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5 Digital Truths From the SAP Website Test Lab

January 1, 2013 By Thorin McGee
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"Every single test we do arrives at a definitive insight, and it opens up a dozen more questions that you want to test," says Shawn Burns, worldwide director of digital marketing for German enterprise software company SAP. "It makes you hungry to learn more."

Burns is the driving force behind SAP's Test Lab, a department dedicated to testing SAP's digital marketing. Created and run with help from the marketing intelligence arm of Richardson, Texas-based KBM Group, Test Lab uses Adobe Test&Target software to extensively split test and optimize just about any conversion opportunity on the site. You can read more about the SAP Test Lab and how it operates in the January 2013 edition of Target Marketing.

In the process of that testing, SAP has come away with many "definitive insights," principles that essentially always help to improve conversions. Here are five of those insights that have had the biggest impact on how SAP does digital marketing.

1. You're Probably Under-Attributing Sales to Search Engine Marketing
"You know the challenge/uplift of last click attribution," says Burns. "It's 'well known' that search marketing is regarded higher than it should be because of the last click attribution phenomenon, that's sort of the going hypothesis."

So SAP decided to test where they should be attributing those sales, starting with the conventional wisdom hypothesis that they were already overvaluing search. However, Burns says, "we realized search was even more important to our customers than even we thought it was. ... The attribution came back and said, 'Actually, guys, you're still under attributing'" sales to search.

"How can that be?" asks Burns. "This is universal customer behavior: You've been on Google all day—you're going to be at a search bar all day. Global search term traffic is up 20 percent, 30 percent, 40 percent worldwide. Human beings are accessing the web through a search bar more often than not."

This marked a significant shift in SAP's digital marketing strategy. Burns used to see "traditional branding with education and awareness" working with search and email to generate demand. He says now "what you're seeing is the entire buying cycle—from awareness, education, interest and, yes, conversion—it's all now happening through search. And that was an 'Aha!' moment for us."



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