Driving Innovation: How Brooks Bell is Helping Brands Achieve Experimentation Excellence

At Contentsquare, we have a rich ecosystem of technology and strategic partners, built around the needs and business objectives of customer-centric companies and experience-driven brands.

We spoke with Gregory Ng, the CEO of Brooks Bell, and asked him for his thoughts on experimentation and personalization in the age of experience.

Can you tell us a bit more about Brooks Bell?

Founded in 2003, Brooks Bell is a consulting firm focused on building world-class experimentation programs for enterprise brands.

Working out of our headquarters in Raleigh, NC, we’ve spent the last 16 years helping companies better leverage their data, technology, and workforce to learn about their customers and deliver a smarter and more profitable online experience.

Our team is 43-strong and made up of creative thinkers, data scientists, developers and strategists. Everyone—from our operations team to our senior leadership—has a genuine appreciation for the art and science of optimization and a deep understanding of the challenges of experimentation at top-tier companies.

Our client roster consists of many large enterprises and recognizable brands that have trusted our team to assess their experimentation maturity and consult on multi-year “test and learn” roadmaps to achieve true customer-centricity.

What are some of the different ways you work with businesses?

Most of our engagements begin with a maturity assessment to benchmark and measure the growth of an experimentation program. This comprehensive, data-driven review scores your program against our proprietary framework consisting of six main categories: culture, team, technology, process, strategy and performance. The results of this assessment are used to create an actionable roadmap to get your program to the next level. What that roadmap looks like and the scope of our services depends on where your program lies on the maturity spectrum.

For clients that are very early in their experimentation journey, we offer a “we do, they watch” type of partnership. In this, our team comes in and fully manages a client’s experimentation program: learning their business and customers, organizing data, building a strategy, launching tests and analyzing and reporting the results. This partnership model is most effective for programs that need to prove the value of testing before going all in.

For clients that are a little further along, we take a more collaborative approach focused on educating what is needed to build a high-functioning program In this type of partnership, our team works alongside theirs. As we run end-to-end tests, we teach the team our methodologies, practices and frameworks. Through this model, we’re able to build the foundational knowledge and practices to set the experimentation program up for scale.

Finally, as the experimentation practice becomes more mature, we transition our services to be less tactical and more strategic. We’ve helped many clients bring their experimentation efforts fully in-house through building training and on-boarding programs, aligning the experimentation process across teams, establishing an Experimentation Center of Excellence, and offering strategic advice in response to new trends, technologies and business challenges.

How critical is experimentation for driving innovation today?

Critical is putting it lightly. 

In order to compete in today’s market, companies need to have a scientifically sound method in place to learn about customers, to change and to innovate—all while limiting risk, streamlining operations and reducing costs. Experimentation offers the best way to accomplish all of that.

That means, for us, our value is not simply in running tests and helping our clients make more money—though that is definitely a major outcome of our efforts (and one that we’re very proud of). Rather, our work is about empowering our clients with the data, skills, processes and technology to use testing to glean powerful customer insights AND operationalize those insights across your entire organization.

How do you help brands elevate their experimentation/personalization strategy?

Our Maturity Assessment is really only the tip of the iceberg here. Over the last 16 years, we’ve built and honed many frameworks, training programs, practices and even proprietary technology to help our clients elevate their testing and personalization strategies.

For instance, after witnessing some very messy brainstorming sessions, we developed our ideation methodology, which provides a guided approach to developing and prioritizing test ideas in a large, cross-functional group.

Our Insights framework offers a method for connecting your experiment results to bigger picture customer theories and insights.

And finally, we built Illuminate™, our testing and insight management software, to help program managers store, share and learn from their A/B test results. Fun fact: Illuminate was originally built as an internal tool to help us keep track of our client’s tests. In 2018, after many years of tweaking, testing, gathering feedback (and some rave reviews from our clients), we decided to make it available to the public.

These are just a few examples of how we provide value to clients. I should also add that we host Click Summit, an annual conference where digital leaders gather to swap ideas and share tips on testing, personalization, analytics, and digital transformation.

Click Summit trades in all the typical things you’d find at a tech conference: sales pitches, powerpoint presentations and fireside “chats” held in giant auditoriums. Instead, the agenda is built around a series of small-group (15 people) conversations, each focused on a specific topic.

With attendance is limited to just 100 digital leaders, it’s a unique opportunity to tackle your biggest challenges by talking it out with people who have been there before.

What constitutes a good partnership for you?

We love partnering with companies and tech providers (like Contentsquare!) who share our vision of helping our clients find the people within their data and seek to make every day better through optimization.

There are tons of ways in which we can translate Contentsquare’s excellent user experience analytics into optimization opportunities.

Here are a few off the top of my head:

What are your plans for the future?

When Brooks Bell was founded back in 2003, testing was in its infancy. Now, it’s rare that we come across a client that hasn’t run at least a few tests. This is exciting! It means we get to focus on working even closer with our clients and making a bigger impact.

I’m talking more than just conversion increases and revenue lift. The task before us no longer ends at proving the value of experimentation. We’re now in the business of generating insights. By helping companies learn about their customers and fostering experimentation at a cultural level, our clients will be equipped to deliver the best digital experience for their customers.

Investing in experimentation requires taking both a short and long-term view. We look forward to celebrating the day-to-day wins with our community, while also staying focused on the vision of building customer-centric, digitally-forward and insights-driven organizations.

 

 

 

Is Disruption Coming To The Auto Sector? We Quizzed Two Experts For Their Viewpoints

The end of dealerships, online vehicle shopping, pure players, smart cars… Has the auto sector been speeding down the digital transformation highway? We quizzed two digital auto experts to find out how disruptive the auto industry is about to get…

Our first interview is with Jérôme Jean, Digital & Regional Marketing Manager of Toyota in France. Interviewed by David Robin, Associate Director of Colombus Consulting, we learned about the automotive landscape in the digital space.

