It’s no secret that optimization improves your digital experience—customers have high expectations of website UX and will shop elsewhere if your brand doesn’t deliver.
In our most recent webinar, “Optimization Tactics to Deliver a Better, More Human Digital Experience,” our experts from E.L.F Beauty, Hanky Panky, Saatva and Contentsquare discussed how their teams are doing continual work testing, experimenting and optimization.
What we learned:
- What is Optimization?
- How to Manage the Optimization Process
- Identifying Key Areas to Test
- How to See what’s Going Wrong & What to Do
We also polled our community to see their self-reported top struggles in improving their customers’ user experience and talked about how to overcome these barriers with our panelists. The top three were: the team was at capacity, creative couldn’t keep up, and technology couldn’t support it.
Read the other top takeaways from this webinar below and watch the full replay here.
- Ekta Chopra, Chief Digital Officer at E.L.F. Beauty
- Sabrina Cherubini, SVP Brand & Digital Marketing at Hanky Panky
- Natalie O’Flaherty, Vice President of Analytics at Saatva
- Danielle Levitas, VP of Marketing at Contentsquare
- Moderated by Allan Dick, Co-Founder at CommerceNext
What Is Optimization?
To set the groundwork, Danielle Levitas, Contentsquare, brought in some industry statistics that shed light on the current state of optimization across the digital retail landscape:
- 85% of customers are unsatisfied with their online shopping experience
- Mobile trends are accelerating and use of mobile technology to engage with brands sits at a sky-high 66%
- 48% of visitors leave after a single page session.
Panelists agreed that optimization is continuous improvement in the context of constantly changing customer behavior by using insights and data to reform your content and messaging on a rolling basis. It’s also essential to think about optimization in terms of the different audiences, their behaviors and emotional drivers that are shaping the optimization journey.
Saatva noted the fixation that many retailers develop with shopping cart and checkout metrics at the expense of other, overlooked parts of the customer journey. Thinking about (1) returning users and (2) the “My Account” process, Saatva aims to excite and delight its customers through all stages of the journey and for them accomplishing these two goals is optimization.
How to Manage the Optimization Process: Test, Test, Test
Just Dos Vs Tests
Saatva shared their optimization process around “just do’s” versus tested ideas, asserting that the deciding factor on which category an initiative falls under is determined by risk factors and the ability to mitigate that risk.
First, understand the number of variables to be tested. If this number of variables creeps into double digits, Saatva recommends testing as each one affects the others, while remembering the results can be messy without proper controls. If it’s something smaller that’s “behind the click,” with low exposure rates to customers, it might be a “just do” where you set up a pre and post-analysis to determine if you’ll continue.
Justifying The Tests
Depending on what part of the process you’re attempting to tinker with, the scope/impact of the work alone could justify classifying a task as a “test and experiment.” Despite the caution brands need to take against myopically focusing on cart and checkout, it’s justifiable to A/B test everything simply because it’s cart and checkout. It may also be useful to consider testing content in the product stock or page load areas while using less stringent tests for “learn more” areas.
Hanky Panky emphasized the significance of the investment as a qualifier for testing as well. Measuring the uplift as a means of proving your financial case as a marketer is a constant part of the job and knowing when, where and how extensively to test will result in an efficient, lean budget justifying even higher levels of investment.
Identifying Key Areas To Test
Not everything you test is something that you need to. Prioritizing by product, source or somewhere where you’ve heard noise around bounce/return rate are all reasons to consider testing. According to E.L.F. Beauty, managing the optimization process is constantly asking and justifying the question, “is the juice worth the squeeze?”
Contentsquare emphasized that brands often don’t have to test everything and the resources don’t always exist to do so. CTAs, for example, are a great way to get a snapshot of the impact of your changes over time. Or, if you’re looking to see where customers are getting stuck on your website, you can use a provider such as Contentsquare to measure traffic, scrolls, and the amount of time one spends per page.
By using a user experience management system, you can see something like rage-clicking where a customer thinks there should be a link but there is none, so they click a spot furiously trying to make the website work, becoming frustrated in their customer journey. Combined with heat mapping and journey flows, a brand can build a sense of where there’s friction and frustration (encapsulated within a frustration scoring system). Digital experience platforms attempt to provide a set of analytics to equip their brands with a keener understanding of what’s happening during your customers’ sessions and the “why’s” behind their clicks and departures, giving you the ability to prioritize testing.
E.L.F. Beauty firmly agreed, suggesting that a brand pick a couple of key risk areas where there’s no margin for error and constantly work to optimize those areas. Having a shortlist of what needs to be optimized in the context of a new consumer, to reduce your bounce rate and other areas where you can’t tolerate risk is crucial in managing your optimization strategy.
How To See When Things Go Wrong & What To Do
When Saatva looks at a product page, its focus is on effective conversions as that bottom line statistic indicates how everything else on a given page is performing. Considering the users that visited and clicked it’s immensely useful for your optimization efforts for you to deduce what users are likely to convert on those pieces. This helps you identify winning content and zero in, elevating the most successful elements of your site. Attention rates, when a customer clicks and hovers on content, are also a great indicator of good customer engagement with that piece of content.
SEO is also more important than ever before. It’s a crucial part of the product lifecycle because it can tell you what your consumers need before your product even gets in front of them.
How are people searching for your product? How should your listing show up? What are the different terms that should be associated with your brand? Knowing the answers to these questions early can help you take early steps to create a more seamless customer journey before even gathering customer data to test and experiment with.
E.L.F takes its efforts a step further though and is prepared for the GDPR/CCPA era with their loyalty program. Arguing that those without a first-party/zero-party data system are behind E.L.F feels confident in their infrastructure noting that the program’s receipt scanning mechanism lets them know shipping where and how their customers are shopping, allowing them to map customer journeys more accurately and optimize.
This webinar emphasized the importance of optimization as a consistent process rather than a singular act. Building up an optimization structure, creating a short list of items to constantly optimize and constantly staying abreast of your customers’ journeys will help you to deliver an optimal digital experience, in the long run, paying dividends for your brand.
If you’d like to learn more about optimizing the digital experience check out this panel from our June conference on: Reimagining Ecommerce Experiences for Today’s Customer Needs