This may come as a shock but on the other side of the screen showing your brand’s website is a human being. Not a user, a visitor or a hit, but a real live human being with a specific task in mind.
This human being has come to your site to accomplish this task and if your site is optimized to help them, not only do you win, but your customer wins as well.
Most ecommerce sites are setup to accomplish many tasks — feed the ego of website committee members, talk about the company’s mission, promote the latest athlete sponsorship, archive 40 years of press releases, provide product information, sell products, and more.
Funny thing is, your customer is really only there to research and purchase products. Now, if you could just trim the fat and help your customer accomplish the specific tasks they came to your site for, you’d make some dough and very happy customers in the process. Everyone wins.
Really, it’s a simple idea. Help your customers accomplish their tasks on your site and you help yourself create loyal customers.
Customers who are more likely to endorse your product and come back to your site again and again. So don’t make them work to get what they need.
Once you embrace the idea that there is a task oriented human on the other side of the screen, you can get to work creating a site that is customer oriented.
With this idea in place, evaluating your current website becomes a process of eliminating extraneous content and promoting relevant content. If your customer’s task is to research and buy a product, your site should be optimized to accomplish those tasks quickly and easily.
First: Put your consumers first
To put your customers first is to understand what their needs are, why they come to your site in the first place, and then serve that need.
This often looks like placing your customers’ needs above the brands, which in a sense is true, but when your customers’ needs are placed first, the brand wins.
To understand your customers’ needs, invest in ongoing research that cuts through what you think you know and tells you what is real.
Research will point you directly to the content of your site that impacts your customer and make it easier to decide what content to keep and what to remove.
Second: Evaluate your site’s content and structure
You may have the most well-designed site on earth, but without great content your site is a beautiful, but empty room. Conversely, you may have the greatest content, but if the site structure isn’t up to snuff it’s like putting luxury furnishings into a rustic cabin.
This can be a painful time in the life of your site. But, armed with research that informs your brand of its customers you can effectively evaluate your site’s structure and content.
Does your current content and design align with the research? If so, great. If not, time to get out the red pen and start eliminating or re-writing content to meet your customers’ needs. This is a time intensive process, but the payoff is happy (paying) customers.
This same process applies to all future content and pages. Remember that every time you add new content to your site, you affect the site’s navigation, search and the time it will take to manage.
By seriously evaluating all new content against your customer research, you will ensure that anything added to the site meets your customers’ needs and can be managed.
Third: Measure, refine, repeat.
This process is cyclical. For each improvement you make to the site, there needs to be evaluation.
Spending the time, effort, and resources necessary to create a true, customer first site can be for naught if there is no measurement of the changes you make, refinement of those changes to better serve your customer, and re-measurement.
Help your customers accomplish their tasks on your site and you’ll create loyal customers.
This third step of the process highlights where improvements can be made. Are your customers abandoning their full shopping carts? Look for a way to refine that process to help your customers finish their task (The Good’s research shows that customers love incentives like free shipping).
Are your customers researching online, but purchasing in stores? Continue to provide the research they want while offering incentives to purchase online at the same time. Without measurement and refinement, you will miss this opportunity to improve online sales.
A website is not a static object. It is dynamic and requires regular attention and tweaking. Through regular measurement and refinement, you will identify weak pages, behavior patterns of your customers and outdated content.
Working with a dependable agency or having employees dedicated to these tasks will help ensure that your brand is listening and serving its customers.
Focusing on serving your customer will build your brand, align your team, and ultimately increase your sales.
This isn’t a painless process, far from it. But with a guide and a focus to truly serving your customer, it can be a transformative event that will build your brand, align your team, and ultimately increase your sales.
Along the way, you may learn that your customer really isn’t into certain parts of your site and really digging into other areas.
Armed with that knowledge, you can completely revitalize your existing site or use it to inform your investment in a new site that will serve your customer better and in the process boost your brand’s bottom line.