flashlight into the dark
The MarTech world could do with a much needed dose of sunlight PHOTO: Dino Reichmuth

There are about 5,000 martech applications on the market, give or take. That translates into roughly 5,000 different approaches to martech from which to choose.

Navigating this ecosystem can be challenging, in part because few guidelines are available that users can trust. And while vendors conduct ostensibly neutral surveys, they inevitably point to using their products as the solution. Even if a survey is truly neutral, it is oftentimes compromised in another way, such as a too small sample size.

A Vendor Survey, With a Difference

Which leads us to the survey Qubit, a marketing personalization technology provider, released which identified the specific optimization techniques that lead to the highest revenue uplift for ecommerce businesses.

We will get to those specific techniques in a moment. First, a word about why this survey is worth examining: It has the distinction of not only using an immense amount of data — the company analyzed more than two billion user journeys and 120 million purchases — but also in having the survey and its methodology audited by PwC.

“My team worked with the Qubit data science team to subject their methodology — i.e. their data capture, calculations and reporting — to our rigorous independent assurance procedures,” says Sam Tomlinson, partner at PwC. “The report by Qubit provides a detailed analysis of today’s marketing toolkit and, given the scale and depth of data analyzed, is a first of its kind that I have seen."

The data from the survey came from Qubit’s own personalization platform that services some 300 enterprise customers, Jay McCarthy, VP of Product Marketing told CMSWire. “There is a lot of user interactions going on and our data infrastructure is robust enough to handle real-time personalization.”

The Survey Results

The survey found that businesses can add as much as 6 percent to their revenues by focusing on the most effective optimization and personalization techniques.

The top techniques measured in the report were:

  • Scarcity, or highlighting items that are low in stock. This delivered a mean uplift (or revenue per visitor (RPV)) of 2.9 percent
  • Social proof, or leveraging the behavior of other users to provide information about currently trending and popular products. This represents a RPV of 2.3 percent
  • Urgency, which is using a time limit to complete an action before a deadline. This had an RPV of 1.5 percent

Techniques which didn’t fair as well in the survey included:

  • Page redesign, with an RPV of 0.2 percent 
  • Button changes, at -0.2 percent and
  • Navigation changes, which also had an RPV of -0.2 percent

The conclusion drawn from the data? Programmatic and personalization experiences are providing anywhere from two to 14 times more incremental revenue per visitor versus traditional optimization efforts, which focus mainly on cosmetic changes such as colors and location of buttons. Furthermore, experiences like popups or buttons that take a user back to the top of the page, can have a negative impact.

“What we found is that the things you do cosmetically such as page redesign have little impact on the revenue you can drive from an investment,” McCarthy says.

“While tactics such as social proof or scarcity messaging tap into our lizard brains and gives us the information we need to change our perception of the experience.”

A Transparency Mission

The specificity of these findings highlight how fluffy some of the statistics in this space can get. Indeed, martech is in dire need of a good dose of sunlight, PwC’s Tomlinson suggests.

“There are clearly longstanding issues around transparency in marketing, which will only be solved by advertisers and providers rigorously and openly assessing whether the services that marketers are paying for are actually delivering results,” he says.

Transparency was Qubit’s larger goal with this report, McCarthy says. The company released its methodology in detail in an academic white paper that can be had for the asking. “It goes into a lot more detail and is for people who like to geek out with the numbers and analysis,” he says.

“We wanted to raise the bar with transparency because we keep running into customers that don’t know how to prioritize projects. We feel there is an element of the conversation missing from the market and we hope other vendors do the same in terms of transparency.”