Category Archives: User Experience

How To Undertake a Heuristic Evaluation of a Website

How does a heuristic evaluation improve conversion?

A heuristic evaluation is an expert based analysis that applies experience-based techniques to identify and discover solutions to problems with a user experience. It is a structured approach to assessing an existing user design and though it offers no guarantees about being right, it is an important initial step in a systematic approach to optimisation.

A heuristic evaluation is best undertaken as a group of 3 or more experts and if possible some customers to allow for an open discussion and detailed analysis. The more experience you have with online experiments the better as they provide real evidence to support your heuristic evaluation. As optimisation is a data-informed process it is important to always look for evidence to support and refute any hypothesis generated by a heuristic evaluation.

Why should you use heuristic evaluation?

As we become more familiar with our websites or apps we become more comfortable with the user experience and often can’t see even obvious problems with aspects of the design. We also tend to become defensive when we receive criticism and less innovative.

A heuristic evaluation allows you to challenge this status quo with a structured framework and experts who have a fresh perspective of the user experience.

Recruiting customers for the evaluation team ensures user feedback is also included in the review process.

A framework for heuristic evaluation:

At Conversion Uplift we base our analysis on the Widerfunnel Lift Model because this provides an excellent framework to review a digital user experience. The model highlights the importance of the value proposition which reminds us that you are going to be handicapped if you have a weak or inferior product/service.

The Widerfunnel.com lift model is a framework we use to help optimise the digital experience
Source: Widerfunnel.com

 

So, if your product/service is deficient in some way make sure you fix that first before trying to optimise your user experience. Sometimes people think that they can use persuasive techniques to convince visitors to purchase a poor product or service. That’s not a sustainable strategy in the long-run as you won’t build up a loyal customer base.

Also define your target audience before you begin the process. It is important you have a good understanding of the goals and possible use cases of your customers or prospects. If you have developed buyer personas these are useful when considering such factors as relevancy, anxiety and segmentation.

1. Value proposition:

Begin by taking a look at what your site tells the visitor about your value proposition. Assume your visitors don’t know anything about your brand, what does your homepage or landing page communicate about your proposition? You should also ask:

  • Why should users come to your site rather than a competitor’s?
  • What’s unique about your brand?
  • What tangible features does your brand communicate?
  • What incentives and offers are there to attract new customers?

Psychological goals:

As an addition to the model we have added psychological goals. These are those implicit motivations, such as belonging, power and self-development that drive our attention and behaviour.

We use the Beyond Reason implicit goal model which is based upon the latest research from the fields of psychology and neuroscience. Try and identify important psychological motivations by listening to how users feel about your product or service or by conducting market research (see implicit association test).

Psychological motivations drive attention and much our behaviour.
This motivation model is the intellectual property of BEYOND REASON.

 

Intangible benefits:

Next consider what evidence you have on your site to demonstrate intangible benefits such as credibility (e.g. professional reviews & awards) and social proof (e.g. testimonials and customer ratings). These can be powerful drivers of behaviour, especially if your user’s decision style is characterised by copying experts or their peers (see Decision Styles).

Image of testimonials from winkbingo.com and Google Analytics

You should also review how your tangible costs are communicated and consider how you use packages as anchors (e.g. whether you show the most expensive first). Do you use exclusive pricing, are delivery costs clearly visible and could you use the power of ‘free’ to improve how costs are communicated?

2. Relevance:

Understanding who your visitors are and where they come from is key to relevance.  Check source relevance, the relevance to ads they may have seen, keywords that they may have used and search mode patterns are easily recognisable. Relevance can be improved through:

  • Targeting – Direct ads to most relevant landing page.
  • Dynamic customisation – Insert dynamic headlines or text snippets to improve the scent trail.
  • Standardization – Aggregate target segments into larger, similar groups to allow testing the overall value proposition.
  • Target audience relevance – Does the message meet prospects needs and  expectations and does it appeal to them?
  • Segmentation – Are you using customer value or behavioural targeting?
  • Call-to-action relevance – Are visitors ready to buy/register – what allowance is there if they are not – is relevant information available?
  • Tone relevance – Users respond differently to words, images and design according to their demographic characteristics.
  • Navigation relevance – Is it intuitive and can visitors find what they are looking for?
  • Competitor relevance – How does competitor’s value proposition and messages influence your conversion rate?
Image of Mathsfactor.com homepage with different CTAs for separate user goals
Image Source: Mathsfactor.com

3. Clarity:

Clarity helps minimise mental processing by reducing the cognitive load for visitors. Begin with evaluating how clear your value proposition is communicated and the prominence of your call-to-actions. When evaluating clarity consider the following elements:

  • Information hierarchy – How well is content organised on the page and via navigation?
  • Page-level hierarchy – Does eye-flow and content hierarchy aid decision making? Are all key messages above the fold?
  • Design clarity – Does it reinforce the value proposition, facilitate communication, promote content, legibility and readability?
  • Eye-flow clarity – Does it guide visitor’s eye or block its flow?
  • Image and colour clarity – What do they communicate?
  • Visual consistency – Are you following major web conventions?
  • Call-to-action clarity – Do you lose early and often?
  • Copy writing clarity – Have you tested headlines and support claims with evidence? A lack of evidence can lead to friction in the user journey.

4. Anxiety:

Unless you try to deal with anxiety your site will suffer from friction as anxiety can undermine trust and lead to visitors delaying decisions. To minimise anxiety it is necessary to consider the following points:

  • Privacy – Do you keep information requests to a minimum, justify the information you request and reassure visitors of your trustworthiness?
  • Forms – Have you moved optional fields to a thank you page?
  • Policy – Summarised privacy policy using plain English?
  • Usability – Allow for user mistakes & errors?
  • Error handling – Serve error messages adjacent to field & provide prompt feedback?
  • CAPTCHA – Use software to prevent bots rather than CAPTCHA?
  • Browser compatibility – Test on all major browsers & operating systems?
  • Technical problems – Check & solve technical glitches as these lead to a loss of credibility?
  • Page not found – Minimise 404 errors and display user friendly 404?
  • Effort anxiety – Are offers easy to redeem/use?
  • Fulfilment anxiety – Do your messages reassure users?
  • Security – Do you display familiar security seals when appropriate?
  • Fine print – Legal asterisk losses credibility & small print can ring alarm bells.
  • Brand reputation – Do you display third-party credibility indicators to reduce anxiety?
  • Delivery promise – Do you set clear expectations & clear fulfilment promise?
  • Guarantees & returns – Do you offer guarantees (e.g. money back) to reduce fulfilment anxiety?

5. Distraction:

A busy design with little white space and unnecessary content can be very distracting for users. It’s important that you communicate a compelling idea or key message to get your user’s attention. First impressions count and this is why the visual layout above the fold is a primary determinant of new visitor perceptions of your site. When considering distractions look at:

  • Find the most common user screen size – Do you design pages based upon user’s monitor size and not your designer’s screen?
  • Background – Do you use background textures, asymmetrical designs and complex graphics in backgrounds?
  • Where now – Is the starting point of the user’s journey obvious?
  • CTAs  – Does the design create a focused eye flow towards a single, prominent CTA?
  • Messages – Does your design focus on a single, clear message to minimise mental processing?
  • Irrelevant content – Do you have ads or existing customer content that is irrelevant to some users?
  • Navigation bars – Have you removed unnecessary navigation on landing pages or is your navigation sticky?

6. Urgency:

This is about considering if there is anything that will help motivate users to make an immediate decision. There are two types of urgency, internal and external urgency.

Internal urgency is dependent upon how the user feels and their needs or situation. This is more difficult to  influence, but we should make allowance for it if we can. Amazon for example uses the “Buy Now” CTA to allow users who are impatient to shorten the user journey and accept the default settings (e.g. one day delivery and related charges).

Image of Amazon.co.uk product page with Buy Now CTA
Image Source: Amazon.co.uk

External urgency refers to how marketing can influence or persuade users to make a decision now rather than later. This could be the use of a limited offer period for a promotion to create scarcity and use loss aversion to motivate visitors to take action now. Points to consider include:

  • Create internal urgency – Use an emotional appeal using descriptive copy and evocative imagery or create an aspirational story that resonates with visitor’s desires.
  • Scarcity – An explicit offer period creates an urgency to act, limited access offers or special editions also create scarcity. The fear of loss is also important motivator.
  • Respond with urgency – Treat customer enquires as time sensitive. Research indicates that contacting a lead within 5 minutes has 100 times greater success rate compared to if they are contacted after 30 minutes.

Ryanair uses scarcity with a flash sale to create urgency. The email clearly states that the sale ends on a specific date to encourage users to act now.

Image of flash sale from Ryanair.com
Image Source: Ryanair.com

What next?

Once you have completed your heuristic evaluation you should list out all the areas of interest (AOI) you identified for each page in a spreadsheet. There is a good chance that you will have more AOI’s than you can deal with at once. Whether this is the case or not you should go through each page and priorities the AOI’s so that you can focus on the most important aspects to improve your conversion rate.

You can use the prioritisation process that I outline here to determine how you treat each AOI. The important thing here is that you present your findings and recommendations to key stakeholders to get their buy–in and agreement on your priorities.

Conclusion:

Conducting a heuristic evaluation is a valuable step in the optimisation process. It should be used to bring in experts from outside web team and if possible include customers or prospects.

Using the Widerfunnel Lift Model provides a great framework and gives everyone permission to be as critical as they can be of the existing user experience. This can help challenge some of the sacred cows, such as brand guidelines, that can prevent the business moving forward.