Colombus Consulting: Let’s dive straight in. What does a successful customer experience (CX) in the auto sector look like?

Jérôme Jean: It’s pretty simple: it’s an experience that is completely linear — from the search engine or website all the way to the dealership visit. These last few years, Toyota has focused heavily on digital to improve the customer journey. 

It was crucial for auto manufacturers, whose distribution network has not evolved in 30 years, to become more agile. The aim was to offer a renewed buying experience with a mainly digital pre-sale journey.

We thought about how we positioned our brand and our vehicles at every touchpoint. What experience do we want our customers to have in the dealership? And today we have a new challenge: customers show up very well informed and really challenge our salespeople…

Particularly nowadays, competition is so fierce…

Yes, that’s true of other manufacturers’ eCommerce platforms, but also with pure players who have a radically different approach. There is also one thing no competitor can get around: having actual dealerships so that customers can have a live experience and “feel” the product. 

So does that mean the auto sector is moving from hardware to software..?

Yes, absolutely. First of all because you need to add a digital dimension to the dealership experience, which requires having one single database — in our case, Salesforce.

The software is going to continue to evolve fast with smart cars. Tomorrow, diagnosis, preventive interventions, vehicle upgrades — all of those will happen remotely. The auto sector’s approach to marketing will shift increasingly to mobile. We will be able to offer new apps and services to make our customers’ lives easier. Manufacturers will finally connect with their customers on a daily basis.

“The auto sector’s approach to marketing will shift increasingly to mobile.”


Where are we at with online sales today?

The online retail market is gaining traction. All manufacturers, especially in England and Scandinavia, have been testing online sales of new vehicles. 2020 will be a pivotal year with the emergence of online sales platforms. The real question is: what is being sold? Selling new vehicles is the Holy Grail… except that today, the used vehicle market is much more mature. But will it work? I don’t think that online sales will dominate the market or spell the end of dealerships. In my opinion, digital will be one extra sales channel that will hopefully allow us to market to a younger customer base.

 

Next, our own Geoffrey Vion interviewed Brice Renvoizé, Digital & Experience Manager at SEAT Groupe Volkswagen on marketing, data and CX in the automotive sector.

Contentsquare: How did SEAT restructure to meet the digital challenges of a fast-evolving sector?

Brice Renvoizé: We transformed our digital marketing strategy 2 years ago, with a restructuring of teams based on data and customer experience. Today, our Influence division is responsible for increasing brand awareness and our Digital Customer Experience division is in charge of optimizing the customer journey. The customer journey is changing fast and we’re seeing a decline in dealership visits.

Has this changed your mission at all?

Our objective today is to prove the business value of digital, and to drive more traffic to our dealerships, which is where 100% of our sales still happen. Drive to Store is our main KPI and all our digital innovation takes into account the dealerships as a key part of the buyer journey.

The SEAT ID is an example of how our digital strategy is evolving. This unique client/prospect identifier will remove all barriers between our digital interfaces, dealerships and smart cars. It guarantees a friction-free experience in both the physical and digital world — it’s the ability to keep members in our ecosystem, which includes offering new services.

New services?

Yes, third-party services (music streaming, paying for gas…) are included in a monthly payment thanks to the connectivity revolution in the auto sector. 

On the product side, we’ve already disrupted the status quo by launching a “no strings attached” car. A Netflix-type subscription where you can return/exchange your car and change your mileage — all this in an easy way, with no fees. Every last obstacle in the experience has been removed! With this level of service, we’re answering the needs of the new generation, who is more interested in usage than ownership.

Will people be buying their car online anytime soon?

No, not yet. We all still need contact with a product that remains a unique type of purchase. But digital can simplify the process: online deals with financing offers, estimates for a trade-in…

So it’s not the end of dealerships just yet… But how do they connect to digital?

We can remove the barriers between the two. We measure showroom visits that come from mobile traffic. The information shared during the experience on seat.fr. makes it easier for the vendor to understand the client. 

The experience both online and offline still needs to improve thanks to considerable personalization. The key to personalization will be customer ID and data.  

Can you describe your data strategy?

It helps us save on acquisition and focus instead on conversions. How? By personalizing messages depending on profiles and segments, by way of optimizing touchpoints to increase conversions. Ads we will go even further with the SEAT ID and the smart car. Today, data is used for marketing, tomorrow it will be used for business and service. 

 

Hero image credit: SergeyBitos, Adobe Stock

Summer Marketing Campaigns: What 18.6 Million Visitor Sessions Reveal About Summer Sales

With summer drawing to a close, we thought it would be a good time to review one of the season’s most popular digital objectives: summer sales. Never ones to miss out on a data opportunity, we surveyed millions of digital visitor sessions to understand exactly how consumers interact with summer promotions, and how these campaigns are impacting revenue for brands.

In this article, we’ll share what online summer shopping reveals about desktop and mobile use, as well as the difference in digital behavior between buyers and nonbuyers. Relying on unique behavioral and revenue attribution metrics to understand how shoppers consume digital content, we’ll be sharing key insights into the customer journeys of summer bargain hunters.

Summer Sales in the Digital Experience Defined

A summer sale — in the context of digital experience — is defined as a marketing campaign centered on promotions and deals that explicitly mention the season. It often manifests in banners or carousels, with call-outs that feature discounts, naturally ones that allude to the summer. 

In this way, summer marketing campaigns are more broadly encompassing; they don’t refer to just a single holiday such as the Fourth of July and as such, can exist longer than a typical, holiday-focused sale. 

In terms of UX and website design, summer sales take precedence in a designated section of a page, such as a menu, slideshow, or the aforementioned banners.

Methodology

For the purpose of this article, we analyzed customer interactions across 8 websites, in four retail sub-sectors: apparel, accessories, beauty and jewelry. We included all visitor sessions on these sites for the month of July (July 1st – 31st).

