Lack of “product/market fit” is one of the key reasons for start-up failures. Despite initial success, businesses fail to be sustainable. One way to escape this is to get everyone involved and get back to experience-based design. Don Norman, one of the top names in UX design, coined the term, “User Experience,” back in 1995. He said, “User experience is nothing but starting any design by understanding the audience.” It allows coordination between all the elements and putting together psychology and designing. From the way things were understood in 1995, we have moved a long way in terms of design….
End-to-end testing is a term usually reserved for the product team. Put simply, such testing ensures the product will complete the tasks it is intended to in real life conditions from beginning to end. Interestingly, end-to-end testing is a proven content marketing strategy as well. From The Wirecutter’s in-depth gadget reviews to Michelle Phan’s face care and makeup tutorials, they’ve turned their end-to-end product experience into content. So why do they work? Let’s go over three concrete examples that show how different companies execute end-to-end testing in their content marketing. 1. Gain consumer trust to convert users End-to-end testing can…
The fold is a term used by web designers and Internet marketers to describe the interface that separates all the web content above a web browser’s bottom border. It’s a slightly dated term since the web has evolved to accommodate mobile devices. However, the term and its implications are still important for those engaged in conversion rate optimization and user experience improvement activities. The illustration above shows how the “the fold” is defined on a laptop computer. Why is the fold important? Generally speaking, the first things visitors see when they arrive at one of your webpages will be “above…
Over the past few years, one message has been gaining momentum within the marketing world: customer experience is king.
“Customer experience” (CX) refers to your customer’s perception of her relationship with your brand—both conscious and subconscious—based on every interaction she has with your brand during her customer life cycle.
As conversion optimization specialists, we test in pursuit of the perfect customer experience, from that first email subject line, to the post-purchase conversation with a customer service agent.
We test because it is the best way to listen, and create ideal experiences that will motivate consumers to choose us over our competitors in the saturated internet marketplace.
Create the perfect personalized customer experience!
Your customers are unique, and their ideal experiences are unique. Create the perfect customer experience with this 4-step guide to building the most effective personalization strategy.
By entering your email, you’ll receive bi-weekly WiderFunnel Blog updates and other resources to help you become an optimization champion.
Which leads me to the main question of this post: Which companies are currently providing the best customer experiences, and how can you apply their strategies in your business context?
Each year, the Tempkin Group releases a list of the best and worst US companies, by customer experience rating. The list is based on survey responses from 10,000 U.S. consumers, regarding their recent experiences with companies.
And over the past few years, supermarkets have topped that list: old school, brick-and-mortar, this-model-has-been-around-forever establishments.
In the digital world, we often focus on convenience, usability, efficiency, and accessibility…but are there elements at the core of a great customer experience that we may be missing?
A quick look at the research
First things first: Let’s look at how the Tempkin Group determines their experience ratings.
Tempkin surveys 10,000 U.S. consumers, asking them to rate their recent (past 60 days) interactions with 331 companies across 20 industries. The survey questions cover Tempkin’s three components of experience:
Success: Were you, the consumer, able to accomplish what you wanted to do?
Effort: How easy was it for you to interact with the company?
Emotion: How did you feel about those interactions?
Respondents answer questions on a scale of 1 (worst) to 7 (best), and researchers score each company accordingly. For more details on how the research was conducted, you can download the full report, here.
In this post, I am going to focus on one supermarket that has topped the list for the past three years: Publix. Not only does Publix top the Tempkin ratings, it also often tops the supermarket rankings compiled by the American Customer Satisfaction Index.
Long story short: Publix is winning the customer experience battle.
So, what does Publix do right?
If you don’t know it, Publix Super Markets, Inc. is an American supermarket chain headquartered in Florida. Founded in 1930, Publix is a private corporation that is wholly owned by present and past employees; it is considered the largest employee-owned company in the world.
In an industry that has seen recent struggles, Publix has seen steady growth over the past 10 years. So, what is this particular company doing so very right?
1. World-class customer service
Publix takes great care to provide the best possible customer service.
From employee presentation (no piercings, no unnatural hair color, no facial hair), to the emphasis on “engaging the customer”, to the bread baked fresh on-site every day, the company’s goal is to create the most pleasurable shopping experience for each and every customer.
