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Hotels4U drives 61pc increase in mobile searches using A/B, multivariate testing

May 31, 2013 recently increased the number of searches taking place on mobile devices by 61 percent following an optimization strategy using A/B and multivariate testing.

The online hotel and accommodations booking service wanted to ensure it stood out in a highly competitive category by improving the search-to-book process so it could capitalize on the growth in smartphones. The company also sought to optimize its desktop experience to increase conversions from Web site visits.

“Mobile traffic is increasing significantly for sites such as Hotels4U,” said Geoff Pennells, London-based regional director for travel at Webtrends.

“This means an ever-larger proportion of their digital audience are now using their smartphones to interact with the brand and product, and in general the customer expectation is that their mobile experience will be fully optimized and as user-friendly as the traditional Web experience, if not better,” he said.

“In addition to this, converting mobile visitors without a mobile-friendly site takes significantly more touch points where conversions and revenue might be lost.”

Improving the customer experience
Hotels4U engaged Webtrends and its Optimize platform for A/B testing, multivariate testing, advanced segmentation and behavioral targeting.

The team built multivariate test plans that could be rolled out and updated over a period of time to continually improve the customer experience.

The mobile optimization process started with creating mobile-optimized content for landing pages with a goal of increasing the interaction by mobile visitors and getting them to execute a search for a hotel.

This involved replacing traditional Web content with a dramatically changed mobile version of the landing page being segmented and targeted towards mobile visitors.

On its mobile site, Hotels4U experienced a 61 percent increase in searches on mobile devices, with a 22 percent lift in visitors viewing hotel pages on the mobile channel following the tests and implementing changes.

Following several tests that helped Hotels4U optimize the latter pages in the buying cycle, it has experienced a 5.52 percent lift in online bookings.

Marketers embrace testing
The online booking site was also able to maximize conversions from aggregator Web sites by providing real-time options and alternatives for bookings if preferences were unavailable. This helped improve the customer experience and increase the retention rate from these sites by 18.29 percent.

While A/B and multivariate testing is considered an important strategy for optimizing digital experiences, many marketers have not yet adopted these strategies mobile.

“We are seeing an increase in the number of customers embracing testing for mobile channels,” Mr. Pennells said.
“That being said many marketers don’t yet know that the technology and services are already out there to help them optimise their mobile journeys,” he said.

“Some marketers do not yet have a mobile strategy locked-down, and some marketers think that they don’t have the bandwidth for mobile optimization.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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