Our survey on summer sales drew data from 18.6 million user sessions with a total of 122.4 million pages collected. From this wide set of data, we were able to glean a twofold macro comparison: that of typical behavior on desktop vs. mobile and tablet, and that of buyers vs nonbuyers during the summer sales period we studied in the US. 

Let’s learn how summer sales in 2019 performed in the ecommerce retail industry, in addition to how visitors interacted with summer sales content.


Device Performance for Summer Sales in 2019: Desktop Vs Mobile Vs Tablet

Conversions:

The biggest conversion driver for summer marketing campaigns in 2019 was desktop sales, par for the course based on the findings from our mobile report. Coming in at 4%, the average desktop conversion rate is double that of mobile. This manifests even more prominently in the average cart, which is 14.7% higher on desktop than on mobile — $106.99 on desktop, vs $93.30 on mobile. 

Meanwhile, the average cart on tablet is extraordinarily close to that of desktop, at $106.68. This average is inversely related to summer sales traffic by device, since mobile reaps the highest traffic: 68.01% of sessions, representing a whopping 12.65 million sessions. This number dwarfs tablet sessions, which garner only 5.72% of traffic. Desktop traffic came squarely in between at 26.15%.

Bounce Rates:

Much in keeping with our mobile report, mobile also bore the highest share of bounces, which averaged in at 41% — 6% higher than the desktop rate of 35%. The bounce rate on tablet was in between at 38%.

Time Per Session, Number of Pageviews & Time Spent on Site:

With an average session time of 8 minutes 9 seconds and 6.9 pageviews per session, the data shows that the bulk of summer sale browsing occurs on desktop. Mobile had the lowest stats on both accounts, with an average session time of 4 minutes 8 seconds, across 5.4 pageviews.

Despite mobile visitors seemingly unwilling to linger too long on a site, this audience still rakes in the highest sales volume with 257,000 sales, vs 222,608 for desktop. Nonetheless, desktop revenue remained the highest at $24.8 million.

So what does this tell us? That the gap between user expectations and user experience on mobile prevails, as desktop reigns supreme, with its lowest bounce rates and highest conversions. But with mobile traffic beating out all device types, mobile still presents a tremendous revenue opportunity.

Summer Sales 2019: Zooming In On The Homepage

The first thing we noticed when analyzing homepage interactions was that all summer sale shoppers click mostly on the menu to get to the products (28.10% click rate). The Sale tab on the menu drives only 2.88% of clicks versus 4.91% on the sale banner. It appears that when looking for a shortcut to a summer deal, shoppers will sooner click the banner than the Sale section on the navigation bar.

Although it has a fairly low click rate compared to the rest of the menu, the Sale tab on the menu boasts a healthy Conversion Rate per Click — 11.46% versus 6.35% for the menu — implying that those who do click on it are determined to convert. 

However, the Sale tab was defeated by the sales banners, which generate the highest conversion rate per click at 12.09%.

The high hesitation time on the banner (1.41% versus 0.92% for the Sale tab on the menu) points to a need for optimization; perhaps the wording isn’t clear, or visitors are not sure where or what to click.

Summer Sales: Comparing The Behavior of Buyers And Nonbuyers

Buyer Vs Nonbuyers: Time on Page

We found that shoppers who ended up making a purchase spent almost twice as long browsing as those who didn’t buy anything (28 minutes versus 15 minutes). Buyers also consume many more pages than nonbuyers: 28 vs only 6 by nonbuyers. 

Once they’re on the page, however, they essentially dedicate the same amount of attention to it — 58 seconds for buyers vs 53 seconds for those who don’t complete a purchase. These two audiences also appear to scroll in a similar fashion, with a 59% scroll rate for buyers and 57% for nonbuyers.

Visitors who made purchases consistently exhibited the highest number of pageviews across a wide scope of pages, including category, product and checkout. They viewed three times as many product pages on average than nonbuyers, and more than twice the number of category pages. 

Buyers Vs Nonbuyers: Interaction, Interest & Hesitation 

Overall, buyers were more likely to interact with the search bar than those who stuck to window-shopping, with 26% more clicks on this element. Much like other consumers, shoppers who end up making a purchase tended to access their summer bargains via banners instead of the Sale tab on the menu — 6.20% versus 2.90%. 

To maximize sales, make sure the search bar is prominent — making it sticky assures its viability no matter how far users scroll — and offer the best deals on your banners to take advantage of this interest.

Nonbuyers manifested a larger degree of interest for the homepage menu, with an almost 10% higher click rate than buyers. Nonbuyers were about as likely to click on the Sale tab as buyers (that is to say, not that much), but nonbuyers exhibit a much lower float time on this element, suggesting they are just as keen to score a bargain.

Their higher menu engagement and low hesitation time imply that non-buying visitors are interested in products, but may not have found exactly what they were looking for. Therein lies the need to optimize your homepage elements for this group, particularly the menu; distinct items that are hard to categorize should have their own menu category, or at least exist as a sub-category. 

Nonbuyers have a considerably higher average time before first click on the Sales banner, search bar, Sale tab and menu elements, showing that they ingest content much longer before clicking on it. 

Their hesitation also points to a more cautious attitude. Buyers arrive at summer sales elements with the intent to buy, while nonbuyers are far more careful, which inhibits them from buying. Thus, it is best to accentuate the savings aspect of your sales, sometimes across each item to lure in nonbuyers. Perhaps they won’t convert the first time around, but this will bring them back.

Tips to Optimize Your Summer Sales Campaigns

Understanding how visitor segments interact with promotional elements such as banners and the Sale tab on your menu is the first step to understanding how these areas of your site may fall short of user expectations. Optimizing the experience based on the unique behavior trends associated with various device and segments will ensure you make the most of the season’s revenue potential.

