4 Tips to Ensure Your Site is Customer Focused

February 11, 2009 by  
Filed under E-Commerce Optimization

Website conversion is increased using a variety of strategies all of which play an important role in the ultimate effectiveness.

I seem to constantly mention that one must make sure they pay careful attention to the customer experience their website offers. After hearing this so many times one might ask “Why do you keep saying this? Enough is enough already.”

The reason I continually bring it up is because it is one of the most important factors playing a role in your success, yet is most often overlooked by many store owners. This quite possibly could be because the customer experience is an all inclusive concept involving many systems working in unison.

The customer experience is not a single tangible element which can be held or altered but rather a series of elements which make up a system upon which the customer relies to get them to their end goal — making a purchase. For it to be effective each of the elements which makes up the system must each be in top shape.

A big part of that customer experience lies in the content (text) your site uses to describe everything from products to the way you use them to your business itself. This is your chance to shine — and many stores fall short.

“Words have the power to influence. Use them carefully but wisely.”

Take the following example from a dealer selling automobiles.

Company Focused: The auto dealer features a particular automobile in its inventory as offering “30 miles per gallon.” Although customers may find this promo informative, they may not see the benefit this statement offers them.

Consider this reworded description.

Customer Focused: The auto dealer lists the car and says “spend less on gas and save more money with this gas-efficient vehicle getting 30 miles to the gallon.” Now this phrase speaks to the customer. It provides them with a specific benefit that buying this car will give them. Everyone wants to “spend less and save more” right?

So after that introduction and example, here are 4 tips you can implement to ensure your site is focused more on your customers and not yourself.

  1. Examine your content “bulk.” Content is what encourages customers to continue through the conversion path toward a completed sale. From product page and shopping cart wording to customer assurance terminology which builds confidence, make sure your site includes plenty textual content aiding users at understand the purpose of each page, where to go next, and what to expect.
  2. Analyze and assess your content. Who does your content focus on (speak to)? Is it your customer or your company? While content should describe your offers, products, and company (to name a few), it should do so from a customer perspective. Turn any “we” / “our” statements into “you” statements.
  3. Describe product and shopping benefits. Let your customers know more than just about what you offer; tell them how your offers or how shopping with you (instead of competitors) will benefit them. For starters, try to include one benefit for each attribute. Customers who clearly understand the benefits are more likely to turn into sales.
  4. Start from the top and work your way down. Begin updating content on the high level pages of your site (home page, product pages, shopping cart, etc…) — pages that play the biggest role in moving customers toward conversion. Once the top level pages are out of the way you can focus on the lower level pages of the site. Another good option is to take a close look at your website analytics program to determine which pages have the highest bounce and exit rates. Examine these pages and use them as a starting point for your improvement with the goal of keeping customers from abandoning at those points.

To your success!

Survey Reveals Customer Experience Key to Online Success

The 11th Annual Mystery Shopping Survey from the e-tailing group is out and it suggests that leading online stores are optimizing their sites features to generate more sales.

If you follow me you’ll know this is one thing I continually say. Your site must provide the visitor with a functional and pleasant customer experience and that often starts with elements relating to design.

The merchants who are seeing the best results are focusing on executing strategies that take the online shopping experience to higher levels. They are increasing efficiency of processes and developing customer retention programs; rethinking promotions, adjusting content, and refining search. These elements along with others combine to create a sense of community that directly speaks to their target.

Lauren Freedman, president of the e-tailing group states that e-commerce stores must consider rethinking promotions and include a variety of creative options if they want to remain competitive in a tough economy. She goes on to say that price is even more likely to be a key factor in consumer purchasing during this difficult time. I touched upon this very concept a bit in one of my recent articles Shoppers are Still Searching but Where They Are Searching has Shifted.

The trend among those successful online merchants is to structure marketing promotions that get the sale immediately. To do so they are often utilizing limited-time-only sales as evidenced by a 24 percent jump in such to 42 percent in 2008; up from 18 percent in 2007.

Here are several key findings of the survey:

  • Free shipping continues to be a promotional standard. Various free shipping models were present including free shipping with conditions. Another past article I wrote titled Shipping Promotions that Drive More Sales elaborates on this finding.
  • Reworking the on-site search to present more reliable results which get the customer to the product they seek faster is a priority. Unreliable search results, or those with products not even closely fitting the search itself can cause a poor customer experience and lead to lower conversion rates.
  • The addition of strategically thought out rich media content such as video to your product descriptions can increase the customer confidence and help make the buying decision easier.
  • Adoption of Social Media tactics to create a community around the business is becoming paramount in developing a loyal following. From blogging to bulletin boards to applications such as Facebook, successful online merchants are finding these “community nurturing” channels an important component in the success of their brand. In fact, 26% of store owners report successfully using blogs as marketing tools which is up from just 10% last year.
  • The consumers desire for unbiased peer-to-peer product insight has elevated the role product ratings and reviews plays in helping them make an informed buying decision.
  • The survey reveals that 81 percent of online store owners are embracing Refer/E-Mail a Friend features compared to 74 percent last year.

What Does it all Mean?

In short, if you are to be successful online you should consider taking a close look at how you get customers involved in your business. It’s the total customer experience from the moment they learn about your business to the moment they make a purchase which will determine if you will win or lose online. You must consider expanding your marketing reach to include Social Media as a way to build community — a vital role in building trust and loyalty.

If you need help implementing a Social Media Marketing campaign I offer a few packages that will help you get that accomplished. Contact me for more information.

From weekly blogging packages to full media utilization of Facebook, Twitter and more, I’m sure there is something for everyone. Likewise, I am available to coach store owners toward developing successful promotional strategies which increase conversion and build business as well. Just drop me a note.

To your success!