Future publishing boosts conversions 5% through customer understanding

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Future Publishing worked with Maxymiser to boost subscriptions via a digital campaign that used multi-variate testing and optimisation of the entire customer journey to encourage conversions. By looking at basic elements around design, layout and navigation, the campaign tested 96 variants to reduce bounce rates and increase conversion rates. This case study looks at how the publisher achieved a 5.1% rise in conversions.

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Brand: Future Publishing | Country: UK | Sector: Publishing, magazines | Objective: boost conversions and subscriptions | Format:Email, Display, Multi-variate Testing

Future Publishing is the third largest special interest consumer publisher in the UK. It is also the UK’s leading licensor and exporter of monthly magazines, publishing more than 70 monthly consumer titles, alongside 60 websites and 27 annual live events and exhibitions.

Globally, Future sells over 3 million magazines each month and attracts more than 27 million unique visitors to its websites. Its largest e-commerce site is MyFavouriteMagazines.co.uk – its official magazine subscription store. At present, approximately 70% of Future’s subscription revenues come through MyFavouriteMagazines.co.uk.

Future uses direct marketing and other traditional channels to promote its print titles – and has developed a good culture for testing offline campaigns. But in recent years, as its strategy shifted towards driving customers online and the number of online orders increased, Future knew that it was important to continue that testing culture in an online environment. It identified multivariate testing as the best approach to improve the customer experience and drive growth – and chose to partner with Maxymiser, using its MaxTEST A/B and multivariate testing solution, to generate a more robust customer understanding of visitors to MyFavouriteMagazines.co.uk.

“We had seen countless examples of other businesses increasing their conversion rates by using multivariate testing – and we recognised that this was something we needed to explore,” says Wayne Timbrell, e-Commerce Marketing Manager at Future Publishing. “We knew that the customer journey on MyFavouriteMagazines.co.uk was not being optimised and that, like many other sites, more than 90% of visitors were not buying anything. But prior to using Maxymiser, our development decisions had been based on personal opinion. It needed to be much more scientific than that. So we set out to use multivariate testing to provide an evidence-base that could inform our development decisions and enhance the customer experience. Our objective was to improve conversion rates. And thanks to our work with Maxymiser, we very quickly managed to achieve it.”

The strategy

Future Publishing began working with Maxymiser in the autumn of 2010. The approach was part of a broader strategy to improve the company’s digital capabilities – in response to a changing global publishing model that is forcing publishers to seek innovative ways of managing the transition from print to electronic media.

“In the wake of the rapid advancement of digital and multi-channel media, there was a growing recognition within the business that multivariate testing was becoming extremely important. But, given that there are real complexities involved with MVT, we didn’t have the expertise or the resources to handle it internally,” says Wayne Timbrell. “We were looking for a solution with ease – a low touch solution where we could outsource the development and the design work, and focus more on the tests and their implications, rather than the technology. Maxymiser was not only able to give us that, it was also able to provide the consultancy and the reporting facilities that allowed us to concentrate on optimising the customer journey using robust metrics.”

The campaigns

Although Future Publishing has successfully conducted a range of multivariate tests using Maxymiser, its achievements are best highlighted by campaigns that sought to optimise two of the most important aspects of any e-commerce site: the home page and the checkout.
“Our optimisation of the checkout was one of the first tests we did – and it’s one of our proudest achievements,” says Wayne Timbrell. “Though we were only looking at basic elements around design, layout and navigation, this was a complex test that comprised 96 variants. But, inside just a few months, the simple changes it led to generated an uplift in conversions of 4.45%. The test had formed part of our trial phase, but immediately demonstrated the value of Maxymiser. We were able to see the ROI almost instantly.”

A more recent campaign has focused on optimising the home page functionality of MyFavouriteMagazines.co.uk. The four-month campaign sought to reduce bounce rates and increase conversion rates by establishing the optimal number of items on the home page, the volume and prominence of special offers, and the search engine positioning. The ‘winning experience’ has so far generated a 5.1% increase in conversion rates – and made a significant contribution to the bottom line.

“The home page testing has showed us that by reducing the volume of information we present to our customers, we can simplify the search process and significantly improve the customer experience. With fewer distractions, customers are able to find the products they want more effectively, and this has helped to accelerate their journey through the sales funnel more efficiently. Using Maxymiser, we’ve been able to enhance the customer experience and, as a result, have really reaped the benefits,” says Wayne Timbrell.

The experience

Future Publishing’s experiences using Maxymiser have clearly helped the business optimise the customer journey across MyFavouriteMagazines.co.uk, and created an evidence-based platform from which it can further develop its multi-channel digital strategy. The MaxTEST solution has also been deployed elsewhere within the Future group – and is enjoying similar successes on another of its large sites, techradar.com.

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