When you ask “Where is the peanut butter?” at another supermarket, an employee might say, “Aisle 4.” But at Publix, you will be led to the peanut butter by a friendly helper.
The store’s slogan: “Make every customer’s day a little bit better because they met you.”
Note the term “associates”: Because Publix is employee-owned, employees are not referred to as employees, but associates. As owners, associates share in the store’s success: If the company does well, so do they.
“Our culture is such that we believe if we take care of our associates, they in turn will take care of our customers. Associate ownership is our secret sauce,” said Publix spokeswoman, Maria Brous. “Our associates understand that their success is tied to the success of our company and therefore, we must excel at providing legendary service to our customers.”
3. Quality over quantity
While Publix is one of the largest food retailers in the country by revenue, they operate a relatively small number of stores: 1,110 stores across six states in the southeastern U.S. (For context, Wal-Mart operates more than 4,000 stores).
Each of Publix’s store locations must meet a set of standards. From the quality of the icing on a cake in the bakery, to the “Thanks for shopping at Publix. Come back and see us again soon!” customer farewell, customers should have a delightful experience at every Publix store.
In the Tempkin Experience Ratings, emotion was the weakest component for the 331 companies evaluated. But, Publix was among the few organizations to receive an “excellent” emotion rating. (In fact, they are ranked top 3 in this category.)
As marketers, we should be changing the mantra from ‘always be closing’ to ‘always be helping’.
– Jonathan Lister, LinkedIn
In the digital marketing world, it is easy to get lost in acronyms: UX, UI, SEO, CRO, PPC…and forget about the actual customer experience. The experience that each individual shopper has with your brand.
Beyond usability, beyond motivation tactics, beyond button colors and push notifications, are you creating delight?
To create delight, you need to understand your customer’s reality. It may be time to think about how much you spend on website traffic, maintenance, analytics, and tools vs. how much you spend to understand your customers…and flip the ratio.
It’s important to understand the complexity of how your users interact with your website. We say, ‘I want to find problems with my website by looking at the site itself, or at my web traffic’. But that doesn’t lead to results. You have to understand your user’s reality.
– André Morys, Founder & CEO, WebArts
Publix is winning with their customer-centric approach because they are fully committed to it. While the tactics may be different with a brick-and-mortar store and an e-commerce website, the goals overlap:
1. Keep your customer at the core of every touch point
From your Facebook ad, to your product landing page, to your product category page, checkout page, confirmation email, and product tracking emails, you have an opportunity to create the best experience for your customers at each step.
2. Make your customers feel something.
Humans don’t buy things. We buy feelings. What are you doing to make your shoppers feel? How are you highlighting the intangible benefits of your value proposition?
3. Keep your employees motivated.
Happy, satisfied employees, deliver happy, satisfying customer experiences, whether they’re creating customer-facing content for your website, or speaking to customers on the phone. For more on building a motivated, high performance marketing team, read this post!
Testing to improve your customer experience
Of course, this wouldn’t be a WiderFunnel blog post if I didn’t recommend testing your customer experience improvements.
If you have an idea for how to inject emotion into the shopping experience, test it. If you believe a particular tweak will make the shopping experience easier and your shoppers more successful, test it.
Your customers will show you what an ideal customer experience looks like with their actions, if you give them the opportunity.
Here’s an example.
During our partnership with e-commerce platform provider, Magento, we ran a test on the product page for the company’s Enterprise Edition software, meant to improve the customer experience.
The main call-to-action on this page was “Get a free demo”—a universal SaaS offering. The assumption was that potential customers would want to experience and explore the platform on their own (convenient, right?), before purchasing the platform.
Looking at click map data, however, our Strategists noticed that visitors to this page were engaging with informational tabs lower on the page. It seemed that potential customers needed more information to successfully accomplish their goals on the page.
Unfortunately, once visitors had finished browsing tabs, they had no option other than trying the demo, whether they were ready or not.
So, our Strategists tested adding a secondary “Talk to a specialist” call-to-action. Potential customers could connect directly with a Magento sales representative, and get answers to all of their questions.
This call-to-action hadn’t existed prior to this test, so the literal infinite conversion rate lift Magento saw in qualified sales calls was not surprising.
What was surprising was the phone call we received six months later: Turns out the “Talk to a specialist” leads were 8x more valuable than the “Get a free demo” leads.
