It’s no secret that customer expectations are growing every day. Not only do people’s needs have to be met in terms of standard customer service (i.e. availability, on-time delivery, and quality of products), but user experience has also become a major part of the ecommerce conversation. Though the term user experience is thrown around quite a bit, many of us do not fully understand its importance.
In a nutshell, user experience is all about making your site relevant to the people using it. Of course, to do so, you need to make it easy to navigate, include enticing and friendly language, provide actionable content, and add social and visual elements that involve your users. But as great as these tactics are, they’re only the beginning.
Customization takes each of these elements to a whole new level. Why? People are overwhelmed with marketing and sales messages, so adding features that reach out to their specific interests or make them feel that you care about them as a human being helps keep users engaged in your offerings.
Think about people, not numbers
Your customers likely come from a range of backgrounds. What appeals to a 50-year-old man from Minneapolis is not necessarily going to appeal to a nineteen-year-old girl in New York. It’s essential to come up with strategic campaigns geared toward different segments.
Your users are so accustomed to receiving traditional email newsletters and seeing standard marketing ads that they completely ignore them. This is not necessarily on purpose, but rather because something so general often fails to catch the eye. Think about it -- if you’re browsing a site and you see “just another marketing ad” which does not offer you anything you need, your eye will completely skip over it. On the other hand, if you’re looking for suitcases and you get an ad about deals on suitcases, your interest is much more likely to be piqued.
Often times, companies fail to come up with strategic individualized marketing tactics because it’s time consuming. They think of customers as a number of hits on their site versus actual living, breathing individuals with diverse interests. Needless to say, this is a major mistake -- but thankfully it’s one that’s easy to fix.
Giving your users a sense of power and identity on site is a great way to meet their individual needs. Many sites have installed features which allow people to sign in as a member with a username, picture, and sometimes even an avatar. They can then comment on your content, provide insights, and develop conversations surrounding your brand, while also connecting the conversation to their unique needs. Not only does this help people feel their voice is being heard, but it also helps you as a brand to come up with topics that keep them coming back to your site.
For example, if you see that your users are writing about the hottest holiday vacation spots, you can develop content and stories pertaining to those niches. This way, your users stay on site longer because they know that you can provide them with valuable information they seek.
Furthermore, giving them an opportunity to speak about topics amongst themselves either through a forum, reviews, social media, or through an onsite commenting system can help solidify their connection to your site and ensure they come back for more.
While such features are thought of as being exclusive to social media, Spot.im and others are reversing this trend—bringing popular social features such as chat, commentaries, newsfeeds, and more to any website. By taking advantage of such simple tools, you can turn your own site into a virtual social network.
Increasing user participation
Take the social elements to the next level by running campaigns that your users can get involved in. User-Generated Content is a great way to bring the individual back to your marketing campaigns.
Of course, one of the most notorious UGC campaigns in recent years is Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke Campaign.” Through this campaign, Coke produced bottles with people’s names on them and encouraged their customers to take pictures of themselves with their bottle and post it on Twitter. By doing this, they were able to build a community and make people want to be involved in their brand. Needless to say, it also increased user retention and overall sales of product.
So what can we learn from this? This campaign reinforces the importance of bringing the individual into the brand. Because people could put their name and face on the website, people became excited about the offerings and felt passionate about Coca-Cola’s persona. This ultimately brought more users to the site and made a huge impact on customer loyalty.
Customized landing pages and suggested content
As we mentioned earlier, your users have unique and diverse interests. All of your marketing collateral and campaigns must therefore reflect this. You can customize a landing page based upon where your individual users are in the sales cycle. For example, if users have already purchased a suitcase, you can show them similar products such as a travel pillow, headphones, or something else they may need for a trip.
Your landing pages can also use messaging that appeal to different segments and their particular needs. The nineteen-year-old girl in New York may be interested in finding a cool new iPhone case or beauty supplies, whereas the fifty-year-old man in Minneapolis might be looking for a new briefcase or barbeque. Optimizing your landing pages to reflect these interests is far more appealing than writing a general message about your product offerings and deals.
This can be applied to your content as well. Again, if your users enjoy reading blog posts about travel, you can install website tools that will suggest other pieces of content on the same topic. This way, your users feel your site intuitively understands their interests and are much more likely to come back to check out more of your content.
Notifications can take it all a step further by informing users when relevant content is published, instantly driving them to your site.
Why does retention matter?
User retention is your end goal. But when your messaging is generic, overused, and irrelevant to a chunk of your customer base, you’ll most likely be completely ignored. You can have great products, an amazing support team, and top-notch delivery services -- but people will never know that until they make a purchase -- and they will likely not be driven to purchase if they don’t stay on your site.
Customization and individualization make an instant statement. If your site shows both prior to purchase and afterward that it’s geared to an individual’s specific needs based on the products shown and content provided, people will be more inclined to keep browsing.
So make sure to remember the person behind the computer screen. Relate to them in a person-to-person manner, and show your brand’s integrity and dedication to their individual identity. Then watch your bounce rates decline and user engagement soar.