We often hear from people in digital marketing or ecommerce roles who are new to a brand or have just taken the reigns of the brand’s website.
They’re always anxious to get some early wins in so they can continue to get buy-in on larger initiatives from their managers down the line. Fortunately, there’s a great opportunity to do just that, while also building a foundation for sustained growth.
What does the roadmap to sustained growth look like? We believe in a scientific or evidence-based approach that finds the path to success through iteration and constant learning. The approach consists of research, testing, analyzing, implementing and iteration, in a constant loop. And to be successful, the transition to this approach must start from day one on the job.
Starting early is critical because there is often a honeymoon period where it is easy to get buy-in from the greater team to try new things, to push the envelope more than you can when you’ve been on the job for a few months.
If an ecommerce or digital marketing manager can demonstrate meaningful results through their first two or three initiatives, it becomes easier to move forward with more incremental initiatives.
We’ve seen it time and again, early wins winning management’s accolades and approval for future initiatives. Then the research, testing, analyzing, implementing and iteration loop can continue in earnest.
Learn as much about the customer as possible
In our experience, an outside perspective (the customer) is the only one who can really affect change at a brand. With this in mind, the goal from the initial two or three initiatives should be to change the corporate mindset from “do what we think is best” to “discover and test what the customer is telling us”. This change in approach has the effect of moving brands into a pattern of testing, analyzing, implementing and iterating automatically–all based on customer feedback.
A successful website is determined by the customer’s agenda, not the brands. By understanding and helping the customer or lead improve their life in some way, quickly, your site will achieve the brand’s agenda. Brands get it backward, they think that if they put their customer first they can’t accomplish their goals. Ironically, that’s actually the only way they can.A successful website is determined by the customer’s agenda, not the brands. Click To Tweet
The web is constantly evolving; from technology and tactics to customer expectations and workflows. The brands that succeed have a constant pulse on how their customers are interacting with their site. They gather actionable data about their site’s visitors, and work constantly to improve that process. They’re willing to ask questions about whether or not something is effective, then act on the answers—good or bad.
There are four quick tactics that can be deployed to help reveal the brand’s customer desires. And the proof is so raw that the greater brand and leadership team won’t be able to ignore it.
- A net promoter score survey will quickly help focus the greater brand team on high achievement. Aim for 9 or 10 in every area starting with user experience. Begin with big dials, fix them, before moving onto the small dials.You simply can’t focus on the small stuff until you get the big stuff out of the way, because your customers will continue to mention the big items in any surveys or testing. Setting the bar high from the beginning will keep the focus squarely on meeting the customer’s goals.
- Site analytics is a data goldmine. Where are the behavior clusters, the micro conversions, the desertion points? Let the data guide you, test your findings, analyze the result, implement the winners, and iterate (rinse and repeat).
- User testing provides the optimal proof, because it is very real and tangible. Executives will see video of consumers struggling to meet their goals, and they will convert it to lost revenues in their head very quickly. Nothing will gain support like watching a customer take five minutes to work their way through the checkout process, all while talking aloud about the questions they are having to ask themselves every step of the way.
- On-site optimization tests utilizing a tool such as Optimizely for split or multivariate testing will allow for quick hypotheses testing without the need to involve an implementation team, in some cases. The winning test can be set to automatically deploy, allowing benefits from the changes until an implementation team can fit the change into their schedules.
Invest in continual improvement
To make the kind of changes that bring real results, you have to get behind closed doors with brand leadership and just be brutally honest. You have to convince them to invest in continual improvements.
Paying attention to the metrics of a customer experience (test results), instead of keeping the leadership thinking about site performance (simple data reporting), will earn you some early wins and set the brand up for sustained growth.
About the Author
Jon MacDonald is founder and President of The Good, a conversion rate optimization firm that has achieved results for some of the largest online brands including Adobe, Nike, Xerox, Verizon, Intel and more. Jon regularly contributes content on conversion optimization to publications like Entrepreneur and Inc. He knows how to get visitors to take action.