11 Tips for Improving Customer Experience and Driving Conversions

Struggling to drive conversions?  The issue might be with customer experience. After having worked with several brands, big and small, I can assure you that you don’t have to make sweeping changes to drive better results. Many times even small changes and little bit process can lead to happy customers and big impacts. In this post I have complied 11 tips that you can use today. If you need help then don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

  1. Easy to fill forms – How many times have you come across a form field where you don’t remember what the field was about?  Many designers/developers use the default text in the form filed as the filed label. Once you tab into that field, the default text is gone and now you can’t figure out what that field was about.  That is a very bad design which will likely cause customer frustration and kill conversions.
  2. No more unnecessary form field formatting and validations – Other than Captcha validation, you are likely using form field validations in your online form to make sure visitors/customers enter the correct data.  You might also use validation to ensure that the format of the data fields such as email, phone, etc. is correct. Many of these validations are absolutely required to ensure data quality. However, some validations put unnecessary burden on your customer/visitor leading them to abandon your forms/checkout process. A lot of data formatting can be done via client side JavaScript or backend processing without putting the customer through a lot of pain. So go through your own forms, see if all form validations are absolutely required. If not, then remove them, also remove any validation/formatting requirements that you can handle via code in the front end or backend. Check out my post on Form validation and conversions.
  3. No more convoluted captcha – Captcha are great to stop the spammers, bots and spiders from filling the forms, but some Captchas are so bad that they not only create a undesirable customer experience but also kill the conversions. Make sure you critically evaluate the captcha on your site and if it seems like something you yourself don’t want to encounter on another site then kill it. I wrote a blog post on Captcha, you can read it at  Is CAPTACH eating up your conversions 
  4. Easy Promotional Code and Discount Code redemption – Promotional Codes also known as Promo Codes, Discount Codes, Coupon Codes, Offer codes etc, are supposed to drive sales, right? However, they can have a reverse action and can actually kill your conversions, if not properly used.  In my post “Promotional Codes: Conversion Killers?, I showed one such example where Promo codes can hinder conversions.  If you are going to announce a promotional code on your site, in a ad etc. and you know that the customer clicked on the link to arrive to your site then go ahead and automatically apply the relevant promo code don’t make a customer think and take extra steps.  Godaddy is a great example of a site the automatically apply any relevant promo codes.
  5. Consistent experience across devices – Customers expect consistent experience across browsers and devices so don’t mess with their expectations.  Broken experience can lead to customer dissatisfaction and defection. I wrote about one such example in my post, 2 A/B Testing Lessons Learned from Amazon Video.  Read more: 2 A/B Testing Lessons Learned from Amazon Video
  6. Easy to find customer support number  – Yes, phone support is expensive but bad customer experience is even more expensive.  If you do your cost analysis, you might find that phone support is actually profitable. A phone call provide you an opportunity to hear your customer and convert a dissatisfied customer into a satisfied customers. Make it easy for customers to contact you rather than complain on social media.
  7. Connected Channels, Customer Service, Support and Marketing – If I get a marketing material and I call the number listed on that then person picking up the phone on the other end should be able to answer question on that material. I have several experiences where customer support is not in sync with the marketing and customer has to waste his/her time. I talked about one such case of disconnected experience in my blog post titled, Are you Optimizing the Wrong Steps of the Conversion Process?
  8. Easy to Find subscription cancellation link – Have you ever tried to cancel a paid App subscription on iPhone?  It is pretty bad. I always forget where the link is and have to spend several minutes to look for it. Not a good experience.  It might work for iPhone and Apple but likely won’t work for you. If customer wants to cancel a subscription, then go ahead and make it easy for them to find the cancellation button/links. I am not saying you let them go easily, you should have top notch experience, service etc, to make it hard for them cancel but hiding an option to cancel is not the solution.  If they can’t find that cancellation link the they are going to leave you bad reviews about you in social media. Use data to figure out how valuable the customer is, understand why he/she is leaving and provide proper personalized offer/incentive for them to stay.
  9. Easy to Unsubscribe from emails and other communications – Don’t end up in spam folders because your subscribers can’t find an unsubscribe link in your email. Spam complain will hurt more than the unsubscribes. If you do send relevant messages then unsubscribe should not be a big issue because people only unsubsribe from irrelevant stuff. Follow email best practices, send relevant messages and provide a link to unsubscribe.
  10. Ongoing Testing – Customer preferences change, their behavior changes and you site has to change to. The best way to change your site is to keep evolving and always trying to find out what works best for your customers. This is where ongoing testing (A/B testing, MVT testing) helps. Before rolling out a feature, page layout etc., test it and see if your customers like it.  If not, then try something else. As Bryan Eisenberg says “Always Be Testing”.
  11. Personalized experience I started writing about personalization ever since I started this blog, back in 2006. I wrote extensively about privacy and how marketers should address it to engage in personalization. Consumers are now more at ease with online purchases, they have moved past initial privacy concerns of online tracking and now expect personalization.  Personalization is no longer optional. Many marketers don’t realize that personalization does not have to be complex. You can start simple and build on it.  Reach out to me if you need help.
Thoughts? Questions? Comments? Need Help?  Contact me at batraonline at gmail or fill this form http://anilbatra.com/analytics/contact-me/

Promotional Codes: Conversion Killers?

