How to Improve Digital Customer Experience: Test, Optimize, Repeat

My Post - 2020-03-12T144352.126.pngNow that media buzz over Superbowl ads is starting to fade, marketers can turn their attention to the least glitzy part of their jobs: testing.

While not a topic that typically wins much chief marketing officer recognition, to ignore testing can lead to lost opportunities, if not a lost job. When framed in the larger context of building a culture of experimentation, testing is a mandatory tactic of the modern marketer.

Carl Tsukahara, CMO of Optimizely, says every aspect of digital marketing and the user experience can and should be tested—not only to optimize ad performance, but also to increase the likelihood that prospective customers will have a fruitful journey. Tsukahara’s bullishness on testing—his company describes itself as “the world’s leading experimentation platform”—is not surprising. Still, it’s hard to imagine a CMO who can thrive without some level of testing and experimentation.

What was your mandate when you started at Optimizely?

The company had gotten to a certain point in its growth and was adjusting its strategy to focus on spending more time with enterprise customers. The company had grown as an A/B testing tool, but primarily sold to small groups and practitioners in a bottom-up sense. We realized is while it’s important to see the market bottom up, and to pay attention to a range of available prospects, pivoting toward bigger enterprise customers requires quite a bit of focus and effort. We had customers like IBM and HP and big companies that were saying they wanted to take this experimentation process and implement it. This became a strategic imperative for our organization, and we wanted to focus more on enabling that process adjustment for larger customers.

Where should testing fit into a content marketer’s toolkit?

So many places. A good way to understand is simply ask questions about your efforts. Let’s say you’re doing paid search via Google AdWords. I would ask this: Is the messaging in your ads right? Is the language you’re using correct? What about the experience that happens when somebody clicks through the link and gets to your landing page? Do you have the right images? Colors? Offer strategy? That’s just one example. How do you know if you can’t get 10 percent or 20 percent better? – Read more

How to Master the Customer Experience From Search to Transaction

My Post - 2020-01-24T124000.615.pngWhen it comes to purchases, two things are critical: driving visitors to your website and ensuring a positive experience once they’re there.

On January 15, I moderated a sponsored Search Engine Journal webinar presented by Kameron Jenkins of Botify and Greg Batchelor of AB Tasty.

They shared how marketers can create the most relevant, optimized customer journey from discovery through to transaction.

Here’s a recap of the webinar presentation.

Search plays a big role in the customer experience.

If you think about your website as a unit made of a bunch of individual URLs, the sum of those parts represents 100% of your company’s website investment – in time, money, resources, and talent.

Botify’s 2018 study found that, sadly, Google is missing about 51% of those pages.

Now, there are plenty of reasons why you wouldn’t want Google crawling certain URLs, but this 51% number actually represents “compliant” pages – in other words, pages whose signals indicate that they DO want them crawled and indexed.

  • They respond with a 200 status code.
  • They are the canonical version.
  • They don’t have a noindex tag.
  • Etc.

These websites wanted Google to crawl those pages, yet Google was missing them.

All of this leads to the fact that only 23% of pages on large enterprise sites receive any organic visits. In other words, we’re trying to drive conversions from just 23% of our pages.

Organizations that focus purely on the on-site experience are missing out on the massive conversion and revenue benefits that could come from adding more pages that you already have to the mix.

Focusing on SEO means you get more chances to convert – whether that be an ecommerce purchase, a lead gen form fill, or publisher paid subscription sign-ups.

The SEO Funnel + The Customer Experience

Here’s another way we can visualize the relationship between search and customers.

Botify - Search & Customer Experience

In purple, we have the SEO funnel, and the reason it’s represented as a funnel because each step is contingent on the one before it.

In yellow and orange next to it, we can see how each of those phases corresponds to a phase of the customer experience.

Having search engines crawl, render, and index your content is a prerequisite that has to happen before we have a hope of our potential customers finding that content via a search engine like Google or Bing and then converting on our site.

Crawl

In this first phase of the SEO funnel, it’s critical for SEOs (especially those that work on large sites) to focus on crawl budget optimizations like:

  • Using your robots.txt file to keep Google away from unimportant/duplicate pages.
  • Linking to the final/preferred version of your key URLs in your content and sitemap.
  • Cutting back on other things that can take up Google’s time like slow page load fetching/rendering JavaScript resources.

Render

Speaking of JavaScript, Googlebot is now evergreen, meaning it can navigate more modern JavaScript languages as it updates with the latest Chromium.

Google knows that JavaScript is essential in the modern web, so they keep making improvements to better understand JavaScript sites.

That said, it’s important to always investigate for yourself. For example:

  • Look at your log files to see how often search engine bots are crawling your JavaScript resources.
  • Run an HTML-only crawl and then another with JavaScript to compare the two versions – you might find JavaScript-loaded links and content that you don’t need to load with JavaScript, making it easier for Google to access.