A heuristic evaluation can be especially useful when your website does not have sufficient traffic to run A/B and multivariate tests. But don’t use it in isolation. Always follow a systematic approach to optimisation as I outlined in my post on the 8 steps of conversion rate optimisation.

Here is a link to a cheat sheet for your own evaluation.

Thank you for reading my post and I hope you found it useful. Please share using the social media icons below if you like this post.

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital marketing optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Deezer.com, Foxybingo.com, Very.co.uk, partypoker.com and Bgo.com. He uses a variety of techniques, including web analytics, personas, customer journey analysis and customer feedback to improve a website’s conversion rate.

 

 

7 Strategies For B2B Marketing Personalisation

How to use personalisation in B2B digital marketing!

Personalisation and marketing automation are now proven strategies in digital B2C marketing for increasing conversion rates and revenues. For example eConsultancy  estimate that the suggest feature on Amazon.com generates an additional 10 to 30 per cent in revenues. Given the huge sales on Amazon this generates many millions of dollars for the company.

Amazon’s “Customers who bought this item also bought”

Image of Amazon recommendation results for customers who bought this
Image Source:

 

B2B websites have been significantly slower to adopt personalisation. However, according to research by Forrester B2B buyers are increasing their use of digital channels to research and complete transactions while still using more conventional channels during the customer journey.

Further, their experiences with B2C online sites has raised expectations of B2B sites so that buyers now demand much higher levels of service and personalisation during the user entire journey.

How do B2B sites up their game and begin to deliver on personalisation? In this post I will cover the following seven topics regarding B2B personalisation:

  • Personalisation vs customization – How are they different?
  • Enable B2B users with personalisation – Why it’s not all about selling in B2B?
  • Getting data for B2B personalisation – What and how to get it?
  • Choose a personalisation platform – What are your options?
  • Segmenting your B2B customers – What strategies should you use?
  • Implementing personalisation – Strategies for creating a personalised experience!
  • When personalisation goes wrong – Why does personalisation sometimes go wrong?

1. Personalisation or customisation?

These two terms are often confused with each other. Customisation refers to where prospects are offered a distinct choice, perhaps to indicate their sector or occupation. This allows the website to respond to this selection by making the experience more relevant to the user’s needs.

Customisation allows users to remain in control and select exactly what they want. The downside is that visitors don’t always know what they need or how a solution could improve the efficiency of their business. But customisation definitely has a place for many B2B websites, especially for first time visitors where you don’t know anything about their needs or the nature of their organisation.

B2B E-commerce site using pop-up to enable customisation

Image of customisation approach on Rapidonline.com
Image Source:

 

Personalization on the other hand refers to automatically serving content that is relevant to the individual visitor based upon data captured on the user. The advantage of personalization is that it does need any additional effort from the user because your automation platform does the hard work.

However, this does mean you are reliant on the data and analytics of your marketing platform to identify or infer each user’s needs. In some cases this can feel a bit creepy as visitors find that the website is too good at anticipating their preferences. We’ll deal with this issue later after we examine how to personalise the B2B customer experience.

2. A complex user journey:

B2B marketers have to target high-level decision-makers or a group of individuals and face a significantly longer business cycle than most B2C marketers. The B2B user journey is often has many more touch points and a complexity that appears to make personalisation more difficult to achieve.

Strategies for B2B Personalisation

B2B personalisation has the potential to significantly increase website revenues

The solution to this challenge is to create a user experience that enables visitors rather than sells to them. The B2B buyer will normally have to consult colleagues and is often heavily influenced by peers outside their organisation. To facilitate this process it’s important to create a user experience that automatically adapts to the behaviour and interests of the visitor rather than trying to push them towards a purchase.

3. Getting data for B2B personalisation:

Before you spend time and money on your data you should first identify what will be genuinely valued by your customer and what you need to know to achieve that. Start with the end in mind rather than the other way around.

The difficulty faced by B2B marketers is combining data about an individual visitor with information held about their organization in a meaningful and actionable way. Further, it’s important to combine all types of data (e.g. quantitative or qualitative) and channels (e.g. offline and online) to capture information on all touch points to build a picture of the prospect’s behaviour and interests.

Once you have the data you need you can begin to systematically generate inferences from your visitor and customer database to identify insights and create opportunities to personalise the customer experience.

Sometimes expertise is underrated and companies recruit junior people with little experience. Saving money on personnel is counterproductive.  A good data analyst or data scientist understands the capabilities of analytical and marketing automation tools. They know how to get the most value from your data solutions and can identify and develop new opportunities for personalisation without having to be given specific directions from marketing management.

However, obtaining data for personalization is often simpler than you think. Most web analytics software for instance captures a wealth of data on the characteristics and behaviour of your visitors. Google Analytics for example can provide you with data to personalize as follows:

  • New vs returning visitors – Someone who has visited your site more than once in the last 24 hours is likely to different motivations and concerns than someone who visits your site for the first time. Even a simple welcome back message can acknowledge that you recognize their high level of interest in your product or service.
  • Landing page type – Use your knowledge of the type of page a visitor lands on when they arrive on your site to personalize their experience by ensuring consistent messaging and content is displayed throughout the user journey. Don’t waste money on building dedicated landing pages if you are not going to use that knowledge to personalize subsequent screens with relevant content.
  • Day of week / Time of day – Does a visitor who browses your site on a Friday afternoon have different intentions and motivations than someone who is browsing your site on Monday morning? What about weekend traffic – some businesses don’t close on a Friday afternoon – shouldn’t your content reflect this demand at the weekend?
  • Conversion funnels – Where do visitors drop out of your funnel most often? Why not examine how you can personalize these stages in the process to improve engagement and reduce drop-out rates.
  • Page load time – Why not acknowledge when your site is taking longer than normal to load by personalizing messaging or content to win visitors back. People like it when companies say sorry.
  • IP address – Most medium to large companies have a unique IP address and so you should be able to identify key organisations to target from their IP address.

 

4. Choosing a personalisation platform:

According to a study by Gleanster for Act-On some 83 per cent of B2B marketers believe fragmented marketing platforms and systems prevent the implementation of marketing automation. This suggests that many B2B marketers either don’t have personalisation software or have not been able to fully integrate it with existing systems.

Whatever your situation is begin by deciding what your goal is. Is it to increase the conversion rate of lead generation efforts, improve cross-sales, encourage repeat purchases or reduce cart abandonment? You can then set KPIs to monitor progress and begin considering personalization techniques.

You can then start to look at what software is needed. There are generally two types of software available, A/B & multivariate testing solutions that offer personalisation as a feature and dedicated marketing automation software.  The former include Adobe Marketing Cloud, Google Optimize 360, Optimizely, Oracle and Quibit. If you already have an A/B or multivariate testing tool check out its capabilities for personalisation as you may find this can meet some of your needs.

Top dedicated personalisation software companies include Act-On, Acquia, Baynote, BevyUp, Boomtown, Certona, Dynamic Yield, Edgeverve, Evergage, Flytxt, IgnitionOne, Magnetic, nectarOM, Peerius, Real-Time, Syntasa and Strands.

A key consideration here is finding a platform that integrates with your legacy systems and CRM solution in particular. Personalisation requires real-time access to data across all customer touch points and so it may be necessary to establish a network of technology partners who have the experience and knowledge to plug gaps where they exist in your internal capabilities.

5. Segmenting your B2B customers:

A popular strategy for creating a highly personalised customer experience is the buyer persona. This involves building a detailed profile of important user segments which includes demographic and firmographic data such as job title, function, management level, budgetary responsibility, and industry sector.

Buyer persona template online tools

Creating a buyer persona for each key customer segment using data and research allows organizations to improve their understanding of customers and prospects which enables them to construct a more personalized and targeted customer experience. Other strategies for implementing B2B personalization include:

  1. Segment specific – Use industry vertical or customer segment criteria
  2. Stage specific – Apply personalization according to stage in the buying process
  3. Account specific – Use details of the prospect organization to tailor the experience
  4. Lead specific – Tailor according to details of the individual lead

Examples of how you can personalize the user experience include:

  • IP address for large organisations to target individual companies.
  • Geographical data such as city, region, country or seasonal factors.
  • Behaviour on device (desktop, mobile and tablet).
  • Demographics such as gender, age or cultural background.
  • First party data – information that you have captured yourself and your customers are aware you hold.
  • Third party data – information from CRM or social media and other third-party sources that users may not be aware you hold about them.

The important point to consider here is to use experimentation to identify what works and what doesn’t for your prospects. Best practice is only a guide and should not be taken as gospel.

6. Implementing B2B personalisation:

Now that you have your detailed buyer personas you can identify key characteristics or behaviours that allow you to allocate a visitor to a specific persona. Use these criteria to segment your email list into, smaller, more targeted lists. This will allow you to deliver personalised email campaigns based upon important drivers of behaviour such as sector, job title and management level.

Image of personalised email from 47 Links

Using your buyer personas to classify web visitors should also allow you to deliver a highly personalised web customer experience to replace generic and static web content that can often be a turn-off for users. As Karl Wirth, CEO of Evergage, points out there are four core principles of user experience which marketers need to consider. These are remember me, understand me, help me and surprise / delight me.