Promotional Codes also know as Promo Codes, Discount Codes, Coupon Codes, Offer codes etc, are supposed to drive sales, right? However they can have a reverse action and can actually kill your conversions, if not properly used. Here two examples of discount code implementation that can disrupt customers flow and possibly kill conversion.

  1. Pomo Code Box:  A customer who does not have a discount code but comes across a text box/button that asks for one during the checkout process is likely to stop and think.  If a customer does not have any kind of urgency to buy the product, he/she will likely try to look for a discount code online.  If he/she does not find one then chances are that you might lose that conversion.
  2. Pomo Codes that are not applied automatically: If you advertise a discount code on your site then go ahead and apply it automatically during the checkout process. Do not ask the customer to fill in the discount code manually.  Many customers don’t read the instructions, and if during check out they don’t see what was promised to them then they will leave.  For example see the Nautica.com screenshot below. They advertised 40% off with a discount code.  As you go through the checkout process, they don’t apply the code automatically. Customers have to take an extra step to enter the code manually.  Do you think all the customers will read the instructions (written in red)?

Here are few things that you can do/test to minimize the cart abandonment due to discount codes:

  1. Visible discount Code Box v/s a link to open a discount code box–  Customers who have the discount code might actually find it even though it might not be obvious to other customers (you should test this).
  2. Automatically apply the code so that customer can see the actual price he/she will be paying
  3. If you are going to provide a prominent discount code then provide a bare minimum discount to everybody (and auto fill it). The code could even be for Free Shipping over $75.00 etc.  The point is make sure that everybody feels like they got something (you should test that).

 

Also check out

  1. 5 Things That Could Be Hindering Your Conversions
  2. Are Form Validations Invalidating Your Conversions?

7 Analysis Tips for Improving CTR on Display Advertising

Not all display advertising is created equal, though when you look at your web analytics reports you are most likely not going to find the reasons that makes each campaign and each ad so unique. Web Analytics tools generally start tracking the performance of a display advertising campaign only after the visitors have clicked on an ad and landed on your site. What happens before a visitor clicks resides in an Ad Server or in a spreadsheet on someone’s desktop.

In my last post I wrote 5 tips for Analyzing and Optimizing Display Advertisingand one of those tips was to Improve Click-Through-Rate (CTR). In this post I am focusing on elements you should analyze and optimize to increase the CTR of your display advertising. (Note: I am not saying that you should solely focus on CTR, but assuming conversion rate remains the same, increase CTR on your ads will result in more visitors on top of the funnel causing higher number of conversions. )

7 Things to Analyze for Improving CTR

  1. Publisher – Publisher or the site where your ads are served has a lot to do with how your ads are going to perform. An ad served on MSN is not the same as the ad served on Anilbatra.com. Most of the time such information is absent from the Web Analytics tools and hence never crosses an Analysts mind. Get hold of that data and bring it together with the other data to analyze and optimize your campaigns.
  2. Placement – By placement I mean the area of the site where you ad is shown. Ads shown at certain location on a page are likely to get higher CTR than the other ads. For example, an ad served above the fold is almost guaranteed to be seen by a visitor, while the one served below the fold is up to anyone’s guess. In both cases an ad impression will be counted but both will not generate the same CTR.
  3. Size – Size of the display ads makes a huge difference in its performance. Certain ad sizes tend to get more clicks than the others. When analyzing and optimizing your campaign keep in mind that size does matter.
  4. Day/Time – An ad served at midnight on Friday will have different CTR than the same ad served during lunch time on Wednesday. Analyze you campaigns in light of the day/time when the ads were served, find the best time to launch a campaign.
  5. Creative – Different creative invoke different reactions. Images, colors, fonts etc. are all part of the creative mix. Different combinations will have different CTR. Find out the best mix that drives not only higher CTR but also conversions.
  6. Unique Value Proposition (UVP) – Why should a person click on your banner ad and not another one on the same page? A boring ad just telling about your services will likely have a lower CTR than an ad that provides a unique benefit to the visitor. Factor the messages and UVP when analyzing your campaigns and making recommendations.
  7. Audience – Targeted ads will likely have higher CTR than a general broadcast ad. If you have a remarketing campaign then that is expected to have a higher CTR than just a general broadcast campaign. If your target audience is families with 2 kids under the age of 10 and household income is more than 100K then putting your ad in front of a single guy make making 50K is not going to generate a lot of clicks and conversions. Understanding the goals and objectives is critical before you start analyzing campaigns and making recommendations.

