the Startups

User experience: should they stay or should they go?

Ah, user experience! This hot topic of which we know so much about, and yet – just like Jon Snow – we know nothing.

User experience means the overall impression that your visitors get after interacting with your website, products, team and/ or services. Depending on how much effort you put into developing your brand, you can choose to provide your users with a great, average or shitty experience. Because yes, how you treat your customers is a matter of choice.

Why is user experience important? Well, because it speaks about the quality of your brand and it determines the future of your business. They say “a happy customer will tell a friend, an unhappy customer will tell the world”. In other words, UX is directly responsible for the money your company does or does not make.

Here are the most important factors that contribute to an excellent user experience.

1. Personalization

This should be your no.1 priority when it comes to providing your audience with a high-quality experience. The more you personalize your interaction with them, the bigger your chances to build a loyal and happy database.

Luckily, the technology works in our favor and, among other very cool stuff, it gifted us with some smart personalization tools. Built on artificial intelligence, these tools use complex algorithms to track the user’s journey from the very beginning and collect valuable information about their behavior and preferences.

Some insights on how you can use that data to transform visitors into customers:

Get them at “Hello”

When someone is at their first visit on your website, there’s little-to-nothing you know about them. The role of a smart personalization tool is to follow the user’s activity and determine the areas, categories, and products they show more interest in. Then, using its algorithms, it adapts the content accordingly, making your users feel like they’ve hit the jackpot by accessing your website.

You can also insert some powerful incentives in the key areas that your users first come in contact with – such as the homepage or the welcome email.

Be it that you promote your best-sellers, recommend a range of products that solve universal problems or list your main benefits, your brand needs to be appealing AF from the first glance.

Generate relevant content

Once you learn a thing or two about your users, it’s time you start presenting them with a variety of products that match their preferences.

A good recommendation engine will turn into a gold mine if implemented correctly. There are a few essential areas to insert dynamic content on any website, which are guaranteed to increase your conversion rate substantially: homepage, category page, product page, search results page, shopping cart, checkout, and even the dull “404” error page. Fill them with up-sell & cross-sell widgets to point out new arrivals, best-sellers, complementary products, similar products based on collective affinity, editor’s choice and so on.

Exploit the potential of wishlists

Oh come on, you honestly didn’t think wishlists are like secret diaries for your customers, did you?

The content of customers’ wishlists is the closest thing to their next purchase. Use that information to let them know you’d be delighted to make their dreams come true.

Drop them a friendly, personalized e-mail to say “Hey, that’s a very nice selection you’ve got there in your wishlist! How ’bout we offer you a 10% discount for all those products, as a token of our appreciation for having such a cool member in our community?” Imagine their reaction when reading these lines. Now sit back and monitor the traffic on your website.

Yeah, that’s what we thought. You’re welcome 🙂

E-mail marketing, hell yeah!

The e-mail is one of the most efficient communication channels and, when it relies on automated mechanisms, it’s also proven to work wonders on your conversion rates. Use it to segment your audience and enjoy the benefits of an intelligent mailing system. Here’s what you can do with it:

  • reduce cart abandonment rate
  • suggest complementary products following a purchase
  • retarget old customers you haven’t heard from in a while
  • reward devoted shoppers with special offers and customized discounts
  • notify your audience when prices drop on certain products they’re interested in
  • run personalized campaigns on holidays, birthdays and other special occasions

+ everything else you can think of, depending on your profile and portfolio particularities.

2. Communication

Another factor that plays a big role in how your customers perceive you is the way you communicate with them. Be aware that everything about your brand reflects on your public, one way or another. Your description, your image, your products, and services or your social media exposure, they all speak for you.

So what should you consider when communicating with your public?

Tone of voice

This is the first thing your customers will notice when they interact with your brand.

First, the approach you choose can either make or break a deal, so go for the communication style you would wanna’ hear if you were your target audience.

Second, stay true to your identity. The tone of voice you pick needs to be in accordance with your brand personality & image, your set of values, the products you sell and the story you tell.

Authenticity

Your brand is unique, so sprinkle some of that uniqueness on everything that’s related to your name: website, e-mails, blog articles, social media pages, flyers and banners and public events. Wherever you pop up, it should be easy for everyone to recognize your signature.

Also, communicate in an honest, transparent and spontaneous way. Tell the truth even if that means admitting to your flaws. Don’t make any false promises and always keep your end of a deal. People will undoubtedly follow a brand that proves to be reliable, moral and genuine.

Human touch

In times when technology is associated with evolution and prosperity, it’s clear why most companies choose to automate as many processes as possible. While this is good for your business, remember that it’s people who stand at the other end of your activity, so try and balance things a little.