  • Remember is about retaining and utilising information about the user’s behaviour or profile to deliver a personalised customer experience. This means acknowledging returning visitors and ensuring the user experience reflects past behaviour and previously captured on the prospect.
  • Understand me relates to recognising returning visitors and applying the knowledge the organisation holds on customers to deliver content based upon their known interests and needs.
  • Help me is about making it easy and enjoyable for visitors to achieve their goals. This involves monitoring user browsing behaviour and purchasing history to provide relevant recommendations and directing customers to useful information or recently viewed items. Don’t make it difficult for users to find what they are looking for.
  • Surprise and delight may seem difficult to achieve online, but in reality this is what personalization is about. Going that little extra to acknowledge good customers and inform visitors of relevant and available offers can go a long way to make users feel valued.

Buyer personas also make it easier for you to identify potential prospects in the social sphere. Listening to conversations people have on social media and having one-to-one dialogue with prospects can allow you to better understand their problems and needs so that you can tailor content accordingly.

Engaging with prospects on social media demonstrates to your audience that you value their input and helps create the ultimate personalised user experience.

7. When personalisation goes wrong:

Predicting behaviors is never easy and so it is inevitable that sometimes you will get it wrong. Poor personalization leads to a poor user experience. You can minimize this by doing extensive qualitative and quantitative research to better understand your audience and ensure your buyer personas are based upon real customer segments.

Personalization should only be used when it’s helpful and has a clear benefit for the user. It should be intuitive, useful and create a natural user experience. It should not feel “creepy” or like Big Brother is watching you.

It’s important to be open and transparent with customers about using data to personalise the user experience to manage expectations and reduce the chance that it becomes “creepy”. Personalisation can become problematic when organisations rely too heavily on inferred or purchased data that has not been freely given by users. When customers voluntarily give information or confirm the accuracy of data this reduces the likelihood that it will be perceived as “creepy” when it’s used to predict customer needs.

This example below of personalisation from Evergage allows the visitor to see why content has been recommended to them. This level of transparency helps to avoid personalisation becoming “creepy”.

Image of personalisation on Evergage.com
Image Source:

There also needs to be a value exchange for all concerned and so it is important to set out what personalisation means for different buyer personas or segments to fully understand the benefits for all parties. Holding user data is a privilege and so it is essential to set high standards for how it is stored and used.

The rise of big data has led to a culture of hoarding data that companies don’t use and visitors don’t know they have. Like any asset data deteriorates over time and so it is important to regularly review and cleanse data to ensure it still usable. To avoid storing up problems for the future you should ask two questions every time you capture a new item of data:

  1. What will the customer’s attitude be towards us holding this data?
  2. What do we want the customer to do?

Unless you can clearly answer these questions it is best not to use the information. In addition, ensure your data base architecture enables you to identify which data was given freely and which was bought from third-parties.

Don’t forget to build in self-service alternatives by designing your information architecture to enable users to easily locate what they are looking for without having to rely on personalized content. This helps to prevent problems occurring when your personalization goes wrong.

Conclusion:

Personalisation should begin and end with what’s best for the customer. Set clear goals for what you want to achieve and invest in both qualitative and quantitative research to get a much deep understanding of what motivates your prospects. Create strong buyer personas based upon evidence to help guide your strategy.

Avoid hoarding data for the sake of it. Always have a clear view of your objective and seek out data that allows you to achieve that goal. Give priority to data that has been given freely by visitors and don’t be over-reliant on making inferences from third-party data.

The challenges of B2B personalization reinforce the need to have the right tools for the job. Even the best research and insight is of little value unless you have a platform that is capable of extremely fast delivery of content and is scalable.

There will always be instances when personalisation doesn’t work and so build in self-service options to enable visitors to find what they are looking for. Avoid over-reliance on third-party data and be open with your visitors about how data is used.

However, when used effectively B2B personalisation can be a powerful strategy for improving the customer experience and for increasing conversions. Just because the B2B decision making process is more complex this should not be a barrier to using personalisation to generate more revenues from your digital user experience.

Thank you for reading my post and I hope you found it useful. Please share using the social media icons below if you like this post.

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital marketing optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Deezer.comFoxybingo.com, Very.co.ukpartypoker.com and Bgo.com. He uses a variety of techniques, including web analytics, personas, customer journey analysis and customer feedback to improve a website’s conversion rate.
  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on Usabilla.com  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to neal.cole@conversion-uplift.co.uk. You can follow Neal on Twitter @conversionupl, see his LinkedIn profile or connect on Facebook.

Dark UX or Persuasive Design?

What is Dark UX?

As a Conversion Specialist I find dark UX interesting because it essentially puts the needs of the company before that of the customer. It is the opposite of normal UX principles as dark UX employs design to trick people into taking a decision that may not be in their best interests and sometimes without them being fully aware of what decision they have made.

Dark UX has the potential to leave a bitter taste in your mouth when you realise what has happened. Know one likes being tricked or mislead and the user experience may lead to high levels of distrust and dissatisfaction among customers.

In some cases a design breaks a web convention or norm to nudge you in the opposite direction to what you expect. Alternative choice options  are sometimes hidden below the fold or reduced in prominence so that you may fail to notice them.

Depending upon your point of view you may see this as persuasive design or dark UX. How do we judge what is a great design as opposed to a manipulative design?  Here are some interesting examples that could be perceived as great design or dark ux.

Good design or dark UX?

Amazon is seen as the gold standard in e-commerce and so it’s not generally associated with dark UX. However, I came across this interstitial page for Amazon Prime after clicking on proceed to checkout.  The primary call-to-action (CTA) is clearly “Sign up and pay now”, but what if you just want to pay without signing up to Prime?

Image of Amazon Prime interstitial after proceed to checkout

When a user clicks on the “Proceed to checkout” CTA they expect to be served the checkout and so I was surprised and slightly confused to see this page the first time I  came across it.  I almost instinctively clicked on “Sign up and pay now” without thinking, but then realised the page was trying to get me to sign up to Prime.

Image of CTAs on Amazon Prime's Interstitial page

At first sight it’s not obvious that there is an alternative CTA to “Sign up and pay now”. After a number of seconds scanning the page I found a hyperlink  positioned  to the left of the primary CTA.  It uses loss aversion to good effect as it reads  “No thanks – I don’t want Unlimited One-Day Delivery”.

Is this just persuasive design or dark UX – it’s difficult to say. I can see how thoughtful the design is, but could it result in some users signing up to Prime without meaning to? Possibly.

Ryanair were the experts:

A more clear-cut example of dark UX was the old Ryanair travel Insurance section. This stated that “If you wish to purchase travel insurance please select your country of residence”. Below the list of passengers there was a further instruction; “If you do not wish to purchase travel insurance, please select ‘Don’t insure me’ in the drop-down box.”

Image of Ryanair Insurance - country of residence
Image Source:

The “Don’t insure me” was hidden between “Denmark” and “Finland”. You also had to select this separately for each passenger because it is under country of residence. This design was heavily criticised  by various commentators and may be as a result it has since been replaced by a much more user friendly user interface.

 

Image of 2017 Ryanair travel insurance user interface
Image Source:

Clever design?

I recently reviewed the Littlewoods.com  registration form  and was impressed with how it has been improved since I last looked at it. The design uses a very well implemented accordion style form that initially displays three fields and then shows another field when you complete those first fields.

Image of step 1 of Littlewoods.com registration form

When I completed the form I came across the registration successful page below.  The primary CTA – “Apply Now” is prominent and a benefit of being able to spread the cost is clearly communicated. However, what if you don’t want to spread the cost and apply for an account? Similar to the Amazon example the alternative action is not immediately obvious.

Image of Littlewoods.com registration successful page

That’s because the alternative payment method is outlined in low contrast text below the discreet horizontal line. The copy reads; “or if you’d like to pay by card just continue to shop and then choose the pay by credit or debit card option when your’e in the checkout”. I’ve highlighted the copy below to confirm where it is located.

Image of Littlewoods.com registration successful page with secondary CTA highlighed

From a conversion perspective this is clearly a winner and probably generates a substantial return on investment. The alternative option is visible when you study the page, but many visitors may not notice it before they click on the primary CTA and apply to open a credit account.

It  is a very well thought out design and is certainly persuasive. What they could test though is the use of loss aversion for the alternative CTA copy. Something like – “No thanks – I don’t want the ability to spread the cost – continue shopping.” This might help offset any drop in conversion if the CTA was made more prominent.

Who decides?

The final decision on whether a design meets an organisations’s standards and is consistent with its brand values rests with senior management. Inevitably this reflects the company culture and how customer-centric the organisation is. This explains why sometimes a design may be perceived as persuasive in some organisations and dark in another.

When you are working on a new design it can be difficult to take a step back and review it objectively. That’s why usability testing and setting suitable success metrics is so important. If after implementation you see an increase in returns/cancellations or a rise in customer complaints related to the page that is probably giving you the answer.

In the end the customer has the final say. If users feel they have been tricked or mislead by how a website is designed they are likely to either complain or switch to a competitor if and when they have the opportunity. Provided customers have a choice to go elsewhere  there will always be pressure to remove unsatisfactory design  practices.

Thank you for reading my post and I hope you found it useful. Please share using the social media icons below if you like this post.

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital marketing optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Deezer.comFoxybingo.com, Very.co.ukpartypoker.com and Bgo.com. He uses a variety of techniques, including web analytics, personas, customer journey analysis and customer feedback to improve a website’s conversion rate.

 

Why Should Marketers Target the Subconscious Mind?

Should we trust our gut instinct?

If you believe everything written about the human mind on social media you would think that people are incapable of making a good decision. We are certainly prone to various cognitive biases that influence our judgement. Our herd instinct also leads us to copy the behaviour of others when faced with uncertainty or when we want to associate with a specific group of people. But surely these human traits have protected us from danger over thousands of years?

