22 Sep The importance of optimising the entire eCommerce user experience
Despite reports of customer centricity being the number 1 focus for organisations, more and more examples of organisations who are focused on the digital sales funnel at the expense of a customer centric approach is increasing as pressure mounts to increase business performance.
Companies, throwing money into paid acquisition channels, but don’t have a clear idea of their target market or erroneously believe that they can appeal to everyone. Or not looking at the conversion rate because a different system measures that and we don’t measure that so well. Or poor product reviews that are the fault of the customer and not leading to a review of the supplier relationships or product quality review in line with the value proposition of the organisation.
The problem in almost every case is that the company does not understand how to optimise the entire user experience and no company mission statement with the word “customer” or a metric like “NPS” can make your organisation customer centric if you are not looking to optimise the whole experience.
They don’t understand who their target audience is, they don’t truly understand why someone would use their product or service, and they don’t understand how to keep them using it.Let’s break down each area, and run through how they can all be optimised to ensure your time and money is being spent in the right places, you’ll turn more visitors into customers, and keep them buying from you again and again.
- Know your audience: Do you really know your target audience? Have you actually gained customer insights in the past twelve months? Have you created a customer journey map around your key segments. If you are not clear on your target market how are you trying to refine it and ensure the products and services you offer are meeting the needs of your customers.
You can have the best written and designed adverts, but if you’re putting the wrong message in front of the wrong people, you’ll struggle to make sales. An example of not really understanding the customer is when we generalise instead of getting specific ie advertising to high net worth individuals a high value product on the basis of finance for the product. Conversely, advertising an inspirational product to medium net worth individuals without promoting finance or some form of salary sacrifice.
Recently, we were working with a health fund who were talking to customers as if they were all treatable under the same diagnosed condition – but this was far from true. In fact, this infuriated the “non treatable patients” as they didn’t want to hear about the happy ever after stories of those who were treatable. The needs were totally different.
- Customer Journey Maps
Take an hour to yourself and run through some customer avatars/profiles and conduct a customer journey map for each key segment.
Ask yourself what is your customers’ name? How old are they? What job do they do? How do they spend their free time? Are they single, married? Do they have kids, maybe a dog? What do they want to do more? Who are they buying for? For what purpose? Who is the main influencer?What are some of their challenges in the buying journey? Where are the biggest pain points? Where are the areas that you can do something totally different to really differentiate the experience and it really matters to the customer.
It may sound silly at first, but once you answer these questions you’ll begin to really understand your customers, what’s important to them, and how you can get them to buy from you.
So now you know who you’re targeting (and this should help a lot with how you target them), it’s all about making sure they make the purchase. There are dozens of areas to optimise and thousands of optimisations you can make to an e-commerce site, so I’ll give you a breakdown of some of my top choices for quick, and potentially big wins.
- Product Videos
Videos do everything for you. They can describe your product, show of your product in the perfect setting for your audience, and throw in reviews and FAQs. In addition, shoppers are 64-85% more likely to purchase a product after watching a video. To top it off, there’s far more potential for the viral factor. One of my favourites is the Chatbooks see the video here: https://youtu.be/QRyPstai9u8
- Reviews & Testimonials
Everyone wants them, everyone knows they are important, and yet the actual execution of reviews and testimonials is so frequently neglected.
- 93% of customers say their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews.
- 82% of customers say that the actual content of a review has directly resulted in a purchase.
They don’t just want star ratings, they want quality, genuine reviews, and after content, they value star rating, total number of reviews, and recency.
Make sure your reviews are easy to find, well laid out, and give options to filter by recency, star rating etc. Transparency = trust.
Cautionary note: The Competition Authorities (such as the ACCC) and Consumer Protection Laws are very clear that ratings and reviews must be authentic. Many organisations are coming under scrutiny with regards to their reviews and ratings and false testimonials.
Amazon absolutely nails reviews. You’ve got your star rating, number of reviews and best seller tag (ok this is an Amazon product….) all above the fold and right in your face. It also links down to the bottom where everything is broken down to make it super easy for you. They also have a questions function so if you’re still unsure after the reviews, you can just ask your question and get an answer from someone who bought the product.
Another highly respected review and rating is Urban spoon for those who don’t want to risk a bad dining experience.
- CTAs – Call to Actions
It’s pretty simple. If someone can’t find the Buy Now button, they won’t buy your product. Make it bold, make it clear and stand out on the screen. If you can squint while looking at your page and the thing that stands out is your CTA, you’ve done it right.
- Content- Building Trust and positive emotional response
We all want to have our adverts and information attract an audience but according to neuroscience we need to create a reward for people wanting to engage with us, trail a product. 6peas have created an ICARE Communications Framework, which outlines the types of communication we should consider when communicating with customers to drive trust and engagement.
Using the ICARE Communications Framework we look at the communications, the interactions, the service elements and product elements to create an experience that leads our customers or employee towards a reward response and aways from threat. This allows us to build trust faster, engage with customers and employees better and to prioritise elements of features and benefits that will make the biggest impact. In marketing we do with with Customer Journey Mapping and customer insights.
The ICARE framework looks at providing confidence by addressing people’s emotive states and their social domains of Importance (I), Control (C), Autonomy (A), Relationship/Relatedness/Belonging (R), Equity/Fairness (E).
