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The customer-centric focus
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.
Companies are obsessing over CX, and for good reason(s):
- It is 6-7x more expensive to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing customer
- 67% of consumers cite ‘bad experiences’ as reason for churn
- 66% of consumers who switch brands do so because of poor service
Across sectors, satisfied customers spend more, exhibit deeper loyalty to companies, and create conditions that allow companies to have lower costs and higher levels of employee engagement.– McKinsey & Company
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.
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.”
2. The most motivated employees
Publix associates are famously “pleased-as-punch, over-the-moon, [and] ridiculously contented”.
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.
4. An emotional shopping experience
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.)
They are able to literally delight their customers. And, as a smart marketer, I don’t have to tell you how powerful emotion is in the buying process.
Great for Publix. What does this mean for me?
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.
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!
The post Capturing supermarket magic and providing the ideal customer experience appeared first on WiderFunnel Conversion Optimization.
It’s not every day that marketers use the words “email” and “CRO” in the same sentence. After all, most email marketing strategies for eCommerce are mainly focused on sending newsletters, promotional emails, transactional emails, and maybe even cart abandonment messages. If you’re really savvy, you might even be sending post-purchase emails to leverage the traffic you already converted in the hopes that those shoppers will come back to buy more. But here’s the thing: When you focus your email marketing efforts solely on the end of your sales funnel, you’re actually neglecting the majority of your site traffic. That’s traffic…
The post How to Use Email Automation to Boost eCommerce Conversions appeared first on The Daily Egg.
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Imagine being a leader who can see the future…
Who can know if a growth strategy will succeed or fail before investing in it.
Who makes confident decisions based on what she knows her users want.
Who puts proven ideas to work to cut spending and lift revenue.
Okay. Now stop imagining, because you can be that leader…right now. You just need the right tool. (And no, I’m not talking about a crystal ball.) I’m talking about testing.
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So many marketers approach “conversion optimization” and “A/B testing” with the wrong goals: they think too small. Their testing strategy is hyper focused on increasing conversions. Your Analytics team can A/B test button colors and copy tweaks and design changes until they are blue in the face. But if that’s all your company is doing, you are missing out on the true potential of conversion optimization.
Testing should not be a small piece of your overall growth strategy. It should not be relegated to your Analytics department, or shouldered by a single optimizer. Because you can use testing to interrogate and validate major business decisions.
“Unfortunately, most marketers get [conversion optimization] wrong by considering it to be a means for optimizing a single KPI (e.g – registrations, sales or downloads of an app). However conversion optimization testing is much much more than that. Done correctly with a real strategic process, CRO provides in-depth knowledge about our customers.
All this knowledge can then be translated into a better customer journey, optimized customer success and sales teams, we can even improve shipping and of course the actual product or service we provide. Every single aspect of our business can be optimized leading to higher conversion rates, more sales and higher retention rates. This is how you turn CRO from a “X%” increase in sign ups to complete growth of your business and company.
Once marketers and business owners follow a process, stop testing elements such as call to action buttons or titles for the sake of it and move onto testing more in-depth processes and strategies, only then will they see those uplifts and growth they strive for that scale and keep.” –Talia Wolf, CMO, Banana Splash
Testing and big picture decision making should be intertwined. And if you want to grow and scale your business, you must be open to testing the fundamentals of said business.
Imagine spearheading a future-proof growth strategy. That’s what A/B testing can do for you.
In this post, I’m going to look at three examples of using testing to make business decisions. Hopefully, these examples will inspire you to put conversion optimization to work as a truly influential determinant of your growth strategy.
Testing a big business decision before you make it
Often, marketers look to testing as a way to improve digital experiences that already exist. When your team tests elements on your page, they are testing what you have already invested in (and they may find those elements aren’t working…)
- “If I improve the page UX, I can increase conversions”
- “If I remove distracting links from near my call-to-action button, I can increase conversions”
- “If I add a smiling person to my hero image, I can capture more leads”, etc.
But if you want to stay consistently ahead of the marketing curve, you should test big changes before you invest in them. You’ll save money, time, resources. And, as with any properly-structured test, you will learn something about your users.
