Is a Party!
E X P E R I E N C E
O P T I M I Z A T I O N
Is a Party!
Conversion optimization is becoming table stakes for any lead gen or e-commerce
site these days. Brands are getting more sophisticated tools, processes and teams
focused on A/B testing and conversion optimization. The evolution of the Customer
Experience perspective has helped brands expand their definition of optimization
beyond the Marketing team, and beyond SEO and A/B Testing. Through this lens,
experiences can be optimized through better collaboration with designers, developers,
usability experts, content authors, brand owners, and senior management. A more
holistic perspective of optimization now appears over the horizon and everyone across
the organization is invited to participate. It’s going to be a party.
The 2013 E-Consultancy Conversion Rate Optimization Report shows that 59% of
brands and 41% of agencies consider conversion optimization to be a critical part of
their business. The same report also shows that companies are primarily focusing on
Sales, Revenue and Lead Volume when they talk about the success of their on-site
Any savvy digital marketer knows that these are ultimately the key performance
indicators that they are accountable to stakeholders for, but what about the brand’s
accountability to their customers? Where does customer experience come into play?
According to Watermark Consulting’s analysis of Forrester Research’s annual Customer
Experience Index, brands that are leading in customer experience are also leading in
improving incremental returns.
S&P 500 Index
Customer experience leaders outperform
the market (2007-2012)
Six-year stock performance of Forrester’s Customer Experience index leaders versus
laggards cersus S&P 500
source: Watermark Consulting
A great party takes a lot of planning, coordination and rigor, but rallying your team
around the idea of having the best party ever gives everyone a common perspective
of the goal. Like a party, providing the best experience for your customers requires
that disciplines and business lines team up around the common goal of optimizing the
overall level of delight your customers receive from your brand. The following examples
are areas where experience optimization can be applied to your current processes,
teams, and digital ecosystem to help you prepare the CX party of the century!
ROLES AND GOVERNANCE
For this party of the century, we will need an event coordinator to oversee the DJ, the
caterers, the decorators, etc. This role is vital to our goal that the guests (customers)
have the best experience possible. Similarly, there needs to be executive sponsorship of
optimization and clear roles inside of the organization that are assuring that customer
experience is at the core of all that you do.
Theme parties are the best, but you have to make sure the theme is appropriate for the
people you are inviting and the timing. It is also pretty difficult to pull off more than one
theme at the same event. Have you ever been to a costume pool party in the winter?
Focus your optimization efforts around a specific theme and audience segments and
change themes on regular basis. Examples of this could mobile experience one month,
and personalized emails the next month. It is too confusing for the customer if there
is too much change at once, and not having focused themes makes it much more
difficult to determine which efforts are working the best.
CUSTOMER INSIGHTS & MARKET RESEARCH
Know who should be coming to your digital properties and why they are there.
• What are they coming to accomplish?
• What types of content have the most value to them?
• When they engage?
• What devices do they use to engage different tasks and content?
Without customer segmentation, great insights are commonly lost because aggregate
data doesn’t show the patterns that are most actionable. Segment customers in
ways that will help you deliver more relevant and targeted experiences based on
their individual needs. Segments can be developed from behavioral web analytics
(implicit) and attributes that the customer gives you or that you retrieve from your
CRM customer database or a tool like Demandbase (explicit). There are various ways
that segments can be created: market segments, personas and visitor history are a few
good starting points.
Logged in User
User identified &
User provides info
paths or choices
Information tailored to
Self Identification Self Identification
MAP CUSTOMER JOURNEYS & MAKE PERSONAS
In order to optimize the customer experience, you must first understand the
customer’s experience. Remember that customers have multiple touch points, and
that their experiences should be consistent across all touch points online and offline.
Make sure that the calls to action and offers that your brand content is based around
aligns to the customers journey and what their needs are, not just what the business
wants them to accomplish. Alignment of offers and calls to action around customer
expectation is a great place to start doing user focused A/B testing. It is important to
do primary customer research through interviews, surveys, data analysis and industry
analysis to help round out a thorough perspective of your customer’s journey. You are
likely to determine multiple journeys exist for different types of customers. Turning this
research into a robust persona helps you connect to your customers more personally.
Like remembering that you have seven vegetarian friends when crafting your party
menu, you can make design decisions based on what you know about your customers.
Be nice to your customers and don’t bombard them with communications that hurt
your brand more than help. Measure the response to marketing by segment and
use carefully designed remarketing and automation plans that help nurture interest
without overstepping. This will enable more delightful marketing campaigns that can
be more dynamically aligned instead of monotonous ads.
Know where you audience hangs out so that you can focus your efforts in the areas
that are the most effective for your brand goals. Not all social media channels are the
right place for your brand marketing, but you can be part of the conversation and be
a more relevant source of information to your customers in their space. Customer
research and journey mapping combined with segmented web analytics focused on
social engagement can help uncover the channels where you can reach the right
SEO is no longer about gaming the system and learning the algorithms for Google.
We know that search engines are in the business of getting the most relevant search
results in front of their users with as little friction as possible and this means that your
“homepage” is more commonly not actually the most common landing page for your
site. Connect customers to content by creating a more robust content strategy that is
consistent, concise, manageable, and measureable. Focus content strategy around
the goal of getting more people to your site that are engaging, not just increasing new
traffic for the sake of having more.
