Does the success of a business depend on users? You bet it does
When it comes to making all your marketing decisions in these technology-oriented times, the one factor that makes all the difference is data. Collecting data in the form of actual feedback from buyers is undeniably crucial in the process of building marketing strategies.
Finding out what buyers are interested in makes it just that much easier for sellers to connect with them and drives sales in the process. If you’re the owner of an eCommerce website and haven’t managed to make some decent sales in a while, you’re probably not taking the importance of user data seriously.
Other than to increase traffic and visibility to your website through SEO strategies, adopting a data-based approach to your website design should be one of your top priorities.
Typical day on an eCommerce store
Consider this scenario: You have a wide range of clothing accessories on your eCommerce website. Visitors step into your digital store and navigate their way to the inner pages where the products they are interested in can be found.
Two immediate possibilities are: they may not be able to locate their desired products or they might find them. If they find them, they may just look them up and leave, save them for later (to think it over) or they might end up buying them.
And men think only women are impossible to figure out, eh? Pfft! Online buyers are way more complicated, seemingly almost totally unpredictable. Or are they?
When visitors enter your eCommerce site, they are confronted with several options to choose from, all the while clicking or tapping their way around. If they entered with an intent to purchase a product, your goal would be to help them navigate their way around your online store in the most user-friendly manner so you can convert them to customers.
But of course, it’s not as simple as it sounds. If they don’t checkout with a purchase, it would be safe to assume that either they lost their way at some point while navigating and simply gave up, or they just didn’t find what they were looking for.
However, in case they did find their desired product but didn’t make a purchase, it could be because:
- They were not willing to pay the price you were asking for, or
- They didn’t find the product in their size, or
- They were looking for it in a different color
But whatever the scenario, it clearly means that either they knew exactly what they wanted to purchase, or for some reason they just changed their mind along the way. Figuring out what those reasons are, will hold the key to building a connection with the buyers and subsequently ensuring better sales.
Lessons to be learnt from your website visitors
Data-driven marketing is a strategy that is designed to ultimately lead you to your objective, which is growth, in sales and thus in profits. No need to remind you that it should therefore sit on top of the hierarchy of your priorities.
It is also a strategy that can be implemented into your website design based on continuous, incremental improvements. Here's how you can find out where you can improvise on:
Analyzing user behavior on your website by studying the pattern of their movement or following their digital footprint (just go to Google Analytics and look under Audience --> Users Flow)
Researching consumer behavior that is not digitally traceable, using the conventional feedback or survey method
Applying growth-driven design (GDD) to connect to your audience
Growth-driven design or GDD is a data-driven methodology that is based on the study of consumer behavior and user data. This is where design and marketing put on a unified front to reap real benefits for your eCommerce business.
Contrary to traditional web design, which is mostly instinctive and hypothetical in nature, GDD takes into account real facts and numbers. Digging into the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of consumer behavior is what goes on to compile user data and feedback that will eventually help you apply GDD effectively to your eCommerce site.
eCommerce retailers will find the GDD methodology particularly useful for their websites. User metrics tools like Google Analytics, SE Ranking, Matomo, Kissmetrics and Woopra are some very effective programs that can help you understand consumer journey and the factors that determine their actions (choices).
This in turn can help you design an eCommerce site that’s much better prepared to fulfill user requirements. Consider the following as some of or all the metrics that should be the focus for your website improvement:
- Average time on page (know more on Google Analytics’ avg time on page column)
- Bounce rate
- Average landing page conversion rate (read up on what a good average landing page conversion rate in 2020 is)
- eCommerce conversion rate
- Demographics and interest
- Pages per visit
- Goal conversion rate
As you can clearly see from all these metrics, it’s all about the consumers. Once you have collected all the information based on these metrics, you will have enough characteristics to create an ideal consumer profile. All you need to do now is design a website that specifically suits the shopping behavior of that consumer profile and you’ll have found your way to connect to your audience.