One of the first things you should do is look into what’s causing high bounce rates on mobile. This can be due to your touch areas being too small and other easy design fixes that can put an end to user frustration and therefore, exits. 

There could also be a variety of internal issues on your mobile site or app hindering your UX  and we provide 3 areas of improvement to optimize the mobile UX. Tablet users may also face the same issues that mobile users confront and can therefore rely on similar optimization tactics.

Whether they end up clicking the Purchase button or not, visitors tend to be more attracted to promotional banners than to the Sale tab on your navigation bar, so it is important to concert your tactics on optimizing this region. Take advantage of the higher engagement on the banner by highlighting products through images and text call-outs and maximize interactions by making the entire area clickable. 

Given that the menu receives the highest click rate among buyers and nonbuyers, you should focus your UX efforts on this element as well. Capitalize on it by including all the necessary categories possible on desktop, but keep it simpler on mobile. Make sure it includes a Sale tab for visitors who want a shortcut to discounted products. 

UX Global Map Lessons: Comparing Online Customer Acquisition Marketing Channels

There’s a lot to learn from the way site visitors browse and interact with your website. Then there’s customer acquisition marketing, since before users navigate your site, they must be acquired, which is a digital marketing feat on its own. Much of what we cover is UX (user experience) — the environment and associated feelings users undergo on your website and other digital offerings.

But drawing users in is a major step, a push further down the sales funnel, bring them closer to conversion and certainly a crucial to brand awareness. Sometimes it involves perfecting the UX as well, except as an alternative to onsite behaviors, it deals with those on acquisition channels, some of which you can customize, i.e., social media.

As the final installment of our 3-part series covering the UX International Map, this iteration will edify you on what customer acquisition marketing channels look like through a global lens. After all, if you’re going to set up websites for different countries, acquiring the users of these countries and their distinct acquisition manners is key to be mindful of. 

Acquisition Channel Methodology 

In the past 2 UX map lessons, you’ve read that we parsed through over 35 million visitor sessions in January and February 2019 on 11 luxury websites — that’s 150 million page views and 3 billion clicks. 

The 7 countries we focused our analyses on were: the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, China and Japan. 

For each of the 7 countries we surveyed, we analyzed the performance of 12 acquisition channels — both paid and unpaid. For each country we scrutinized, we asked the following questions to get a deep read of how websites were gaining visitors: 

Free Vs Paid Acquisition Channels

The chief divide of digital acquisition channels is whether they are free or paid. Free acquisition channels, as their name suggests, are outlets that you can leverage for free. They encompass the following: 

Paid acquisition channels are cost-based and these costs are not unilateral. In other words, while PPC ads will cost you for each click on the keyword you bid on, affiliate marketing will cost you the amount agreed upon with your affiliate marketer. These channels include:

The Global Majority of Online Consumers Prefer Free Acquisition Channels

While it’s patently obvious that brands and marketers prefer to acquire consumers through free means, our analysis has found that even from a consumer standpoint, the preferred method of arriving at a new website is from a free traffic source. With a 61% global average share of traffic from free channels, this is something of a global consensus.

The customer audiences in Japan and Italy are at the higher ends of the free acquisition spectrum, as they reach websites through free channels at the respective rates of 69% and 65% of their total acquisition. The US comes in at third, with 62% of its site visitors springing from free acquisition channels.

France has the lowest share of traffic from free channels, at 55%. Germany and China come in second at the low end of the free channel spectrum with traffic rates of 58% from both countries. 

Global visitors mostly arrive at a site via free traffic acquisition, although France drives a large portion of paid traffic.


Acquisition through Consumer Research or Recommendation

Another way to gauge customer preferences and segment behaviors is by analyzing whether visitors land on your site from independent research or by following a product recommendation. It’s crucial to study this, since some consumers arrive at your website through their own due diligence from research, while some need to be marketed to concertedly, i.e., in a direct way, often involving recommendations. (Think targeted ads and sponsored social content).

Here are a few independent research channels: 

Here are a few recommendation research channels:

So which acquisition method, independent research or product recommendation takes the victory among our swath of global consumers? In this type of acquisition square-off, the emerging winner is independent research, which holds the majority across every country we surveyed.

In Italy, 92% of consumers reach a site through their own research, overshadowing the country’s 8% of consumers who reach a site by following a link. China is at the lowest end of the independent research gamut, with 54% of its users reaching websites through their own research, but even this lower rate shows a favorability among consumers to visit a website based on their own findings instead of recommendations made to them. 

Japan and the US follow Italy, with a respective 81% and 80% of users landing on a website through independent research.

Independent research drives most global visitors to a site, but has a varying traffic share per country.

 

Organic Search Traffic Dominates in the US, Italy and Japan

Organic search traffic (SEO) overshadows paid search, affiliate marketing and other acquisition sources in the US, Italy and Japan. This is due to the dominance of free acquisition in these 3 countries, raking in over 40% of user acquisition in these 3 countries, with a massive 70% in Japan.

Traffic from SEO has the highest influence in Japan, with 48% of traffic coming from organic search. Italy ranks in second on SEO acquisition, with 40% of consumers reaching websites this way and the US comes in at third, with 32%.

Reel in Traffic with Display Ads in China

Gaining site in traffic is heavily dependent on display ads, along with the Baidu Brand Zone technology. Procuring 28.2% of all traffic acquisition in China, this channel is a force to be reckoned with in order to increase site visitors. While globally, there is far less dependence on this channel (only 4.1%), in China it is a key player in obtaining traffic. Display ads go in tandem with this channel and also fall within the trend of using visuals to keep users interested.

Email Marketing and Social Reign Supreme in the UK

In the UK, customer acquisition is contingent on social marketing efforts. At 12.4%, social customer engagement spurs twice as much traffic in the UK as it does in any of the other countries surveyed. Aside from social, email campaigns are also drivers of successful traffic, raking in 6.7% on desktop and a heaping 18.4% on mobile. Organic search traffic lags behind in the UK, as far as traffic is concerned, accounting for only 23.1% of traffic, as opposed to the global 31.5% global ranking.