Even though I have listed 7 things to analyze keep in mind that it is not just one thing that will have an impact, you have to analyze all these things together. A blue creative that works better on Yahoo homepage on Wed might not be the best combination for anilbatra.com at the same time. Yes, it is not going to be easy to get all this data but that’s why you are getting paid big bucks.

Always, Go Beyond What Web Analytics Provides

Comments? Questions?


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5 Tips for Analyzing and Optimizing Campaigns – Part III

This is part III of my post on Analyzing and Optimizing Campaigns. In part I I talked about why your campaign analysis is probably is wrong. In part II I showed an example of how obsessing over reducing bounce rate might not get you anywhere.

In this post I am going to provide you 5 tips for analyzing and optimizing your campaign. Here those 5 tips:

  1. Optimize Cost of Advertising
    Cost is dependent on how much you pay per click or pay per 1000 impressions (CPC and CPM). You have control over these cost factors. Those who are running Paid Search campaigns should already be familiar with and should be working hard to reduce the cost (CPC). Those dealing with CPM display ads should know that those rates are highly negotiable. Do you research about pricing etc., play with these numbers and see what will yield the optimal result,. Take your analysis and recommendation to your media buying team.
  2. Improve Click-Through-Rate (CTR )
    CTR depends on several factors such placement, creative, unique value proposition, time of the ad, targeting criteria. Analyzes those factors and see where you are falling short and where are the opportunities for improvement. You can pretty much test all of these and improve them.
  3. Reduce Landing Page Bounce Rate
    We looked at improving the Bounce Rate in the last post. You can reduce the bounce rate by optimizing the messages on your ads, better targeting techniques and optimizing your landing page. If your value proposition and messages are aligned on the ads and the landing pages, you will see a reduction in bounce rate. Conduct A/B and MVT on your landing pages to see what works.
  4. Optimize Conversion Funnel
    Make sure the conversion path steps are optimized and any obstacles are removed. Remove any fields that are not needed e.g. if you don’t have a use for phone number then don’t ask fo it. Streamline the process. Conduct A/B and MVT to improve the conversion funnel. Use personalization, if possible.
  5. Improve Average Order Value (AOV)
    Yes, you can influence the amount a customer pays per transaction. Use on-site recommendations to up-sell and cross-sell to drive up the average basket size and the value. Use customer data to figure out what might interest a particular customer and put those in your recommendations. I have also found that some segment of visitors just won’t convert online, they are not comfortable. If you are able to spot those customers on time and engage them via sales call center then not only the chances of conversion will go up but the AOV will go up as well. In my experience, those customers, who deal with a live person, tend to buy more versus those who complete orders online.

Just optimizing for one of the above variables might not yield the desired improvement; optimize all of them to achieve the maximum ROI.

Comments? Questions?

Follow Me on Twitter: @anilbatra
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheAnilBatra

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Bounce Rate Optimization Is Not Always The Cure: Analyzing and Optimizing Campaigns

This is part II of the series on Analyzing and Optimizing Campaigns. I wrote in my previous post that when analyzing campaigns many web analysts just focus on the web analytics data. Some venture to include the cost and impression data of the campaign but they still don’t have a complete view.

In this post I will show you how their lack of complete view results in wrong analysis and wrong conclusions.

Below is the data I used in my last post. This is the type of data most Web Analytics tools provide and hence “Web Analysts” tend to use.

What is missing?

Where is the cost of products and profit margin data? Without that information, you don’t know if this campaign is successful or not. Right?

The sad reality is that many web analysts don’t have access to profit margin data and hence they look at what is available to them and start recommending A/B testing (see my post One Awesome Web Analytics Tip: Think Beyond Web Analytics). And their first target generally is Bounce Rate. Oh… look bounce rate is 50% it is too high, we need to reduce it. Right?

Wait…There is More…

Let’s assume that you are able to get hold of additional data. Now let’s see how the campaign looks if we add that data. Below I have added cost of Goods Sold data (keep in mind there are additional costs in real life).

It is evident now that the campaign is bleeding money. If your business goal is to increase conversions at any cost then you might be ok but if you goal is to increase conversions without losing money then this campaign sucks.

Ok, so what should we do now? If your answer is still bounce rate then you are wrong. Look at the data below, even with a bounce rate of 0% you will never make this a profitable campaign.

So next time get all the data before you jump to the conclusion that all you need to do is reduce “Bounce Rate”. Bounce Rate Optimization looks tempting to tackle but it is not always the cure.