Implementing growth-driven design using SMART goals
So, what goes into the implementation of GDD to your eCommerce website exactly? How can one ensure that the implementation will enhance the website? Glad you asked. Here’s how it's done:
1. Use SMART goals to implement GDD into your website
If you’re in the eCommerce business and haven’t set any SMART goals yet, be warned that this could be the one reason that could be keeping you from winning online. Your order of priorities should start with thinking ahead and setting goals based on extensive surveys to create consumer profiles.
Only then will you be able to take necessary actions to build an eCommerce website equipped for growth in traffic and conversion rates. Running an eCommerce store means you cannot make decisions based on assumptions.
No, what you need are goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound (SMART) to begin with, so you can see actual statistics that represent your business performance. This will help you crunch the numbers and take appropriate steps for growth on the go.
Deconstructing SMART goals
Let's dive a little deeper into the construction of these goals with a look at each of these attributes.
- Specific: Ask yourself this. Would I rather have a vague business goal like “let’s become a very successful eCommerce business soon” or a clear and specific goal like “let’s target an increase in traffic by 15-20% within five months”?
Take it or leave it – numbers don’t lie. Setting goals with specific numbers will add accountability to your business so you can implement extra measures in the future, if required, for growth. Here's a look at some SMART goals examples to know what the Dos and Don’ts are.
- Measurable: With measurability in your goals, monitoring your website’s performance is like a walk in the park. Assigning numerical and measurable targets not just pushes you to aspire to achieve it but sets up milestones every time you actually achieve them.
In time, those goals will become easier as you grow more confident and experienced, all the while staying within the radar of measurability.
- Attainable: Every now and then comes some overambitious business owner with goals and targets that are next to impossible. While the enthusiasm displayed can be admirable, it would neither go down well with the employees nor can the goals be termed realistic.
Keeping the goals achievable and short in period is the beginning to establishing a standard, which can be raised with the passage of time. Let's say you have an online electronics store that made an average monthly sale of $50,000 in the last year.
Setting a target of $75,000 in monthly sales (which is a jump of 50%) for the next year would amount to being an unrealistic goal here.
Now, setting it for a more balanced target of $55,000 (10%) would be both attainable and an attempt at raising the benchmark for increase in revenue generation.
- Relevant: The simplest way to define this particular goal would be to get a ‘yes’ when you ask yourself, “does this go along with my other goals?” Relevant goal can be any goal that brings in some value addition or support other goals to push you ahead.
Sometimes, relevant goals may seem quite relevant, but then you must ask yourself if you can afford to spend resources and time in following them up. If it’s worth all that and will get you closer to achieving what you set out to achieve, then it must be important and therefore applicable.
- Time-bound: No prizes for guessing what kind of goal this is. When you assign a timeframe to a goal (which I hope is what you do for all goals), you literally target it to be fulfilled within that period.Contrary to the common acceptance of it as an irritant that looms over one's head until the task is complete, time-bound goals can actually be motivating for employees.
It can also be a good way to compare the time taken in completing the task against the allotted time to assess individual and team performance. In case you’re unsure how to create these goals, there are heaps of SMART goals templates available for download on the internet.
Best thing is these templates are customizable and can be integrated along with the tools that you already use.
2. Draw up an extensive wish list
This is a step that works best when a lot of creative ideas pour in. Assemble your team of website designers, online marketers, strategists and other key stakeholders for some brainstorming sessions on what should be the ideal design for your website.
Take inspiration from these 40 amazing eCommerce website designs if it helps. Draw up a wish list of desirable features for your website such as:
- Faster checkouts (no more than 3 clicks to complete a purchase)
- Product comparison (allowing comparison of 3-5 products on a single window for user convenience)
- Product reviews (adding positive reviews from previous buyers boosts sales more than anything)
- Visual appeal (dapper designs for your products pages)
It's quite possible that this exercise might see you end up with a long list of features that you would want to implement. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be a good design move to take in all of them.
The ideal solution is an exercise that is called design hierarchy of needs in which you include the design features in the order of their contribution and pick the top ones with maximum impact. Focus on these to improve your eCommerce website design in a way that will engage your visitors and encourage them to take the desired journey to buy products.
