Data is the fuel of many things in life and more specifically the driver of your digital acquisition engine. Data can help you understand and improve digital conversion. Let’s discuss the 10 key areas of focus for improving your digital conversion using data. We will discuss conversion optimization formula, micro vs macro conversion, risk reversal, design components and many other factors that influence conversion.
Listen to the 10 Data Driven Actions You Can Take to Improve Digital Conversion
1. Use a robust conversion optimization methodology
The idea behind this step is to have a methodology to improve conversion. If you want to improve your digital conversion, what does that mean? What is the methodology? What is the process? Is there steps you need to take? Do you need to reduce form fields or reduce the conversion steps?
We don’t wanna take blunt decisions and start taking action without following a process. There are different methodologies to measure conversion. The one that I really like is the one is developed by a team from Marketing Experiments. Marketing Experiments is a digital consulting firm and they do a lot of testing. They also provide their analysis results on blogs and case studies. They have built a formula for conversion optimization. The formula itself is a methodology. So what is the formula?
The formula is C = 4M + 3V + 2 [I-F] – 2A.
Now, it may seem a pretty complicated formula but, in all honesty, it’s not.
C = Probability of conversion
m = Motivation of user (how can you motivate the users to take the next step to conversion)
v = Clarity of the value proposition (clearly demonstrating the value to the end user)
i = Incentive to take action (offering incentives to motivate the user)
f = Friction elements of process (reducing friction across conversion paths and minimizing steps where applicable)
a = Anxiety about entering information (removing emotional quotient from the purchase process)
2. Focus on micro conversions in addition to macro conversions
Generally, marketing and web management folks get hung up on solving the big picture issues because they are so focused on driving revenue from their website, generating leads from their website, but they forget that before the anonymous visitor becomes a known visitor or before the anonymous visitor becomes a paid customer, there are steps the users follow. There’s also the duration from the first time they come to the website, to the time they’d actually take action. All of this happens in a specific time frame. It could take, depending on your business cycle, it could take a week, it could take a few days or it could take months. That’s where the micro conversion piece comes in. So, micro conversions are those steps, those critical moments, that your customers take to get close to the end results, which is either buying a product on your shopping cart, or either downloading your wallpaper, or either becoming a lead and asking for a demo request.
The micro conversions can be clicking on a banner, playing a video, watching videos; interacting with your blog or subscribing to your blog, reading your blog posts, downloading content or assets that you have on your website. It could also be downloading a video or a podcast that you have listed on the website, or reading the product literature, brochure, flyers or adding more things to the shopping cart. These are the different types of micro conversions that’ll eventually will lead your users to take the bigger action which could be buying your products or services or filling out contact me form.
Instead of spending 100% of focus on optimizing shopping cart it would be wise to spend 40% of your efforts in driving users to the shopping cart through micro conversions. Before they visit your shopping cart pages, you need to make sure that you’re capturing the information and you’re identifying the leaks in the purchase funnel.
One of the analysis I like to do is the leaky bucket analysis. We identify the top performing pages or sections on the website and we investigate the cause of the leaks from those pages. The leaky bucket analysis helps you to identify those micro conversion that impact on your macro conversions.
My recommendation would be to identify where the leaks are on your website before someone reaches your form or your shopping cart (macro conversions). The second thing is to look at the data and identify the activities that precedes the macro conversion process. So, if you identify those four to five activities that is consistently preceding the macro conversions, then you can go work on those activities and improve those activities first. Finally, you need to make sure that you bridge the gap between your micro and macro conversions for smooth transition.
3. Reduce the number of fields and collect information later
This action step is pretty straight forward. As per the conversion optimization formula mentioned earlier, one of the key insight was to reduce the friction. Let’s say if your customers are buying products, and if you are collecting a lot of information up front such as every single demographic information about the person, then you’re adding a lot of friction to the process. You just need to collect the information that is required to successfully complete the transaction and deliver products. Secondly, if there’s anything required by law that you need to be collecting. Maybe you have to collect social security number because you’re required by law to collect that information, then you need to take care of that.
Apart from these two pieces of information, you may be interested in knowing their birth date, or you want information about their family or other information useful for you to market to them in the future. All of this information can be collected at a later stage. Your customers have already made a decision to buy your product and if you start collecting additional pieces of information it will impede conversion and add friction to the process.