Evolutionary psychologists suggest that many of our subconscious and automatic responses relate to  our instincts for survival. We do not act randomly or irrationally as some writers suggest. Indeed, research by Alex Pouget, Associate Professor of brain and cognitive science at the University of Rochester, discovered that people can make optimal decisions, but only if the choice is made by their sub-conscious mind.

Our subconscious mind has a rational purpose, to protect us from danger and respond quickly without depleting mental energy. People don’t consciously decide to ignore advertising banners or stop to read the copy. These are decisions we automatically make to ease the process of navigating a site. They allow us to focus on what our brain decides are the more important tasks at that moment in time. This is not irrational, it’s what has made our species so successful.

Unlike Kahneman, Pouget decided to avoid asking direct questions of people to determine how accurately they responded to problems. Instead, he studied the decisions that are made by our non-conscious brain and showed that in the vast majority of cases we make the best decision we can dependent upon the limited information available to us.

Many decisions though are not solely reliant on our unconscious brain because our conscious and subconscious brains co-exist together. Further,  our conscious mind (see System 2) is often triggered by visual and audio clutter,  contextual issues and problems that require mental attention. This means that people have short attention spans and are very impatient. This has a significant impact on the digital user experience.

Implication for CRO:

  • Avoid clutter and competing calls to action to enable our sub-conscious brain to focus on achieving active goals. There are too many calls to actions and a poor visual hierarchy.
  • Use visual cues to assist users find content or calls to action. Avoid flat design as this lacks the cues that users have become accustomed to seeing on a website.
  • Follow established web conventions as these allow users to navigate from expectations set by their experience of other websites.

This product page from Comms-express.com is probably one of the most cluttered pages I’ve come across. It has so much content that not all of it fits fully on the page.  This will ring alarms with a visitor’s brain and cause System 2 to take control.

Image of comms-express.com homepage as example of poorly designed page
Source: Comms-Express.com

 

What directs our attention to brands?

A mass of psychological and cognitive research since the 1970s has shown the goals that direct much of our behaviour can be activated without a person’s conscious intention or choice. Indeed, experiments have shown that much of our cognitive processing is triggered without the conscious deliberation and control once thought to be necessary. Further, these studies also demonstrate that behaviour driven by goal achievement can also operate without conscious thought.

This suggests our sub-conscious brain is hard-wired to automatically search for opportunities to satisfy psychological needs and make decisions that are in our best interest. It is at the very heart of our decision making. When our brain identifies a good opportunity it generates a positive emotion and the brain automatically seeks a decision to enable need fulfilment.

Implication for CRO:

  • Avoid over reliance on rational benefits as these may not get the attention of user’s subconscious mind.
  • Always include implicit or psychological needs in your online communications as these grab attention more than purely rational benefits. Individual psychological goals are outlined later on in this post.

This example of a product page from AO.com is much cleaner and includes strong social proof messages using customer ratings and reviews.

Image of AO.com product page with prominent ratings and reviews
Image Source:

How important are emotions?

So how important are emotions when people are making decisions? The neuroscientist Antonio Damasio observed patients with damage to the ventromedial frontal cortices of the brain which controls our ability to feel emotions.

The brain damage did not influence patients’ basic intelligence, memory or their capacity for logical thought. However, through a series of experiments Damasio found that the loss of their capability to feel destroyed a person’s ability to make decisions that were in their best interests.

Damasio suggests that our thoughts mainly comprise images which include ideas, words, smells and real or imagined visual perceptions. Through our experiences these images become “marked” with positive and negative feelings.

These feelings are associated (directly or indirectly) with bodily states. If a negative marker is associated with an image of an expected outcome it sounds an alarm and our brain will steer decisions to avoid that potential outcome. Damasio suggests that these emotional markers improve the accuracy and efficiency of our decision making process.

‘‘In short, somatic markers are … feelings generated from secondary emotions. These emotions and feelings have been connected, by learning, to predicted future outcomes of certain scenarios’’ (Damasio, 1994, p. 174).

Implication for CRO:

  • Use copy and images that convey strong emotions to encourage engagement and create momentum in decision making. People are less likely to make a decision about a purchase if they don’t feel strongly about your proposition.
  • To encourage a positive feeling towards your brand consider using humorous images or copy to put users in a good frame of mind. Kahneman found that even getting people to smile improved their mood and how they responded to stimulus.
  • Use images of positive outcomes on your website to reduce the risk of your content generating negative associations.

How important is the sub-conscious mind?

The evidence suggests that up to 95% of our purchase decisions are directed by  sub-conscious mental processes. So, if the non-conscious and emotional part of our brain is so important to decision making why do we rely so much on engaging the conscious mind questions about our products and services?

Does it matter if our customers say they like our website or our product if the non-conscious brain is driving behaviour? How do we target the sub-conscious mental processes that direct our attention and ultimately decide what we buy?

Do we buy what we like or like what we buy?

There is substantial evidence that the activation of the brain’s reward centre predicts purchases provided the pain induced by price is below a certain level. As an example, neuroscience research by Gregory Berns and Sara Moore from Emory University compared activation of the reward centre of teenagers who were listening to songs from relatively unknown artists with subjective likeability.

By analysing sales of these songs over a three year period they were able to show that activation of the reward centre was much more predictive of future sales than subjective likeability. What this confirms is that it is the unconscious brain that directs much of our attention and not our conscious liking of a site or brand. Unless our communication engages with the non-conscious brain it probably won’t be noticed by the conscious mind.

Implication for CRO:

A purely rational argument may be completely ignored by the sub-conscious brain as it may fail to activate the brain’s reward centre.  Emotionally engaging messages help us process information more quickly and improve the efficiency of our decision making.

How do we target subconscious motives?

 

Psychological motivations drive attention and much our behaviour.
This motivation model is the intellectual property of BEYOND REASON.

Marketing consultancy, Beyond Reason, have combined the latest psychological and neuroscience research to develop a comprehensive model of implicit (psychological) motivations. As the evolution of the brain occurs over thousands rather than hundreds of years these psychological goals relate to basic human needs and social interaction.

The Beyond Reason model has eight overriding implicit motivations which cover the areas of certainty, belonging, recognition, Individuality, power, self-development, sexuality and physiology. The model is summarised in this graphic and as you can see each motivation divides up into four individual categories.

Beyond Reason use a form of the Implicit Association Test (IAT) to measure the relative strength of different psychological goals. As people are not fully aware of their psychological motives we cannot use traditional forms of market research that rely on self-reporting. Focus groups in particular can be highly misleading as people try to rationalise what brands or communications mean to them when in reality much of our mental processing is done by our subconscious.

Implication for CRO:

Identify what your visitors’ most important implicit motivations are to align your value proposition and communications with customer’s underlying needs.

Image of Airbnb.com lifestyle experiences
Image Source:

Airbnb for example, have created lifestyle experiences to emphasise how their proposition appeals to the desire to be a non-conformist. This may partly explain why the average Airbnb customer’s stay is significantly longer than your average hotel stay.

Indeed, Airbnb’s own research suggests that many of their clients wouldn’t have gone on their trip if they hadn’t been able to use Airbnb. So Airbnb have actually grown the hospitality and travel market as well as disrupting some elements of the sector.

Image of AO.com homepage showing sponsorship of BGT
Image Source:

AO.com uses its sponsorship of the Britain’s Got Talent TV show to provide evidence of stability and certainty. People understand that sponsorship of a major TV show like BGT costs a lot of money and that it will take a long time for the company to get a return on their investment.  This is known as costly signalling and demonstrates to people that AO.com are investing for the long term and plan to be a major player in their sector in the future.

Conclusions:

Attention, preferences and loyalty are most strongly driven by our unconscious mind. Visual and audio clutter on a screen can disrupt this process and lead to mental depletion.

Emotions help people process information and make decisions faster and are involved in all our decisions. Communications that target subconscious goals are more likely to be effective than purely rational benefits as they tap into  human emotions.

Given the sub-conscious mind is responsible for most of our purchase decisions it is pointless asking people to rationalise brand preferences.  Because of this focus groups are a misleading and inappropriate method of research.

It is still necessary to have strong logical reasons to purchase your brand, but they need to be aligned to implicit goals. Because people are social animals the behaviour of others, including traditions and norms, can also heavily influence the perceived value and rewards from a brand.

Finally, optimisers should aim to simplify the user experience to retain attention and build satisfaction and loyalty. Too many choices and complex decisions disrupt our subconscious decision making (System 1 thinking)  and can result in mental depletion.

Thank you for reading my post and I hope you found it useful. Please share using the social media icons below if you like this post.

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital marketing optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Deezer.comFoxybingo.com, Very.co.ukpartypoker.com and Bgo.com. He uses a variety of techniques, including web analytics, personas, customer journey analysis and customer feedback to improve a website’s conversion rate.
  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on Usabilla.com  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to neal.cole@conversion-uplift.co.uk. You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch, see his LinkedIn profile or connect on Facebook.

 

How To use Google’s Search Console To Boost Conversions

Google’s Search Console is Free!

Budgets are often very tight with start-ups and yet it is important to have visibility of how your business is performing in the digital space.  When I advise start-ups on how to optimise their website or app the first thing I do is set them up with Google’s free Search Console tool. Unlike many free solutions the Search Console provides webmasters with a  comprehensive set of tools to inform and improve a site’s performance from an SEO, user experience and conversion perspective.

What is the Search Console?