The website itself is a humanless place. Goods can be purchased with a few clicks and paid by credit card. Then there’s an electronic order confirmation. Then the orders are mostly handled by machinery, then comes an automatically-triggered shipping notification. And if the customers need to get in touch with you, they’re either gonna’ talk to a chatbot, fill in a digital form, send you an email or be put on hold until an actual person is available to pick up the phone. You get the point.

Show your customers that there are still people behind your brand and that they’re willing to interact at a very human level. Reach out to them every chance you get. Carry friendly conversations and avoid answering with templates, whatever the topic. Slip thank you cards in their parcels, ask for their feedback, invite them to your workplace to show them how things are done. Make them feel like they’re part of a group, and not just a number on the “client ID” column.

3. What about your website?

The website is not just a platform where you sell your products. It is an online shop and you need to make it look & feel like it were a physical store.

Would you like your guests to feel like they’ve stepped on a magical land, or into indescribable chaos? Are your products nicely arranged on shelves, or are they piled up in the middle of the room? It is easy for your customers to enter your store, walk around, search for stuff, ask for help, find what they need and pay for their purchases? Or is their entire experience gonna’ look like they barely made it out of one of those “Escape the room” games?

Design

Or better said, your image. If you want to be one of the top brands, first you need to look like one. Opt for a fresh & clean design, the kind that would make your visitor wanna’ hang around for a while.

Your homepage is where most of your users are going to land on by default, so make it look like the cover of a successful magazine. Position the categories and search feature in intuitive places, use catchy visuals and display all useful information in highly accessible areas.

Needless to say, the product page must be absolutely impeccable. High-quality images, detailed product descriptions and nicely-designed buttons are the least you should consider if you want to rock your design.

Last but definitely not least, there’s the checkout. This is not where you wanna’ wave your customers “goodbye”, but rather where you tell them “we hope we’ll see you again soon”. There’s more information on how to boost your checkout here, but the main idea is that the checkout is supposed to enhance the users’ experience, not chase them away.

Performance

A good design won’t do if your website can’t support its own content and traffic. We live in times when people became very short of time and patience, so it’s understandable that they get easily frustrated when they face a slow-moving, unresponsive shopping platform. The most dangerous thing standing in the way of a successful purchase is the waiting time between clicks.

That’s why it’s really important that your website functions flawlessly. There are many ways you can ensure a good website performance, from the platform you pick to the features you develop and all the technical details in between. Make sure you get proper advisory and a good development team before you welcome your first user.

Usability

This one is only here to seal everything we talked about earlier. Usability is a combination of clean design, good performance, smart features, relevant content, sustainable platform, and effortless checkout.

To that, we would add simplicity. Focus on creating a familiar environment for your users, where things work the way everyone would expect them to. Avoid going all mysterious and abstract but don’t nuke your customers with too much of anything either. Stick to intuitive functionalities and clear information and back it all up with a professional support team.

4. Extra benefits

Customers. Love. Benefits. Yeah, like that’s a surprise.

You’re probably rolling your eyes as you read this, but here’s the thing: offering extra benefits to your customers doesn’t mean you’re doing them a favor. It means that you appreciate them choosing you over your competitors, that you’re willing to invest in your relationship to them and also that you’re determined to reach (or to keep, if you’re already there) the rank of a top player.

That being said, here are four benefits that would give your customers a reason to come back.

Free shipping

This should not even be an extra benefit anymore. If you’re an online retailer, there’s only one way your customers can buy from you.

So, unless this will bring you close to bankruptcy (and we’re guessing it won’t), you should offer free shipping to all your customers regardless of the order amount, delivery area or payment method. Besides being a cool benefit, free delivery will increase the average order value and conversion & retention rates.

Premium services

Whatever it is you’re selling, sell it with a cherry on top. If you want to reach a premium level, everything you offer has to be extraordinary.

Sell high-quality products that come in high-quality packages, have well-trained pre-sales & customer support teams, offer extended warranties and quick service, ensure fast product replacements, fast delivery, fast resolution time and fast refunds.

Gift products

Surprise your VIP customers every now and then. Send them a sample of a new release or a product you know they love, a flower bouquet on their birthday or offer them a product for free when they place a big order. It’s things like these that win your customers’ hearts and make their experience enjoyable and memorable.

Loyalty programs

Reward is retention’s best friend. The more you gratify your customers, the more often they’ll return on your website.

Mechanisms such as loyalty points, tier systems or paid membership programs are quite easy to implement and have a big impact on your audience. So if your business is ready to sustain them, loyalty programs are a very good idea.

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Attracting customers is difficult and keeping them is even more difficult. But, in e-commerce, there’s always at least one solution for every challenge that arises. So, even if you stumble, keep your head up and do everything within your power to get up and move forward. Good luck! 🙂

Authors: Vlad Diaconu, Andreea Mares

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