There are many tools in the market such as Tealeaf, UserReplay and Clicktale that help you understand your customers struggle when they’re going through the purchase process. These tools do a very good job of identifying what exactly are the users experiencing when they’re on your website. Is it the length of the form that is causing them to not buy the product from you? Is it the number of fields? Is it the complication of the data that you’re asking in those fields? So, I highly recommend using a customer analytics solution like Tealeaf or UserReplay if you’re trying to improve your conversion.
Lastly, those who are close to the marketing automation side of things are pretty familiar with the term progressive profiling. Progressive profiling means you collect some information upfront to capture the information about your prospect and at a later stage you collect more information. For example, you can collect the name and email on the first step then once the prospect downloads another piece of content on your website, at that point you collect additional information such as their company, their full name, their address and possibly more.
4. Simplify data collection steps
As discussed in the previous steps, you should limit the amount of data you collect on that prospect or customers in the first transaction and allow them to complete the process. You can collect more information by doing progressive profiling, which is allows them to provide more information to get more stuff from you in future, or append data from different sources that can allow you to build a profile more intelligently based on the data coming from your CRM or third-party solutions where they can get additional information about their company, their contact, other contacts in the company and so and so forth.
It’s one of those things to where you get to that point where you should like, “If someone is going to come in, before they leave or if anything, I wanna to make sure I get as much information as possible.” And it gets to a point to where you have to take a step back and think. Another example of this is when applying for a job. When you go to a company’s website and you apply for a job, you’re sit there thinking, “Can’t they just look at my resume or can’t I just copy and paste some stuff?”. No, they make you fill out form and fields and everything in the data collection process and that’s one of things that forces you to finish, that’s the complete opposite of what really happens in the real world.
In comparison, the retail side is the complete opposite of the hiring process. You’re not forcing the information at the beginning and want to get as little as possible in order to get those people to convert, then you can come back and get it later.
5. Have a strong risk reversal policy
You need to have a strong risk reversal, return, trial or a money back policy to encourage your customers to do business with you. The policies you put in place also depends on the brand that you’re working with. For example, most people in the world enjoy Coca-Cola, and Coca-Cola provides some type of risk reversal on their bottles, so if the customers are not happy they can get a refund. However, most people are not going to refund because they know the brand very well and everyone know the taste and they trust the company.
Unless Coca-Cola comes up with a completely new flavor that no one really likes their customers still have an opportunity to go and get an refund. If you have established your brand to the degree where the Coca-Cola is, or the Googles of the world or the Salesforce of the world or IBMs of the world, then the idea of risk reversal policy diminishes a little bit. Still, especially if you’re working on large contracts, you have to have a clause to opt out. You have to have a clause for termination.
You have to make sure that your customers feel comfortable so if they don’t want to do business with you, you give them the opportunity to negotiate it. It also depends on all your company policies and laws. When you give your customers an opportunity to take less risk, and especially if the dollar value increases, your changes of acquiring that customer increases. The same approach works great on the consumer side of things as well. If you have a return policy, no questions asked return, like most of the e-commerce retailers providers provides today, then again, you’re providing a risk reversal. Studies have shown if you provide a good return or risk reversal your will acquire more customers. Now, a lot of people worry, “Hey, If I give too much then most of my customers are going take advantage and they’re going take advantage of the system and I’m going lose a lot of money.” Studies prove that wrong.
6. Remove friction from the purchase process
Removing friction goes back to the whole idea behind allowing your customers use your digital properties in a seamless way, in a friction-less way. Your objective is to make sure your customers are not getting distracted from the shopping process due to a bunch of pop-ups or any other form of distraction. When your customers are filling out forms to download a white paper, you are not giving them 10 different offers to download other white papers. The idea is to sell your customers once they are engage instead of over-engaging them.
Additionally, you should not create increased number of steps to make the buying process harder for your customers. We already discussed the technique of reducing the the number of fields to improve conversion. It is extremely critical for you to analyze your buying process and identify if you’re providing any kind of friction that maybe hindering users, depending on the device type and the device experience, that will prevent them from taking the next steps.
7. Test color, UI and other aesthetics
Once you have already removed the areas that are causing friction, have provided a solid risk reversal and have made sure that you’re focusing on your micro conversion, you can continue to test other areas such as design, color schemes, UI and aesthetics. You can test images, test a collection of specific fields versus other fields, test the layout, test the background colors, test the color of the buttons and icons on the page, and the whole experience.
