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Two Must-Haves for True Website Optimization

Two Must-Haves for True Website Optimization Mark Simpson
Brands that regard their websites as a primary revenue source have three distinct priorities: give customers an optimal experience, create loyalty and convert potentially passive browsers into active buyers.

It’s not a coincidence that experience and loyalty precede sales in this short priority list; the relationship between exceptional customer experiences and revenue growth is fairly direct. The better your website speaks to your visitors, the more loyal they will become and the more sales you will generate.

The good news is that customers can (and should) be very active in the optimization process. Through their clicks, page views, bounces, reviews and purchases, our online customers are offering us helpful feedback about their online experiences, in real time.

So what can you do with all this data?

1. Testing

Using A/B and multivariate testing to discover your problem areas is a great first step. In fact, if you’re running an ecommerce site without testing in place, you’re probably losing valuable conversions and dollars as you read this.

No matter where you begin, whether it’s with shopping cart funnels, homepage bounce rates, search or call-to-actions, testing different variations of elements encountered along the path to purchase — and deciding which ones produce the highest conversions — will begin to paint a picture of what your visitors want and need. With this type of information at your disposal, you can begin to tweak your site accordingly.

But be warned, multivariate testing on an ad-hoc basis simply does not generate the conversion increases that are needed to really optimize the site for your visitors. So test early, test often, test always.

2. Personalization

With all the means of creating targeted web experiences for each individual customer, there is no reason your website shouldn’t speak directly to individual customer needs, wants and interests. The opportunity to increase their loyalty, individual conversion rates and even number of purchases at checkout is limitless.

Personalization has evolved far beyond what it once was: product recommendations. Every specific piece of information you can gain about your customer — from search information to online behavior and purchases — can be used to create a unique visitor persona profile. Which means that your approach to personalization can be as simple (using one or two collected insights) or complex (a detailed formula based on multiple insights) as you want it to be:

  • Segmentation: You can create user profiles gleaned from multivariate testing insights that allow you to segment visitors into basic groups based on attributes such as repeat vs. new visitor, geography, time of day…the list goes on. Even the simplest categorizations allow for better customer engagement with content and offers that are more relevant.

  • Product Recommendations: Your best bet for enhancing cross-sell and up-sell opportunities for repeat and new visitors. Your site can either recommend items to visitors based on models such as “visitors who bought this also bought that” or use a single visitor’s product interest(s) and compare with similar visitors to recommend products.

  • Behavioral Targeting: Rather than making informed assumptions based on group patterns, this method takes into account each individual customer’s known interests, attributes and history. Behavioral targeting can help you move toward an online customer experience that’s so personalized, it far exceeds anything that can be delivered in a physical store — short of hiring a dedicated personal shopper. How? Using mathematical models that learn over time to dynamically adjust and predict the content displayed for each visitor based on their compounded profile and historical site activity.

Just remember that no matter what you think customers want or how you think they should interact with your site, they will ultimately engage with you exactly the way they want. Don’t fight it. Work with your customers, and let them optimize your site for you.

Mark Simpson is Founder and President of Maxymiser, a global conversion-rate optimization company.  Since moving from the UK to launch the company in the U.S. in 2010, Mark’s focus has been on launching MaxMOBILE ™, a proprietary...

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