Do you want to get more traffic for your website?
Are you looking for a way to keep your visitors coming back to your website for more?
Do you want to make more sales through your website?
Of course you do. There isn’t an entrepreneur out there who would answer no to that question, no matter how much traffic they already have or how much money they’re making. More is always better.
Now, you might have tried all sorts of things already, and though you’ve seen some improvement, it’s not quite the improvement you expected. The problem might be quite a simple one – you might be focusing on the wrong thing.
Many entrepreneurs believe that the only area they need to focus on is the user experience. While offering a great UX is certainly vital, it’s not enough. The overall customer experience has to be just as delightful.
But… wait. Aren’t user experience and customer experience the same thing?
No, they aren’t. It’s true that one without the other won’t deliver truly great results, but they are distinct. Read on to discover how they differ, why you need to focus on improving both and what you can do to maximize traffic, increase visitor return rates and improve your sales.
Discover the Difference Between Customer Experience and User Experience
Customer experience (CX) and user experience (UX) might sound similar but they are different. User experience focuses on how someone interacts with products, sites or apps. The metrics used include bounce rates, click-through rates, errors and abandonment rates. In other words, if someone has a hard time navigating your site or your product is hard to use, the result is a bad user experience.
Customer experience, though, covers every interaction someone has with your company, whether digital, in person or over the phone. NPS, customer satisfaction, customer retention rates, and customer loyalty are just some of the metrics used to measure the customer experience.
The customer experience is just as important as the user experience and while you might be mainly focused on the user experience at the moment, the fact is that you won’t see great results without giving customer experience the same level of attention.
For example, if you create an app with a poor layout and that’s difficult to navigate, customers will have a hard time finding what they need, which can lead to frustration. If the app can’t be easily accessed via the email you send out, then customers will be unlikely to purchase the product. Furthermore, an awkward layout will ensure that your customers won’t be recommending the app to their friends, regardless of how amazing it might be otherwise. Thus, user experience is clearly an essential component of the customer experience and can’t be ignored.
So, while the two are different, for the best results, you need to understand that they go hand in hand and both need to be delightful. For this reason, everyone needs to work together, from the product engineer to the web designer, to make sure that everything meshes well and provides an excellent experience. The easiest way to achieve this is to ensure that everyone goes through the whole customer journey; in other words, everyone needs to walk a mile in the customer’s shoes, which will allow them to see how every interaction develops and how it impacts the satisfaction of the customer.
The goal is to have a website that smoothly combines the necessary navigation elements with ease of use and all the additional bells and whistles that will set your brand about.
Thus, your overarching strategy should focus on the customer experience but also the user experience to ensure that your brand is one customers will come to love and will be loyal to.
15 Ways to Improve the User Experience
According to Cost-Justifying Usability: An Update for an Internet Age TK, improving the user experience can lead to an increase in sales of up to 225 percent.
Interestingly enough, 63 percent of software projects developed by large corporations go over budget mainly because they spend more money than expected on improving said experience.
This goes to show that large corporations are fully aware of the value of the user experience, and are willing to spend money to ensure it’s great. Since these corporations rarely spend any money without knowing they will see a return from it in some shape or form, it’s clear that investing in UX is definitely worth it.
So, let’s take a look at 15 ways in which you too can improve the user experience.
Mobile Is Non-Negotiable
Offering visitors a mobile version of your website is non-negotiable. And we’re not just talking smartphones here. You have to ensure that people using tablets, wearable tech and any other mobile devices can access your site too.
Not only are more people accessing the internet using mobile devices nowadays than desktops – a fact that has been true since 2014 – an ever increasing number of people are using those mobile devices to perform essential tasks, like banking, shopping and more. So, if you don’t have a mobile responsive website, you are burning money.
Most companies have seen significant improvement in their conversion rates and sales after implementing a mobile responsive design, with some reporting increases of 50 percent or more. That’s an impressive figure and one you can’t afford to ignore.
So, if you’re still waiting around and haven’t taken the plunge, it’s time to get into gear and get yourself a website that users can easily access via their mobile devices.
Colors Do Matter
The colors on your website might not seem all that important. You might think that as long as the colors don’t clash and the website is easy on the eyes, you don’t have to worry any further. Well, the fact is that everyone is different and just because you like a certain color combination doesn’t mean it will do you any favors with your visitors.
