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Increasing Sales During a Pandemic Using Behavioural Science

Precision Nutrition partnered with Widerfunnel to test an alternative business model.

Last updated: February 5, 2021

The Experiment:
Traditional presale vs. evergreen launch model.

The Challenge:
Design an experimentation program that supports the buyer’s journey and accelerates sales of coaching certification programs online while mitigating foundational risks to the business.

The Outcome: 
Data from experimentation insights confirmed an alternative launch model that increased enrolment and positively impacted revenue.

Results:
16.7% increase in total revenue

Overview

Precision Nutrition, founded in 2005, is the largest private nutrition coaching and education company worldwide. The company’s base business model provides predictable revenue forecasts and operates on a twice yearly coaching certification cycle.

The Future of The Launch Model

Countless businesses including, Precision Nutrition, had challenges navigating the COVID-19 pandemic consumer landscape. During the pandemonium, prospects markedly changed their priorities, and current registrations were not reflecting past benchmarks. Precision Nutrition realized that it was an opportune time to consider challenging their traditional presale twice a year enrollment model that delivered dependable results in previous years.

Eva Tang, the Director of Product Marketing at Precision Nutrition, spearheaded a shift in strategy to expand its enrollment and grow market share. Their dependable launch model was effective in creating scarcity and gave students predictable schedules they could plan around for spring and fall enrollment, however, she recognized that the traditional launch model didn’t offer an ideal opportunity to test and learn.

Since the company heavily relies on the revenue created from these traditional launches, there was no ideal time to plan a test that might make a bottom-line ripple effect. Ultimately, testing with the current business model was too risky and expensive to conduct extensive experimentation. With her board of directors and her team’s backing, Eva decided to launch an always open and always running approach to disrupt their traditional model—evergreen vs. launch was born.

Eva Tang

“Does the traditional launch model perform best? Could an evergreen version be just as good or better?”

– Eva Tang, Director of Product Marketing, Precision Nutrition

The team was concerned about risking the strong reputation they spent fifteen years building, the strategy entailed serving up the option of evergreen to a split registration cohort. But that wasn’t their sole concern; rolling out testing presented other obstacles, such as dealing with multiple complications from running evergreen testing in tandem with a launch. Eva front loaded the project by creating contingency plans with Widerfunnel. Combing through muddy data, being responsive to uncertainty associated with COVID-19, and managing team burnout were other issues that made it challenging to design the experiment.

“We knew going in this testing could be the opposite of airtight; it was a near-impossible balance because we have performance goals to manage, too. We had to be able to do these experiments while not mucking up the data and needed a partner who could help us do that.”

-Eva Tang, Director of Product Marketing, Precision Nutrition

Despite the risks, there were many advantages that going with an evergreen model would offer. With Widerfunnel’s comprehensive experience,  Precision Nutrition could realize the numerous benefits an alternative business model could bring. The company would gather flexible sample sizes for their experiments, shorten feedback loops, target various traffic sources, and present offers to predefined numbers. An evergreen launch would yield far more accurate and useful results when gauging the success of each offering.

Solution

Widerfunnel’s strategic and technical team had a previous engagement with a business unit led by Lance Jones, Director of Product Marketing at Precision Nutrition. Widerfunnel was initially brought on as a partner to fortify their bench strength and for strategic experimentation guidance. Lance immediately felt that Widerfunnnel could offer the support that Eva’s team needed to explore new ways to test their business model.

Widerfunnel’s strategy team, Alex Mason and Ervin Cho, suggested Eva consider employing a mixed methods approach, which includes both quantitative (A/B tests and analytics), and qualitative methods (session recordings, surveys, and polls) of validation. This approach offers more robust insights than A/B alone, and it highlights customer behavior. This approach is used to uncover better alternative customer experiences and mitigate risks to the business.

“We worked with Eva to mitigate reputational risks and protect monthly revenue forecasts by preparing a comprehensive experimentation roll-out plan. We aimed to support Eva by adequately preparing the business & the management team using our experience as a baseline.”

– Alex Mason, Experimentation Strategist, Widerfunnel

By employing surveys and customer feedback from the mixed-method approach, Widerfunnel found trends in a broad range of qualitative customer information. Previously, Precision Nutrition was focused on conversion rate optimization that didn’t always generate key business insights. Now, the partnership with Widerfunnel meant they could broaden their toolkit, go beyond on-page optimization, and analyze more profound consumer behaviour.

Widerfunnel’s technical consulting expertise aided in creating the capacity to run more complex tests. By assessing, modifying and optimizing Precision Nutrition’s existing tech stack, the team recommended to move from Google Optimize to Kameleoon—allowing for more complex and thorough testing capabilities. Internal tools like Heap and Salesforce Marketing Cloud meant Widerfunnel could act as a partner in implementing seamless integrations, producing experiment results that were integrated and reliable.

“It’s rare to be able to do this type of complex experimentation well. Widerfunnel was an incredible partner.”

– Eva Tang, Director of Product Marketing, Precision Nutrition

Additionally, Widerfunnel’s extended team forged a long-lasting partnership with Precision Nutrition. By building on incremental tests to reveal critical insights along the way, Widerfunnel helped Precision Nutrition configure a strategic experimentation program. Eva notes, “Widerfunnel did a great job presenting expertise. Because they know our business, they were always thinking 3-4 steps down the road. They worked so efficiently that they were often waiting on us, as opposed to the other way around.”

experiment setup

Results

Precision Nutrition could successfully run both evergreen and dedicated launches simultaneously—this is what Widerfunnel refers to as an “Aha!” moment. The experiment determined that the alternative launch approach was optimal for the business; the combination strategy yielded its best results.

Precision Nutrition uncovered a host of unexpected key behavioral trends about their customers and prospects during the four-month experiment. Widerfunnel designed multiple experiments intended to lift barriers to registration. For example, learnings from offers like $0 down combined with simplified lead forms and data from tools to analyze better traffic helped formulate hypotheses. The central insight was clear; when given the option, customers wanted the flexibility to select the buy now and plan for a later enrollment. The evergreen approach did impact the drive to register during the traditional launches.

16.7% increase in total revenue

By offering both registration options, Precision Nutrition observed a 16.7% increase in total revenue. In addition to these stunning bottom-line results, the team is now free to focus on top-of-funnel conversion and improving the customer experience, all while creating new opportunities for future growth.

Precision Nutrition plans to build each launch in 2021 with automation, running new fully-automated launches in 2022.

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