At PRWD, we believe that conversion optimisation is not just about improving conversion rates, but also—and most importantly —about fostering continuous business growth. With this in mind, here are five areas that ecommerce businesses should focus on getting right in 2016 to set the foundation for future success.
1. EMBRACE CROSS-DEVICE INTEGRATION
The days when people used only one device to shop online are officially over. Almost half of UK consumers used multiple devices to shop in 2015, and research indicates that cross-device usage is rapidly becoming the norm.
Is your ecommerce dealing well with this cultural and technological shift? Start your evaluation by asking yourself these three questions:
- Does my website work on different devices?
- Does it adapt flawlessly to different resolutions and browsers?
- Does it offer comparable functionality across devices?
Take action → if you haven’t already, you need to build a seamless cross-device experience. There are simple steps you can take to kickstart the process, such as actively encouraging user log-ins so customers can start their purchasing journey on one device and complete it on another. Another tactic could be making your app smarter*, so that if an action happens on a desktop, the app refreshes and the journey is seamlessly integrated, rather than being disconnected.
* that’s if you have an app. If you don’t, consider investing in one.
2. GET TO KNOW YOUR CUSTOMERS
Most ecommerce businesses should have access to standard demographic details such as their customers’ gender, age, language, or income. This information can be useful but it doesn’t really paint a clear picture: it’s like claiming to know somebody from glancing at their ID.
Ecommerce optimisation in 2016 requires you to truly get to know your customers, so you can be more efficient in reaching them and giving them what they are looking for. You can use several user research methods to understand their psychology and motivation, and learn about how they use your website in their conversion journey.
Take action → use insights from user research to develop customer personas representative of your customer base. This will help you discover and address different customers’ needs, motivations, and desires, allowing you to create more informed hypotheses (which will lead to an increased likelihood of test success) to A/B test on your site. Once you’ve embedded a research culture into your business and have unprecedented access to your customer base, you will then be able to offer personalised experiences to your audience segments.
3. AVOID DATA BLINDNESS
by Tom Fishburne @ marketoonist.com
Technical data points like page load speed or bounce rate have always been important metrics for ecommerce businesses, but these simple metrics are no longer enough. As the market grows in size and complexity, you need to analyse way more data to make informed decisions and find growth opportunities.
Rather than analysing data in isolation, combine multiple quantitative metrics with insight from qualitative research. This will uncover otherwise hidden problems on your website and explain why problems are there. You can also measure performance and discover missing features. In 2016, avoid data blindness if you want to have a clear picture of your business and a strong sense of where it should go.
Take action → combine quantitative data (data from a tool such as Google Analytics) and qualitative data (data gathered via user research or UX research tools) to drive innovation and development. That way, if you are planning a website redesign or you need to decide where to start an optimisation project, you won’t be starting at random.
4. FOCUS ON WEBSITE CONTENT AND USABILITY
Raise your hand if you have ever left a website that seemed difficult to navigate or gave you confusing instructions.
Cross-device integration and audience understanding are not enough to keep a visitor on your site if you neglect website content and usability. Your brand won’t get a second chance to make a good first impression.
If you didn’t start 2016 with a thorough check of your website, I’d recommend you do as soon as possible. Make sure your site audit answers questions such as: does it have a clear structure that is easy to navigate? Does it give compelling, persuasive, and useful instructions? Does it maximise the potential of psychology principles and persuasion techniques? When it does, you will have a greater chance of engaging your market and convert prospects into paying customers.
Take action → do not underestimate the importance of microcopy—those little bits of text that guide users across a website and tell them what to do on it. Econsultancy has a useful post on how ecommerce sites can use microcopy.
5. TEST (AND DO IT RIGHT)
An optimisation culture can turn your ecommerce into a truly user-centric operation, as your actual customers will tell you which design, layout, structure, copy, value proposition, tone of voice (the list goes on) work best for them.
If I can give you just one testing tip, however, it’s this: be wary of tests that are not based on solid research, have no clear hypothesis, and focus on random elements like button colour or CTA copy. In my experience, these are usually a waste of time and will give you little to no actionable insight. If you are you ready to get testing in 2016, that’s awesome, but make sure that a strong strategy and a methodology always underpins everything you do.
Take action → use data and research to identify an opportunity or problem your ecommerce is experiencing and develop a strong, data-driven hypothesis to enact change. Test to drive business growth, improve customer experience, and maximise performance, rather than to improve just one micro-conversion metric.
These are just five core areas that if done right, can be the cornerstone for future business growth—but the work doesn’t stop there.
You’ll have to work hard on bringing the wider business to the understanding that a research-led, strategic optimisation culture is the best approach to business growth. Such change may seem daunting, but in this economy, it’s necessary.