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How to use VWO in times of uncertainty

7 Min Read

Yesterday we published our advice on what businesses should be optimizing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The crux of our advice is to focus on maximizing trust in your customers that you care for them in this difficult time.

This post focuses more on specifics of how different VWO capabilities can be utilized towards that end.

Experimentation becomes a mission-critical activity during uncertain times

When it’s business as usual, common sense and all sorts of best practices are available for guidance. Because business contexts are highly variable, we always recommend A/B testing and experimentation to double-check “best-practice” assumptions. But in the face of uncertainty, all such best practices become inapplicable because contexts switch with some of them being faced for the first time: the biggest challenge thus is – where do you begin?

Your customers today are likely to be overwhelmed. At one moment, they may be feeling in despair. At other moments, they may be seeing a glimmer of home. Such volatility is evident because the same thing is happening in stock markets[1] – they’re more volatile than any other time in recent history.

I’m sure you must be seeing unprecedented customer behavior. This means you need to assume that you don’t know much about how and what your customers are thinking right now. And the only way to find that out is by paying close attention to what they say, what they do and more importantly how they react to your announcements.

Use VWO Insights to study and contrast your customers’ behavior

VWO Insights helps you quickly understand what your customers are saying and what they’re doing. Specifically, for the uncertain times of the COVID-19 pandemic, here’s how we recommend using its different capabilities:

1. Run an on-site survey asking your visitors what can you do to help them during COVID-19 pandemic

You can use VWO on-page surveys to directly ask your visitors how can you be of help. They might be seeking “contactless” delivery from your online store, or if you’re a travel site, they might be looking for your cancellation policy. Asking them a simple but open-ended question like “What can we do to help you during this COVID-19 pandemic” can give you deep insights about what your business should be doing next.

survey on how VWO can help business during COVID-19 pandemic

2. See recent visitor session recordings from places that are most impacted by the pandemic

VWO lets you view recordings of visitors as they interact with your website. One of the ways you can gain insight into rapidly changing customer behavior is to view recordings of visitors from places that are most impacted. By contrasting such recordings with other recordings from relatively unaffected places, you can form a confident hypothesis of what your severely affected customers want and how you can be of help to them.

screenshot of the visitor recordings of the visitors from the most impacted places.

3. Contrast heatmaps before-COVID19 and during-COVID19 time period

You can see heatmaps of your top pages and contrast them with earlier, less turbulent times to see what are your customers seeking now. Ask yourself: which areas on your website are seeing an increased or reduced click activity and why that might be happening?

screenshot of the heatmap of VWO.com's home page

By combining different capabilities of VWO Insights, you will form a rich understanding of rapidly evolving customer expectations and behavior. Be sure to continuously keep revisiting them because as the pandemic and economy evolve, these expectations can change as well.

Make real-time announcements to your customers via VWO Engage

VWO Engage allows you to do real-time announcements to your visitors and customers via browser push notifications and Facebook Messenger. Unlike email which lands in user inbox, these messages reach people instantly.

Engage Covid 19 Notification For Contactless Delivery 2x

Because of the rapid evolution of the situation, time is of the essence and we’re sure your business reaction would be quick too. So, this makes real-time announcements to your customers even more important. If you are closing certain stores, or a new critical item has been restocked, or you have a new policy that customers can benefit from, it’s best to continuously keep communicating. Such rapid and relevant communication will go a long way in giving your customers confidence that you’re taking swift and necessary actions to help them.

Put important announcements on your website without needing your developers, using VWO website widgets

If your development team is working from home, there could be possible lags in getting important announcements implemented on your website. Earlier this year, we launched VWO website widgets that allow marketers to push different announcements (in terms of hello bar, modal boxes, popup messages) without requiring their developers.

screenshot on how to create widgets in VWO Editor

Some of our customers have started using this to inform their visitors about how their business is responding to COVID-19.

Personalize communication depending on the visitor’s region

COVID-19 has impacted some regions a lot more than other regions. If your business is contemplating a response that depends on where the visitor is located, you may want to personalize communication. You can narrow down the affected cities and countries and announce what your business can do to help your customers there.

adding segments of Organic and location as Italy to personalize campaign

Some of our customers are contemplating waiving delivery fees or penalties for affected regions while others are displaying the updated status of their physical stores in the affected regions.

If your online traffic is dropping, use VWO Plan to increase your testing velocity and VWO Testing to improve conversion rate of the remaining traffic

Some of our customers are seeing a drop in their online traffic, while others are seeing an increase. This is a consequence of increased volatility in customer behavior. If online traffic is increasing, businesses would be focused on enhancing their service or supply capacity. However, if online traffic is decreasing, given the same conversion rate, conversions will drop. If there’s no easy way to get traffic levels back to normal, the only alternative is to focus on improving conversion rates.

1. Make a CRO war-room and collaborate to record your team’s ideas in VWO Plan

VWO Plan allows teams to collaborate on ideas and hypotheses for improving conversion rates. Anyone in your team who has access to VWO (we offer unlimited users for all our accounts) can record their idea. We have a chrome plugin that allows for generating and recording such ideas super-simple. While recording the ideas, ensure that you tag them with a distinctive identifier because such ideas are likely to be tactical in nature and only relevant to the current situation.

screenshot of the movement of hypotheses in Plan layer

2. Focus on high-velocity testing by prioritizing low-effort, high-impact changes

Once many ideas are there on the table, your team can start prioritizing high-impact, low-effort ones. At this point, you cannot afford to test few, big changes. So we recommend focusing entirely on testing velocity. VWO test editor is built for such rapid testing by letting marketers customize their website with minimal IT/developer help.

screenshot of the VWO editor

The faster and more in volume you’re able to push testing campaigns live, the more likely it is that you’ll improve your conversion rate.

Summing it up

I hope you got some fresh ideas from this quick walkthrough of how to use VWO during turbulent times like the current COVID-19 pandemic. These are difficult times for businesses but time and again history shows that the most agile businesses are able to survive (and sometimes even thrive) by continuously learning about how the world is changing and then trying out various experiments to stay afloat.

Uncertain times do lead to normal times and things will eventually get better. Should you need us for anything, the VWO team is with you. If you’re facing a resource crunch at your end to do some of the suggested actions above, let us know and we will jump in immediately to expand your team’s bandwidth.

Good luck!

Paras Chopra
Paras Chopra Founder and Chairman of VWO
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Shanaz Khan from VWO

Hi, I am Shanaz from the VWO Research Desk.

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