Acquisition costs are often high and it costs much less to retain a customer than to find new ones (it’s 5x more expensive to acquire a customer than it is to retain). If you have targeted your audience correctly by rights you should be servicing them really well with the right product and service and customer value proposition. Which means referrals – if you have not been able to reduce your digital spend in the last three years and still grow your customer base – look at your churn rates or lost customer numbers.
If your retain your customers and drive loyalty – they are more likely to trail your new products and services, more likely to increase their spend with you, give you honest feedback about your products and services, stay with you regardless of a mistake and refer others to you. So if you are making promises you cannot keep – fix it.
- Know your customer – More than 60 percent of consumers feel that brands do not do a good job using their personal preferences to predict their needs. Fifty-five per cent agree that brands are behind the times with how they interact with customers both online and offline. Customer Experience Trends Report 2019. As a result many consumers feel that brands just do not understand them – even lacking the most basic knowledge such as purchase history and personal preferences. Technology solutions need to enable connection with customers not a limitation. Customer experience is more than simply bringing customers in the door, its about creating long term relationships. Marketers need to find the technology that brings all customer insights because they understand the importance of knowing customers.
Personalise the experience
Despite the huge amounts on money being spent on technology to know our customers better. Marketers seem to be overwhelmed with the number of different systems that contain customer data. To the extent that technology and digital solutions are creating a problem not creating opportunities. Customer expectations of brands and the information that they have “trustingly” handed over to organisations is being used incorrectly, ignored or mismanaged and not to the benefit of the customer at all.
This is the key thing that so many businesses get wrong.
This is not about putting the name of a person in an email – although this is good and people will notice if you get this wrong. No, personalisation is all about the offer and the messaging and the ability to converse with your customer about what really matters to them.
Use your data. Use what you know about the customer to send relevant newsletters, product suggestions, and even content. For example a couple of years ago Panadol bottles issued within a certain period had to be recalled. Despite having three children in my household and being a loyalty member with two different chemists, two different retailers – not one of them sent me a note about the recall. Use peoples purchase history to address their concerns in this case – keep my family well and minimise their discomfort – as part of that sending me a note about a Panadol recall would be well received by me (and anyone who purchased Panadol).
Again this comes back to customer profiling. If you really know who your target audience is, and you can overlay that with real purchasing information, you can create a much much better experience both through marketing communications and on the website.
- Loyalty schemes & Gamification: A great example of a loyalty scheme is buying 9 coffees, get your 10th free. You know exactly what you’re getting, and what it’ll take to get there. I am particularly fond of the Westpac Altitude Rewards Program – lots of variety, you know how to claim a reward, you can use a variety of sources to claim your reward ie points + purchasing.
A bad example is the Fly Buy points – I think I have been a member for 15 years and never been able to claim anything, I have no idea what they are doing.
People are loyal, and even the smallest rewards are well received if they are relevant, but you can go the extra yard by gamifying a customer experience, and just awarding badges once customers hit milestones.
Gamification is used a huge amount in games funnily enough but it is also a winning technique for online learning programs and weight loss programs to link to the reward responses in the brain and increase motivation at critical times (ie when people may be thinking to quit or give up). You get points, medals, ribbons, and trophies simply for doing things that are part of the experience.
Gamification works particularly well in the early stages of a customers lifecycle.
A lot of online platforms used gamification to incentivise new users such as Dropbox and Trello ie rewarding customers for inviting a teammate to collaborate, or if someone creates their first design or shares their first social post. A retail business could reward someone simply for adding to their basket, creating their account, adding a delivery address or payment card.
- Referral schemes – prompt people to refer when they have their ‘aha!’ moment to others when in social settings with little or no prompting, i.e. when they’ve done what they came to do. Importantly use the relatedness or sense of belonging to create referral programs where the reward might be towards a common goal like a children’s charity or club. Don’t make referral programs about the organisation itself but what matters to the person or organisation referring.
- Product – make the product experience as good as you can with extra value. If you sell an air fryer include a recipe book, if you sell a food delivery subscription service, send recipes that link to their goods in their order. I am a sucker for a free items with purchase and makeup counters do this really really well. And makeup is an extremely personal and intimate relationship so they need strong drivers to get people to trial a new brand. But I am really impressed with anything that makes my “chores” easier to do (such as cooking) and minimises waste (like throwing out food which makes me feel guilty).
- Subscription purchases – this is being used by online retailers of regular purchase items such as pet food and preventatives. Turning a once off purchase into a subscription.Online pet food retailers do this really well, rather than buy once off they encourage you to subscribe to the purchase with a preorder every 8weeks or 10 weeks. The more frequent the purchase the cost of the item is reduced.
- Red flag data – this applies a lot more to subscriptions, but it’s basically the data that indicates strong usage and flagging it once usage drops in a way which indicates you may be losing a customer. So for retail, you might look at the average number of times a person buys from you every 6 months, let’s say this is 6 (once per month) if someone goes 2 months without purchasing you flag this and communicate with the customer. Gymnasiums should be using this to identify when motivation is being compromised and when to change tactics from purely program to start engaging from a relationship level. The same could be for recurring purchases for pets, and baby supplies.
These tips do not just relate to E-commence experience they relate to the omnichannel experience. Essentially, to drive performance in a customer centric organisation or to turn your organisation into a customer driven organisation – get clear on your target market to the level of customer journey maps, create promises that you can deliver and that your audience deems important, identify ways to deliver a superior customer experience so that you have loyal customers.