Previously called Webmaster Tools, the Search Console is a fantastic free site performance tool that seeks to give webmasters the information they need to effectively manage and improve their digital experience. Without this tool set up you will be largely in the dark about many aspects of your site’s performance. Indeed, many companies end up needlessly  paying out a lot of money to SEO agencies for simple tasks that they could manage themselves if they had known about Google’s Search Console.

Once you have Search Console set up you will be in a much stronger position to set SEO targets and understand many of the issues that may be holding your site back in Google search. It can also help you improve the user experience by resolving errors and usability issues.

How do I set up Search Console?

All you need to do is login into an appropriate Google account and go to webmasterstools/home   and “Add a property” within the Search Console. Then follow the simple instructions to confirm your ownership of the site.

The easiest way of doing this is often inserting some code into the header of your site before the closing </head> tag. Alternatively, if you have Google Analytics on your site you can also use that to validate your ownership of the site. If you get into difficulties just contact your website builder or designer for assistance.

Initially you won’t have any search data to look at but you can check the console for any signs of errors or usability issues identified by Googlebots. These are the programs or spiders as they often called that Google uses to crawl your site to understand the type of content you have and index pages for Google search.

The Dashboard:

 

The dashboard of the Search Console provides a useful overview of the health of your site. This includes site errors, DNS errors, server connectivity issues, URL errors, page not found (404s), and a graph of the total clicks over the latest 28 days. This is great, but you can get much more detail about your site by digging into the left-hand navigation menu.

Image of Google Search Console Dashboard

Search Appearance:

This includes structured data which helps Google understand the mark-up of your pages so that it can add rich snippets (or Schema.org) and other information to your search result. Rich snippets describes the structured data mark-up that webmasters add to HTML to enable search engines to better understand what type of information is present on a web page. So, rich snippets are the visible result of structured data that appears in SERPs.

Image of Data Highlights page from Search Console

You can add structured data to your site using a plugin for WordPress.org such as JSON-LD. You can also add structured data to your page using the Data Highlighter tool  (see above) which you can access in the Search appearance section of the navigation.

Rich cards provide data to Google about events, products, or opportunities on your site. Google has five types of rich cards; recipes, events, products, reviews and courses. The Search Console provides sample mark-up for each type of card and a Structured Data Testing Tool to validate your mark-up.

The HTML Improvements tab informs you about any issues related to your page tags. Whether it is missing title tags, duplicate title tags and whether title tags are too long or too short.

Accelerated Mobile Pages provides you with data on errors relating to your AMPs and informs you how many AMPs have been indexed by Google. It also allows you to test AMPs and then submit them to Google for indexing.

Image of Accelerated Mobile Page test in Search Console

 

Search Traffic:

Under this section you can view Search Analytics which provides data on search results, including key words, clicks, impressions, CTR and average position. This information is essential for understanding how successful you are with SEO and identifying key words where you have good authority. Use the data on your average ranking for keyword phrases to inform new content development to build on areas where you have good authority and to understand which words have the most potential from a volume perspective.

Image of Search Analytics in Search Console

This section also shows how many external links there are to your site and who is linking to what content. This information is crucial in understanding how effective your link building strategy is and also what content other sites are most interested in. External links are important to your SEO strategy because they are one of the few ways that Google can tell how well regarded your content is to other web users. It also helps direct more traffic to your site and explains why so much effort is put into link building.

However, be careful about placing links to your site on random blogs as Google is looking for links from sites with a good authority and may potentially penalise you if it becomes aware of such activity. However, where you are getting lots of external links to your content from good authority sites this suggests you should explore creating more content on this topic to capitalise on the interest shown.

Search Analytics also provides additional information on internal links, security issues, international targeting (useful for segmenting content by language) and mobile usability issues identified by Google. Mobile usability is especially important to monitor as Google continues to give more and more priority to mobile users.

Google Index:

Index status confirms the number of pages on your site that Google has indexed and so can be found via the search engine. Blocked resources tells you about pages where the Googlebot can’t access important elements on your page and so Google may not be able to accurately index the page. Remove URL allows you to hide URLs from search engines as the page may contain out-of-date information or may just be obsolete for whatever reason.

Crawl:

The Crawl section provides you with data on errors detected by Googlebots when crawling your site. Although page not founds (404 errors) may not harm your SEO ranking it can damage the customer experience and so it is important to monitor crawl errors on a regular basis.

Generally I would advise initially deleting all the page not founds for both desktop and mobile. You can then check back in a few days to see which ones have been replicated since you removed them from the console. Many 404 errors don’t recur as they are not even correct URLs and so this way you can concentrate on those that matter.

This section also shows how many pages on average are crawled by the Googlebot. But don’t wait for the Googlebot to crawl your site if you have new or revised content to index. Use the Fetch as Google function below to test how Google crawls and renders a page on your site. This identifies whether Googlebot can access a page on your site and you can then submit the URL for indexing. This is especially useful for a rapidly changing site as you don’t want Google displaying old or out-of-date content.

Image of Fetch as Google from Search Console

The Robot.txt tester allows you to edit your robot.txt file and check for errors. Robot.txt files are used to tell Google which parts of your site you don’t want to be crawled and indexed by a search engine. The Sitemap tab allows you to submit a new sitemap to Google which helps it to understand how your site is structured and assists in the indexing of individual pages by Google. It also tracks how many pages you have submitted for indexing and how many pages Google actually indexes.

The Security Issue tab shows if Google has detected any potential security problems with your site. If your site is hacked then Google provides a number of resources to help resolve the problem.

Finally, the Additional Resources tab includes 9 links to free resources such as Email Markup Tester, PageSpeed Insights, Google My Business and Custom Search. Check these out as a number of them can help improve your search engine marketing and grow your organic search traffic.

Conclusion:

When seeking to improve your SEO performance the Search Console should be your first port of call. There is little point in spending money on an SEO agency until you have fully digested what the Search Console is telling you. Even if you decide you don’t have the time or expertise to resolve all the issues identified by this tool, use the Search Console to inform and prioritise objectives for your agency to follow. Further, use the Search Console to monitor your SEO performance over time as a successful strategy should be capable of improving key metrics over time.

Thank you for reading this post. If you found it useful please share using the social media icons below.

 

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital marketing optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Deezer.comFoxybingo.com, Very.co.ukpartypoker.com and Bgo.com. He uses a variety of techniques, including web analytics, personas, customer journey analysis and customer feedback to improve a website’s conversion rate.
  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on Usabilla.com  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to neal.cole@conversion-uplift.co.uk. You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch, see his LinkedIn profile or connect on Facebook.

 

7 Awesome Free Online Persona Templates

Free persona templates and online tools:

A buyer persona is a great tool for improving understanding of your important customer segments and communicating  this knowledge to the wider business. I have previously outlined a process for creating and using buyer personas to improve conversion. But if you need a persona template for Word or an online tool for building buyer personas from the segments you have identified here are some excellent free persona creators.

Below are 7 free tools for you to create and share templates for your buyer personas. I have summarised each one to provide an indication of what they offer.

My personal recommendation for a persona creator is Xtensio as this provides an excellent and flexible template that is easy to complete and customise. You can also add new sections as required to create an awesome persona template.

Buyer persona template from Xtensio.com

The Magnificent 7:

 

1. Kayak: This tool uses a question and answer approach, though the number of questions and topics is not very comprehensive. This does make it a quick tool to use, but not all the questions will be relevant to all personas and there does not appear to be a way of changing the questions.

There is also no save functionality on the site as your persona is emailed to you within half an hour of completing the process. The lack graphical formatting or a one page summary does limit the use of the tool, but it can be used to help start the persona building process.

Image of Kayak.com buyer persona creator

 

 

2. Makemypersona from Hubspot: This is a free step-by-step wizard to take you through the process of creating your own buyer personas. In addition Hubspot offers a free downloadable template in exchange for your name and email address. The online tool is very intuitive and easy to use. The tool allows you to select a stock photo to represent you persona and emails you the completed persona as a word document after about 15 minutes.

Makemypersona.com homepage

3. Personapp: A free web based app for creating informal personas and sharing with your colleagues. Join up and start creating single page personas in a matter of seconds. You can easily add new sections to customise the template for your specific needs.  It allows you to save your personas online, share, print and save personas as a PDF document.

personapp.io homepage

4. Up Close & Persona: A free app that asks you questions to help you understand what motivates your audience. The interface is simple to use, though some of the questions have too few pre-set answers (e.g. there are only 3 age ranges). The app does have a fairly extensive range of questions and displays the full persona when you submit at the end. The persona is also emailed to you, but it would benefit from a 1 page summary of the persona rather than having to scroll down through multiple pages.

Upcoseandpersona.com homepage

5. Userforge: One of the most  flexible tools for collaborative user persona development. By using URLs rather than static documents it allows everyone to easily access the latest iteration of your user personas. The wizard only asks a few simple questions, but you can then add as many sections as you need using your own headings for a comprehensive user persona.

Userforge.com homepage

6. Xtensio: A free forever buyer persona creator tool to build as many personas as you like. Also has a “How to guide” to help you with the process. This is one of the better online tools as it asks you to complete an online template to create each persona. It has an extensive range of questions, but each field can be amended to suit your needs. A highly recommended persona creator.

xtensia.com homepage

7. Youandco: A simple step-by-step wizard allows you to create your buyer persona template Word document.  Once you have created your persona template you can email it to yourself as a Word document.  This is a fairly basic persona, but once you get the word document you can then add more detail to create a more comprehensive persona.