Testing must not be limited to the visual elements but expanded to the back-end elements as well. Back-end issues such as shopping cart processing delays, credit card errors, page not found, BAD HTTP Requests are equally important and must be identified and fixed.
This is where tools like Tealeaf, and UserReplay come into play as these tools allow you to look under the hood of your website and user experience. This is the area where you have to know what’s going on, not only at the front-end, which most of the tools do, but I think that’s where Tealeaf shines is with the back-end processes. What’s happening during the API connectivity, or if there are any errors at the back-end, or if there are any HTTP codes that you should be aware of, that’s causing a UX problem.
In addition, it’s important to review your customer’s device types. Your customers may use a Windows PC for work, and when they get home they’re on an iPad. It is your responsibility to understand how does the aesthetics render across each device types and test the UI functionality.The multi-device centricity or responsive design is a good approach to use when designing experience across platforms.
You can pick your five top platforms based on the digital analytics data and then build your experiences, conversion optimizations and testing around those devices. There are gazillion amount of devices in the world, but you need to focus on the top five that your customers use, and just focus on those, and build the experience on top of it. Once you have built the right experiences and you see a reduction in bounce rate and abandonment rate, you can focus on other devices.
I remember at an old company I used to work for, we found out there were approx 50 people having trouble on the shopping cart because they were using Windows XP, and the experience was designed for Windows 10. I spoke to the web management team and said it will take them all this additional resources and hours to improve experience for the XP users and it’s just not worth it. We recommend using the Pareto principle and focusing on the 80-90 percent of the your customers device type.
8. Provide a measurable guarantee
This particular point builds upon the earlier one about the risk reversal but the idea is to have a more specific guarantee tied to a number. For example, Zappos offers a 365 return guarantee and their return policy is tied to a specific number which is the entire year.
Another example is from LifeLock which is an identity protection company. LifeLock stood ahead of the competition because the CEO put his social security number out in public. His guarantee was like, “Hey, here’s my social security number, and I’m protected by LifeLock,” and this move helps build the trust with customers and it makes them think “Hey, look. He’s putting his social security number up, which is one of the most private numbers that you ever want to share,”. This gives customers the confidence they need to buy your products because you are putting your own personal identity or your personal data in front of everyone.
Domino’s Pizza was at one point in time very famous for its 30 minute pizza delivery or its free policy.
9. Personalize user experience based on the data and traffic paths
We are a big fans of Scott Brinker, Chiefmartech, and he talks about the influx in the marketing technologies and the technology firms that differentiate them from the rest of the competitors or companies that have focused on personalization. Leading brands today are really trying to say, “You know what, we really need to give a strong personalized user experience,” but to do that you have to really know the data. You have to have the right data, and you actually have know the paths that people take, because those paths are different every single time.
Whether you are testing your digital or mobile properties your testing should be based on the entire experience. It should be based on the customer journey. If you think about it, your testing could be focused on a particular object, or one particular page, or it could be the journey your customers take. For example, if you’re only optimizing the step one of your shopping cart and only testing the step one but your steps two and three are hurting the visitors, then you’re just doing a half-baked job because you’re not focusing on the entire journey.
You have to make sure your personalize your customers entire experience with your brand. You can take this a step further by identifying your customers by their name or some personal identifier but once you identify them you have you to make sure to use similar identification through out the journey.
If someone comes to your website from a very specific industry and you acknowledge their industry on the home page, and then when they get to the internal pages you ignore them completely, then again, you’re not doing justice to your optimization efforts. You need to make sure your optimizations criteria and the user experience need to align with the different steps that the users take on your digital properties.
10. Continuous measurement and optimization mindset
This is an obvious one but it’s worth mentioning. Your organization should have a mindset of continually testing and continually measuring things because situations change based on seasonality, macro trends, micro trends, and so on.
Definitely the optimization mindset is also driven by macro economic factors. The entire company should have an optimization mindset, always be improving, always be challenging, and always be making things better for the entire organization. More specifically, when it comes to the conversion optimization, you have to have a dedicated person on the web development team who is responsible for the conversion optimization. Or you have to have a team of people responsible for making sure the customers are converting on the website and the customer journey is optimized.
Now take action and listen to the podcast for a more meatier and detailed action plan.
Resources discussed in this podcast:
- Marketing Experiments Conversion Methodology
- IBM TeaLeaf
- User Replay
- The Coca Cola Company
- Zappos Guarantee
- LifeLock Guarantee
- Dominos Guarantee