Index

The result of crawling and rendering improvements is more key pages added to Google’s index.

As you can see in the diagram above, those are the prerequisites for a potential customer to be able to find in you via search and buy from you. It can’t happen without those steps. – Read more

5 tactics that encourage customer reviews

My Post - 2019-07-24T101028.160.pngMake sure your business pages are claimed and ready for reviews – then be ready with a strategy to respond to them.

In the crowded and ultra-competitive world of e-commerce, there’s one thing that almost everyone agrees helps you stand out: reviews. According to one study, 97 percent of online shoppers surveyed said that customer reviews factored into their buying decisions, and 73 percent said written reviews were more useful to them than star and number ratings. In other words, you don’t just need good ratings – you need detailed reviews that are helpful to your customers.

That can be a bit of a tall order, and the bad news is that there are no shortcuts to a glowing reviews page on Google, Amazon or any other platform that customers use to find your product. Any service that promises big, instant increases in reviews is probably selling snake oil. But there are simple steps that you can take to gradually build your reviews presence into a selling point for your brand that will also improve your SEO presence.

Here are five relatively easy, common-sense ways to get started.

1. Make sure your business pages are claimed and ready for reviews

The first steps toward getting more reviews involve making sure that it’s as easy as possible for customers to leave them. One part of this is something you should be doing anyway – making sure you have easy-to-find pages on Google, Facebook and other major review platforms. If a customer can’t easily find your profile, they’ll almost never leave a review. You can use the established best practices of local SEO to claim your business listings and ensure you’ve got easily accessible pages on Google My Business, Facebook Business and Yelp.

2. Ask customers for reviews (but don’t push)

Sometimes, you’ll need to reach out to customers and ask them for reviews. This doesn’t have to be painful, and it should never be intrusive. This is one area where it’s easy to annoy a customer if you go overboard. But it’s a good way to get some momentum on your reviews page.

Follow-up emails asking for a review are one common way of doing this. They’re usually sent after the customer receives their purchase, and they usually offer a direct link to the page where a customer can review the product or service. You can also add a “thank you” page to your site that asks customers to review once they’ve made a purchase. This is good for software downloads and other goods or services that the customer receives instantly.

Offering discounts and coupons to customers who leave reviews is an option that can deliver good results, but businesses need to be careful. First, check your review platform’s policies regarding paying for reviews. Yelp, for example, has a policy that explicitly prohibits merchants from asking for reviews at all, and its algorithm targets reviews they believe have been solicited. Amazon, meanwhile, is a little more lenient, but still prohibits “any attempt to influence or manipulate reviews.” If you ask your customers to leave a review and want to offer them something for it, you’ll want to ensure that your customers are posting the reviews on a platform that allows it. – Read more

How Google Uses Reviews To Understand A Business

My Post (88).jpg

It’s been known for some time that Google looks at reviews for long tail information and that reviews with that information would lead to Google showing local listings for those terms.

In addition to the Local pack and Map results, Google’s search results are packed with review sites and content.

The Role Of Online Reviews In Search Marketing

We also have known that it wasn’t just reviews at Google that were used to expand Google’s understanding. Google is clearly looking at reviews at multiple sites across the web to better understand any given business and using those 3rd party reviews to increase a business’s visibility in search.

So it should come as no surprise that a patent was granted to Google that details some of the ideas and architecture used in that process. Google search expert Bill Slawski did a great job covering this patent from the larger entity point of view.

These days the Google Knowledge Graph and the entities within it have grown well beyond the Places shown in Google search and Maps, but Local was the origin point for all things related to the Knowledge Graph. Local has always been the test ground and often the first to roll out features that are then applied more broadly to other entities.

That is no more true than in the online review space and the ability of review content to influence Google search results.  – Read more

7 Reasons Online Reviews are Essential for Your Brand

My Post (93).jpg

Having easy access to the web has radically changed the way people shop for almost everything today.

From mobile phones to dentist services, it’s rare to blindly make a purchase decision without reading through several online reviews. In 2016, 90% of shoppers read at least one online review before deciding to visiting a business.

More importantly, 94% of online shoppers reported that a negative review has convinced them to avoid visiting a business.

This means that whatever your industry, having a positive online presence gives you several key advantages, which is why it’s becoming a key part of branding.

Understanding why you need online reviews will help you optimize your customer experience to help create a positive online footprint. Let’s review these seven reasons why your consumers’ published experiences with your brand are vital.

mention demo

1. Social Proof Drives Purchases

We’re more likely to make a purchase if others around us—even total strangers—agree that it is a good decision. Today, online reviews are the biggest source of social proof, and they have a clear impact on sales.

For example, Seriously Silly Socks has been able to drive 60% higher average order value on the company’s website than its other sales channels, and it’s likely that the 3000 five-star reviews that populate the ecommerce site’s various product pages have helped a great deal.

online-reviews-socks.jpg
Image source: https://www.seriouslysillysocks.com/aeroplane-bamboo-organic-crew-socks-in-denim-by-seriouslysillysocks/

“We encourage reviews by emailing customers after purchase and offering a discount coupon in return for a completed review,” Andrew Gill, the owner of the company, recently told BigCommerce in an interview for a case study.