Youandco.com homepage

Bonus resource:

Learningspacetoolkit: This is a great free resource website which includes PDF guides on creating personas and running workshops to create user personas.

Conclusion:

There are some excellent free persona templates here to help you create your buyer personas. To get the most from personas see my article how to create a buyer persona to improve conversions. This will help you conduct a customer  journey analysis to significantly improve your sales and revenues. Although it’s not an easy process and it will take some time to complete, it will definitely be worth the effort as you should see substantial benefits for your organisation.

Thank you for reading my post and if you found it useful please share using the social media icons on the page.

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Deezer.comFoxybingo.com, Very.co.uk and partypoker.com.  He identifies areas for improvement using a combination of approaches including web analytics, heuristic analysis, customer journey mapping, usability testing, and Voice of Customer feedback.
  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on Usabilla.com  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to neal.cole@conversion-uplift.co.uk. You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch, see his LinkedIn profile or connect on Facebook.

 

How To Use Personas To Improve Conversions

Personas and website optimisation

 

Why is it that there is so much talk about creating buyer personas and yet I often see little evidence that they are utilised effectively to improve the bottom line and increase conversion rates? Creating personas make a lot of sense but rarely do they appear to be discussed when companies create website optimisation programs. Rightly or wrongly personas appear to be primarily the domain of UX people rather than optimisation teams.

This represents a missed opportunity for conversion optimisation as when used wisely buyer personas can help identify the gap between your brand narrative and the actual user experience. Such analysis can be invaluable for creating targeted content and for developing ideas for A/B test hypothesis and general improvements to the user experience.

In this post I cover:

  • how to create buyer personas,
  • how an innovative approach by Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg  to customer journey analysis utilises personas to their full potential to improve conversions.

So, what is a persona?

A persona is a detailed portrait of the characteristics, needs, motivations and environment of intended or important user segments. It should include their name, age, career, income and other relevant characteristics such as their goals and values.

Personas should not be made up of the average customer as  there is no such thing as an average user.  Averages are dangerous when employed for design or creating a user experience. They are overly influenced by extremes and don’t reflect the diversity of customer behaviour and needs.

A buyer persona created by personapp.io

How do you create a persona?

Personas can be as simple or complex as you want them to be. The important thing is that you use data you hold on customers and interviews with customers or prospects to build your personas. The biggest mistake people often make is that they assume they already know who their customers are, what goals they have etc.

You don’t need a large budget to create a buyer persona as you can gather data on customers yourself and group your findings in a spreadsheet. There are many sources of data that you can use apart from customer account information. If you have the data analytics tools you can identify customer segments using cohort analysis or other data reduction techniques such as cluster analysis.

Google Analytics Affinity Category report

Look at your web analytics as the Audience section in Google Analytics has information on demographics, interests and geographical location and language.  Contact your Customer Service agents as they talk with your clients on a daily basis and check out  social media to see what they say and look at their profiles. Find out where your customer hangout (e.g. online forums or societies they are members of) as again there may be a wealth of free information available here.

Use descriptive headings that relate to your area of interest, such as device, time of day, behaviour and career goals. As you build up data on different characteristics or behaviours you will start to see patterns emerge that could suggest relationships between the profile make-up of customers and their needs and motivations.

Don’t just look at demographics as often behaviour is the most important characteristic of individual customer segments. However, these patterns will help you begin to identify customer clusters that you can investigate to understand what they have in common and how they differ from each other.

Voice of Customer:

Image of young women on a laptop computer

Now that you have an idea of potentially different customer segments you should get out and interview a small sample of customers or prospects who roughly fit the profiles you have so far. Ideally you should go and meet customers in their natural environment (i.e. where they normally browse your or your competitor’s website) as much of our behaviour is contextual and observation is often more insightful than asking direct questions.

Image of hotjar.com homepage

If for whatever reason you can’t visit your customers there are many low-cost Voice of Customer tools, such as Hotjar that allow you to recruit customers when they are on your website. You can then arrange for a Skype call or web meeting to conduct your interview. Draft a short discussion guide to ensure consistency of your interviews, but ensure you keep most of your questions open-ended to allow users to express their opinions.

If you give them a task to complete you can ask them to give a running commentary as they browse. This can help you better understand how they behave and identify potential pain points in your user journey. You may also pick up on the language they use for your sector.

Add this information to your spreadsheet to give more depth to the personalities of your customer segments and their buying style. Building personas is an iterative process and so your customer interviews are bound to result in some changes to your segments. However, try not to create too many different segments unless you have evidence that each is reasonably large and important to the sustainability of your organisation.

Persona Creators:

There are a number of free persona creators and templates available to use. I have summarised 7 persona templates in a separate post. It’s essential that you share your personas to get any benefit from the effort of creating personas. Use a suitable template to to present your persona in a professional format.

How can I use personas to improve conversion?

 

jane-brooks-buyer-persona

Personas need to be shared throughout an organisation if they are to have a significant impact upon how people think about your customers. However, they also have an important role to play in your optimization program.

Conversion experts Bryan and Jeffery Eisenberg  have created an agile business process for using personas that improves communications, execution, testing and makes more money for your organisation. Rather than following the normal approach of customer journey analysis of going down the happy path (i.e. the preferred user journey), they suggest assuming your prospect failed to convert with your brand. This allows your team to focus on what can go wrong rather than how great your preferred user experience is.

Image of Buyer Legends process

This is a team exercise so get stakeholders from all key areas that influence or control the user experience together in one place. Make sure you get the support of key stakeholders first as this often helps to obtain cooperation from different departments.

Step 1 – Buying style:

Firstly consider the buying style of your chosen buyer persona. It is important to define this as it will influence how your customer responds to the user experience.  Normally it is a good idea to begin with a enquiring, deliberative, detail type personality as they are most likely to uncover issues with your user journey (which is what you want). It is also necessary to choose a conversion objective so that you have clarity on the end-goal. Below you will see the four buyer styles based upon the work of the American psychologist, David Keirsey.

 

Image of Keirsey's four human temperaments
Image Source: Conversion Sciences

 

Step 2 – Pre-mortem:

The pre-mortem involves evaluating the customer journey on the basis that the customer did not convert with your brand. This gives everyone permission to raise doubts and concerns about the current user journey so that you can generate a list of what went wrong with the existing customer experience.

Relate any frustration, wrong turn or dead end back to your chosen persona by imagining what would happen, how would the customer feel about it and at what point would the issue result in the customer dropping out of the conversion journey.

Once you have gone through the full customer journey focus on generating a list of possible changes, fixes or solutions for each failure point. They may not always be ideal, but they can be evaluated later on in the process.

Step 3 – Outline a user story:

Now describe the user story using reverse chronological order to work backwards from a successful conversion. This has the advantage that you have to be more thorough in specifying customer actions and their rationale for each step in the user journey. It also helps you view possible alternative user paths generated from the pre-mortem analysis. These may require additional interventions or new branch paths.

Step 4 – Write the Buyer Legends:

Now that you have outlined the user story it is time to write a draft  of the Buyer Legends in chronological order. This allows you to create a narrative of a successful user experience which explains what happens to the customer and how it makes them feel at each step of the user journey. Use the check list below to ensure you cover all the key elements of the legend. As you go through this process also consider:

  • What actions need to be undertaken for the customer to complete your goal?
  • What opportunities may have been missed?
  • What shortcomings of the user journey might prevent them from purchasing?
  • Where are their opportunities for upsell or upgrade?
  • How could we reduce friction in the user journey to make it easier for the customer?

 

Buyer legend 1.     Person Use the persona to describe who the customer is.
2.     Their purpose What are their larger goals?

How do they define them self?

What are they trying to accomplish on a larger career-wise, personally or socially?

This defines the context of the purpose and motivation

3.     Objective of interaction What are they trying to achieve by dealing with company?

What is your conversion goal at this stage

4.     Sequence of steps Describe the story of what the customer is doing at every step of their progress through the process
5.     Rationale behind identifying the problem & solution Describe how the person is thinking at each step in the process
6.     Key decisions Outline the key decisions the customer has to make to complete and what she needs (features, benefits, testimonials, reviews)
7.     Emotional struggles What are the emotional dynamics – strongly felt need, pressure from others, trust, time vs money?
8.     Anti-goals What concerns and anxieties around what they don’t want to happen (reliability/break down)
9.     Constraints Any additional constraints or limitations that the customer has to consider?
10. Alternative options What alternative options does the customer have? What would an experience with a competitor look like?

 

Ensure the legend is easy to read as this will help everyone follow the story line.

Step 5 – Measuring the Buyer Legends:

Image of tape measure
Source: Freeimages.com

To ensure the Buyer Legends is measurable and actionable here are some important definitions to use during the process.

  1. Catalyst: This refers to the place where the customer first identifies your brand or organisation.
  2. First measurable step: Usually a landing page, but this is the point where you customer enters the measurable part of the journey.
  3. Road signs: These are important stages in the user journey where customer expect and require certain information to continue with the process.
  4. Detours: Many customers will not blindly follow your preferred user path and so it is necessary to construct paths to deal with these forks in the road as otherwise customers may abandon your website and never return.
  5. Measurable step: Whenever a customer leaves behind evidence of an interaction (e.g. via web analytics) with your brand.
  6. Forks in the road: Decision points create forks in the road where customers have a specific question, need or concern that can lead them away from the desired path. People don’t like being forced down a path if they are not comfortable with it and so it is essential to create detours that can nudge the visitor back down the preferred path.
  7. Destination:  The end game and final measurable touch point where the user converts.

