The Encyclopedia Britannica Group is a global knowledge leader whose products inspire curiosity and enthusiasm for learning across multiple platforms and devices. The organization celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2018.
Encyclopedia Britannica became a pioneer in digital learning starting in the 1980s. Today, the company serves 150 million students, lifelong learners and professionals in 83 countries and 16 languages.
“We’re excited to continue sharing all of the knowledge we have and being a part of people’s lives, even though it’s no longer through printed books,” says Elizabeth.
Over the five years, Elizabeth has spent with Encyclopedia Britannica, her role has evolved to oversee consumer subscriptions, marketing, analytics and research. When she identified an opportunity to increase Encyclopedia Britannica’s user base and subscriptions, as well as improve its website, the company’s journey to a partnership with VWO began.
Elizabeth Romanski, Consumer Marketing and Analytics Manager at Encyclopedia Britannica
2. Tools and system limitations, as well as dependency on external teams
Encyclopedia Britannica experimented with A/B testing over the past decade and used a few different products; however, the products didn’t provide enough flexibility. The products were difficult to implement and use, and the company couldn’t run new tests outside of a software release. Therefore, it was still relying heavily on in-house developers. This made work cumbersome, and testing became an afterthought because the process was clunky and time-consuming.
3. Going beyond just A/B testing
To transition smoothly to a digital landscape, the organization needed a solution that would allow it to build stellar user experiences, and easily create and run tests without coding or IT’s involvement. Encyclopedia Britannica needed a technology partner that could provide insight into its users’ behaviors and needs, and support it in the long term with flexible testing capabilities and powerful analytics.
“Nowadays, you have to establish loyalty with your customers and use data to drive innovations that will deliver an excellent user experience. You have to test things to see what works for your audience—even things as simple as changing a button color.” Elizabeth says.
Encyclopedia Britannica did a lot of research before contacting VWO, and ultimately determined that the solution’s intuitive user interface and the ability to make changes and gather insights quickly made it the right fit.
“You don’t need a website development background to make VWO work for you—and you don’t need to wait on release cycles”
When Encyclopedia Britannica implemented VWO, the organization took advantage of its learning resources and training sessions. The company started conducting small tests to give its marketing team insight into how they could use the solution. Now, Encyclopedia Britannica consistently uses VWO to test and improve its digital products.
Gathering insights to drive strategy
After nearly three years using VWO, Encyclopedia Britannica has gained greater visibility into its users’ behaviors and needs. Here are a few of the ways Encyclopedia Britannica used VWO to test and discover the best performing versions of its website, diagnose problem areas, improve user experience, and drive conversions and revenue.
“You don’t need a website development background to make VWO work for you—and you don’t need to wait on release cycles” Elizabeth says.
Test 1: Figuring out which color is best for links
Test 2: Comparing call-to-action (CTA) variables
Test 3: Evaluating new product feature effectiveness
With the data it has gained from VWO, Encyclopaedia Britannica has now become well versed in testing and has more insight into who its users are, what they like and dislike about the company’s products and how the products need to evolve as a result. The organization no longer needs to rely so heavily on its developers either because VWO provides 24×7 support.
“The VWO support team is amazing,” Elizabeth says.
VWO has empowered Encyclopaedia Britannica to give more of its staff a say in decision making. The VWO solution provides the freedom to try new initiatives because when someone has an idea, Encyclopaedia Britannica can easily test it to see if it resonates with users—the organization isn’t bound to one approach. The company also uses VWO to break down internal silos. Now, staff from different teams work together using the solution and sharing their results.
In the future, Encyclopedia Britannica intends for VWO to become a standard part of its workflow when considering product changes. So far, the organization has used VWO to improve its Britannica website, and plans to test its Britannica Kids website next. The company is also testing other potential consumer products with VWO, and hopes to involve its sister company Merriam-Webster.
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