A B2C Example
One WiderFunnel client is a company that provides an online consumer information service—visitors type in a question and get an Expert answer.
The marketing leaders at this company wanted to add some new payment options to the checkout page of their mobile experience. After all, it makes sense to offer alternative payment methods like Apple Pay and Amazon Payments to mobile users, right?
Fortunately, this company is of a test-first, implement-second mindset.
With the help of WiderFunnel’s Strategy team, this client ran a test to identify demand for new payment methods before actually putting any money or resources into implementing said alternative payment methods.
This test was not meant to lift conversion rates. Rather, it was designed to determine which alternative payment methods users preferred.
Note: This client did not actually support the new payment methods when we ran this test. When a user clicked on the Apple Pay method, for instance, they saw the following message:
“Apple Pay coming soon!
We apologize for any inconvenience.
Please choose an available deposit method:
Credit Card | PayPal”
Not only did this test provide the client with the insight they were looking for about which alternative payment methods their users prefer, but (BONUS!) it also produced significant increases in conversions, even though that was not our intention.
Because they tested first, this client can now invest in the alternative payment options that are most preferred by their users with confidence. Making a big business change doesn’t have to be a gamble.
As Sarah Breen of ASICS said,
We’re proving our assumptions with data. Testing allows me to say, ‘This is why we took this direction. We’re not just doing what our competitors do, it’s not just doing something that we saw on a site that sells used cars. This is something that’s been proven to work on our site and we’re going to move forward with it.’
Testing what you actually offer, part I
Your company has put a lot of thought (research, resources, money) into determining what you should actually offer. It can be overwhelming to even ask the question, “Is our product line actually the best offering A) for our users and B) for our business?”
But asking the big scary questions is a must. Your users are evolving, how they shop is evolving, your competition is evolving. Your product offering must evolve as well.
Some companies bring in experienced product consultants to advise them, but why not take the question to the people (aka your users)…and test your offering.
An E-commerce Example
Big scary question: Have you ever considered reducing the number of products you offer?
One WiderFunnel client offers a huge variety of products. During a conversation between our Strategists and the marketing leaders at this company, the idea to test a reduced product line surfaced.
The thinking was that even if conversions stayed flat with a fewer-products variation, this test would be considered a winner if the reduction in products meant money saved on overhead costs, such as operations costs, shipping and logistics costs, manufacturing costs and so on.
Plus! There is a psychological motivator that backs up less-is-more thinking: The Paradox of Choice suggests that fewer options might mean less anxiety for visitors. If a visitor has less anxiety about which product is more suitable for them, they may have increased confidence in actually purchasing.
After working with this client’s team to cut down their product line to just the essential top 3 products, our Strategists created what they refer to as the ‘Minimalist’ variation. This variation will be tested against the original product page, which features many products.
If the ‘Minimalist’ variation is a clear winner, this client will be armed with the information they need to consider halting the manufacture of several older products—a potentially dramatic cost-saving initiative.
Even if the variation is a loser, the insights gained could be game-changing. If the ‘Minimalist’ variation results in a revenue loss of 10%, but the cost of manufacturing all of those other products is more than 10%, this client would experience a net revenue gain! Which means, they would want to seriously consider fewer products as an option.
Regardless of the outcome, an experiment like this one will give the marketing decision-maker evidence to make a more informed decision about a fundamental aspect of their business.
Cutting products is a huge business decision, but if you know how your users will respond ahead of time, you can make that decision without breaking a sweat.
Testing what you actually offer, part II
Experienced marketers often assume that they know best. They assume they know what their user wants and needs, because they have ‘been around’. They may assume that, because everybody else is offering something, it is the best offering―(the “our-competitors-are-emphasizing-this-so-it-must-be-the-most-important-offering” mentality).
Well, here’s another big scary question: Does your offering reflect what your users value most? Rather than guessing, push your team to dig into the data, find the gaps in your user experience, and test your offering.
“Most conversion optimization work happens behind the scenes: the research process to understand the user. From the research you form various hypotheses for what they want and how they want it.