Use these definitions to help dissect your Buyer Legends and generate discussion around potential improvements in the user journey.

Step 6 – Review and prioritise:

Going through this process will undoubtedly generate lots of ideas and discussion along the way. Ensure you capture these ideas and insights so that they can be fed into your optimisation program.

Interestingly Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg have found that the Buyer Legends is often the tipping point for a significant improvement in sales and for effectively communicating the marketing vision to the business as a whole. Specifically the Buyer Legends is beneficial because it:

  • Helps everyone see the user experience from the customer’s perspective.
  • Enables marketers, designers and other teams to visualise and better understand how the user experience differs for individual customer segments.
  • Allows marketers to consider the language your customers use to ensure  content resonates with your target audience.
  • Segment content by different personas using the Buyer Legends to identify their specific concerns and hooks that motivate them most.
  • Improve the quality of content marketing as the Buyer Legends process brings out the personalities and interests of customers.
  • Identify missing content, steps or dead ends in the user journey that need your attention.

It is likely that you will have many more ideas than you can cope with and so it is worth using a prioritisation approach such as P.I.E to manage the flow of ideas and allocate resource accordingly. Once you have completed this process with one persona you can repeat it for other buyer personas to further enhance your understanding of key customer groups.

For more details about Buyer Legends get the book; Buyer Legends by Bryan & Jeffery Eisenberg with Anthony Garcia.

Although it requires a good deal of thought, and it will take some time to complete, it is definitely worth the effort as you should see substantial benefits for your organisation. If you need help in going through the journey yourself contact Bryan or Jeffrey via Twitter or go to the Buyer Legends website.

Thank you for reading my post and if you found it useful please share using the social media icons on the page.

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Deezer.comFoxybingo.com, Very.co.uk and partypoker.com.  He identifies areas for improvement using a combination of approaches including web analytics, heuristic analysis, customer journey mapping, usability testing, and Voice of Customer feedback.
  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on Usabilla.com  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to neal.cole@outlook.com. You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch and view his LinkedIn profile.

9 Tools For Getting Design Feedback For Websites

For many websites there is hardly a day goes by without a new page or updates being rolled out. Rightly or wrongly there is constant pressure to keep websites looking fresh and to add new functionality or content to improve the customer experience and increase conversions. However, from my experience of evaluating website performance one thing is guaranteed, customers will always surprise you with how they interact or don’t interact with a new page or website.

Image of lady lying on the ground next to laptop
Source: Freeimages.com

 

That killer functionality will rarely instantly take-off, if at all. Visitors will not behave as predicted on your new website and they will often complain about the changes you have made. Key metrics will drop, and though they may largely recover, some measures will never be the same as on the old page or website. In some cases this may be welcome, but often conversion rates will suffer. So what should you do to prepare yourself for the launch of the new customer experience?

 

If you can you could A/B test your new design against the existing page or website. This will confirm how your key metrics are likely to change as a result of the new design, but it won’t tell you why visitors are behaving differently. To answer these types of questions you need more qualitative feedback rather than numbers. Below are 9 tools you can use to get design feedback from customers or experts to help identify where users may be having trouble with your new customer experience.

 

  1. Criticue:

This free tool provides you with the ability to get feedback on website designs from a community of entrepreneurs, usability experts and web designers. Reviews for your website are earned by you providing feedback on other community members’ designs. For each review you submit you earn one credit and this gives you the right to request one review of your screenshot. Importantly all reviews are moderated before any credits are processed and so this minimises the potential for misuse of the community.

Image of Criticue.com homepage

2. Five Second Test (Usability Hub):

Get feedback from real people on your landing page, wireframes and mock-ups to understand people’s first impressions of your design during their initial 5 seconds of viewing your design. This helps you evaluate how intuitive your page is by understanding what a person can recall about your design based upon those first few seconds.

Price: $99 per month for access to all services.

fivesecondtest.com homepage

 

3. Loop11: 

Online usability testing with your first project free (up to 5 tasks and 2 questions). Covers over 40 languages, provides heatmaps and clickstream analysis, real-time reporting, and you can test on mobile devices.

Pricing: A Free usability test is available for new customers. Pay as you go costs $350 per project. All plans include 1,000 participants per project, unlimited tasks and questions, testing on mobile, real-time results and 24/7 email support.

The Micro plan costs $158 a month and is designed for organisations with between 1 and 10 employees, plus for non-profits and public sector clients. The SMB plan costs $410 per month and is for 11 to 100 employees. The Enterprise plan is priced at $825 per month.

Loop11.com homepage

4. Peek from User Testing:

Get a Free 5 minute video of a real person using your site. You only need to provide your name, company phone and email address and you can have up to 3 tests per month.

Peek.usertesting.com homepage

  1. Proved:

A crowd sourcing tool for getting almost instant feedback on an idea, prototype or a new product development that you want to check-out before it goes live. Feedback is normally provided within 3 to 4 hours and guaranteed within 24 hours.

Pricing: A free trial is available (English only) for up to 3 respondents for one test per account and with feedback within 48 hours. A starter plan costs $149 per test for 25 respondents and supports 11 languages. The basic plan costs $299 per test for 50 respondents and the Pro plan is priced at $499 for 100 respondents.

 

Proved.co homepage

6. Sitepoint:

A forum of web designers and developers set up specifically to give design feedback from over 350,000 registered users. Sitepoint is a media company which serves the web design and development sector by publishing articles and e-books. Free membership provides limited access to the community, but for $99 per year you can get Premium membership which gives you access to over 5,000 videos, 83 eBooks, and live Q&A and chat with experts.

Sitepoint.com premium homepage

 

7. Usabilla:

Provides insights from users through a customised feedback button for websites, apps and emails. This allows users to select the part of your website that they want to give feedback on and there are multiple targeting options.

Prices: No costs shown on the website.

Usabilla.com homepage

8. UserBob:

 Provides videos of users talking about what they think as they use your website. UserBob recruits people to visit your website. Set a scenario for the user and specify a task for them to attempt to complete. During visits respondents record their screen and voice as they think out loud about the experience. You then receive a copy of the video to learn about what users say about your site.

You decide how many users you need, what demographics match your visitors, and how long each one should spend on your website. The test is instantly made available for users to participate and you will normally have a video to review within a few hours.

Pricing: Start at just $10 for First Impressions where 10 users
will spend one minute each on your website. Users will discuss their first impressions of your website, who they think it is for and what you can do on the site. Task Completion costs $20 for 5 users who spend 4 minutes attempting to complete your task. The price of the Custom test is variable. This involves between 1 to 10 users each spending up to 8 minutes with a specific scenario and user task to complete. You may also specify user demographics for Custom tests.

Userbob.com homepage

9. WhatUsersDo: 

Get videos of users as they browse your website, app or prototype. Respondents describe their impressions as they complete agreed tasks and these are recorded together with their screens and mouse movements into online videos. UX experts then analyse and summarise into high, medium or low UX reports.

A managed service offering is available which covers the WhatUsersDo research platform, instant access to an online panel from over nine countries, lab tests and UX experts to manage research and deliver insight reports.

Pricing: Pay as you go starts form just £30 + VAT per user and
includes tag videos, ability to download videos, download clips and PDF reports (including video). Prepaid Test Pack starts from £300 + VAT and provide for more cost effective user testing than the pay as you go plan.

Prepaid plans: All plans include design and scoping support from
UX specialists, expert analysis of results, and account management and email and phone support.

The Starter plan costs £10,000 per year for 50 video test
credits (1 credit = 1 completed video). The Repeat plan costs £20,000 for 100 video credits and the Regular plan is £30,000 per year for 150 video credits. An Enterprise plan is also available with 200 video credits – price available on request.

whatusersdo.com full service usability testing

 

For other usability testing providers see my post on how to do usability testing to improve conversion and for other online customer feedback tools see my post on how to use online Voice of Customer tools to boost conversion.

Thank you for reading my post and if you found it useful please share using the social media icons on the page.

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Deezer.comFoxybingo.com, Very.co.uk and partypoker.com.  He identifies areas for improvement using a combination of approaches including web analytics, heuristic analysis, customer journey mapping, usability testing, and Voice of Customer feedback.  By  aligning each stage of the customer journey  with the organisation’s business goals this helps to improve conversion rates and revenues significantly as almost all websites benefit from a review of customer touch points and user journeys.
  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on Usabilla.com  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to neal.cole@outlook.com. You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch and view his LinkedIn profile.

 

6 Myths About Website Optimization That Must Die

 Misconceptions About Website Optimization:

 

Website optimization is a test and learn process. If we restrict our ability to learn by listening to commonly held misconceptions about website design and performance we risk undermining the whole optimization process. These myths must die!

1. It’s about improving the customer experience.

Why are people so obsessed with improving the customer experience?

It is certainly desirable for the user experience to meet certain standards (e.g. relevance, clarity, loadspeed, accessibility etc), as otherwise this could harm conversion. But it should not be an isolated goal though, there has to be a return on investment as there is always an opportunity cost for any expenditure.

We could all create a fantastic user experience by giving free access to everything on our site or reducing prices below the market rate. But unless this provides a net-gain to the organisation we could quickly go out of business.

 

Disney understand this and invest in creating a compelling customer experience because they know it allows them to charge more than your average theme park and people will return for more of the same. On a website we have the advantage that we can precisely measure the ROI though A/B and multivariate testing. Use these tools to ensure that money spent on improving your website has a positive and sustainable impact on important business goals.  Otherwise use the money for something else that generates a positive return.

