Improving customer experience to increase sales
The most successful websites aren't those with best design or products. Those that succeed are those that provide their visitors with a real customer experience. This article reviews some possible ways to improve visitors' experience as a strategy to develop sales.
Of course people browse your website because they are interested in your products and enjoy it because of the originality of your design. Most certainly they are staying on your page because of the quality of your content. And they surely found what they are looking for because of the clarity of your navigation system.
All these different aspects of your website are part of a larger entity that I would call "customer experience".
The customer experience is the accumulation of elements that make a visit on your page unique and memorable.
The quality of this experience directly influences your sales. Take a simple example: when you visit a local cloths store, your prime interest is the product itself. Nevertheless, many other factors will influence your final decision - whether you will purchase something or not. Among those factors, you will have the design of the shop, its lighting, the attitude of the sales, the smell, the music, etc. All those elements influence in various ways your feeling and will play their part in your final decision.
If you would like to know more about the influence of external elements on our will to purchase I invite you to read my article "Marketing for 5 senses".
The perfect way for providing help
You might have created the perfect website with a very clear interface and an intuitive linking of your pages, you would still like to be able to assist your visitors when they have questions.
Some websites completely ignore this aspect - leaving their customers on their own - and some overdo it - covering them with pop-ups and unnecessary information.
If we use the same example as before, consider yourself as a customer in a cloths store. There are usually two situations that you want to avoid: the first one is having a sales jumping on you even before you had time to check out a single product, and the second one is having sales ignoring you completely when you would actually require some advice.
Those extremes are what constitute a negative customer experience, usually leading to you leaving the shop earlier than planned. If only you could receive the right piece information at the right timing, things would certainly go differently.
The same thing happens online. Some webshops simply ignore their customers' needs, considering that all is clear already. Others want to provide help at any cost and have popups polluting the page, providing the visitor with online assistance and advice.
There is no one-fits-all solution for webshops, but a rather standard solution is to bring help without disturbing the customer experience - the same concept as in a physical store, having a sales available next to you but leaving you alone when you don't need help.
You could start by having an obvious (obvious but non-disturbing) button to contact customer sales service. A very efficient way is to install an online chat on your page (LiveZilla provides some free and very efficient tool for such system). Of course, this involves additional cost of manpower as you must have someone ready to answer questions, but it could show some use when convincing indecisive customers into buying your products.
If the button is obvious, the visitor will use it when he feels he needs help and won't be disturbed with it until then.
The key here is to have easily accessible help that does not disturb the visitor's experience.
Asking for information at the right time
Collecting information about your visitors and customers is essential for your business. The more you know about your market, the more efficient you are selling your products.
However, requesting information at the wrong time can lead to failure and even negatively impact your sales.
For example, have you ever experienced those websites that cover the content of their page with some popup inviting you to provide your email to receive more information?
Those popups usually appear after just a few seconds: you did not even have time to see if the page you landed on could be of any use to you and you are already solicited for giving your personal information. For many visitors this type of request is prohibitive and makes them abandon their visit.
As discussed earlier with the "help button", the best way to ask for something is to provide the information in an obvious way without interrupting the customer experience.
For example, you might have a side section "Receive more information" where you ask for the visitor's email. If he is satisfied with your content and wishes to receive further details he will surely find the way to do so.
Make sure you never disturb your customer's experience.
Going straight to the point
If you know a bit about web statistics you probably know that each click on your page is considered as a customer loss. In other words, each time a click is required to perform an action on your page you lose a certain percentage of your visitors who would just leave the page instead of going through this extra click.
For this reason, you must at all time limit the number of required clicks to its absolute minimum.
A simple example could be those "old fashioned" websites presenting an "introduction page" before reaching the real website. You can easily recognize them because of their "ENTER" button. In some situations, this type of page might be necessary (for choosing the right location or language, for example) but most of time it is just an unnecessary step.
You can simply consider that each visitor has a "click-count": after using up all his clicks, the visitor will leave. If he has time to find what he was looking for in this limited number of clicks, he might come back and he might even have had time to purchase something before leaving. If he used up his clicks before finding the right info, he will simply never come back.
Provide customers with information in the most straight forward possible way.
You want your website to be a haven of peace. You want it to be the nicest place to spend time. And you are right.
But are you sure that what pleases you also pleases others?
Some websites equip their page with content that aims to create a comfortable environment and totally fail by annoying their visitors.
I am sure you have visited pages that auto-play a video you have no interest in, that automatically redirect you to some different content or that play some background music you did not request.
This is typically the kind of thing you do not want to disturb your visitors with.
Yes, some background music can be nice. But what if the visitor has his speakers' volume set to maximum? What if he is watching a movie in the same time? Or if he is in a library and don't want to disturb people around? Do you really want to disturb him and push him to close your page instead of visiting it?
Anything automatic should be avoided. If you really want to have music on your page, you should think about having it in such a way that the visitor chooses when to start it.
The placement matters
Creating a webpage, and more specifically a product page, isn't just about having all details and information in a single place. It is very important to place this information properly. The placement of the elements you include on your page is at least as important as the elements themselves.
Placing the elements in such a way that there are exactly where people look is important. That way you save your visitors' time and energy they can spend on something else such as purchasing your products.
The MarketingTechBlog offers a very interesting infographic showing "Effective Ecommerce Product Pages".
Those are just a few examples of how to achieve better customer experience. There are most probably hundreds of other details I haven't mentioned here that you could consider to make your customers' experience more exciting. The point is, as always, to make use of empathy. As long as you can put yourself in your customers' shoes, you should be able to hit the right point.
To complete this article I invite you to read "How to change my website into a cash generating machine": there you should find some other tips to make your webshop more efficient.
Last update: 2017-10-20 Tags: sales customer experience pop-up communication chat box webshop product page