This informs [what] you come up with, and with A/B/n testing you’re able to validate market response…before you go full in and spend all that money on a strategy that performs sub-optimally.” – Peep Laja, Founder, ConversionXL
A B2B Example
When we started working with SaaS company, Magento, they were offering a ‘Free Demo’ of the Enterprise Edition of their software. Offering a ‘Free Demo’ is a best practice for software companies—everybody does it and it was probably a no-brainer for Magento’s product team.
Looking at clickmap data, however, WiderFunnel’s Strategists noticed that Magento users were really engaged with the informational tabs lower down on the product page.
They had the option to try the ‘Free Demo’, but the data indicated that they were looking for more information. Unfortunately, once users had finished browsing tabs, there was nowhere else to go.
So, our Strategists decided to test a secondary ‘Talk to a specialist’ call-to-action.
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 6 months later: Turns out the ‘Talk to a specialist’ leads were far 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 this page. Magento’s most valuable prospects value the opportunity to get more information from a specialist more than they value a free product demo. SaaS ‘best practices’ be damned.
Optimization is a way of doing business. It’s a strategy for embedding a test-and-learn culture within every fibre of your business.– Chris Goward, Founder & CEO, WiderFunnel
You don’t need to be a mind-reader to know what your users want, and you don’t need to be a seer to know whether or not a big business change will succeed or flop. You simply need to test.
Leave your ego at the door and listen to what your users are telling you. Be the marketing leader with the answers, the leader who can see the future and can plan her growth strategy accordingly.
How do you use testing as a tool for making big business decisions? Let us know in the comments!
The post Your growth strategy and the true potential of A/B testing appeared first on WiderFunnel Conversion Optimization.
Not optimizing your checkout funnel could be costing you millions.
I’ve helped a lot of companies optimize their e-commerce websites and mobile apps checkout funnels. My clients often have questions like:
- How many pages, steps, or even minutes, does a user take to get from decision to purchase?
- What are best practices to increase conversions and revenue?
- Should the number of steps be reduced? Simplified? Consolidated?
Checkout funnels can seem complicated. The truth is, when you break it down, the checkout funnel is simply the series of steps (pages or clicks) a user takes to get from a landing page to the ‘Thank You’ page. The checkout is the last step in the conversion funnel where, ideally, all the persuasion has been accomplished and the transaction simply needs to be facilitated. (For more on this topic, here’s how to understand the three stages of your conversion funnel.) To optimize the checkout funnel, at WiderFunnel, we look at the entire check-out path as a whole, the individual steps, as well as specific elements within each step.
In this post, I’m going to show you how to increase your conversions by focusing on the optimal number of steps to complete a transaction.
How do you design an experiment to test the optimal steps?
There are many components to the checkout funnel and it can often be overwhelming when trying to decide what testing opportunities to prioritize.
Our proven process begins with a LIFT Analysis and for a checkout funnel test, we start by confirming the goals and priorities of the funnel, this may include completed purchases, total revenue, product add-ons, increased wallet, etc.
Once the conversion goals are confirmed, we build out a testing plan and design experiments to lift conversions and create specific insights. Using a framework-thinking approach can help you structure your analysis, put yourself in your customers’ mindset and solve your real conversion barriers.
78% of companies that use a structured process for conversion optimization gain increased revenues*. For WiderFunnel, over the last 2 years, that number is 100%! *eConsultancy Conversion Rate Optimization Report 2013
So now, let’s look at how the LIFT Analysis can help evaluate your checkout funnel.
The LIFT Analysis
- Value Proposition: The page may not be giving the user enough incentive to continue to the next step. For example, if on the shipping info page, the perceived costs of filling out the form is not outweighed by perceived benefits, your user may drop off.
- Anxiety: There is a lot of Anxiety when it comes time to checkout. Your page may not be instilling trust. How many trust icons do you have? The more the merrier? How about checkout steps? Are fewer better? What about just one (really long) page? Running a scroll map can help show how far users are scrolling down. If users don’t scroll down the page to the final Call-to-Action (CTA), the page is too long. Reduce the content or add an extra step.
- Clarity / Distraction: Distraction is created when there is no clear goal on the page, eye flow may be disjointed, or the content may be unclear. Click maps can help unveil these issues. If a click map shows too many clicks on secondary actions or non-links, you need to work on removing distracting elements, clarifying the action that needs to be taken, and possibly reviewing the layout of the page.