Next up, concentrate your research efforts into building customer profiles or buyer personas. It's easier to market your products when you know which group of people you should be targeting with what.
You wouldn’t want to promote the right product to the wrong person. Trust me, that’s a sure-fire way to lose valuable customers. Your online store visitors, when they step into the website, should be able to find exactly what they are interested in.
For example, canvas shoes, hats and shorts could be marketed under a category that could be named ‘skateboarders,’ which here would be the buyer persona. Knowing your visitors, their likes and their purchase habits will help you gain their trust and eventually convert them into loyalists.
Once you gain a decent customer base, open a line of communication by seeking their feedback while monitoring your analytics to introduce improvements along the way. Find out how to create valuable buyer personas.
3. Analyze, record, improvise
Analyzing your website is a good way to find out if you’re on the way to achieve your SMART goals. You can begin by carrying out these following steps:
- A major part of incremental learning can come from analyzing or following the movements of the visitors on your website. This would involve studying the time they spent at different stages (read reviews, compared products, viewed similar products, added to cart, saved for later), the bounce rates, the most visited products and so on.
- User feedback can be extremely effective in finding out what visitors are interested in so the information can be used to develop appropriate website design features.
- Of course, there’s also that bit where you should analyze your competition in the market without any guilt. What are the features on their website design, how are they attracting buyers, etc. are clues that you should look at.
- Analyze your wish list to find out which of the top 10-20% features have worked in your favor and by what degree.
Recording and maintaining all these data will ensure that your website is sufficiently equipped and updated to keep up with the competition. Share all your findings with your website designers so they can carry out the needed changes and updates promptly.
It's important that you create a common knowledge folder to store the data, preferably on SharePoint, Google Drive or any safe shared destination. The data should be easily accessible by all your teams – design, engineering, sales, marketing, accounts, logistics – so a consistent user experience is available for your potential customers.
4. Design & engineering
Website navigation is a crucial part of usability and user experience design of your website. Imagine driving to a location you’ve never been to without the help of a GPS to guide you. You'll be driving around in circles and be as lost as that visitor to your website if it doesn’t have an easy site navigation.
Being able to navigate around easily through a website is what keeps visitors engaged and brings down the bounce rate, subsequently increasing conversion rate. Not just that, good website navigation also simplifies web crawling and indexing of your web pages, thereby boosting organic traffic and search engine ranking.
Again, this would be a good time to sit with your designers and share your ideas on what would work best for your website. Your website navigation design and engineering decisions should consider factors like latest trends and customer behavior data that you’ve been collecting.
While we’re at it, here are some of the common website navigation mistakes that you should avoid.
5. Measure website performance vis-à-vis your SMART goals
Time to check up on each of your SMART goals and see how many of them you managed to achieve. Did you accomplish the goals within the projected time frame? Did you complete the goals fully or were some parts of it left unattended?
The best thing about SMART goals is that you can assess the progress of each of the goals even when they are midway toward accomplishment. This would be a good way to assure yourself if the goals are on track to be completed on time.
Pulling up the progress chart on regular intervals helps you assess the performance of your website. It would be wise of you to organize periodic milestones to keep the whole team updated with the progress and attend to any issues, if there are, at the same time.
It's always better to take care of small problems as and when they show up rather than wait for the entire task to be finished. SMART goals are extremely effective in driving you towards your ultimate goal by keeping you focused on the smaller goals that go into completing it.