Large corporations have pumped money hand over fist into doing research on how color impacts buying behavior. Furthermore, studies have proven repeatedly that different demographics like different colors, depending on the situation. For example, a Kissmetrics study revealed that women prefer blue, with orange being the least liked color.
Clearly, the colors you choose can have a significant impact on your visitors, which is why you shouldn’t rely solely on these studies. Instead, take advantage of your website’s data analytics and conduct user tests to see how you can optimize the colors on your website to maximize conversions.
You Need Calls-To-Action… And Make Them Visible
First of all, it’s important to understand that your calls-to-action shouldn’t be the equivalent of a hammer. In other words, don’t just state a bunch of facts about your company and then hit your customers over the head with a demand that they buy from you. No, you have to be a little more subtle. Think guide, not drill sergeant.
In other words, draw your customers in and guide them down the path, at the end of which is a prominent call-to-action button, which will prod them into making the buying decision.
Keep in mind that while you don’t want the CTA button to be like a hammer over the head, you need to ensure it is notable. A prominent CTA has been shown to increase conversion rates, so you need to take advantage of this fact.
Use Multivariate Testing to Make the Most of Your Website
Getting every webpage right so it not only attracts traffic but gets people coming back and offers the highest possible level of conversions isn’t easy. It’s even harder if you try to do everything by ear. Instead, you should use multivariate testing to see which options have the most impact and offer the best results.
For example, the Weather Channel saw a 225 percent increase in trial subscriptions after conducting multivariate testing and landing on the most effective combination of elements.
Keep in mind when doing multivariate testing that you shouldn’t make more than one change to each variant or you won’t know what worked and what didn’t.
Every Image Should Make a Point
A website without images is like a Reuben sandwich without the sauerkraut or dressing, i.e. you can eat it, but it won’t be amazing. People are very visual and images help to spice things up on your website. It’s also been proven that images can be used to great effect to improve conversion rates.
Like with any other element on your website, though, you need to test to find out what works best. Of course, to save yourself time and aggravation, make sure to start off with relevant images. To get even better results, try a little personalization, which is an essential element in providing a great customer and user experience.
Don’t Expect Something for Nothing
It’s already a well-known fact that if you want your website to succeed, you have to offer your audience value before asking for something. And the more value you offer, the stronger the relationship you build with your audience will be and the more willing they will be to part with their money.
However, you can take things a step further and offer something more, which will improve the user experience, while also nudging your audience in the right direction for them to actually make a purchase.
A good example of this is how the Sims 3 gaming website handled the situation. The site wanted to increase the number of subscribers so they changed their call-to-action from “Sign Up Now” to “Register Your Game and Get a Free Town Now!” The result was that the number of subscriptions increased by 128 percent, which is impressive but also shows what a small incentive can do.
Don’t Forget About Reviews
Reviews have become vital to consumers’ shopping process. Everyone goes online to research the product or service they are interested in, and the first thing most do is to read reviews. Many consumers admit that reviews help them make their mind up regarding whether or not they should make a purchase.
And it’s understandable. Consumers have a harder time trusting the claims of a company, in other words their marketing materials, than they do their peers. So, reviews are akin to them asking their friends and family about their experiences with a certain product or service. In fact, according to a BrightLocal study, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they do recommendations from people they know.
This is why your website should definitely feature reviews, especially since they speed up the decision-making process. After all, everyone wants to be certain the product or service is good quality and a good fit for them, and reviews are the vital element that provide them with the peace of mind they crave.
One interesting example of how effective reviews are is a FigLeaves experiment. The company included product reviews on their website and they saw their conversion rate increase by a significant 35 percent without taking any other action.
Make Sure Your Customer Testimonials Are Highly Visible
Customer testimonials are an essential content element as they represent the unbiased opinions of people who have worked with your business and they have proven to be effective at convincing visitors to make a purchase.
Testimonials help to establish credibility and are so effective because they don’t make people feel as if they are being sold to. They establish trust and appear to be unbiased, and, even more, real people are showing that your product or service is exactly what they needed and met or surpassed their expectations. Essentially, it’s a type of word-of-mouth marketing because testimonials, like reviews, act as a personal recommendation, and we’ve already established that almost 9 out of 10 consumers trust reviews.
Now, if you really want to take advantage of testimonials, they have to be visible. You want them front and center so people see them right away. WikiJob, for example, had a number of testimonials on their website, but they were kind of out of the way, hidden at the bottom of the home page. So, they decided to move them to a more prominent position at the top of the page to see what would happen. The result was a 34 percent increase in conversions without any other changes being made.
