This is a blogpost written by AB Tasty – the fastest-growing provider of AI-powered experimentation & personalisation.
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Life would be easier if everything was linear.
Well, at least when it comes to digital customer experience optimisation.
Imagine if online shoppers neatly went from Google query to landing page to product page to cart and checkout – never doubling back and hardly dropping off. Think what a dream it would be if they started browsing for something on the same device as they finalised their purchase on, staying in their lanes like so many Olympic swimmers.
And oh, what a joy if once they showed enough interest in a product to add it to their basket, they finalised their transaction – even when presented with unexpected shipping costs or conditions.
The Real Customer Journey Is Messy
We know the real world isn’t like that. At least, not anymore. Customers don’t live in neat and orderly funnels. Instead, they criss-cross, hop around, change their minds and generally wreak havoc, treating the customer journey like a meandering, gap-year style back-backing adventure across the continent – and rightly so.
Customer journeys are messy, and they’re constantly changing. Taking a snapshot of right now, we could say that consumers want real-time, frictionless experiences (we’ve created this expectation ourselves thanks to faster access to better data). They know that their attention is the most precious currency there is, (it’s not called the Attention Economy for nothing), and feel more than entitled to swipe left on any content, ads, or even news headlines that don’t pique their interest in 3 seconds flat. In the same vein, they treat brands like lighthearted flings instead of lifelong partners – brand loyalty is a quaint old notion. Finally, they want companies to get them – really get them – with personalised experiences.
Consumer interest is fickle, and more importantly – expensive. Calculate in your head the percentage of your company’s budget that’s dedicated to marketing spend – then digital acquisition costs. Now think about the fact that on average only 3% of that hard-won traffic will convert. Or the reverse – 97% of the highly-sought after customer attention you pay so dearly to attract won’t transform into anything tangible.
Consumer interest is fickle, and more importantly – expensive.
This is why, in most cases, it’s better to work with what you’ve got. Because in a way, we’re guilty, too, of being capricious and uninvested. If the traffic we have doesn’t convert, we drop all our efforts and focus on attracting new, ‘better’, audiences that will ‘really get us’!
Conversion Rate Optimisation experts will tell you it’s better to work on existing relationships rather than to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Test and Personalise
Testing and personalisation techniques can help you understand where you’ve gone awry in the customer journey, or how you can personalise it to better fit your clients. And it’s not a one-shot affair – all of these customer sentiments change and evolve at the pace of the technologies we introduce into the market – in other words, fast! You’ve got to figure out what works now and anticipate what will work tomorrow – create a continuous optimisation cycle. Just think about this:
“The fact that nearly 9 of every 10 Fortune 500 companies in 1955 are gone, merged, or contracted demonstrates that there’s been a lot of market disruption, churning, and Schumpeterian creative destruction over the last six decades. It’s reasonable to assume that when the Fortune 500 list is released 60 years from now in 2077, almost all of today’s Fortune 500 companies will no longer exist as currently configured, having been replaced by new companies in new, emerging industries…” (Source)
Maybe this is consumer revenge against planned obsolescence – now, the consumer gets to decide which companies dance fast enough to keep their attention.
In any event, if you see room for improvement in your funnel – and most of us do – you need to make a strategic change. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results isn’t just futile – it’s also a well-accepted definition of insanity!
Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results isn’t just futile – it’s also a well-accepted definition of insanity!
The change you need is to go fast and furious with experimentation and personalisation.
Go Fast and Furious
Netflix. Airbnb. Amazon. Facebook. Google.
What do these companies have in common? Aside from being wildly successful, they all pride themselves on rapidly scaling up their experimentation programs. In fact, the former is dependent on the latter. These are brands that know how to scale at the pace of consumer change and have become household names.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – that’s a great notion, but we don’t have the resources to run 10,000 tests a year! How can we possibly imitate these giants of experimentation?
The first thing to keep in mind is that you don’t have to do everything at once.
The first thing to keep in mind is that you don’t have to do everything at once. Just like a Formula 1 race car, every micro detail counts. Pit teams, technicians and engineers constantly review, test and optimise every part of the car. Once one element has been tweaked and optimised, this then shows where to go next. Start your tests small and work your way up, constantly looking at the results, then feeding back into your roadmap, so that your program is always moving and continuously testing and learning.
But where should you be going first, how can you get the tires on the tarmac in the most effective way possible?
Prioritise. Come up with a framework for canvassing your entire site, but prioritise so you experience the highest gains, fast. Think about becoming an oil company on a new site; they first spend their time collecting data by drilling sample holes across the entire site, to learn where the big veins are, where the quick wins are, and then where more complex priorities are. They orient their drilling program based on this kind of reasoning. This is the kind of method to adapt in order to start, review or reset a testing program in the most effective – and fastest – way.
The winning mantra? Test, Learn, Repeat, Convert.