It is much easier to start an engaging conversation with your guests if you know a
little bit about them first. It is really hard to know everything about your customers,
but having some attributes to use can help you deliver more personal content and
engage with them more naturally. Customer intelligence platforms help combine data
that you already own with third party resources. These platforms can fill in gaps about
customers to give you a more complete picture. Using customer intelligence in real-
time moves up the capability of personalization from assumptions (implicit) to facts
(explicit). Third party tools like Lytics and Demandbase can also help fill in the gaps for
non-authenticated traffic, and help make the introduction for you by providing some
of these customer attributes.
Web analytics are usually aligned around high level and aggregated business goals,
but optimization starts at low level micro interactions in many cases. Look at your
analytics implementation for areas where you can add tracking around engagement
and develop more segments. Start tracking things like form errors and form
abandonment, downloads, videos, and specific content category engagement. Now
slice and dice your data to be more closely related to your audience segments.
This will let you see more clearly how different customers are trying to accomplish
different things and see where there is opportunity for enhancing the content or
design to eliminate points of friction.
Test elements of the design that are personal and relevant to the tasks and segments.
Testing assumptions about the way customers want to interact with your site will
enable the design team to spend more time working on refining the customer
navigation and information architecture rather than doing a redesign every other year
based solely on re-branding.
Use voice-of-customer data from surveys and user research to identify the most
common point of frustration with usability and develop a plan to prioritize, plan,
design, and test solutions to the usability issues that have the biggest impact on
customer experience and business performance.
Design for everyone. Setting the stage for the most delightful digital experience
means that it is time to do a deep dive into nuances in accessibility.
Use web analytics to review what your top content is and how it is being engaged.
Make sure that there is content that speaks to all of the customer needs that you
identified in your customer journey mapping. Remember though, less is more;
content that does not support the user needs is a distraction. You wouldn’t have two
stereos playing at your party at the same time right? Run tests around simplifying the
amount of copy and sheer amount of content that you have available through your
at the Door
at the Door
You want your guests to feel welcome at your party no matter which door they use,
right? SEO’s focus on content freshness and relevance has shifted the idea of the
landing page away from the homepage and now any page can really be an entry
point. Look at your top landing pages and groups of similar landing pages like product
description pages as one experience. Now look at the analytics for these pages.
Imagine this is the first page you have ever seen for your website. Prioritize conversion
rate optimization testing around the top landing pages with the lowest conversions,
and content optimization around the lower search engine ranked landing pages with
the higher conversion rates. Sometime you may find that there are redundancies
in your landing pages that are introducing too many options in search results, and
can be confusing for customers. Thinking about your organic landing page strategy
though your overall content strategy will help customers find the best entry pages
through their searches.
If you know something meaningful about your website visitors, why not use that
as part of the conversation? Personalization of the experience with locally relevant
content, or welcoming messages can be just the right amount of personal touch
needed to make a customer feel welcome. Be careful not to make broad assumptions
about visitors when using personalized content; you wouldn’t want to get in the
awkward, “Oh, you didn’t hear, we broke up two months ago...” scenario.
COMMUNITY CONTENT & SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT
Bring more people into the conversation by involving the community of loyal
customers to be the advocates for your brand. Social media and branded forums can
allow the brand to still drive the direction of the conversion, but open it up to feel
VOICE OF CUSTOMER
Don’t just talk to your visitors, listen to them. The website experience can feel much
more personal if it is obvious that the brand listens to their customers and responds.
Tools like ForeSee Results can gather and aggregate customer feedback that can
be overlapped with User Experience tools like CrazyEgg and Tealeaf. Combining
customer feedback with analytics will direct you to the frustration customers are
having, and also show you exactly what they were trying to do. Conversely, Voice of
Customer (VoC) can teach you more about what you are doing right, where analytics
is more traditionally used to see where you are going wrong.
ONLINE MERCHANDISING AND PERSONALIZED OFFERS
Help introduce customers to the product or offer that is relevant to them. Use what
you know about your customers to play matchmaker between them and the content
that is the most meaningful and useful to them in their phase of the customer journey.
Make sure that your on-site search is optimized to help visitors find what they are
looking for easily, and measure how well it is working. Use on-site search to learn
about what customers are looking for that is not easily findable through the site’s
navigation and understand expectations of what your site is built to solve. This can be
done by spending more time with your on-site search analytics. Review the keywords
that are being searched, group keywords into logical themes, determine how your
content structure is accommodating those searches, and optimize your content to
align with what customers are having difficulty finding.
Don’t forget that you have customers out there who have engaged with your brand
and enjoyed your products. They are your advocates and you have the opportunity
to keep in touch with them. Thank-you pages should always invite customers to
take a deeper step into engaging, like a newsletter or social media. Use testing to get
customers involved with communications through automated emails, promotions and
special offers. Making every customer feel like they are getting a personal touch that is
actually useful will keep your brand top of mind.
It’s within party planning etiquette to reach out to follow up with your attendees. Make
sure to have feedback channels that can keep your customers engaged with relevant
and timely information based on things they have told you through their behavior
on the site and information they have provided in your CRM. Marketing automation
systems like Marketo, ActOn, and Eloqua can be integrated into outbound campaigns
like email, and then continues to engage the recipients (or your invitees) about your
really great party. If people reply to the invitation, these tools maintain engagement
until they convert, or ever afterward to make sure there is a continued presence of the
brand throughout the nurturing process. Keep a careful watch on the analytics from
these communications, though; lean toward information that is useful and persuasive,
not creepy and annoying.
Don’t expect that putting social media icons on everything is going to be a productive
customer advocacy program. Instead be strategic with how you ask customers to
share their stories on your site or in social media with customer story campaigns and
give them something worth sharing. This will make your customers feel like they are
the success story for your brand and put them at the center.