Improving the customer experience on an e-commerce site has historically been about optimising around transactions, making your website easy to use and focusing on conversion rates at various points in the funnel.

To be really successful though, it’s critical to think beyond this idea of transactional optimisation.

A fully optimised online customer experience means much more than just making it easy for your customers to buy things, it’s about building long-term relationships through personalisation, timely relevance and treating visitors as individuals.

Saying the right thing to the right person at the right time. You need to consider how to optimise that relationship.

Marketing and user experience working together

The concepts of transactional and relationship optimisation are typically handled by different groups, with user experience focusing on the transactional side and marketing focusing on the relationship side. These two groups will often be driven by a different set of KPIs with different objectives.

Ultimately though, both are working towards a common goal of building and maintaining relationships. Critically, relationships that will nurture the customer base, build loyalty and increase sales. So it stands to reason that there must be a union between marketing and the user experience.

The elements of user experience such as design, layout and content bring creativity to a website, but it’s like painting a picture with your eyes closed. Creativity needs to be married with science, to bring objectivity and confidence to the creative approach. And this is where A/B and multivariate testing comes in.

Data and creativity

So often I find organisations are sitting on a mass of unused data that has the potential to transform so much of their business. If only there was a way to use all that data to improve each customer’s experience.

Not being able to get any actionable insight from that data might be partly down to not having the right tools, but the main reason why people don’t get the results they would like is because they don’t have the right data. What’s missing is the data from the heart of the customer’s activity. What are they actually doing, right now, on your web site?

Customer experience optimisation needs to process the huge volume of interaction data that your website visitors generate and use that data to identify the creative design, content and layout combinations that will have the most positive impact on KPIs.

It’s not just about click or even conversion rates, but building relationships. More than just retargeting, it means understanding how your customers are interacting with you and providing an experience that makes them want to come back.  

It is almost an old fashioned concept. For the in-store experience, elements like point of sale and discount rails are important, but it is the personal experience in that store that builds loyalty.

The same applies online. The website design, content, layout and calls to action are obviously necessary to display what is on your ‘shop floor’, but understanding how these resonate with your visitors and how it makes them behave is just as important.

And unlike high street retail, e-commerce has a big advantage as the impact of every creative element in your online store is measurable. 

Creativity alone does not build customer relationships. It needs to work in tandem with a scientific approach that blends multivariate testing and personalisation. Only then can you can make sure customers are truly central to your customer experience optimisation strategy.