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A lot of marketing attention these days is given to acquiring website traffic - organic, paid and social - and many companies and agencies have done a great job at this. But, since growing revenues and creating brand advocates are the main goals of most businesses, an equal amount of your attention should be focused on converting this traffic - convincing these visitors to take the conversion actions you want them to.
The metaphor I like best in this context is the leaky bucket. The bucket represents your sales funnel, and the holes represent visitors ‘leaking out’ before they should. The implication for your e-commerce business: you need to fill these holes, starting with the larger ones, as fast and as permanently as possible.
But how can you find out where your holes are, and how big they are? Fortunately, you can discover this in a straightforward and cost-effective way by using just three tactics from my ‘customer experience (CX) audit’ toolkit.
A Customer Experience (CX) audit is a comprehensive assessment of your target customers’ interactions with - and perceptions of - your brand. In general, it considers all of the key ‘touchpoints’ during your customer’s shopping journey, from finding and choosing your brand or product, to interactions after the sale. A digital CX audit is a bit more limited, and typically includes:
If you have a limited time and budget (as most teams do), I recommend that you focus on doing secret shopping, conducting customer support interviews and reviewing clickstream analytics. Why? Because I’ve learned through a 200+ hours of doing these reviews that these activities will give you the best insights per dollar or pound spent - that is, the highest Insights ROI. And it’s this high ROI that will most quickly make you a rockstar product owner or marketer.
The first task I recommend that you do in your expedited CX audit is to speak with customers. Yes, I realize you don’t have time to speak with hundreds, or even dozens, of your current prospects and customers. The good news is, you don’t need to. If you have a customer support team you have a nexus point for customer inquiries, complaints and requests, just the kinds of things you need to know as you seek to improve your user and, more broadly, customer experience.
After only working for your company for two to four months your customer support agents will have heard:
They may have even heard some compliments and suggestions. But those are less important to consider, at least initially. To plug those funnel holes you first need to understand the most frequent questions and concerns - the emotion-based reasons your visitors are bailing out, and may never feel like returning.
Follow these steps to get input from your support agents:
You don’t need to audio record any of your conversations; just take good notes on the key questions and issues you hear. If your company has a chat app installed, ask to see the chat logs from the past couple months. If possible, filter the calls and chat to ‘sales only’ contacts, since it’s these early-phase issues you’ll first want to fix with your design updates.
Estimated time investment: 8-10 hours
Estimated tools investment: 0
You’ve no doubt reviewed the top-level analytics from your analytics suite (Google Analytics or otherwise). That’s a great start. But you need to dig a bit deeper to understand these actions at a behavioral level. You can get this by plugging in and reviewing the data from a clickstream analytics tool.
You can also run a one-question poll on your site if you have a key questions to answer (for example, based on something that surfaced during your support agent interviews).
Estimated time investment: 2-3 hours
Estimated tools investment: US $270 (3-month tool subscription; moderate-traffic site)
Secret shopping - aka ‘eating your own cooking’ - is the kind of secret you don’t have to keep. While you may do it covertly, secret shopping will bring customer experience issues to the brightest light, because you will witness them yourself.
A caveat: doing this shopping may leave a ‘bitter taste’ in your mouth. But it’s better you know the issues now so you can fix them before your site leaks more revenues.
Here how to do secret shopping:
Touch as many parts of your brand experience you can within a reasonable time (I usually allocate a minimum of 4 hours to this task). Include these aspects of your experience:
Note how well the site does - and, more importantly, does not - answer the questions that arise, questions that, if left unanswered, would likely make you, or a real potential customer, bail out.
Estimated time investment: 4-6 hours
Estimated tools investment: 0
After you’ve collected some data using the above tactics, review the notes you made from your support agent interviews, clickstream analytics review and secret shopping. Consolidate your findings into a list of:
Most importantly, note the large and medium-sized holes in your funnel, and your hypotheses on how to best fill them. Also do some prioritization at this point. Issues that most directly affect conversions and revenues, and that are closest to conversion (lower in your conversion funnel), deserve the most immediate attention. So advocate strongly for those to be fixed first, using the data you collected to support your case.
Estimated time investment: 2-4 hours
Estimated tools investment: 0
Time investment (avg.): 18 hours (less than 1% of a UX analyst’s yearly work hours)
Staff hourly rate (burdened): US $100/hr
Redesign time (above normal amount; 2 small projects): 12 hours
Avg. uniques: 20,000 / month (240,000 / year)
Current conversion rate: 3.0%
Conversion rate (2% lift): 3.6%
AOV: US $70
Staff cost (research): US $1800
Staff cost (redesign): US $1200
Tool cost: US $270
Total cost: US $3270
Revenues (3.0% CR): US $504,000
Revenues (3.6% CR): US $604,800
Revenue lift: US $100,800
That’s over a 30X return on your investment! You’ll be hard-pressed to find a higher ROI in your business.
There you have it: for a modest time and tool investment, you get an uber-high revenue return. What this means: there’s no excuse not to do these three CX audit tasks now (or at least one of them). Granted, you may need to work a bit later for a day or two, but the extra effort and diligence will pay off big time. Not only will you be able to make more confident, data-driven design decisions, but your supervisor and CFO will surely take notice.
A final reminder: Be sure to split-test the design updates you make as a result of the data and insights you collect. That way you’ll be able to prove how accurate your hypotheses were, and better quantify your revenue gains.
By Mark Hall
Seasoned Voice of Customer research and conversion optimization professional. I boost your revenues by making your online experiences more intuitive and persuasive.
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