Stay tuned, more coming soon on this subject.

Follow Me on Twitter: @anilbatra
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheAnilBatra

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Analyzing and Optimizing Ad Campaigns – Part 1

I am going to start this series of post with few questions for you.  Here is some data pulled from a Web Analytics tool. This data is for a “Display Ad” campaign:
Most of the web analysts today get the following view of display advertising from their Web Analytics tool.  Looking at this data and some publicly available information they will get started on the analysis and recommendation.
Though some other analysts will say, Wait… I need more information.  Google Adwords has done such a great job in providing cost data and almost all of the analysts have dealt with some kind of paid search campaign, so they know that cost of campaign plays a role in the analysis of campaign.  So they demand it.  Well this is where most of the web analytics tools fell short, cost data generally resides in some other tool and it is not easy to get that data. But how said that Analytics was easy.   However, I am providing full data with cost so that we can continue with this post. Keep in mind that many analysts will continue without cost data. If you are one of them then stop and look for the campaign cost data.


Now the above view sort of mirrors what you are used to seeing in Google Adwords. 
So what do you think? Can we analyze this data and take some actions? This is what many web analysts end up doing.  Some will be brave enough to venture into segmenting by repeat v/s new visitors, mobile v/s non-mobile etc. If you are doing some kind of segmentation then you are already moving in the right direction.  However there is more….  I will write about that in my next part.  Meanwhile, let me hear from you.  What do you think?  Where should we focus? Is everything looking good? If not then, what is wrong with this campaign? What is your recommendation?
Part II coming soon.
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10 Conversion Optimization Posts You Must Read

You will find many examples of how various headlines, call to actions etc. can be tested to drive more conversions and how many companies have successfully done so. Maybe you have done it too. However deep inside you know that moving the needle from 3% to 4% is huge but still there are 96% of your visitors/visits that did not convert. I have compiled a list of some of my blog posts that show you how can move the needle further up by taking action on things that are generally not found in tips and tricks books and articles.

  1. 5 Things That Could Be Hindering Your Conversions
    In this post I have listed 5 fundamental things that are part of most of the online forms but could be preventing the visitors from converting.
  2. Underline the Clickable Text and Link the Pictures
    Sometimes you just have to do it without doing testing. Underlining the clickable text and linking the picture to a page are few of those things that really do not require testing.
  3. Are Form Validations Invalidating Your Conversions?
    Are the data validations on your sites form hindering your conversions? This posts gives you something to think about.
  4. Is CAPTCHA Eating Up Your Conversions?
    Though CAPTCHA is a great tool for blocking spam it could be coming in the way of user experience and resulting in a lower conversion than you would have had without it.
  5. 7 Ways Of Handling 404 Error Messages  – 404s are hard to avoid. Even if you have done everything correctly users might mistype the URLs and get a 404 on your site.  This post shows you how various companies are handling them effectively to drive engagement and conversions.
  6. Conversion Optimization: Go Beyond A/B Testing and MVT
    A/B testing and MVT are a great way to help you drive more conversion on your website. A/B testing and MVT help you decide the best layout, headlines, images, message copy etc. that motivates the visitors to complete a transaction.
    However, A/B testing and MVT will only get you so far. If a visitor does not complete a transaction during later steps of the funnel then there are generally other reasons than those that can be simply fixed by changing the page layout, copy, images etc. .
  7. Is Your Conversion Rate Wrong? – This post explains how your conversion rate calculations are wrong.
  8. Conversion Tip: Making the Most of the Email Confirmation Thank you Page  –
    Thank you and confirmation pages are the most ignored pages. This post shows how to effectively use those pages to drive further engagement and conversions.
  9. Are you Optimizing the Wrong Steps of the Conversion Process?
    Due to organizational structure, many marketers/analysts get a partial view of the customers’ conversion process data.  This results in optimizing the wrong steps of the conversion funnel /channel. I describe my recent experience while purchasing a laptop to show how focusing on one channel only can lead to wrong
    results.
  10. Most likely your Conversion Rate is Wrong
    Most of the web analytics tools just allow you to see a view of single channel conversion rate i.e. web conversion rate. However, as I discussed in my post “Are you Optimizing the Wrong Steps of the Conversion Process?“, customers don’t care how your channels are divided or who is responsible for what channel at your organization. They care about their money and will use whatever channel they feel most comfortable with.  Are you considering other channels when calculating your conversion rates?

And a bonus:
Significance of Statistically Significant Results in A/B Testing

Do not make the mistake of jumping the conclusions too quickly when running A/B tests, wait for statistically significant results.

I hope 2012 will bring you lot more conversions. Happy New Year!!!

Comments? Questions?

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