Offering shoppers a great online experience is paramount. A bad digital environment will harm your conversions, and may damage your brand. It’s important to understand and fulfil user expectations, but also be always thinking about how you can take things further and actually exceed expectations. Here are some of the key things that your digital customers will be expecting to see from you – see whether your brand can excel at all of these in 2017.
A fresh website design
Web design trends and conventions move at a dizzying pace. A site that looked good three years ago probably looks helplessly out of date today. Check here whether your site needs a redesign already.
How to keep up?
- Avoid gimmicks: design and build for longevity. Focus on user experience and don’t get caught up in elaborate newfangled designs that aren’t going to improve your site.
- See what your competitors are doing on their sites, and what you can learn from them to make yours even better! Pick and choose elements that you think will make people’s lives easier, not just stuff that looks ‘cool’.
- Make sure that you have a good mobile website – this is absolutely essential. Whether you go for responsive design, a mobile website, or other design options – just make sure that your mobile experience delivers.
- Online video is always growing – see whether you can shift some of your content into video format this year. Video is massively engaging for online users and it’s getting cheaper and cheaper to produce.
- It’s a good idea to plan in routine design tweaks throughout the year, instead of letting your site get out of date by leaving it alone.
An error free experience
Website glitches are staggeringly common. Sometimes users look the other way and go ahead with a purchase anyway – but the ideal we should all aim for is fast-loading pages, no 404s, and a smooth user experience.
- Regularly update your web environment – that includes your plugins. Updates ensure that you keep your site code healthy and secure. An outdated web environment gets unsafe and glitchy pretty fast.
- Check any redirects on a regular basis. Selling products? Don’t just let out of stock item pages 404 – make sure that they redirect somewhere useful.
- Conduct some usability audits to see whether your site layout and categorization make sense to users. Remember that what may seem ‘obvious’ to you and your team; probably isn’t so for other people.
- Make sure that you prioritize the data you get back from usability studies and your web analytics – people will often tell you if they don’t like your site with their user behavior.
- Site speed is super important – make sure that your page load times are optimal.
Words that are relevant to ME
If your website has no point of intersection between your brand and what customers are looking for – you’re in trouble. Being relevant to your customers is all about getting to know them in the first place. Proper market research should help you build out detailed buyer personas.
Identifying your buyer personas is just phase one of targeting – next, you need to come up with compelling messaging that answers your audience’s questions, addresses their concerns, and inspires them to buy from you. Relevancy doesn’t always have to be hugely complex and it all starts with the words that you use – they need to be targeted.
A relevancy tactic that works well if you operate in a few different niches is to create landing pages that talk to one single target market (or customer) at a time. Targeted landing pages are all about selling an idea and a lifestyle – they are aspirational. You will need excellent copywriting as well as consumer insight in order to craft high-converting landing pages. Balance words with images for a seamless sales funnel.
The digital world is very transparent – if no one likes your Facebook page or none of your products have reviews – it will show.
Even in the early days, it’s very important that you focus your online efforts on creating a social hub for your brand. Customers want to see reviews, testimonials, and photos of other people using your products.
The Body Shop have made sure that they drive as many customers as possible to their site to leave reviews (many of their products have hundreds of reviews). They send out personalized post-purchase emails, asking customers to share their opinions. It’s all about creating a customer community where people are asked to share their thoughts for the benefits of others. They also have a hashtag #THEBODYSHOPUSA that customers use to submit photos of their products, with the hope of being featured in the online user gallery. This is a great way to make your store look super engaging, and it also promotes brand loyalty.
- When designing your product pages, make sure that you factor in reviews.
- Ask customers for product reviews – tell them that they would be helping others by contributing.
- Get users to submit their own product photos on social media channels and aggregate them into an attractive gallery.
- Get in-depth testimonials and case studies (especially effective for B2B).
- Make sure that your social channels aren’t dead as a dodo – focus on growing your following by engaging with people and following them back.
Lilash uses similar tactics as well.
Selling online is exciting and challenging. There are loads of different factors to think about, but make sure that keeping customers happy is your number one priority. How do you plan on delighting customers in 2017?