 

2. Conversion is about good design.

What defines a ‘good’ webpage design is all too often based upon the subjective opinions of people within an organisation rather than the behaviour of visitors. People visit a website because they perceive that it can assist them in achieving a current goal, whether it is your content or the products/services sold. If your design doesn’t assist with this process then it won’t matter whether it is a flat or simple/minimal style because customers won’t return.

Design is definitely important as it helps to create a good first impression, and it ensures content and navigation are presented in a way that is clear and engaging to visitors. But design is an enabler to facilitate the user journey, and ultimately if a beautifully designed page does not help and encourage visitors to complete a key task of some kind it has failed.

Data should determine if a design is up to standard and not the subjective opinions of managers and designers. As Brian Massey points out often “ugly wins” when it comes to A/B tests:

“The specifics of design change from audience to audience. Probably the only general rule, and it’s a bit of a heartbreaker, is that too often we find ugly wins when we do our split tests.” Source: Brian Massey Shares insights on landing pages designed to convert

 

3. Consistency of design is crucial. 

How many times a day do you hear “consistency” given as the reason for why an element on your website looks like it does or why it even exists on a webpage? This is not an answer, it’s an automatic response that hides a lack of thought and is often due to lazy thinking or design.

Sure, if it is to align with a web convention this helps to meet
customer expectations and assists navigation or understanding it may be relevant. But, do you really think your visitors are bothered if your call to action button on one page is a different size or colour to what it is on another page? Do you think they even notice if your website is engaging and has compelling content? I think not.

Your visitor is trying to complete a task and that should be
your priority, not that everything is consistent.  If consistency is relevant and helps the customer meet their goal then great, but not if it is solely for your gratification and doesn’t assist the customer achieve their goal. Consistency for its own sake should not be a goal and should be challenged unless you have evidence that it is beneficial to both your customer and your organisation.

4. Brand guidelines must be adhered to.

This is like saying that you won’t use oxygen to breathe underwater if you think the colour of your tank clashes with your swimming gear. If we follow this rule we are basically saying that brand guidelines are more important than the organisation’s goals (e.g. revenue generation). This is not a healthy place to be in and it could contribute to the failure of the business.

Brand guidelines should be ‘guidelines’ and not set in stone. They are often based upon subjective opinions and may have little evidence to support them. Like any aspect of a business they need to have a return on investment (ROI) and if that ROI is not proven it needs to be challenged and if necessary changed. Otherwise the business and the brand will not evolve in response to changing customer needs.

5. Use tips and best practice. 

If it was this simple we would all just follow Amazon. Websites are unique ecosystems that attract their own set visitors who do not behave in a generic and predictable way.

Where you don’t have the traffic to test on a website you may have to implement changes that you have tested on another site. However, don’t assume it will necessarily work. Make sure you have appropriate KPI monitoring in place just in case it doesn’t go according to plan.

Similarly, tips about conversion rate optimization may give you ideas for making improvements, but again test them before you implement to ensure they work on your website.  The key to any successful website optimisation strategy is that you follow a systematic and proven process to identity and develop tests that have a high chance of making a significant impact on your business KPIs.

Following tips and best practice alone will just lead to a random testing programme that lacks focus and will probably fail to deliver consistent and sustainable results.

 

6. It’s all about the conversion rate:

Your key conversion metric is just one indicator of many that shows how your site is performing. It should not be viewed in isolation
from other KPIs, such as average order value, returning customer orders, or overall revenues. Any improvement in your conversion rate needs to be sustainable and provide an overall net gain to your business as otherwise it is meaningless. You should never rely on a single metric to measure success as websites are complex systems with many dependencies.

If Website optimization was all about the conversion rate we would all use dark user design patterns to trick visitors into making decisions that may not be in their best interest. Having worked in Gibraltar for a year I frequently had to book flights though Ryanair’s website. Their website employs such practices but it didn’t make me want to use them again if I had any choice.  Such practices are
counter productive in the long-run and can damage your brand’s reputation.

The Ryanair website’s travel insurance section is probably the worst culprit of this approach. This states that “If you wish to purchase travel insurance please select your country of residence”. Ok, so why is travel insurance in the country of residence drop-down menu? Below the list of passengers there is a further instruction; “If
you do not wish to purchase travel insurance, please select ‘Don’t insure me’ in the drop-down box.”

image

 

Ok, but the “Don’t insure me” is not at the top of the list of options because that would be too easy.  Nope, it’s between “Denmark”
and “Finland”. You also have to select this separately for each passenger because it is under country of residence. This is not an enjoyable experience and ironically it probably makes you more alert for any other money-making tactics that Ryanair might
use.

So don’t get obsessed with your conversion rate. See it as one of many important indicators of your site’s health. Ensure you don’t trade off short-term gains for damaging the long-term sustainability of your site.

 

Thank you for reading my post. If you found it of interest please share this post by clicking on the social media icons below.

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

Recommended reading: You Should Test That! by Chris Goward.

 

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Deezer.comFoxybingo.com, Very.co.uk and partypoker.com.  He identifies areas for improvement using a combination of approaches including web analytics, heuristic analysis, customer journey mapping, usability testing, and Voice of Customer feedback.  By  aligning each stage of the customer journey  with the organisation’s business goals this helps to improve conversion rates and revenues significantly as almost all websites benefit from a review of customer touch points and user journeys.
  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on Usabilla.com  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to neal.cole@outlook.com. You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch and view his LinkedIn profile.

Why Is Your Mobile Only User Journey Leaking Cash?

image of NASA Globe in Florida

 

The Rise of The Mobile Only User & My Experience with the NASA Tour Mobile Ticketing Journey

 

Since 2014 mobile devices have been the most used device to
browse the internet. But this is only a transient stage in the shift towards the dominance of mobile devices. The real change is mobile only, where users rely solely on their mobile devices and never return to a laptop or PC. According to research by Google more searches now take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the US and Japan. Facebook reported that over half a billion users only visited their site or App via a mobile device.

Image of a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge and headphones

Source: Samsung.com

What does this mean for website optimisation and conversion?
From a user’s perspective there will certainly be even more potential for distractions and interruptions as people begin, re-start and end conversations whilst online.  However, the most important change is that they may never see your desktop site again, particularly if they use your App. So, if it’s not on your App or mobile optimised site it won’t exist from their perspective.

This was highlighted to me recently when I visited Florida. Between theme parks I browsed on my mobile phone and decided it would be great to go on a tour of the NASA facilities at Cape Kennedy.  I had noticed that a SpaceX rocket launch was due during my stay and went to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) site to ensure I wouldn’t disappoint my family (i.e. me).

After initially being confronted with a mobile responsive desktop site, I was taken to the KSC Complex “Mobile Ticketing!” page. What caught my eye here was the “Scan phone at entrance” message. Brilliant, just what I needed as I did not have easy access to a printer at the hotel.

 

image of Kennedy Space Center mobile ticketing site

 

I clicked on “Start Shopping” and selected the Daily Admission and Up-Close Explore Tour. Before I continued to the basket I browsed the information on the Up-Close Explore Tour. It promised to take us behind the scenes of the complex with commentary from a space expert.  Happy with this I then completed checkout and received a confirmation email with links to my mobile tickets.

 

image of Kennedy Space Center admission ticket

 

I took screen shots of each of my tickets and carried on with my holiday. When the day arrived I scanned my tickets at the turnstile and noticed lots of other people doing the same.

However, when I went to the information desk to register for the tour I was surprised to see people handing over their passports.  Sure enough, when it was my turn to be served I discovered that NASA requires all non-US residents to present their passports
to qualify for the Up-Close Explore Tour.

Unfortunately for me this was only displayed on printed tickets, not the mobile friendly tickets that I had used. Neither was it mentioned in the tour details or anywhere else on the mobile only user journey.

Although we still had a very enjoyable day it did spoil our experience and confirmed the importance of mapping out and testing the whole mobile only user journey from beginning to end. It also resulted in a refund of just over $100.

I had four people in my party, but we could make a conservative estimate that around 10 people a day are caught out by the lack of
messaging on the mobile only user journey.  That’s $250 a day or $1,750 a week in refunds. Over a year this would be a loss in
revenues of around $91,000
. This is certain to rise as mobile only journeys become the norm.

It is only a matter of time before mobile only experience becomes the most common user journey for many online businesses.  For this reason now is the time to ensure integration of mobile-friendly versions of all mission-critical assets, including promotional material, customer service and other key elements of the user journey.

Mobile only users expect to be able to access the same content as other visitors, but not on a site that was clearly designed for desktop users.  Asking them to pinch and zoom as they navigate around a site designed for a much larger screen is going to irritate and frustrate them. If you want to retain mobile only users you need to start
delivering a great customer experience for whatever device they decide to use. All relevant content needs to be easily and quickly accessible from a mobile device or else your competitors will probably take these customers away from you.

User habits and preferences are rapidly changing. Unless you act now to comprehensively integrate and test to meet the demands of the mobile only user there is a high risk that your customer journey will leak cash.

Thank you reading my post. If you found this useful please share with the social media icons on the page.

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

 

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Deezer.comFoxybingo.com, Very.co.uk and partypoker.com.  He identifies areas for improvement using a combination of approaches including web analytics, heuristic analysis, customer journey mapping, usability testing, and Voice of Customer feedback.  By  aligning each stage of the customer journey  with the organisation’s business goals this helps to improve conversion rates and revenues significantly as almost all websites benefit from a review of customer touch points and user journeys.
  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on Usabilla.com  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to neal.cole@outlook.com. You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch and view his LinkedIn profile.