After several subsequent test rounds, “Talk to a specialist” became the main call-to-action on that product page. Magento’s most valuable prospects had demonstrated that the ideal customer experience included the opportunity to get more information from a specialist.
While Publix’s success reminds us of the core components of a great customer experience, actually creating a great customer experience can be tricky.
You might be wondering:
What is most important to my customers: Success, Effort, or Emotion?
What improvements should I make first?
How will I know these improvements are actually working?
A test-and-learn strategy will help you answer these questions, and begin working toward a truly great customer experience.
Don’t get lost in the guesswork of tweaks, fixes, and best practices. Get obsessed with understanding your customer, instead.
How do you create the ideal customer experience?
Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Many companies invest a lot of time and money in content marketing. But very few are ever really successful with it. That’s because a lot of companies approach to content marketing as some sort of hands-off sorcery. They write blog post after blog post and then sit around and wait for something to happen (hint: nothing will happen). Instead, you should think of content as a type of currency – a strategic asset that you can use within a framework to drive business results. This requires a plan and a strategy for how you will use content and then which…
Here at Crazy Egg, we’re infatuated with design. Graphic design, product design, UX, UI – all of it. And of course, there are a handful of designers that we really admire. Michael Wong is one of them. You can see Michael’s skill right away when you come face-to-face with his work. And since Michael is a product designer, you can bet your you-know-what he’s released some of his own products. Check out bukketapp.com We decided to reach out to Michael to ask him a few questions. What’s the best skill to have as a UX designer in today’s world? How…
State Of Buyer Personas 2016 established that approximately 60% of the survey respondents took their first-ever buyer persona development initiative within the last 2 years—a result similar to the previous year survey on personas.
It has been almost two decades since the term “persona” was first coined and used by Alan Cooper in his book “The Inmates Run the Asylum.” However, organizations still struggle to develop personas effectively. As a result, the gap between what the consumer wants and what companies provide has widened.
Look at this survey graph for a quick look into the mistakes that can taint customer-business relations, when the latter does not know its ideal customer well:
In this blog post, we walk you through the process of creating effective personas, how your business can benefit from these, and why these should be a part of your conversion optimization strategy. Let’s begin:
How to Create Effective User Personas
To create personas that are effective, it is important to first understand what personas should not be:
A demographic profile
A market segment
A documentation of behavior based on a research that lacks data
Having listed the “nots” of personas, let’s deep-dive into what effective personas comprise and how to develop these. Research, qualitative and quantitative, is the foundation of personas. When based on research, personas unveil:
What your users want to accomplish?
What drives your users’ behaviors?
What do your users think?
What are their expectations?
What will make them buy?
What could be their reasons for hesitation?
What could be their hindrances?
To develop personas that can give you insights as deep as finding answers to the above questions, and a few more tough ones, we advise you to:
Use Qualitative Research.
Use A/B Testing.
Perform Competitor Analysis.
Using Qualitative Research
Qualitative research tools such as on-page surveys, in-person interviews, and so on can help you uncover the expectations and motivation of a user.
We list some use cases for on-page surveys to help you understand how these can be wisely used for gathering information that is required for developing effective personas:
Use Case 1. Understanding Purchase Decision
Understanding customer motivation for buying a product plays a significant role in replicating the buying behavior. If you knew precisely what motivated a visitor to buy from you, it is the next step to motivate other visitors in the same direction.
What you could ask?
Did you find what you were looking for?
What motivated you to complete your purchase?
What triggers to use?
Goal Completion: As soon as a user completes a signup form or makes payment for items in the cart, this survey should pop up to understand the true motivation behind the purchase.
Use Case 2. Determining Purchase Satisfaction
It is important to know the purchase satisfaction level to determine if there are reasons that can stop them from buying or make them buy from elsewhere. It can also help you categorize people who have high or low purchase satisfaction levels, if you are able to observe a pattern.
What you could ask?
On a scale of 0–10, 0 being the lowest and 10 being the highest, how satisfied are you with your last purchase?
The reason behind your rating. What do you think is good/bad about buying from us?