“This has been a major difference from the start of our journey to selling directly from our store and has reduced our reliance on shopping channels. Customer feedback creates that ‘social-proof’ trust that encourages other visitors to our store to buy.”

2. They Make You More Visible

Being a successful brand also means you’re a visible one.

Most shoppers will look on search engines like Google and Bing, or even on Facebook, when deciding what to buy. These websites all have their own unique ways of indexing and surfacing content, but they all value original and fresh content, and customer reviews can definitely help feed the content machine, keeping your brand favored by algorithms.

online-reviews-seo.jpg

Image source: https://www.yotpo.com/blog/reviews-seo/ 

Online customer reviews give you a steady pipeline of(hopefully) positive content that search engines value highly when choosing which results to return.

When you’re ranked higher, algorithms and people alike tend to see your website as an authority in your industry, which also leads to more exposure.

3. They Make You Look Trustworthy

Your brand can build significant trust and credibility from a steady stream of positive reviews.

One of the more interesting findings of recent research is just how powerful reviews are at building your company’s online identity.

Many shoppers distrust businesses that have ratings below(or even above) four stars. This leaves a small margin of error at the top, but companies with better average ratings are significantly more likely to see views converted to traffic and sales.

online-reviews-brightlocal.jpg

Image Source: https://www.brightlocal.com/learn/local-consumer-review-survey/ 

The way customers are talking about you is just as important as the fact that they’re saying your name. Having a highly positive footprint will eventually help you drive more sales. – Read more

Quick CRO Wins? Look No Further Than Customer Feedback

My Post (78).jpg

According to a 2017 study by Econsultancy, just 22 percent of companies are satisfied with their conversion rates.

But how do companies rectify that? From lead-capturing, analytics and UX testing to page optimisation, online performance and marketing automation, there are plenty of tactics to choose from.

But there’s just one all-encompassing solution for gathering the insights needed to achieve just about every online goal (including CRO): a well-rounded online customer feedback program.

What Is Online Customer Feedback?

Customer feedback is an increasingly popular way to collect insights from mobile and online visitors.

Businesses use feedback to extract deep understandings into the online journey and solve long-term issues by analyzing root causes and ongoing trends.

They also use feedback to learn more about the performance of content, email campaigns and many other important online touchpoints where businesses are interacting with their customers and visitors.

customer-feedback-cro-example-website

Typically, you will find feedback forms by clicking on a feedback button (see above) located on the side or at the bottom of a page. They can also appear as an overlay (modal) that’s triggered by visitor behavior.

For example, a modal might pop up when a visitor tries to abandon their cart, scrolls all the way to the bottom of a page or spends a certain amount of time on the page. – Read more

How to Use Social Media to Bring In More Customer Reviews

My Post (100).jpg

If you think online reviews don’t matter, think again.

In a world where 85% of consumers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations…

… generating positive customer reviews can make or break your business.

And that’s why you need a review acquisition process. Instead of passively hoping for reviews, you actively use social media channels like Facebook and Google to bring them to you.

Here’s a step-by-step process we’ve implemented and one you can use to dramatically improve the online visibility of your company. – Read more

How to deal with bad reviews (and why it pays to do so)

My Post (41).jpg

No-one likes getting bad reviews. Just ask those companies reportedly paying for customers to leave five-star feedback.

Could this kind of behaviour be due to the fact reviews are the power behind digital retail success?

The desire to generate more positive responses is natural for a marketer, but receiving negative ones occasionally should not be feared. Ultimately, it’s how a brand reacts to this feedback that really does matter. The Daily Mail is developing something of an obsession for poor taste responses, writing up reports on rude replies such as from the restaurant that referred to a dissatisfied customer as a ‘moron’ and an ‘epic tool’.

The latter is an extreme example, and you’d think most rational business people wouldn’t go down the ‘moron’ route when reaching out to negative reviewers, yet it’s surprisingly common to see otherwise sensible marketers trying to fan the flames of a bad review – intentionally or otherwise. – Read

The Untapped Potential of About Us Pages (And How to Write Your Own)

My Post (29).jpg

Along with FAQ and Contact pages, the About Us page is one of the first supporting pages you’ll likely create for your website, regardless of the industry you’re in.

They may go by different labels—“About”, “Story”, “Mission”—but these types of pages generally serve the same key purpose: to be the go-to page for a brand to say, “This is who we are.”

When a visitor wants to learn more about you or your business, it’s the page they’ll look for.

Unfortunately, About Us pages are too often treated as an obligation rather than the valuable opportunity they are to connect with your customers by selling your story, your vision, your mission, and what makes you, YOU. – Read