So, clearly, it doesn’t just pay to include testimonials from real people on your website (preferably with a photo to further establish credibility), but they also have to be highly visible for you to make the most of them.
Here’s a case study on How customer testimonials impacts our conversion ?
Your Navigation Must Be Awesome
This one is so obvious, we hesitated to include it. However, it has such a major impact that we felt obligated to mention it. If your website’s navigation is awkward and complicated, visitors will have a hard time finding what they need and will eventually leave your site, never to return, out of sheer frustration.
Your website’s navigation not only needs to be easy and smooth, it must also be intuitive. In other words, keep things simple and logical.
Zen Windows proved just how much of an impact poor navigation can have on conversion rates. The company’s website featured a navigation system that was not the easiest to work with. So, they redesigned it, creating something that was more streamlined and simpler to use. The result was that their conversion rate jumped from 0.75 percent to 2.95 percent. Basically, better navigation almost quadrupled their conversion rate.
Safety and Security Is the Name of the Game
It feels as if we hear horror stories every day of how someone’s personal information was stolen, made public etc, and how it pretty much ruined their lives. So, in a time when identity thieves are getting increasingly creative, it’s natural for people to feel somewhat uncertain and wary of handing over their personal information to a business they haven’t worked with before. And it’s your responsibility to make them feel safe.
You want to ensure that your customers are completely aware that all their payment information and personal data is completely safe with you. One way to pull this off effectively is by displaying a security seal, which can have a massive impact.
For example, Econsultancy/Toluna conducted a survey in which 48% of consumers said the most important thing to getting them to trust a website was the presence of a security seal.
When Blue Fountain Media decided to test the impact of the Verisign seal on their sales, they conducted a split test where one page didn’t feature the sign and one did. They found that when the Verisign seal was displayed, their conversions rose by 48 percent.
Show a Little Humanity with Live Chat
Live chat has been shown to be one of the easiest ways to increase conversions without having to resort to multivariate testing, which makes it powerful. The only thing is that it doesn’t work right away and it has to be implemented the right way depending on the site.
So, for example, an ecommerce website might benefit from live chat but not in an area that distracts consumers from shopping. On the other hand, a service website where customers might have a lot of questions before making the final plunge would be well-suited to a proactive live chat featured prominently. Intuit proved this when they introduced live chat to their checkout system and saw a 211-percent improvement in their conversion rate.
The great thing about live chat is that it makes customers feel more comfortable because they are interacting with a real human being. And in the digital age that is characterized more human interaction than ever before, even if it is all done digitally, live chat is a truly powerful way for consumers to interact with the human face of a website.
For example, an Econsultancy study found that 63% of customers were more likely to go back to a website with live chat compared to one that doesn’t offer this feature.
So, live chat certainly has benefits, as long as it’s done right.
Don’t Hide Your Prices
One thing that makes consumers extremely suspicious of a website is when prices aren’t immediately visible. Now, this aspect is more of an issue for ecommerce sites. Websites selling customized solutions or providing customizable services are exempt to a certain degree. For example, if you are a web designer, you clearly can’t give a standard, one-size-fits-all price, but you can provide a ballpark figure. Avoiding the talk of price completely will simply put people off and definitely reduce the chances of them making a purchase significantly.
The fact is that people like to know how much money they’re going to be spending ahead of time. If they can’t see it, then there’s a good chance they will walk away rather than go through the hassle of a checkout process to see the final amount. They’ll just turn to someone else who will be more forthcoming when it comes to pricing information.
SafeSoft tested this theory. On one page, they featured the price while another mentioned nothing regarding price. The page with the pricing information generated twice the number of leads.
So, make sure your prices are front and center.
Prove the Authenticity of Your Products
One touchy area for ecommerce websites is authenticity. A lot of people aren’t all that confident purchasing from these types of sites because they don’t think the products are authentic. This holds especially true if the prices being charged are lower than what they expect, even if the real reason for this is lower costs rather than a lack of authenticity.
Ergo, it is imperative to provide proof that all the products you are selling are completely authentic. For example, a website that sold watches created two pages. One focused on the price and offering discounts on Seiko watches, while the second was focused on proving the products were authentic, which was achieved by displaying a “Seiko Certified Partner” badge on the page. The second page generate 107 percent more sales than the first.
