In 2011, U.S. consumers spent $194.3 billion online -- the most ever since the dawn of e-commerce. As American consumers become more and more comfortable with online buying, and therefore begin doing it more frequently, this figure only stands to get larger. The problem is that this booming digital age also makes it easier for consumers to be disloyal -- and get rewarded for doing so. So how can we not only keep the customers we already have committed to us, but also engage new ones and earn their loyalty in the process?
Well, like any good relationship, start by listening. The phrase "the customer is always right" used to be up for debate; now, however, it is a rule brands must live by. Putting the customer at the heart of online content decisions and providing each with unique, personalized experiences is a giant step forward in rounding out the online experience -- and one that ensures your visitors will convert into customers. In other words, it's time to pay your visitors more attention, and give them what they really want -- not what you think they want.
Following are five signs your customers might be cheating on you, what it means, and suggestions for winning back their hearts using multivariate testing and personalization techniques.
High homepage bounce rates
If more than 55 percent of your traffic is bolting as soon as they get to your site, you're not convincing many consumers that you have what they are looking for. They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression, but luckily in the online world, you might just get a second or third chance if you can identify and fix the issue. Conducting A/B and multivariate testing on your homepage will give you definitive answers with respect to the best layout, design, navigation, functionality, etc. You will know, via data, exactly what makes your visitors stay or leave. Take UK retail giant ASDA Wal-Mart. The company was suffering from abnormally high homepage bounce rates. Using an A/B test, it tested two completely different layouts of its homepage. The winning layout reduced the bounce rates by a whopping 19 percent.
Secondly, using segmentation to point different groups of visitors to different content or layouts, or even promotions, can further help boost conversion rates: For example, during A/B or multivariate testing, segments, or clusters of people, can be discovered such as time of day, geographic location, new vs. returning visitors, and so on. The conversions during testing can be measured on these groups so that going forward you can serve them more relevant content. If returning visitors convert better on Version A of the homepage, then that version should always be served to that group. With more than 50 different attributes by which to cluster visitors, the possibilities for targeting them are virtually endless.
Shopping cart abandonment
This is an extremely common problem, but again, the solution lies in listening. Because if you listen carefully enough, consumers have likely told (or showed) you why and when they are leaving. According to Forrester Research, the top six reasons for abandoning a cart before making a purchase are: shipping and handling costs are too high; wasn't ready to purchase the product; wanted to compare prices on other sites; product prices higher than they were willing to pay; wanted to save products to the cart for lower comparison; and shipping costs were listed too late in the checkout process.
Consumers are openly fickle. They want to make sure they are getting the best deal and experience possible, and it's up to you to give it to them. To achieve this, here are some tried and true do's and don'ts. Make sure your registration process is simple, perhaps even with a progress indicator -- lengthy or confusing forms cause frustration. Frustration causes visitors to wander. Testing this will help you decide what works best for your audience. Additionally, make sure you have a "save for later" button, so that those who are in browse -- not buy -- mode can easily log back in to retrieve their item and buy it later. Another tip: Ditch hidden shipping costs and fees. Be honest about what the cost is upfront; consumers appreciate integrity.