France is All About Paid Tactics 

Whether it’s coming from SEM, PPC or paid social, paid tactics are driving up traffic in France. Paid channels account for almost half of all French traffic at 45%. This traffic mainly comes from paid search, which rakes in 29% of the traffic. SEM in France brings in roughly a third more in traffic than in all the other countries we analyzed. A significant part of the traffic in France is wrought by paid social — 8.4%, as opposed to the global average of 4.7%.

German Traffic: Paid Search and Direct 

German traffic acquisition is dominated by two sources: paid search and direct traffic. Paid search yields 27.3% of all traffic in the country, while direct traffic is even more powerful in drawing in users, as it’s higher in Germany than any of the other 6 countries at 26.1%. The direct traffic average globally is at 21.9%. High direct traffic visitations suggest that visitors in this country have a vested interest and loyalty in big-name brands.

Optimizing The Landing Page — Whatever The Traffic Channel

Understanding how your site acquires visitors, who might later become customers, is as crucial as studying the UX of your website. After all, no matter how ideal your UX is, it won’t matter if little to no one arrives at your website. As such, acquisition channels provide a kind of hook, line and sinker approach where acquisition is concerned. 

Acquisition channels are markedly useful and necessary for drawing in customers, but you must remember their limited scope in your overall digital marketing strategy. As their name suggests, they are good for acquisition but have little to do with retention. These channels may even hurt your UX and thereby conversions if these channels redirect visitors to irrelevant pages.

This is why the landing page is a critical aspect of acquisition — and retention. A landing page that’s relevant and optimized for users will maintain a good UX and digital happiness. So make sure to study the elements of your landings pages and see which ones are detrimental to the customer journey. There’s no point in optimizing acquisition only to lose your customers later on. 

ISO 27001: How We Got Certified And What It Means For Our Clients

We’ve got more big news from our end — we know we’ve been slamming you with big news in the past few weeks, cough* Clicktale acquisition, cough* but there’s more to share. 

What can we say, we’ve acutely upheld our scaling plan. About a month ago, Contentsquare achieved an ISO 27001 certification, and if that doesn’t mean much to you, then this is the article that will answer this burning curiosity. 

ISO Meaning

If you’re not yet a security expert (you might want to get on that) here’s a little refresher. The ISO 27001 is a standard of best practices for managing information security. This information security grouping of best practices has a risk-based approach and is technology-agnostic. It includes requirements on compliance documents, management responsibilities, internal audits, continual improvements, corrective and preventive action  all designed to best protect a company’s information assets.

Companies can elect to conform to the standard, by meeting requirements, but can also go further and become ISO 27001-certified. In this case, an independent outside auditor (also certified) is tasked with conducting an audit to assess whether a company meets the requirements. Companies that pass get their certification. As you can imagine, this is the route we’ve taken.

We sat down with Alexandre Menguy, Chief Information Security Officer, Contentsquare’s security guru, to find out more what this certification means for us and our clients. 

 

Who’s who :
Alexandre joined Contentsquare as Chief Information Security Officer in Juin 2018.
Prior to this, he worked as Global Security Manager for PeopleDoc and Senior Cybersecurity Auditor & Advisor for Mazars.

 

 

ISO 27001, from Objective to Reality

Contentsquare: Can you tell us more about the audit — how is it carried out and who hands out the certification? 

Alexandre Menguy: The audit is just the final step of a long process! It all started in 2018, when we decided to have our security practices meet the requirements of an existing standard. We chose ISO/CEI 27001 partly because it is so widely recognized.

First we defined the objectives and scope of the project with top management; then we worked with all teams to implement policies, procedures and practices that would meet our security objectives.

Once all these elements were in place, we conducted an internal audit to make sure we were heading in the right direction and that we were ready to meet the certification requirements.

The internal audit went very well, so without further ado, we called on an external auditor to carry out the official certification. That’s when things got real…

CS: What do you mean, things got real?

AM: Well, first the auditor made sure our policies and procedures were in line with the requirements. This phase was more about documenting things. Then they visited our various offices to ensure the policies and procedures were being effectively implemented.

Finally, the auditor submitted their recommendation to a recognized certification body, which, based on the review that was carried out, gave us the official certificate.

 

ISO 27001: All Hands On Deck collective effort.

CS: Now that we are certified, can you speak about the main challenges of achieving certification? 

AM: There’s no denying it, achieving the ISO 27001 certification is a huge undertaking that involves everyone on the team and impacts all company practices.  

It was particularly impactful because we wanted to meet all 133 security requirements in our Paris, New York and London offices. Thankfully, the entire team was wholeheartedly committed to this project, which meant we were able to undergo the transformation very quickly.

Another challenge of this type of project is the involvement of management. Getting certified is an expensive undertaking with high direct costs (mainly the cost of the audit and certification) and also major indirect costs (purchasing security solutions, recruitment, securing offices, shifting processes…) so it’s important to have the full support of top management.

The security of our clients’ data being one of our main priorities, this certification process was a no-brainer for management, which was committed and supportive every step of the way.

CS: What does this mean for clients?

AM: As you know, deployment models are evolving. For companies, the digital landscape has shifted from on-premise systems and applications to complex environments that rest on multiple third-party SaaS solutions and external cloud computing services.

Therefore, security risks are increasingly becoming transferred, and today it’s more important than ever for companies to trust that their vendors and services are safe.

With this certification, our clients can feel even more confident because it proves that Contentsquare has an information security management system in place that adheres to an internationally-recognized standard and that it has been deemed effective by an in-depth independent audit. 

Also, keep in mind that our client brands regularly audit their vendors and that this certification helps to facilitate this type of assessment.

