Everyone is familiar with the old business proverb that “the customer is always right.” The statement typically invokes images of sales reps interacting with potential clientele. It’s a picture that is a bit dated and cliché, especially in a world where in-person interactions have been largely replaced by things like e-commerce, chatbots, and automated responses.
However, the heart of the message remains true. Catering to your customer is more important than ever. In the modern digitized, impersonal world, take your customer by the hand and walk them through each step of the customer journey — a large portion of which takes place right on your most valuable piece of online collateral: your website.
How to Prioritize User Experience on Your Website
The experience that each person has on your website can have a dramatic effect on whether or not your e-commerce efforts are successful. Here are several questions to ask yourself to evaluate your current site and make changes aimed at improving the effectiveness of your user experience.
Do You Know Your User?
If you want your website to have a positive and effective user experience for your audience, the first question that you need to ask is if you know who that audience consists of in the first place. You can primarily learn about your audience in three ways:
- Market research: This consists of general research into the typical customers who tend to patronize your industry or niche.
- Customer feedback: This consists of detailed information and feedback received directly from existing or potential customers.
- Collected data: This consists of data collected from the behavior of past visitors to your site, which enables you to learn about prospective customers and clients.
Once you’ve collected information about your ideal client, you can create a buyer persona that gives you a semi-fictitious ideal customer to cater your site to. For instance, if your ideal customer is older, you may want to focus on a straightforward, easy-to-navigate site, whereas a younger crowd may want to have frills, such as the ability to reshare content directly onto social media.
Forming a picture of your core audience is an essential step that helps to orient and guide each decision that you make as you build and update your site. Everything from layout and navigation to a customer-friendly color scheme and even bold call-to-action buttons will be impacted by knowing the kind of person who will be using your website the most often.
Do You Know Your Competitors?
In addition to your customers, it’s also an excellent idea to research your competitor’s websites. Any successful competitor will be utilizing similar website design tactics, such as studying their customers and the market, and it’s always a good idea to take the time to see what works on their own websites.
Conducting competitor research can be an ideal way to see both what works and what doesn’t work for those who are directly competing for the same customer base. It can help you both emulate positive aspects and avoid mistakes to stay ahead of the competition.
Do You Answer Customer Needs?
When it comes to the content on your website, check to see if every element offers value to your website visitors. Does each page on your site answer customer questions? Does it help to solve their problems? Is it relatable? Does it empathize with their point of view?
Each piece of content must serve a purpose in the customer journey. That doesn’t mean everything on your site has to have the same purpose. However, if you want to prioritize the user experience, it’s wise to map out your entire customer decision journey and then ensure that everything on your site clearly enhances that journey in one way or another.
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Does Your Marketing Content Hold Up?
Online marketing — things like using social media and SEO — is a great way to generate leads from across the interweb. However, you want to ensure that each piece of your off-site content marketing directly relates to the content that it points to on your website.
This will naturally be different depending on each scenario. On the one hand, if you’re trying to find brand new prospective clients via a pay per click search engine ad, you’re going to want to link the ad to a first-contact piece of content on your site, such as a blog article, infographic, or FAQ page that empathizes with customer pain points and answers generic customer inquiries.
On the other hand, you may be trying to cultivate a later stage of the sales process, such as developing interest or encouraging decision-making, by interacting with your existing audience on your social media pages. If that’s the case, you may want to link to on-site resources such as white papers, how-to videos, product demonstrations, or case studies that can facilitate a later stage of the customer journey.
Putting the Customer First in E-Commerce
The customer is always right, even online. If you want your website to enhance your customers’ collective experience, you must take the time to see that it speaks to and empathizes with them. If each page on your site syncs up with your off-site marketing, offers genuine value to the reader, and facilitates the customer journey, your site will become one of your most effective pieces of marketing collateral.
Author Bio: Indiana Lee
Indiana Lee lives in the Pacific NorthWest and has a passion for the environment and business. She draws her inspiration from nature and makes sure to explore the outdoors regularly with her two dogs. Indiana also has experience in owning and operating her own business. Feel free to follow her on Twitter @indianalee3.