How much time do you spend conducting an environmental audit for the benefit of your online marketing strategy? Or, more importantly, for the benefit of your customers? Back when I was a student, I always began a brief or assignment with an audit of the macro-environment using the trusted PESTLE framework. For those who are unfamiliar with the PESTLE framework, it stands for:
I would spend hours searching journals for the latest changes in the marketing environment often intrigued with what I’d find. I’m sure many marketers still apply this framework and it is a great tool to refer to every time you want to optimise your website for any audience in any sector.
Mobile and desktop displays
Many businesses are obviously already reaping the rewards of making mobile a major part of their overall marketing strategy due to greater demand; the increasing number of consumers using mobile devices before desktops to not only search for products or information, but also purchase.
In fact, a case in point that mobile is becoming the premier device is that one of our clients, Asda has just announced they will be allowing payments for shopping from mobile phones from 2015.
The customer journey from offline to online should be seamless. Despite the increase in mobile adoption, desktop still has a place in marketing which is why you should consider how your website looks and its usability on both desktop and mobile.
Optimising the web: desktop displays
From bricks and mortar to online ecommerce, both present challenges that can be overcome with a bit of thinking and a considered marketing strategy. Your website is the customer facing touch point that needs to be attractive and easy to use or you may see high bounce rates and a drop in the repeat custom or repeat customers. There has been extensive research into how website design can benefit your online marketing goals if done correctly. I’d like to share with you what I’ve come across so you may pick up one or two points that you could apply to your marketing strategy. Always put yourselves in the shoes of your customer. What are they missing online that they could get in their local store? Customer service, product advice, an easy and efficient transaction? More questions answered than they dare ask a sales assistant in one shop? The chance to check out a product, perhaps in full 360 degree full rotation, comfortably and not under the glare of a time-pressed staff member? These are a few suggestions that should be considered in the design of your website. Great customer service can be achieved by offering a service that allows customers to handle issues or ask questions with a timely response. 02 is a good example. Their “Live Chat” feature avoids the frustrating caller waiting you get when you try seeking help through a phone service. Every time I’ve used Live Chat, I have had my queries dealt with very efficiently. Of course, you can’t just stick friendly face on your site under the header, Live Chat; you have to invest in the resources and infrastructure to be able to manage the service and actually communicate with people. But as with all things, you way up the balance between what your offer and what that brings back to you and your business.
Trust is also a key factor in website success. One hurdle that may still be preventing customers from purchasing online is the confidence they have in entering their personal bank details and ordering online. Lui and Arnett (2000) studied the Fortune 1000 businesses to determine what was important for website success and they discovered a link between confidence and trust in an individual and the successful ordering and payment experiences. Roughly speaking, that can be translated as the harder a process becomes to navigate, the more a user will distrust a site. Are you measuring the drop off rate of customers on your ecommerce payment platform? If there is a high drop off rate you may want to consider the payment experience from the perspective of the customer. Are there too many steps involved from adding items into the basket through to entering payment details? Can customers come back to their basket after a certain time period? Session timeouts can be frustrating for customers if they are inactive for a certain amount of time, especially when they return to their browser and their shopping cart is lost due to the session ending. Setting a high session timeout could overcome this problem but it might put a strain on the website’s system resources resulting in a lower performing website and user experience. Allowing a customer to be able to search on your site can increase the user experience greatly and raise conversion rates. A study conducted by (Kohavi and Parekh) showed that search features on a website can increase conversion rates for the visitor by 50% to 150%.
Optimising the web: mobile
Last week I wrote about the big deal with mobile marketing and listed all the benefits of going mobile with your marketing efforts. The point here is how important it is to you–and your customers– to have a mobile optimised site. With a little research, you may discover that your customers may be using their mobile devices more than their desktop or laptop. But what good is a mobile strategy without a mobile optimised website? Here at Creode, we used to quote separately for desktop, tablet and mobile versions of sites but now, for an increasing number of clients, we are quoting for fully responsive sites across all devices as a matter of course. Or even in some cases, just quoting for mobile versions of sites only. Certainly in our email projects, the focus is on mobile first. A lot of what I mentioned earlier in optimising the desktop can be applied to mobile. Such as, customer service, session timeouts and search functionality. When considering optimising your website for mobile devices you need to think about how easy it is to find and read information. If customers can’t navigate your mobile site easily whilst on the move you risk losing a lot of traffic. And as anyone who’s in online marketing knows, traffic is the road to profit.
/// Posted by Matt Jones