 

Life after Certification

CS: Now that Contentsquare has achieved the ISO 27001 certification, what are the next steps?

AM: Indeed, achieving this certification is terrific news but we can’t stop there! 

The very essence of the ISO 27001 is the continual improvement of systems, so getting certified is not the end of the road.

This is in fact part of the ISO 27001 certification framework, and the certification audit is followed by annual assessments to remain certified.

CS: Can you share any examples of concrete actions you are putting in place? 

AM: We will continue to invest strongly in our security capabilities. For example, we’re planning to launch a private bug bounty program very soon. As well as our penetration testing, we are also going to submit our applications to ethical pirates and compensate them if they find any breaches. This is a fairly new mode of operation but it’s very promising!

UX International Map Lessons: Product Page Optimization

Welcome to the second installment in our 3-part series on the Global UX Map, the result of our extensive research into digital trends and browsing patterns from across the world. This insightful series is a surefire way to improve your user experience (UX) and boost your digital marketing efforts. In this chapter, we will be focusing on product page optimization.

If your marketing tactics are successful enough to impel users to land on the product page — or if they clicked into it by virtue of their own interest, that is magnificent news. It means your advertising, SEO and content campaigns were competent enough to push users to the page where actual purchase decisions are made. But getting visitors onto the product page is not enough and certainly doesn’t guarantee conversions.

Like your homepage, blog and other site pages, the product page must keep visitors engaged and digitally happy to encourage them to buy. But if there’s one thing we all know about user experience, it’s that one size most definitely doesn’t fit all. And when you have a global patronage — or are seeking to break into the international market — taking into account the needs and expectations of your local audiences is key. UX Analysis Methodology 

As you’ve learned in our previous UX map lesson, we drew our insights from analyzing over 35 million visitor sessions from January through February 2019, on 11 luxury websites in 7 countries. This adds up to 150 million pageviews and 3 billion clicks. 

The 7 countries from which we extracted data on the product page are the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, China and Japan. By analyzing how visitors in each of these countries interact with the various elements of the product page, we were able to understand what works and what doesn’t, and where brands should focus optimizations to drive maximum engagement. 

Visitors In China Most Engaged With the Product Page

While studying the user behavior on the product page across the 7 countries, one country in particular stood out due to its heightened engagement. Consumers in China clicked and scrolled between  1.5 to 5 times more than those in the other 6 countries we surveyed. They also spent more time on the page (25% more than the global average), avidly consuming both informational and visual content.

In fact, the data makes known that users in China often research a product extensively before adding to cart, navigating through many elements on the page, and generally consuming more content than visitors in any of the other regions we looked at.

They were particularly engaged with the product description, clicking on it over 23% more than their global peers. They were also far more interested in the shipping and returns description, with a click rate higher than other countries by over a heaping 95%. With many brands selling exclusively online, shipping costs are often an expensive and unavoidable expense, explaining this extra attention. 

Visitors in China also spent much more time viewing product images than their international counterparts, and were 50% more likely to click on the first product image than their global peers — an upward trend that continues onto the following images. 

Product Delivery and Shipping Descriptions: Vital in Japan

Descriptions on the product page go a long way to reassuring shoppers in general, as does clear information on shipping and returns. This is most discernible in Japan, where mobile consumers are often reluctant to make a purchase before reading all the information about a product of interest, including its shipping and returns policy. 

In fact, the click rate on the product description is 47% higher in Japan than in any of the other regions we studied, and the click rate on the shipping and delivery info, 48% higher.

The US and UK Have a Stronghold on Customer Trust

Visitors in the US and UK spend less time interacting with the product page. In both regions, product visuals receive 22% fewer clicks on the first product images and 53% fewer ones on the third click, compared to global averages. 

The scroll rate on the product page in the US and UK is also lower than the global average, coming in at 53% versus 56% for the rest of the world. The click rate on the textual content is also considerably smaller in the US and UK than in the global average. 

Precisely, the click rate on product descriptions sits at about 4.1%, versus a 4.5% global average. Meanwhile, the click rate on the shipping info in the US and UK is roughly 0.5%, while globally it’s at 0.7%. 

With truncated engagement on the product page, visitors from the US and UK clearly have less time in their customer journey to take in the content on this page. Instead, they make hastier decisions, so you have to catch their interests quicker than those from the other European and Asian countries. If you do, you will earn their trust, proven by their quicker conversions, which occur without skimming through visuals and reading content that’s further down the page.

Visuals Take Priority in Germany and Italy 

Chinese visitors on product pages aren’t the only ones captivated by visual content. Much like these constituents, visitors in Germany and Italy also show high levels of engagement around product images. These visitors click 7% more than their global counterparts on the first image, 6% more on the second and 28% more on the third on all devices.

Visitors in Germany also have a favorability towards the product description, clicking on this element 11% more than the other countries surveyed. As such, this element is crucial in their customer decision journey. A product description may compel or dissuade these users from making a purchase, so assure that your product descriptions are up to par, being both informative and marketing-friendly to convince your German audience to buy.

Product Images in Relation to the Product Page for Visitors in France 

The use of the product page in France can seem to be contradictory — giving the impression of both a low and high engagement of the page. Visitors in France are much less engaged on virtually every element on the product page, with fewer clicks on product descriptions, shipping info and images, coupled with shorter session times.

However, despite a low session time and engagement with these elements, shoppers in France total in a 60% higher time spent on page than the other 6 countries. This discrepancy relays an audience that is not as interested in content related to the product so much as interest in the product itself. 

As such, these users shouldn’t be disregarded; they are still good candidates for conversions, but they must be interested in the product from the get-go, so you should use other marketing channels to promote your products, so by the time shoppers arrive at your product pages, they’ll be interested enough to convert, or learn more. 

