Whether you’re playing an olympic sport or running an online storefront, one thing holds true: stiff competition drives continued improvement. But what happens when you feel like you’ve hit a plateau?  When the competition has migrated towards one strategy or another, how do you uncover the techniques that will help you to stand out and generate sustainable growth?

Key Takeaways:

  • Just like early high-jumpers, eCommerce managers face diminishing returns by employing an aged technique.
  • eRPM is opening a new frontier for marketers interested in building sustainable revenue growth.

Sports analogies

During a recent trip to Europe, I had the chance to watch a European League of Champions semi-final match between Bayern and Barcelona. The result was quite impressive: Bayern simply demolished Barcelona with 4:0.

The next day – in virtually every cafè in town – people were discussing the coaches’ opposing strategies. After all, why not? In sports, anybody can become a strategy expert: the play is executed and the resulting score determines the outcome. Simple and transparent.

In business, however, the game is much more complex. Understanding business strategy requires lots of domain knowledge. Layer on top of that execution, which could take months and sometimes years, and there’s ample potential for confusion in the marketplace. That’s why a majority of businesses avoid the risks associated with developing their own strategies, and instead pursue industry best practices.

Best practices are generally a good starting point, but from time to time the business landscape goes through a tectonic change. This disruption – or paradigm shift – is created by a new technology or a dramatic change in the supply chain. That change often renders current best practices obsolete (if not entirely useless), creating an opportunity for those companies who are agile enough to generate a significant competitive advantage.

Suppose you’re one of the innovators: the agile few who produce or embrace disruptive technology or methodology. How do you compare with your counterparts? One way is to use a sports analogy.

The high jump metaphor

I often find myself in situations where I need to actively demonstrate why eRPM (eCommerce Revenue Performance Management) is not only different – but in fact superior – to traditional eCommerce testing and personalization solutions. This time, rather than using technical jargon and scientific language to articulate the point, let’s attempt to draw a parallel between what we do and a popular olympic sport, the high jump.

The high jump is a track & field event where competitors jump over a horizontal bar placed at certain heights. For decades, one technique called the straddle jump reigned supreme: virtually every Olympic athlete used this technique, and how well they executed was directly related to their final standing. The problem was that their results were approaching a saturation point – Olympians had mastered the technique, and it was getting harder and harder to set new records.

I believe that the digital marketplace is facing the same problem: the players are frantically copying each other and are straddling forward by employing similar resources and similar techniques – all with the hope of gleaning better results than their rivals.

For example, eCommerce testing and personalization solutions are being adopted at a rapid pace. Online merchants use these solutions, which rely on best practices, to test their website until they achieve statistically-confident results. At that point, they implement the ‘winner’ and expect to see results in line with what they observed during the test phase.

Another common practice is to target different types of visitors with different content and offers. This is based on the notion that marketers know what different types of visitors need, and that all technology should do is deliver content according to pre-set rules.

These methods might seem simple, but they’re not without challenge. As we’ve written, traditional testing and personalization techniques are stonewalled whenever visitor behavior changes – and it changes quite frequently. Just like early high jumpers, e-Commerce program managers are sweating over an aged technique and face diminishing returns.

Enter the Fosbury Flop

Dick Fosbury stunned the world during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico when he won the gold medal by employing a new high jump technique, now called the Fosbury Flop.

This new technique was so counterintuitive and disruptive because at the time, it was common sense that the body could exude more control facing forward than it could in reverse. However, Fosbury recognized the importance of timing the body parts, and saw an opportunity to introduce new movements that better leveraged the power of his legs and forward momentum.

The chart below shows how high jump performance plateaued up until Fosbury’s revolutionary first apperance. With this groundbreaking new technique, Olympians began shattering records once again.

Men's High Jump World Record Progression

Fosbury’s new jump method draws an interesting parallel to HiConversion’s eRPM technology. Like Fosbury, we recognized the problem and turned that challenge into a new revenue growth opportunity.

Our adaptive algorithm introduces multivariate combinations to e-Commerce sites and collects an abundance of data about what lends to goal-positive outcomes, throttling the display of these combinations in proportion to how they are predicted to perform. The most appealing result of this new fluid e-Commerce motion is real time revenue growth.

Like the Fosbury flop, eRPM is a disruptive technique. It shatters current best practices that rely on static visitor behavior and statistical confidence. Rather than subscribing to these aged ideals, those who practice eRPM understand that e-Commerce is a time-varying system, and that real time revenue lift is a key criteria. Any optimization platform or technology leveraged, then, needs to use intelligence to deliver great results.

And just like the Fosbury flop, only those who modify their technique will have the opportunity to dramatically increase their own site performance.