Something like fitting smaller pieces into completing a jigsaw puzzle. Breaking down the bigger goal into smaller goals also improves performance as people find it easier to achieve them and stay motivated. Here are some of the benefits of setting SMART goals:
- It’s easier to keep team members focused on smaller targets
- It becomes easier to evaluate progress and measure performance
- Everyone experiences a feeling of achievement after completing a goal
- Team members will be motivated by their achievements
- Unrealistic goals will be ignored, thus saving valuable time
Growth-driven design perfects your eCommerce website
By implementing growth-driven design (GDD) into your eCommerce website you’re literally making sure that it’s everything that you had wished for. And an actual proof of it will be there for you to witness through your website analytics. The benefits of GDD implementation are basically the results of these following rationale:
- Cutting down or removing the likelihood of website redesigns. This can be possible only if GDD is implemented as against traditional web design, since GDD will make sure that you frequently update your website and fix issues promptly
- With the need for redesigns being removed, you will end up saving both money and time, thus bringing you closer to website launch sooner than expected
- With GDD you will be able to engage in continuous improvement of your website based on the data that you’ll be compiling on your visitors’ behavior and shopping pattern
- Your marketing strategy game will be sharper and better poised to achieve optimal results, thanks to your customer-oriented approach and incessant drive to convert them to loyal users. Conversion rate will go up as will the sales because of this simple but powerful approach
eCommerce website design: Making the right choices/decisions
We know it’s not easy making the right decisions when you’ve got a lot riding on your eCommerce design project – time, money, resources and most of all the pressure to launch in time. But that’s exactly what should keep you motivated towards your objective.
It’s important for you to know that the perfect design depends on several aspects, each of which offers a choice to the designers. There is a trade-off involved in almost every situation, and the choices that the website designers make will in turn rest on the value the website will offer and the aspects that will influence the customers the most.
Let's look at some of the choices that designers generally face:
Complexity vs Simplicity in design
How complex and flashy should the design be, totally depends on the category of the eCommerce website. Categories where customers must rely majorly on visuals and photography to make their decisions will require a site that is visually attractive.
Fashion, jewelry, furniture, consumer electronics and tourism are categories that need to have designs to satisfy visual appetites and nurture the material emotions. On the other hand, logistics services, real estate, hardware and legal categories would need to prioritize on presenting information that influence buying decisions effectively.
Static vs dynamic web design
This section is relative to the design aspect that we just discussed. Websites demanding visual appeal perform better in attracting visitors when videos are integrated in addition to photographs. For instance, products that can be better reviewed by customers through visuals can use 360-degree views while real estate websites could use 3D animated walkthroughs.
Scroll views can be effective enough if your website doesn’t have a large number of categories. Product demo videos influence conversions significantly for SaaS products and consumer electronics.
Crowded vs white space design
Does your website need to offer a feeling of space to the customer? Or does it make more sense to crowd it with a lot of content and images on one page. Of course, that entirely depends on whether you have an aggregator website or are you your own promoter.
For an aggregator, throwing in an awful lot of data collected from multiple sources makes complete sense, because that’s what visitors will look for exactly – information. For a marketer, however, a few lines describing the product and a white space design does the trick.
Quality & size of images
Using high-quality imagery that can be zoomed in and zoomed can be a powerful simulation of an actual in-store experience where customers can touch and feel the products. More often than not, websites with better images almost always boost conversion if all other factors are same.
Fewer vs several navigation paths
This is kind of a no-brainer and doesn’t require much mulling over. An aggregator will usually offer several navigation options to the visitor to explore various options on the website and without creating a dent on its reputation as a cluttered website.
Frills vs no frills
Use of special cursors, mouseover and pop-ups will depend on the situation that the visitors will be in. This is where you should slip into the shoes of your target audience and ask yourself – are they really helping me out here or are they just coming in the way? Of course, most of the times they are trial and run and you just improvise on the go.
For an eCommerce site to be profitable, it needs to be incorporated with content and design that are consistently refreshing, relevant, engaging and informative in nature. In simpler words, it should be able to communicate directly with the visitors and hold their attention.
Implementing GDD processes is an effective way to ensure that this always happens. Growth-driven design, which is largely based on the principles of SMART goals, user data and continuous improvement, is result-oriented and reliable. Its approach is logical, dynamic and leadership bound.
At 0707 we have been practicing the art of growth-driven design (GDD) for many years using our deep understanding of data, analytics and user behavior on eCommerce websites. Feel free to get in touch with us to discuss your eCommerce website’s growth possibilities.