What does digital experience mean to you? When you’re browsing an online catalog or comparing brands, what leaps out to you most? Is it the speed with which pages load? Is it a search functionality that lets you find the product or the information you’re looking for with ease? Is it personalized recommendations or offers even once you’ve left a website?
In an increasingly crowded digital landscape, customers and users expect experiences that feel suited to their needs. They don’t want to waste time trying to locate a solution, nor do they want to find themselves buried in emails and mobile notifications pushing irrelevant or generic deals. Across channels, both new and returning customers want experiences that are agile, intuitive, and customized. When met with anything less, these individuals are more than happy to go elsewhere. And once someone associates your brand with a lackluster experience, it’s incredibly difficult to win them back.
This is why — for ecommerce businesses — digital experience optimization (also known as customer experience optimization and EXO) is becoming an increasingly high priority. EXO not only helps organizations craft an omnichannel experience that they can be proud of, but ensures that that experience is as dynamic as the needs and expectations of the customers you’re looking to attract and retain. If you’re looking to build trust and enthusiasm, there’s no better place to invest your resources.
Defining digital experience optimization
If digital experience is the relationship your customers have with your enterprise, then digital experience optimization — at the highest level — is dedicated to making each avenue by which you and a customer might interact as efficient and fruitful as possible. While part of that may involve the traditional hallmarks of a good ecommerce business, such as a reliable site, a robust inventory and valuable deals, the modern online shopper wants something a little more tailored. As such, the best EXO strategy is not a blanket one. Instead, it carefully considers how and why individuals connect with a brand, and designs each based on the behavioral information you have at your disposal. This can be as simple as finding out if different page layouts result in higher clickthrough and as specific as whether certain offers perform better when introduced via mobile versus desktop communication.
While this may seem daunting in its scope, smart brands can experiment and adjust one area at a time, letting the results they see from a single change, spark ways to optimize subsequent features. Not only that, but those who put the time and effort in see undeniable results.
According to Hubspot, “Customer experience optimized products have 1.6x higher brand awareness, 1.7x higher customer retention, 1.9x return on spend, and 1.6x higher customer satisfaction rates.”
Optimized experiences driven by data
As with many of the latest and greatest trends in the ecommerce space, behavioral data makes up the backbone of digital experience optimization. When drawing up your EXO strategy, this should be the first, second, and third consideration. Your teams may have exciting ideas of their own, but it’s important to remember that customers want their chosen experience, not just what your brand thinks is the best way forward.
Let’s quickly look at just a few of the sources you can use to gather rich and actionable insight for your optimization plan:
A/B and multivariate testing:Your website will often be the primary touchpoint through which your users interact with your brand, so you want it to be the foundation of the customer experience. While analytics can provide a window into where you’re succeeding and struggling (conversion rates and bounce rates for instance), they often don’t explain how different facets of the site are influencing those numbers. With A/B and multivariate testing, you can drill down on specific design and functionality choices on your webpage, and test them against alternatives to see what encourages the most productive user interactions. Whether you want to play around with different images or button placements, single variables or many, these tests will help you find the optimal version of your page—the one that drives your ideal customer behavior.
Personalized campaigns: There’s no getting around it: users love personalized offers. Whether that’s a recommended item based on a previous purchase or a coupon tailored to the items and solutions they’ve browsed the most, these small bits of customization tell a customer that they’re special to your brand and that you’re invested in their unique needs. Collecting data based on previous behaviors into customer profiles and harnessing that data to speak directly and specifically to the individuals is one of the crowning features of an optimized digital experience. It provides convenience and encourages further interaction, which only provides additional data to leverage for increasingly better personalization.
Direct feedback:It may seem a touch analogue to some, but there's often nothing more valuable for digital experience optimization than specific comments direct from your customers. Whether collected via social media polls, email surveys, or — for B2B organizations — conversations with the customer success team, these insights can help pinpoint areas for improvement that might slip through the cracks of other methods. Plus, this is just one more opportunity to let your customers know you value them as individuals.
While different approaches will work for different businesses and channels, a multi-faceted and data-driven optimization plan is the best way to make sure that new customers flock to your brand and existing ones stay on board.
Digital experience is king
In today’s ecommerce landscape, you cannot take digital experience for granted—and those who do will quickly see at what cost. The reality is, it’s no longer just a bad experience that can send customers into the arms of a competitor; with literally hundreds of businesses vying for their attention, individuals are happy to leave you behind simply for the promise of something better. If an A+ experience is available, you can’t be happy to provide just an A.
This is why digital experience optimization is so critical: it helps you constantly evolve your brand in step with your industry and your customers, to find new and exciting ways to meet and exceed expectations.
Ecommerce isn’t standing still. When it comes to digital experience, neither can you.