The world is moving faster than ever. The way we consume content, share, buy – everything is evolving, and there has never been such a need for businesses to put all their efforts behind keep up with these changes. If we don’t keep iterating on our processes and moving forward, there is a very real risk that we will become irrelevant and outdated. We should constantly be asking ourselves what will make on-site experiences richer, easier and ultimately turn more visitors into customers.
So, what can we do to achieve this? To remove ‘internal blinkers’ and focus on creating the best, most customer-centric online experiences?
Changing your day-to-day working and thinking
When was the last time you spoke to your real customers – not from your office, but actually face-to-face? Or spent time with teams outside of your own to find out what they know about your customers or what they think of your on-site experience?
Begin by introducing regular activities and processes that take you closer to what your customers are actually thinking, saying and doing. Build up a bank of insights of what you know about your customers and keep refreshing these as things change every month.
Start from the beginning of the journey; how easy is it for people to find your website and then find what they need? You can run remote user testing sessions to find this out. Or you could run an on-site survey and begin to create themes from the responses which could identify issues, blockers or opportunities for changes on-site. If you can also validate these further with data and analytics then this should give you a prioritised focus for your improvements.
And remember that anyone in your business can come up with great ideas for tests/improvements – it doesn’t have to come from someone with ‘creative’ or ‘marketing’ in their title. You could run weekly or daily stand ups about the activity that is going on in the digital team and invite people from other departments to attend. They may be able to contribute valuable insight and it will bring the rest of the business closer to what your team is working on.
Iterate iterate iterate
Do you have a programme of continuous improvements on your website, or do you follow the traditional approach of a redesign every two years, hoping that at launch it performs as well as the previous site?
The big bang of a website redesign is becoming less and less prevalent. Companies like Amazon are leading the way; they have never redesigned their website. Instead, since launch they have been continuously iterating and improving the experience to ensure it’s in the optimum position at any given time. They are able to test and iterate at very high velocity because they have a dedicated team who handle this.
Start with looking for opportunities in your data; look for simple things you can change to improve the online experience and then test them using a tool like VWO or Optimizely. Once you have had a few successes through this then you can add in the customer insights you have been collecting. The strongest ideas for tests will then be backed by both qualitative and quantitative evidence.
Through your optimisation programme you can begin to learn about segments of customers. Initially it may be as simple as running a test to influence new vs. returning, or serving an offer to customers in a specific location.
Once you understand what works then you can look at personalising experiences on a more granular level and technology like Qubit or Sitecore can help you achieve this. From serving a bespoke homepage to a group of customers with products or services you know they will be interested in, to time or scarcity based messaging to encourage users through the journey.
Align your comms
Can you think of a time when you’ve had a really brilliant end-to-end customer experience? And the different touch points you experienced from start to finish?
For me it was when I recently gave blood for the first time.
I registered and booked my appointment online. I then received a letter and an email to confirm my appointment. Shortly before my appointment, I had an email reminding me and giving me instructions on how to prepare myself for the day, then a text the day before giving me the opportunity to cancel and free up the appointment if I couldn’t make it.
Afterwards, I received an email to thank me, and finally a text message to say my donation had arrived at Preston Hospital for use. Needless to say, after being looked after and guided through the process so smoothly, when I was invited to give blood again, I did.
This just shows how important it is to join up your comms: once you have a programme of continuous learning in place and are building up a bank of insights about your customer through both testing and research, you can get these insights to start working really hard for you.
You might run a test and discover some persuasive messaging that resonates really well with your customer. But don’t just leave it there; you could also use this messaging in your offline marketing, or in your new PPC campaign to ensure a consistent brand message throughout all marketing channels.
Also think about the role of offsite content in raising awareness and driving new customers into your brand experience – how can this be tested and improved to drive a higher volume/ better quality prospect?
The businesses who will truly thrive in this ever-changing world are those who are prepared to relax the reins, take everything they learn from and about their customer, combine it with data and use this to intelligently create a seamless experience both on and offline.