Ancestry.com’s own mobile purchase flow outperforms Google Play’s one-click solution
By Chantal Tode
September 11, 2013
Ancestry used testing to determine best mobile purhcase method
By using a testing and optimization strategy, Ancestry.com determined that the additional transactions provided by a simpler purchase experience on Google Play did not outweigh the additional revenue generated by sending visitors to its own mobile purchase flow.
With mobile traffic growing quickly, Ancestry.com knew it needed to sell subscriptions through its mobile app, but wanted to figure out the most profitable way to do so. While many marketers are faced with similar concerns over how to translate desktop experiences for smaller mobile screens, few are actually going out and testing different strategies.
“What Ancestry.com is trying to do is get a lot of these people who try out the site to subscribe,” said Kevin Lindsay, director of conversion product marketing for the digital marketing suite at Adobe. “It is very important for them to create those very succinct experiences, particularly in mobile.
“What they discovered is really more around efficiency and creating that tighter subscription conversion process as a result of doing some testing and learning more heavily on it,” he said. “How do we optimize, how we take advantage of this touch point that people are engaging to actually increase the subscription rate over some of our other channels.”
Ancestry.com purports to be the largest online family history resource in the world, serving more than two million paid subscribers.
Ancestry.com used Adobe’s Marketing Cloud and Target solutions to help it optimize the subscription process for mobile so that it could reach younger consumers
Optimizing subscription conversions
When introducing subscriptions on mobile, Ancestry.com considered two different approaches and wanted to figure out which would provide the stronger results.
The first option under consideration was using Google Play to enable users to sign up for subscriptions. The benefit would be an easy, one-click purchase process while the downside is that Google would receive a 30 percent share of every sale.
The other method being reviewed was redirecting visitors to Ancestry.com’s own mobile Web site, where users would have to enter in more information, an often frustrating experience on mobile devices that can lead to lower conversions.
Ancestry.com compared Google Play vs. its own mobile site in tests.
By testing the two options, Ancestry.com was able to determine that the simpler purchase process on Google Play generated more orders. However, the additional revenue generated by sending visitors to Ancestry.com’s own mobile purchase flow outweighed the additional transactions provided by Google Play.
As a result of its testing, Ancestry.com was able to see a much larger percentage of registrations coming from mobile. To date, the company’s mobile apps have had more than seven million downloads for Android, iOS and Windows 8.
Ancestry.com used A/B/N and multivariate testing as well as rules-based targeting and geotargeting to help it optimize its mobile strategy and wider desktop strategy.
In the past, the company had used Adobe’s Analytics and Target solutions separately, but decided to bring them together so it could use analytics to influence the tests it conducts and to study the results.
Adobe is encouraging other marketers to take a similarly more integrated approach to testing and optimization with the latest release for Adobe Target.
The goal is to encourage more marketers to use testing and optimization in mobile, where not a lot currently do so.
“I think it is going to be our biggest area of testing adoption this year,” Mr. Lindsay said. “Many of our customers are starting to play around with that and to realize that they need to think about conversion optimization, what needs to happen with mobile check-out to create a more streamlined check-out process.
“Mobile, tablet, it is a different experience, and it calls for sometimes different types of thinking with regard to what the visitor’s goal is when they are on a mobile site or within a mobile app,” he said.
More accessible testing
The new release of Target is designed to make it easier to set up a test, deploy and target different groups. The goal is to make testing more accessible to marketers as opposed to the technical staff since marketers are closer to the issues that need typically need to be addressed, such as usability and conversions.
Some of the new capabilities being added include lifetime value segmentation and geolocation capabilities.
“If you are not targeting, you are not really involved in testing,” Mr. Lindsay said.
“How valuable is a testing result when you learn that every person and his dog responded affirmatively to a particular lifestyle image, but then you kind of realize that one of your most important segments, may be in a particular geo or people that represented particular demographic, are really important, are high value shoppers,” he said.
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York
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