Analyzing the information that you have from your survey:
With regard to the question on purchase satisfaction levels, the information that your users reveal can be smartly analyzed to create user personas. Let’s say that you have an online apparel business. Running such surveys can help you:
Identify users who are not at all interested in your product (those who rate you between 0–3), users who do not have a firm opinion on your product (4-7), and users who have purchase satisfaction levels (8–10).
Understand the reasons behind high and low purchase satisfaction levels for all categories of users mentioned in the previous point.
Identify patterns, if any, in those rating your product high/low. For example, do those who rate the product on a scale of 8–10 buy the product because of “fresh styles and patterns,” do most of these people fall in the age group (20–25), and so on.
Build user personas based on this information.
What triggers to use?
Time spent on a page: Show the survey after visitors spend “X” seconds on the first webpage they visit. Target the survey using custom targeting to those who have made an online purchase earlier from you.
Asking these questions at the right time can help you fetch actionable information, uncover user motivations, as well as apprehensions.
Similarly, exit intent pop-ups and in-phone surveys also help you find out if your product/service is providing the value that your users and/or customers expect out of it.
Your qualitative research findings can then be dissected to create personas. Consider an example:
You are an eCommerce business selling antiallergic bedding. Your in-phone customer interview and on-page surveys help you determine one of your persona “Jane” with the following attributes:
Aged 32, she has very sensitive skin, which is prone to allergies.
She is willing to pay a little more if the product quality is good.
She also cares about the product being eco-friendly.
Your qualitative research would further help establish:
Jane’s motivation to buy your product: The bedding suits her needs, is priced just what she thinks is right, and can be found easily online.
Jane’s mindset while making a buying decision: She cares about her health and skin. She will not risk investing in any product that can cause allergies. She is also quality-conscious.
Jane’s bottlenecks to buying: She might return the product if she does not find it comfortable and per the quality that she expects. Style and comfort go hand in hand for her.
When you have conducted qualitative research and listed down motivations, bottlenecks, and mindset, you need to gather insights on what your user/customer is doing online. So the next logical step is to unveil Jane’s onsite behavior.
For example, using form analysis can help you identify the form fields that lead to customer hesitation or customers abandoning the form.
Using A/B Testing
Let’s say that you have listed a few findings about your personas, after conducting an in-depth research. However, you want to be as sure as possible. The following attributes can be put to test:
Comfort vs. Style
Discount vs. Buy One, Get One Free
Value of free shipping and free returns
A/B testing can help you narrow down to attributes as close as true to your real users. Whatever assumptions, observations, and opinions you have about your users, you can A/B test them to find out what your ideal users associate more with.
Performing Competitor Research
Digital intelligence tools can help you dig deeper into competitor data to analyze their traffic. Using such tools, you can find out where your competitors are putting their effort into—social media, mobile, content, email marketing, and so on.
After you have an idea of where your competitors’ major efforts go into, you can work backward to identify the audience they are targeting for creating user personas. This elaborate and well-researched post on medium will tell you how you can crack competitor research to create user personas for your business.
Benefits of Personas for Your Business
Mathilde Boyer, Customer Experience Director at the House of Kaizen, lists 5 ways in which every business can benefit by using personas.
“Personas shouldn’t only be created to trigger user empathy within an organization. They should be built with a practical application in mind so that they can be instrumental in a Conversion Optimization Strategy. Validating personas through actual user data and connecting them to target audiences increases their ability to drive business strategies.
Creating and leveraging user personas brings 5 key benefits to Marketers and Product Owners.
Connect research insights
Develop a unified view of your customers and prospects by identifying commonalities and unique attributes to provide a deep understanding of motivations, anxieties, decision making styles and moments when users find inspiration.
Strategically manage marketing budget
User personas allow you to prioritize target audiences and shift spend based on channel performance for individual audiences. Maximize your marketing investment by focusing your efforts and budget on the profitable leads.
Develop powerful brand and product storytelling
User personas can be leveraged to tailor storylines and bring your value proposition to life. They are key to understand aspirations, desires and perceptions of your customers. They are also crucial to strike the right note with unique content created to move buyers from interests to purchase.
Go beyond marketing silos
User personas allow you to ensure continuity and complementarity of messaging and creative across all user touchpoints (ads, website, emails, offline campaigns, customer service script, sales pitch, etc.).
Prioritize product roadmap
User personas should be a valuable levier to inform your product development cycles and ensure that new features are developed to solve evolving prospects’ problems and needs.”
