A guest post by Adam Barley, Head of Product Design at Ve Global.
Today’s marketers are fortunate enough to have more channels at their fingertips than ever before. And while every channel will require a different mix of expertise, strategy and objectives, they all have one thing in common; a connection with the onsite experience.
Whether it’s digital advertising for acquisition or remarketing for retention, every campaign or interaction delivered through offsite channels leads back to your website. When it comes to advertising and marketing strategies, websites are omnipresent; working all hours of the day to engage and convert new and existing customers that have been driven there by your chosen offsite channels.
As the point of purchase, retail websites certainly earn the right to be classified as the most critical element of customer journey, so it’s no wonder that brands are focusing a considerable amount of their efforts on optimising their onsite user experience (UX).
An Econsultancy report found that 95% of customers agreed with the statement ‘good user experience just makes sense’. While 59% of customers said a bad experience caused them to stop buying from a company. Taking this into consideration only further enhances the need for retailers to improve the experiences they deliver onsite.
It’s common practice for ecommerce websites to be programmed by marketing managers based on what they want to promote at any given moment. However, 61% of users said that if they didn’t find what they were looking for right away on a mobile site, they’d quickly move to another. Not good news for brands who fail to prioritise the user need over business needs onsite.
This is where real-time personalisation comes in. Websites should be able to process and respond in real-time to a huge number of data points to offer the best dynamic experience for a customer, based on what they are looking for and why they are looking. Real-time personalisation makes this a reality by using customer profiles and intent to deliver personalised messages onsite. It also places an important focus on the context of a customer’s visit.
Understanding context in online retail
At each stage of a customer’s path to purchase, they will exhibit different behaviours, motivations and goals. We categorise these stages and the behaviours associated with each into five shopping modes (browsing, researching, product focused, bargain hunter and one-time shopper). Let’s take researchers for example. Shoppers in researching mode want – and need – to be able to easily compare products, features and prices so that they can make a decision and transition to product-focused mode; ultimately ready to make a purchase.
In knowing that a customer is in this mode brands can deliver real-time messaging that is not only personal, but relevant to their intent in that moment, and optimise their experience with features and messages that help guide them through each mode and ultimately complete their journey.
Relevancy and recommendations
While user profiles, intent and context are the engine that powers relevancy and personalisation, these insights need to be activated in the most appropriate way if they are to have an impact on the customer. Retailers must develop an onsite user experience strategy that combines the right mix of features and triggers for every visitor. Thanks to new innovations in the martech industry, brands can optimise the onsite experience in more than one way.
The first of these is product recommendations, which while not a new technique, is becoming more and more advanced with greater data activation allowing retailers to deliver more personalised recommendations. Personalised product recommendations consider various digital consumer data points to generate the best possible suggestions for every individual, while intelligent algorithms make every shopping experience feel more unique as recommendations consider where in their journey a customer is currently at, rather than simply who they are. Brands that deliver more relevant and personalised recommendations have seen a 70% increase in engagement with their recommendations, and a 70% increase in time spent on site when a recommendation was clicked.
The number one factor in delivering a great customer experience is not delighting customers, but reducing their efforts.
Harvard Business Review
Programmatic logic is also being introduced to UX strategies to improve the personalisation of onsite experiences. Brands using this technology are able to alter the native UX of their website to generate unique product listing pages for every customer that highlight the most relevant products for them. By building up a picture of what each individual is interested in (product type, colour, size, price range etc.), brands can improve the relevancy of results and a customer’s ease of searching, increasing the likelihood that they will click and purchase a product.
Connecting experiences, from offsite to onsite
Perhaps one of the most significant online trends currently shaping onsite UX strategies is the unification of the onsite experience with offsite channels. As we mentioned earlier, retail websites are omnipresent; they bridge the gap between all offsite channels, providing a single point of truth for customers to browse, research and purchase. While it’s easy to click on an ad and land on a website, retailers are understanding the need to be more sophisticated in their approach. Anyone can connect an ad to a website via a click – the real power lies in connecting channels sequentially. In the context of advertising, this means connecting ads to onsite experiences on a post-view basis.
The unification of advertising and marketing technology is allowing retailers to target customers onsite with relevant and personalised content by understanding the source of their visit, the message they have already seen and the objective of their current visit. As a result, they can expect to see bounce rates reduce and time on site increase; both of which are key to achieving more conversions.
The influence of onsite UX is growing, and consumer expectations and technological advancements are continuing to make brands question whether they are making the most of their websites. With the onsite experience playing such an integral role in the online shopping journey, brands that aren’t already monitoring, optimising and improving the UX of their websites with a customer-first mindset must start, or risk falling behind the competition in the competitive world of online retail. Those that are should continue to refine their strategy to achieve the most value from every visitor.
Thankfully, there are many ways of delivering more personalised and engaging onsite experiences. Our advice for retailers is to take onsite UX one step at a time; first understand what will work for your customers and then use this make gradual changes and improvements that will positively impact your customers and their experience with your brand.
Need help optimising your onsite experience? Speak to one of our experts to find out where you could make improvements to deliver meaningful results for your business.