Why you shouldn’t be scared of mboxes


Halloween is around the corner with ghosts, goblins and other scary creatures abounding. One thing you don’t need to be scared about as you embark upon an optimization program is a Test&Target mbox. In fact, they are quite the opposite of scary, giving marketers the flexibility and full control to display various alternatives of content for testing or targeting to see statistically significant results on what compels different customer groups to convert more.

Wait, what’s an mbox?

I’ve actually heard it referred to as a “magical box” which, in my book, is a pretty good description.  In essence, it’s a marketing box or marketing container  that you typically “place” around specific areas of your webpage where you can swap out variations of content for A/B..N, multivariate tests, and targeting. Mboxes can also be used to track visitor behavior and success metrics on a page (clicks, shopping funnel, orders, etc.).

Mboxes automatically capture anonymous profile information about your visitors (such as referrer, keyword searched, geo-location, device, if you are a first-time or repeat visitor, among others). With mboxes, the profiles are also progressive, meaning, as your visitors navigate through the site and interact with content, mboxes capture their preferences and intent and then marketers can use that data to provide in-session behavioral targeting based on their interests and affinities. Lastly, you can pass in your own profile data, which you can then use for personalized targeting.

This allows marketers to define customer segments based on hundreds of very distinct data variables, such as category affinity, device type, entry point, and geo-location. They can then target them with a progressive dialogue and experience at each stage of their path through their content towards increased conversion, adapting to the channel and time by which they access.

  • Flexibility: You can have an mbox at the top of the page, for a single line of code implementation, and/or mboxes around specific content areas, it’s really flexible. Different implementations may be warranted based on resources available, and the maturity of your optimization program. In fact, some of our clients use a hybrid approach to allow for full flexibility. For example, with an mbox at the top of the page (which allows you to create mboxes anywhere else on the page and modify css, etc), you have a lot of control, but would need help from a technical resource or to utilize your Adobe Digital Test&Target consultant. For an in-house optimization program with full marketer control, once mboxes are on the site, there’s little to no additional need for IT, unless you are running a complicated test that requires functional changes.  
  • Breadth: You can have multiple mboxes on a page and across multiple pages to maintain a consistent and relevant cross-page experience. What some may not know is that you can also use an mbox offsite within emails, targeted banner ads, social media, and on your mobile sites & apps. Wait, I can test my Facebook pages? Yes, you can!  
  • Control: Mboxes can easily be turned on and off within the Test&Target admin interface (without having to change code on your site) based on testing and targeting needs at any time by the marketer and do not disrupt the regular function of a site. So, what this means is, you don’t have to worry about overages!
  • Foundational: Mboxes are also the framework used for Adobe’s automated behavioral targeting with Test&Target 1:1 and Adobe Recommendations. They integrate easily with the other products in Adobe’s Digital Marketing Suite – you can drag/drop mboxes from CQ (our Web Experience Management solution), test your Search& Promote business rules, create dynamic banners with Scene7, and share segments for advanced targeting with our Analytics solutions.
  • Safe: To safeguard against service interruptions and connectivity issues, all Test&Target mboxes are equipped to include default content (defined by the client), which is surfaced in the event that the user’s browser cannot connect to Test&Target. Default content is triggered if the user’s browser cannot connect to Test&Target within a defined timeout period, which is configurable.

Um, really, what’s an mbox? (Technical)

Test&Target is a content-targeting application that is integrated with websites by means of a JavaScript library. Specific areas of high-value webpages on a customer’s site are designated with “mboxes” and replaced with a JavaScript function. An mbox is a div tag that wraps around the existing content on a Web page. The div tag is then followed by a single line of JavaScript to create the mbox instance. We also have an Ajax method of invoking an mbox, if needed.

Other optimization tools that implement via “one single line of code” say that no further code is needed for testing, and this is not true. They require you to use their consultants to implement tests and make any changes (there’s a lot of behind the scenes stuff that goes into this setup), which can be costly and takes away your control. What isn’t said is the potential risk in letting that DOM manipulation or 3rd party vendor inject code onto your site.

Adobe does offer a full-service option with Adobe Digital, if you prefer an agency model and want a 3rd party vendor to run your testing program. This team runs the gamut from strategy through analysis, including creating designs, setup, coding, and QA. Or you could take a hybrid approach, where your optimization team does some testing on their own and uses Adobe Digital in conjunction as they grow their program.

Will mboxes slow down my site?

No, no optimization product runs quicker than Test&Target due to our major investment in an unrivalled global EDGE network. We deliver 25 billion server calls per month with ease.  We have 750+ customers and some of the most respected enterprise level customers in the world, including 4 out of the 5 top financial institutions and 8 out of the 10 top retailers.  Our impact to page load time is less than minimal, tracked at only a few milliseconds.

Load time isn’t an issue, even for the largest of our enterprise clients who receive billions of visitors per year. We recommend keeping the number of mboxes to under 7 per page, which appears to be more than enough for solid testing on any given page. For assistance or questions, I highly recommend you lean on your Test&Target consultants to guide you;  they are experts in the tool and in the optimization field. We’ve seen the greatest success from clients that learn and follow our best practices on implementation, testing, and building an optimization program overall.

No skeletons in this closet

So, why be scared? The answer is you shouldn’t be, there are no skeletons in this closet. Test&Target gives marketers full flexibility, power, and control in a robust testing and targeting solution.

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