Other than the benefits that Mathilde talks about, personas are also helpful in bringing uniformity to every department of the business regarding who their customer is. From customer service representatives to sales to marketing to the administrators, everyone is aligned to consumer goals. This helps everyone across the business keep their ideal customers happy, and thus increase overall satisfaction as well as retention.
Why Should Personas Be a Part of Your CRO Program
Protocol80 compiles some interesting facts on why personas are awesome. We list 2 of these here as evidence on why personas should be a part of your conversion optimization program.
“In the case of Intel, buyer personas surpassed campaign benchmarks by 75%. They were more cost efficient than the average campaign by 48% DemandGen Report.
In the case of Thomson Reuter, buyer personas contributed to a 175% increase in revenue attributed to marketing, 10% increase in leads sent to sales, and a 72% reduction in lead conversion time.”
Personas can help you improve conversions by:
Improving your personalization efforts.
Helping enhance product user experience.
Improving Personalization – Content
Personas help bring in more clarity on crafting tailored content that appeals to the target audience of the business. Consider an example:
You are an eCommerce business. One of your user persona is say, Mary – The Loyal, with some of the following characteristics:
Visits your website frequently
Makes a purchase every month or two
Does not purchase expensive products
Does not buy more than 2 or 3 products in a single visit
Is fashion-conscious, but does not compromise with quality
As you understand the buying behavior of this user persona, you can run campaigns with content specifically focussed at converting these users. For example, when Mary-the loyal visits your website again, you can personalize recommendations based on her last purchase, which might interest her into making a purchase.
Enhancing User Experience – Design and Development
At the design and development level, personas work as a research tool for businesses intending to enhance browsing/buying experience for their online users. These personas that are based on usage goals, browsing and exploring behavior, as well as pain points, tell the why behind the actions that users take on a website.
Such information is critical for designing any product or service. Understand, relate to, and remember the ideal user Mary-The Loyal throughout the entire product development process. The following design and development problems can be sorted by making user personas a part of the process.
When design teams do not have an understanding of which design elements on the website to prioritize. In this case, design and development teams end up wasting time on either developing or optimizing features that their ideal customer, Mary-The Loyal, does not use.
When design teams are finding it difficult to pitch their proposal to the management. This is where they can use actual data to enhance their idea and show the actual problem they are trying to solve by making the proposed changes.
Mathilde adds to how personas help enhance user experience.
“From a UX perspective, user personas are crucial to prevent self-referential design as they allow to focus the efforts on the needs of the customers and help be mindful of designing experiences as if we, marketers, were the end users.
Data-driven personas are also the foundation to map out customer journeys and ensure full alignment between user needs or perceived needs and the relevancy and length of the experience they have to go through to achieve them.
Personas become extremely powerful when they are taken beyond their naturally descriptive focus and provide a predictive view on how your product or service improves your ideal customers’ lives once they’ve used it for a certain time. The predictive side of personas is a key asset to design future-proof products and experiences.”
To Wrap It Up
When you make personas a part of your strategy, you are trying to maximize value for your ideal users. Here’s how Alan Cooper explains this concept in The Inmates Are Running The Asylum:
“The broader a target you aim for, the more certainty you have of missing the bull’s-eye. If you want to achieve a product-satisfaction level of 50%, you cannot do it by making a large population 50% happy with your products. You can only accomplish it by singling out 50% of the people and striving to make them 100% happy. It goes further than that. You can create an even bigger success by targeting 10% of your market and working to make them 100% ecstatic. It might seem counterintuitive, but designing for a single user is the most effective way to satisfy a broad population.”
Ultimately, filling the gap between the product value as perceived by your ideal user and the actual value that your product provides, will help you convince and convert your users into buyers.
Note: This is a guest article written by Sujan Patel, co-founder of Web Profits. Any and all opinions expressed in the post are Sujan’s.
“If you build it, they will come” only works in the movies. In the real world, if you’re serious about e-commerce success, it’s up to you to grab the CRO bull by the horns and make the changes needed to maximize your growth.
Implementing an e-commerce CRO program may seem complex, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the number of possible things to test. To simplify your path to proper CRO, we’ve compiled a list of ways to optimize your site by channel.
