued, great experiences are tangible: an up to 16% price premium on products and services, plus increased loyalty. However, the current, linear customer journey way of thinking, which I see a lot, will no longer do. Our lives are far more complex than the boxes and arrows we usually draw on slides to represent customer journeys. To keep up with life’s increased complexity and velocity, your customer journeys need to be backed with real transaction data and measured customer insights in nearly real time. Only this way will you be able to deliver the right message for the right customer, at the right time. 

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Designing journeys for experience

Did you know that your customers perhaps value your services differently from what you might think? Efficiency, convenience, friendly and knowledgeable service, and up-to-date technology take the top ranks, miles ahead of aspects such as global presence, brand image and visual design. Many industries are leaving their customers wanting for more. More of what your customers value. The gap between what your customers want and what you might be offering can be a stretch as our research shows. The gap is most noticeable in industries such as airlines, healthcare, banking, investments, mobile/internet. In other industries such as media, sports and hotels, the gap between expectation and reality is considerably smaller. Regardless of the industry you are in, it is important that you are aware of your customers’ expectations. As much as we cannot not communicate, there is no «no UX design», just intended or unintended experiences. 

Your customer will be your brand and not the other way around

In our lives there are countless «interactions, small and big» where we connect or disconnect with brands and services. Each of these «interactions» can be a key moment in a person’s life. Therefore, we have to make sure that these interactions are designed for and tailored to the needs, the lifestyle and the expectations of a particular person. The fundamental forward shift is that this interaction will be tailored to you and the context you are in. What if we do not just sell a product or service, but actually design it for every single one of our customers instead? Our customers will become part of the brand itself.

With your customers as part of your brand, there is only one way to go: design moments that matter, focus on the details and provide a consistent experience at the same time. Design for each customer individually, but remain able to scale. Replace gut feeling with data and customer insights. I agree with Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown with what they wrote in their book «Hacking Growth»: you need a cross-functional, collaborative team to drive growth. However, I feel they were not explicit enough about how important it is to get someone on board your team with an experience design perspective so as to get your growth team up to speed with the help of customer experience specialists. Make this knowledge your own, and get ready for a new approach to customer journeys. 


Disclaimer
I know that my ideas won’t apply to every business or niche. But I’d rather we have a discussion than get stuck in old habits.

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Jonas Hager

Leader UX & Design

Tel: +41 58 792 30 90