Fact: Most people don’t want to spend time to understand their customers.
And I get it.
It’s hard to place a value on the time it takes to understand your website visitors, why some buy and some don’t, and how these folks use your website.
However, there’s a reason this is the first step in any solid conversion rate optimization plan. It’s that important!
Why Am I Writing About Conversion Rate Optimization for Ecommerce?
I’ve been heavily focused on Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) lately. Mainly, I’ve been optimizing a system that helps ecommerce stores leverage CRO to get more sales from their existing traffic.
Why spend more money or time to generate more traffic if your current traffic isn’t converting as high as it could be? It makes sense to incorporate a CRO strategy so that when we do spend more time or money on traffic, we’ll know that we’re maximizing the effectiveness of that spend.
So, given the importance of CRO, I wanted to cover why understanding your customers is one of the most important aspects of a solid CRO plan.
Why is Understanding Your Customers So Critical?
You need a solid understanding of your audience in order to make the kinds of website optimizations that will make their experience better.
After all, that is the primary goal of CRO.
Bottom Line – Improving the customer’s experience increases the likelihood that they’ll complete a purchase.
And how can you truly improve their experience if you don’t understand it in the first place?
What To Do:
Survey your site visitors.
Use an exit survey. And exit survey is one that is presented to the user when they attempt to click away from your website.
This is the least intrusive and least likely to hinder any other action they may have taken on your website.
There are lots of tools available for this kind of survey. Here are a couple:
- Qualaroo Exit Survey
Keep this in mind:
- The simpler your survey, the more responses you’ll get.
- Keep the number of questions to 5 or less
- Keep the questions short and concise
- Include an optional comments field at the end
Some example questions you could ask (Courtesy of Qualaroo):
- “Is our pricing clear?”
- “Was there anything about this checkout process that we should improve?”
- “Is there anything on this site that doesn’t work the way you expected it to?”
- “What was your biggest fear or concern about using us?”
- “If you did not make a purchase today, can you tell us why not?”
- “What would’ve convinced you to complete the purchase of the item(s) in your cart?”
Observe your site visitors
Use a heat mapping tool to see where visitors are interacting with your site.
Does the reality align with your perception? Are they clicking where you thought they would?
If not, this is a great way to organize your pages in a way that mimics the patterns your users are already expecting to follow.
Some heat mapping tools I recommend:
Heat maps can reveal some amazing things about the behavior of your visitors. Things like [examples]:
- No one is clicking on that big banner you put in the right-hand sidebar
- Folks spend more time looking at the left side of your page (this is nearly universally true)
- Visitor viewing time decreases sharply when they get below the ‘fold’. This means that you want a prominent call to action up high in your content.
Implement live chat
Live chat enables you to interact with your visitors in real time
Conduct Usability Tests
This one sounds a lot worse than it is.
You may have visions of gathering a group of people in a room and taking video of them as they go through your website.
That is one way to do it. But probably the most expensive and least efficient option you have.
At any rate, watching how random users interact with your site can be invaluable.
Instead, look to use a service like:
- Or even, The User is Drunk [watching a drunk person navigate your site can be enlightening!]
The services like TryMyUI and Usability Hub offer up a pool of pre screened testers, trained to offer useful feedback about their experience using your website. You get screen recordings and their comments.
Once you’re armed with all of the knowledge and insights that these tools and tests will provide, you’ll be in great shape to begin making educated choices about what should be optimized on your website.
You’ll have a true understanding of your website visitors’ needs, desires, and tendencies.
The next step is evaluating all of the awesome feedback you just received. This will be the foundation from which you determine what to start testing.
Share and Enjoy
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