12 Feb Using Data to Improve User Experience
How are people finding and viewing you online?
Today we’ll be going over how to use data to really rise to the challenge of marketing in 2013. My goal is to help you create an online presence that builds brand loyalty, achieve your business goals, and ultimately create an awesome user experience for your audience.
Know your audience
Understanding who and where your users are and how they reach you hasn’t always been an easy feat, but as technology advances, more and more data is becoming available to us about our users. These pieces of data represent opportunities, chances for your business to reach out and deliver a great experience that both builds brand loyalty and drives sales.
There is no end to the number of devices, operating systems, social networks, and search engines out there, which makes it difficult to know where to invest your time and efforts for marketing and development purposes. The answer is really to just let your audience decide where they want to spend their time, and BE WHERE THEY ARE.
Let’s start on the most basic level: Mobile vs. Desktop. If you don’t do anything else, do this. It’s a quick way to find out if your website and local online marketing efforts are hitting the mark or falling short.
If you jump into Google Analytics and look up the mobile overview report, you’ll see a quick and easy report with only two variables: mobile or non-mobile. Let’s use my site as an example. I run a niche topical blog that has received a total of 9250 visits, 2618 of which were mobile. If we do a bit of quick math that equals roughly 30% of my users visiting the site on mobile devices.
If my blog isn’t easy to read or navigate on a smartphone, or my emails aren’t designed with a tablet in mind, then I might be missing out on major opportunities to connect with all my users that are so loyal, they’re willing to give my site the time of day while they’re out and about. Now that I know this, I’m able to make better informed decisions about email marketing, content distribution, web design, social presence, the works.
We don’t have time to go in depth on other reports available in Google Analytics, but there are a variety of specific devices, operating systems, social networks, and so on that you can look at to determine what platforms, devices, and mediums your content should appear on.
Make it easy
Start by identifying both your short-term and long-term goals, whether those goals include increased sales, increased calls, or more user engagement. Now apply what you know about your audience to make it as easy as possible for your users to complete that goal. We’ll go over a few common obstacles for mobile users:
Flash: Flash has been unsupported on iPhone, iPod touch, and other Apple products for over 5 years now. Android devices are following suit with new Android handsets not supporting flash either. If my site were coded in flash or had flash elements, those elements wouldn’t be visible for 30% of my user base.
Phone Numbers: Local service companies are often looking for a website that can quickly turn visitors into calls. But if your phone number is hard to navigate toward, people might get impatient and choose one of your competitors, or if your number is designed as an image, they won’t be able to click to call.
Excessive required information: E-commerce sites often see huge abandonment rates in the cart and checkout sections. This number is only growing as more and more users give up on lengthy required information, that’s just too difficult to fill out on a tiny screen. These aren’t just marginal increases either. 15.4%. That’s the percentage of purchases made from a mobile device on Black Friday 2012.
Once you’ve refined your shopping process, your contact form, and your email marketing, then you can move on to customization. If you’re an e-commerce site, then you probably have data about each user’s gender, location, purchase history, preferred time for shopping, and more. Using this data allows you to make smarter decisions about marketing strategies. I’ll give you a few examples of customization, from the very basic to the near absurd and almost creepy:
Name: Address the user by name in emails.
Gender: Send relevant content based on products. I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve gotten from big box stores that have nothing to do with my interests.
Location: Start getting creative, such as marketing jackets and scarves to your users in colder climates. Send sunglasses and swimming suits to warmer climates.
Time: Are you offering sensible real-time solutions for your users? Are you reaching out to them when it’s most convenient for them? When do they shop on your site?
History: If you’ve sent them three different PlayStation games, should you be targeting them for Wii U games in emails?
What it’s all about
Ultimately, it’s all about the user. Your job as a site owner or a marketer is to make the site as easy to use as possible. Remove every obstacle, every delay, and customize your messaging to your users, and you’ll see your efforts returned in increased brand loyalty and revenue.