Refining the Product Page for a Global Audience with UX Recommendations

Product page optimization begins with making the right changes or additions to your product pages across its global editions. No matter how optimized your product page appears to be, remember that it won’t be received in the same manner globally. Here are several data-backed suggestions on product page optimization from a globally-oriented perspective. 

For US and UK visitors, opt for simplicity; there is no room for clutter for the least engaged duo in the product page. Align your text and images with a minimalistic style — nominal text, low interactions, large images and as little scroll as possible. The goal is to create a quick and easy consumption of the page. Don’t both laying out a shipping policy, as users from these countries are accustomed to cheap shipping and free returns. 

The UX optimization of the product page on your Chinese site is in direct opposition to the US and UK, since users there are much enthused about content on the product page. Since users in China are prone to scrolling, design your page with a vertical interface. You can rest assured that loading your product page with content will stimulate high engagement. Feel free to add affiliate links, reviews, images, descriptions, articles, etc. You should pay close attention to the product and shipping descriptions since there is high engagement there. Visitors in China are less certain on shipping, so give them cost-efficient options. For more slider engagement, speed up your load time; it is notoriously slow in China.

Much like China, the consumption of product and shipping descriptions is also high in Germany and Italy, particularly on mobile. Posit your product in the best possible light in these descriptions and provide all the relevant info on them, as visitors in Germany and Italy are inclined to read them. Make sure they are easy to access on mobile.

Since product imagery has a decent performance in Germany and Italy, don’t be scant in your product images on your site in these countries. Include at least 4 product images per product page. To ensure slideshow images are seen, implement visible arrows on the slideshow. While both countries are fans of images, visitors in Germany prefer horizontal navigation in the carousels, while Italians favor the vertical variety. Don’t forget to add a zoom function on your images.

Since users in France have a rather contradictory behavior on the product page — a long time spent on the page but few interactions with individual elements, you have to optimize accordingly. This may appear challenging, but luckily, there is a way to maintain a balance between few interactions and high consumption. To achieve this balance, insert a summary of the content above the fold with anchors that steer users further down. A long time spent on page means that these users are willing to consume it, so long as they don’t scroll. 

Optimizing the Product Page

As there is no marketing “one size fits all” strategy, the same should be applied to your globally existing product pages. As our UX map findings show, browsing behaviors vary from country to country, and it’s enlightening to be able to identify and sort them into different global localities. Localizing the user experience begins at understanding what needs to change and which areas of the UX require the most attention. To capitalize on this localization, you should continue studying user behaviors through unique metrics like scroll rate, time spent on element, conversion rate per click and more. 

The Global UX Map: Menu, Search Bar and Slideshow Usage Around the World

Digital marketers, website developers and ecommerce businesses from far and wide: welcome to a 3-part blog series constructed from our Global UX Map — an in-depth report on digital customer behavior from around the globe.

While we strongly recommend you download our UX map, which offers a wealth of data-backed insights on how worldwide site visitors browse websites and interact with specific pages/ in-page elements, this series will condense some of these topics for a more organized, topic-based read. As such, this series is set to help you increase your ecommerce conversions in a more focused way.

In this round, we’ll illuminate our recent findings on the menu, search bar and slideshow usage through a global lens, and provide tips on how to optimize these elements to cater to your international or US-based audience. 

UX Analysis Methodology

We ran our UX analysis on over 35 million visitor sessions from January and February 2019, on 11 luxury sites in 7 countries. This rendered 150 million page views and 3 billion clicks. 

We observed visitor interactions with the menu, search bar and slideshow starting domestically, in the United States. Our international analysis gathered data from 4 European countries: France, Germany, the UK and Italy. Additionally, we studied the UX in 2 Asian countries: China and Japan.

The aforesaid UX elements we studied all exist on homepages, so this post will discuss the top-priorities for the homepage in particular. These 3 UX elements all point to critical visitor mindsets — determined if they leverage the search bar, seeking inspiration from the slideshow, or methodically browsing the menu. 

The Attractiveness Depends on the Device

The menu, search bar and carousel have varying levels of attractiveness depending on the device, and visitors engage differently with these 3 UX elements on mobile and desktop. 

Desktop visitors, for example, are more likely to engage with these features than their mobile counterparts, except in the UK. There, mobile visitors clocked in 7% more interactions with the menu, search bar and slideshow combined than desktop users. 

In all other countries, except China, mobile yields 20% fewer interactions with the menu, search bar and slideshow. In China, this lowered attractiveness is compounded, with mobile driving 70% fewer interactions than desktop. 

Per these findings, you should expect more usage of all 3 UX elements on desktop, and you should be thinking about ways to efficiently and seamlessly guide customer journeys on mobile

The Slideshow: Not Getting Much Love from the US and Italy

The click rate on the menu, search bar and slideshow differs from country to country; some regional audiences are much more likely to click on these top homepage navigation elements. 

France has the highest combined click rate on all three of these elements on desktop (see above), while the UK has the highest click rate on these elements on mobile (49%). 

Users in the US, however, are not so click-happy when it comes to these top homepage elements, as they average in the lowest click rate of all the countries surveyed on desktop, roughly 43%. The US also holds the second lowest click rate on mobile, at 33%, only to be outdone by China, which has the lowest click rate on mobile, with only 13%.

As for the slideshow, visitors in the US and Italy show the least interest in this feature. The US has the lowest slideshow desktop click rate, at only 3.7%, followed by Italy, at 3.8%. Across all the countries we studied, the slideshow and the search bar received the least amount of interactions, with the menu coming out on top.

Slideshows drive small engagement in the US and Italy.


Visuals are a Big Engagement Driver in China and Japan 

Visual elements are a crucial ingredient of a good UX in China and Japan, as they produce the most engagement and fastest time to first click. Indeed, visitors in China and Japan are among the first to click on the slideshow. Japan proves that images rule, with the shortest time to first click — 87% faster than the global overage. The time to first click in China is 28% faster than that of the other countries.