Don’t Go Overboard on Personal Data Collection
Collecting data is a big thing. It allows you to learn as much as possible about your customers so you can personalize offers and offer them a better experience. However, the problem is that if you try to get too much information too soon – before establishing a strong relationship – you will alienate prospects and customers. So, instead of your sign up form being akin to an interrogation, collect the minimum degree of information that is feasible.
For example, Expedia only removed the need for people to fill in their company name from their forms, and this led to an additional $12 million in revenues.
So, rather than interrogate people right off the bat, take things slow and collect more information through surveys and other tools over time, as the relationship becomes more established.
Make Your Website Attractive to Your Customers
We’re certain you’ve done everything you can for your site to look as good as possible, but are you sure your customers find it attractive? This is an important distinction because what might be attractive to you, might not be all that great for your customers.
Yes, this means getting to know your customers well and understanding their likes and dislikes, but it’s an essential step. For example, a software company redesigned their site, featuring a more modern, streamlined design, which led to a significant 33-percent rise in their conversion rate.
7 Ways to Improve the Customer Experience on Your Website
Now that we’ve looked at quite a few ways in which to improve the user experience, let’s take a look at some strategies you can implement to improve the customer experience. Remember, UX and CX need to work together for the best possible results, so you can’t ignore one in favor of the other.
Offer a Personalized Experience
Personalization isn’t a fad. It’s an essential element in attracting and keeping customers. And it’s something consumers have come to expect as part of a good experience. Now, to achieve a consistent, personalized experience across the organization, you must have a customer database, which everyone can access.
It’s true that personalization can get expensive, which is why you should analyze where to implement it based on sales improvement but also on where it will lend the most long-term benefits to the customer experience and relationship.
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We live through our devices, pretty much. And the more technology progresses, the more we rely on it to do practically everything, switching from one device to another without giving it a second thought. This is why companies need to make sure they are providing a consistent and seamless omnichannel experience.
The essence of the omnichannel experience is to ensure the customer can switch from one channel to another while still ensuring an integrated and seamless shopping experience. In other words, all your channels have to work together so customers can shop effortlessly, no matter how many channels they use.
Provide Plenty of Self-Service Resources
While people definitely like interacting with other people, they also like being able to do some things for themselves because those things just get done quicker. So, make sure your website features comprehensive FAQ pages and instructions. This way customers can find their answers quickly and easily, which will improve the level of satisfaction.
Keep in mind that these pages should be easy to understand and provide as much information as possible. If they’re incomplete or difficult to understand, the approach will backfire and lead to irritated customers.
Emphasize Social Media Support
Providing support to customers where they already hang out is an excellent way to win them over. It’s an excellent channel for you to learn a lot about your customers while also offering them the support they need.
So, you can use social media to provide great customer service and support, but you can also use it to listen in and learn more about what your customers want and need. The more you listen, the more you’ll learn and the more easily you’ll be able to improve customer satisfaction because you will know exactly what they want.
Get Customer Feedback and Act on It
Customer feedback is essential and companies have turned collecting it into an Olympic sport. Everyone’s constantly sending out surveys, asking questions and encouraging their customers to leave feedback.
The big problem is that few companies actually take it all the way. They falter at the most important step, namely acting on the feedback they’ve collected. Instead of showing their customers they care and are listening to them by implementing the changes they are being asked for, they do the exact opposite, which alienates customers.
This is why you need to not only collect customer feedback but make the most of it by implementing at least part of the changes customers are asking for. It will lead to an increasing number of loyal customers, whereas ignoring them will lead to a significant increase in attrition rates.
Keep an Eye on Customer Sentiment
Customer sentiment isn’t a new concept but measuring it is a relatively new and growing trend. Measuring the emotions of your customers and analyzing them will lead to a much higher level of understanding, which will lead to you being able to better meet their needs.
One way to use customer emotion is to create models of typical purchasing personalities that show what their individual emotional needs are. These models can then be used to train staff so they know how to deal with the different personalities when engaging with them.
Leave Nothing to Chance
The key to success, both with the customer experience and the user experience, is not to let things unfold as they will. If you want to succeed, then everything needs to be planned and designed deliberately. If you leave things to chance, there’s absolutely no way things will work out properly.
Noor is a well-known webhosting blogger and industry analyst. Since 2006, he has tested a wide variety of web hosting services and posted the results on his popular blog, InlineHostBlogger.com. For each review, he extensively tests each web hosting company personally, or with his hand-picked team of technicians.