It's easy to become lost in the published opinions from self-imposed "Experts" on what organisations should be doing to their online channel to deliver and drive success. The issue however is, these are just that, opinions.
This article comprises a list of the top 5 tips organisations should focus on to drive online growth, however what makes this article different is, each tip has come from actual "doing" ("doing" = I implemented the tip for a client) and monitoring the outcomes to determine the revenue impacts from each.
While there are many things that can be done, these five tips resulted in the biggest business impacts in 2019, which makes these great things to focus on to kick-start the 2020 year and move the business in the right direction: growth!
Tip #1: Great “Returns/Exchange experiences” is your new “Loyalty strategy”
You paid a lot of money to get that customer to purchase only to have them undertake a clunky returns process risking them to never come back. Research has proven one of the largest risks for consumer’s purchasing online is having to organize a return or exchange for an online purchase.
Invest heavily in making the returns process easy and seamless for a customer. Research proves, if organisations do well to “recover” from a bad experience, affinity towards the brand grows. Organisations need to look at the returns process as recovering from a bad experience. A customer receiving the wrong product (for whatever reason) is a bad experience.
The data proves when returns experiences appear easy (when explained on the site), conversion rates for first time buyers grow.
52% of consumers have abandoned an online purchase out of fear of a difficult return process
This increases to 67% for consumers aged 25 to 34.
Tip #2: Improving UX does not come from the opinions of “UX Experts”
There are “UX Experts” running around wreaking havoc on digital channels. Unfortunately, due to the immaturity in the business community for this digital discipline, these so-called experts are getting away with too much.
The TRUE “UX Experts” are those who use a variety of data sets (both qualitative and quantitative) to construct customer experience design plans dedicated to enhancing online experiences. These data sets are focused in finding out what’s important to an existing customer and new target consumer.
Finding the right data sets alone is a challenge and typically not within the skill set of those who classify themselves as expert, so be careful.
This act of developing customer (and target consumer) empathy is crucial to the UX process.
The tip here is, when engaging with a UX Expert, ask them what their process is when creating experience design plans. How do they uncover customer empathy and use this insight to improve online experiences.
Tip #3: The power of “triggered email communications”
Everyone knows and understands the importance of the email marketing function: planned communications intended for segmented audiences. This is what 99% of organisations focus their efforts on when it comes to email marketing.
However, few recognise the value and importance of what’s known as “triggered email communications”: pre-planned “email sequences” that become activated based on specific consumer behaviours.
Most retailers get email marketing wrong because they approach it as a method to send a single message to the masses: this “one to many” approach often ends in failure. Email marketing was never meant to work that way. This “triggered” approach drives a “one to one” personalised approach.
One example of a common “triggered email” is the cart abandonment email. This is pre-planned and set to “fire” based on a specific behaviour: consumers leaving the cart page without purchasing.
Research proves, triggered email marketing communications have the highest conversion rates of all email campaign types because, if done right, they are relevant to the context of a consumer behaviour and appears meaningful to those who receive it.
There are many behaviours where triggered emails can activate. They can be based on a consumer’s information gathering processes and/or be support focused.
An example of a behavioural email is a consumer viewing three different digital cameras on an online retail site, and leaves without buying. This behaviour would trigger an email which shows the top customer reviews of one or all three of those cameras: relevant content based on consumer context. This email would then contain a call to action to purchase.
Other than the obvious benefit of driving a high standard of relevant communications the other benefit is the ability to achieve relevant communications at scale with lean teams.
Tip #4: “Live chat” not “Chatbot”
There appears to be a race by larger organisations to activate chatbots. This is in contradiction to the purpose of the chat tool. The chat tool was meant to mirror chat APPs which consumers like to use when communicating (Messenger, WhatsApp etc…).
This device was always intended to offer the ability for a consumer, who is online engaging with a site, to speak directly to a "live" employee: "live chat"! The purpose being, to ask questions to an employee because the site has insufficient information impeding the consumer's information gathering process.
However, the “buzz” around chatbots has muddied the water around what organisations need to do to add value in this context.
Put simply, consumers do not use an online chat device to speak to a robot.
The data representing the impacts of these live chat experiences is clear. When tracking retailers who offer a "true live chat" experience (employees engage with a consumer in their moment of need), these consumers convert between 10% to 20% of the time.
This is important when considering the typical online conversion rate ranges between 0.5% and 3.5%.
Tip #5: Improve your “employee accessibility”
This tip is an extension to the “Live Chat” tip (above) and is about organisations improving employee accessibility for those consumers who are engaging with an organisation online and need help ("need help" = needs more information to assist in their buying decision making).
Research has proven, 60% of consumers who buy online require some form of contact with a support employee.
Pause for a moment and ask yourself, why does physical retail have a conversion rate ranging between 25% to 45% and online consistently sits between .5% and 3.5%? One reason is, physical retail has the advantage of offering employee accessibility.
Consumers who conduct their information gathering process in a physical retail setting can easily access a sales employee when they have a question they are unable to answer on their own.
And because the sales person answered the question which fills the “information gap” in that moment, it felt personalised to that consumer. Even though the sales person has probably answered that same question hundreds of times previously, it was delivered in the moment the consumer needed that information. That is the key to employee accessibility and forms the basis to delivering personalised experiences.
This “accessibility” can be translated in the digital context with the activation of resource and processes.
Organisations typically cut costs in these resources and processes because they think it’s a “non-value add” cost to the business, when in fact it should be thought of as an extension to the sales function.
The “New” competitive advantage:
Creating amazing/relevant online experiences is today's new business competitive advantage. All 5 tips assist in forming the foundation to doing just that.
Bring on 2020!