- Urgency: The page may not entice users to check out today. If you would like your user to purchase or convert right now, give them a reason to. Sites for airline companies do this well by mentioning mention how many tickets are left at a particular price.
For more on the criteria for a LIFT Analysis read this detailed summary of the LIFT Model™
Is the shortest path the best path?
A shorter checkout path may be better. Or, it might be better broken into more steps. There is only one way to know: You Should Test That!
I’m going share with you a real world example featuring Telestream – who specializes in software that make it possible to get video content to any audience regardless of how it is created, distributed, or viewed.
Telestream’s customer acquisition strategy is centered around driving traffic to their website to trial, or to purchase from their online store. Shoppers can buy software online, download it right away, and immediately start using it.
We partnered with Telestream to optimize the entire purchase funnel, from the home page, to the product page, to the cart pages. After the conversion analysis we quickly started testing on to the Product and Shopping Cart pages.
We designed an A/B/n test to identify the optimal number of steps in the checkout process. While there is a ‘best practice’ that suggests that less steps is better, we all know know that even best practices need to be tested.
Examples of checkout funnel tests.
Are more steps is actually better? We ran several tests on the checkout funnel, and here is the winning variation:
Control: 3 Steps
A variation was designed with the same information except spread across 4 steps (instead of 3). The rationale was that each step would be shorter and less overwhelming for the user. The risk was that each additional step may increase the chance that a user will drop off. It is rare, if not impossible, that 100% of visitors will go to the next step. So there are unavoidable leaks between each step.
Variation: 4 Steps
In the end, the variation with more steps won. We learned that reducing content per page can decrease anxiety for the user. In this case the improved conversion rate more than made up for the small proportion of users that dropped off due to the extra step. Telestream gained a 6.8% conversion rate increase over control, and more steps in the checkout made it easier for the user to convert.
So, more steps is better. Right?
Not so fast… the case for fewer steps.
We tested the checkout funnel for another WiderFunnel client, Magento. Magento, a subsidiary of eBay inc, is an open source ecommerce software that allows their customers to build flexible and scalable ecommerce websites. Magento is rated the #1 e-commerce platform by Alexa, and many top brands use their services, such as: Nike, RosettaStone, Ghirardelli, Easton, Zumiez, Volcom, Olympus, Office Max, Fiji Water, Giro and Men’s Health. Just to name a few.
The buying process for Magento is significantly different than with Telestream, and our first task was to define an appropriate conversion goal. Magento uses their website to drive qualified leads. From the website a lead will fill out a form to request a demo, at which point they become a qualified lead. The conversion goal then was defined as percentage(%) of visitors who become a qualified lead through the demo request form.
Are less steps is better? Again, we ran several tests for Magento, and the winner is as follows.
We used a 2-step process control variation, with the Call to Action (CTA) on the first page, and a form on the second page.
Control: 2-step process
The challenger variation was a 1-step process which placed the lead form on the first page.
Challenger: 1-step process
The 1-step process converted more leads. Fewer steps won! By placing the form directly on the demo page increased the number of qualified leads by 32.4%.
View the whole Magento Case Study.
The Optimal Number
With Telestream the number of steps increased. For Magento, the steps decrease. Both providing positive results. Regardless of the number of steps, not testing your conversion funnel will leave revenue on the table. Which for some e-commerce companies, this can translate into millions of dollars.
So what does this mean for you? How do you go about finding the optimal number of steps for your checkout process? You Should Test That!
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In this tutorial, we will create a new “brand” entity in Magento that can be managed through the admin panel. Once we are finished, you will be able to create, update and delete brands that can be viewed in the front-end independently, much in the same way that you can interact with existing entities such as “products” and “categories.”
In addition, we will associate our new brand entity with other Magento entities, such as products.
See the article here –
Magento, an open source e-commerce web application, is often a good choice for an e-commerce website. The system is quite powerful and the community around the product is strong, making Magento one of the first options to consider when choosing an engine for your online shop.
In this post we present our first Magento-release: a simple and beautiful HelloWired Magento Theme, designed by HelloThemes and released especially for Smashing Magazine and its readers.
Just another WordPress site