This list is by no means exclusive; every marketing channel supports as many opportunities for experimentation as you can dream up. Some of these, however, are the easiest to put into practice, especially for new e-commerce merchants. Begin with the tactics described here; and when you’re ready to take your campaigns to the next level, check out the following resources:
Your website’s individual pages represent one of the easiest opportunities for implementing a conversion optimization campaign, thanks to the breadth of technology tools and the number of established testing protocols that exist currently.
These pages can also be one of the fastest, thanks to the direct impact your changes can have on whether or not website visitors choose to buy.
A number of opportunities exist for making result-driven changes to your site’s home page. For example, you can test:
Increasing prominence and appeal of CTAs: If visitors don’t like what you’re offering as part of your call-to-action (or worse, if they can’t find your CTA at all), test new options to improve their appeal.
Testing featured offers: Even template e-commerce shops generally offer a spot for featuring specific products on your store’s home page. Test which products you place there, the price at which you offer them, and how you draw attention to them.
Testing store policies – Free shipping is known to reduce cart abandonment. Implement consumer-friendly policies and test the way you feature them on your site.
Trying the “five-second test” – Can visitors recall what your store is about in 5 seconds or less? Attention spans are short, and you might not have longer than that to convince a person to stick around. Tools like UsabilityHub can get you solid data.
Making this change led to an estimated $100,000 in increased sales per year.
Proper CRO doesn’t just happen on your site. It should be carried through to every channel you use, including email marketing. Give the following strategies a try to boost your odds of driving conversions, even when past visitors are no longer on your site.
Use an established email marketing program to take the steps below:
Build lead nurturing content for all stages of the funnel: Following Digital Marketer’s Email Machine structure will ensure you cover indoctrination, engagement, ascendency, segmentation and re-engagement.
“4x higher open rates and 5x higher click rates compared to other promotional emails. Keeping in mind that in e-commerce, average revenue per promotional email is $0.02, welcome emails on average result in 9x higher revenue — $0.18. And if it’s optimized effectively, revenue can be as high as $3.36 per email.”
LiveChat Inc.’s report on chat greeting efficiency shares the example of The Simply Group, which uses customized greetings to assist customers having problems at checkout. Implementing live chat has enabled them to convert every seventh greeting to a chat, potentially saving sales that would otherwise be lost.
Content marketing may be one of the most challenging channels to optimize for conversions, given the long latency periods between reading content pieces and converting. The following strategies can help:
Tie content pieces to business goals.
Incorporate content upgrades.
Use clear CTAs within content.
Test content copy, messaging, use of social proof, and so on.
Test different distribution channels and content formats.
ThinkGeek uses YouTube videos as a fun way to feature their products and funnel interested prospects back to their site. Their videos have been so successful that they’ve accumulated 180K+ subscribers who tune in regularly for their content.
According to Invesp, “It costs five times as much to attract a new customer, than to keep an existing one.” Continuing to market to past customers, either in the hopes of selling new items or encouraging referrals, is a great way to boost your overall performance.
Don’t let your CRO efforts stop after a sale has been made. Some of your past clients can be your best sources of new customers, if you take the time to engage them properly.
Lastly, make CRO an ongoing practice by prioritizing it internally, rather than relegating it to “something the marketing department does.”
Ask CRO experts, and they’ll tell you that beyond the kinds of tactics and strategies described above, having a culture of experimentation and testing is the most important step you can take to see results from any CRO effort.
We tend to make a big deal about leads in the marketing space, and not without good reason. Everything starts with leads. However, for software companies, the real goal is product adoption. We need people actively and consistently using our product. Regardless of our business model, success occurs when users experience that “aha” moment that takes our product from an experiment to a core part of their day-to-day work. So how do we move people from lead to product adopter? How to we give them that “aha” moment? Two words: Strategic Repetition Repetition is a POWERFUL psychological force. Studies have…
Link juice is a non-technical SEO term used to reference the SEO value of a hyperlink to a particular website or webpage. According to Google, a multitude of quality hyperlinks (or just “links”) are one of the most important factors for gaining top rankings in the Google search engine. The term “link juice” is SEO industry jargon. It’s often talked about in relation to link building efforts such as guest posting, blogger outreach, linkbait and broken link building. How Does Link Juice Work? Link juice, link authority, and backlink authority are all different words that mean essentially the same thing….