While the slideshow is well-received by visitors in Japan and China, the search bar and menu don’t forge a good UX for these audiences, especially on mobile. These 2 site elements garner less interactions within these countries due to their complex writing systems. These elements are ill-adapted to Japanese and Chinese and it shows in the data, particularly in China, where the menu has 74% less engagement and the search bar 60% less than in the other countries. 

While visuals do well in China and Japan, the menu and search bar underperforms in these countries on mobile.

The Search Bar and Menu: Successful in the UK 

Unlike visitors in Japan and China, those in the UK are much engaged with the menu and search bar, as they depend on it more than any of the surveyed countries. Certain in what they want, this audience is eager to find the quickest path to product. 

Opposing the UX in Japan and China, the search bar is crystal clear to UK visitors, who use it roughly 45% more than the users in all of the other countries we surveyed. Mobile visitors in the UK also dominate in menu use, and are 50% more likely to rely on this feature than anywhere else.

Specifically, the UK click rate on the menu comes in at 38.3%, the highest out of all the countries on desktop. Its click rate on the search bar is also the highest, at 6.7%.

The Menu Reels in the Best Usage in France and Germany

The menu is the most preferred navigation element in France and Germany, which reels in over 15% and over 11% higher engagement, respectively. Visitors in the UK and Italy are also highly reliant on the menu, while Chinese and Japanese visitors rarely use this function.

With a much heftier use of the menu in Europe, you ought to capitalize it by making it adhere to a clear, visual hierarchy. But it should also have an air of simplicity to maintain its good results for these countries.

More Formulated UX Tips from our Data on a Country Basis  

Here are a few more tips we extracted from our data assembly: 

Visitors in the US, UK and Italy are determined in their browsing and are looking for the shortest, most direct path to the product. So there’s no need to cram the slideshow. Instead, feature a highly visible, sticky search bar on mobile. This will assure that no matter how far down these global users scroll on the homepage, they’ll have an omnipresent shortcut to the product. Make sure this UX element is fully optimized: enabling an autocomplete function for all search queries will also appeal to this audience.

A general deduction of the European countries we examined is that visitors in these countries are highly engaged with the menu. Optimize it for desktop with a hoverable dropdown feature for ease of use. On mobile, a hamburger icon is a popular, quick menu access solution.

Accentuate the bestselling items on desktop and create a shortlist of recommended products and product categories. Another great UX strategy is to suggest content based on searches such as blog posts, videos, etc. This also presents a solid internal linking opportunity — not all of your content will be stumbled upon by SEO.

Remember, audiences in China and Japan interact heavily with visuals. Go bold with the slideshow: meld in dynamic content such as standout colors, videos and inspiring images. Use product links on the slideshow to lessen the path to purchases. Each image does not have to be bound by one product link. 

Since the use of the menu and search bar is low in these countries, add a sticky navigation bar, so it stays in your users’ site even as they scroll down the page.

Optimizing Navigation UX

That does it for our findings on the usage of the menu, search bar and slideshow across 7 countries. It’s time to start tailoring the UX of these site elements in line with the expectations of your local audience. 

Localizing the user experience is not simply limited to applying the language of the country your website is tailored for. Brands that can localize the experience in accordance with user expectations and habits will be well poised to improve retention and conversion rates, allowing them to conquer international markets.

Father’s Day Campaigns: What Over 100 Million Sessions Reveal About Gifting Behavior for Dads

Father’s Day is fast approaching, with only a few days left to buy something to show Dad you care, come June 16th. That means Father’s Day campaigns were in full swing from mid-May until these last few days. Much like with Mother’s Day campaigns, we’ve been keeping track of what retailers are doing to boost sales ahead of the special day.

To understand digital gift-buying for dads, we analyzed the behavior of customers interacting with Father’s Day campaigns, including father-themed slideshows, carousels and banners. We included 100 million visitor sessions and 500 million pages in our research, collating behavioral data over the course of four weeks. We focused on campaigns in the apparel, technology, cosmetics and jewelry (particularly watches) fields.

Low Attractiveness on Father’s Day Campaigns

The first conclusion we drew from our analysis is that — sadly for dads — Father’s Day campaigns are less attractive to consumers that Mother’s Day promotions.

Category pages for Father’s Day products, for example, have a significantly lower reach rate than their Mother’s Day counterparts both on desktop (-71%) and mobile (-50%).

Consumers are also much less likely to click on a Father’s Day slideshow than on a Mother’s Day slideshow, judging by the 37% lower click rate. And even if they do click, they’re simply not as willing to make a purchase for their fathers as they are for their moms. In fact, the conversion rate for Father’s Day campaigns slideshows is 68% lower than its Mother’s Day equivalent.

And for retailers running Father’s Day campaigns, the reach rate for these special category pages is 96% lower than the average category page reach rate on desktop and 93% lower on mobile. Meaning, for many consumers, it’s business as usual around Father’s Day.

So how can retailers drum up more interest around these campaigns? Well, with Mother’s Day Campaigns the firm favorite among consumers, why not remind customers shopping for their moms that Father’s Day is just around the corner? You could also offer promo codes for both events jointly, so that the two celebrations can support each other, retail-wise.

Positive Impact on Conversions from Father’s Day Campaigns

But it’s not all doom and gloom. While they’re not commanding as much interest as  Mother’s Day Campaigns, Father’s Day category pages perform pretty well when it comes to conversions. Pages showcasing gifts for dads recorded an average 7.08% conversion rate on desktop — that’s 77% higher than regular category pages. And it’s the same story on mobile, with a 78% higher conversion rate for these special events pages.

Mother’s Day category pages did not perform quite as well compared to regular pages, driving 26% fewer conversions on desktop, and a mere 4% conversion increase on mobile.

There are a few things brands can do to capitalize on this high conversion potential and further optimize the conversion rate of their category pages. Implementing helpful, accurate filters will help shorten the journey to the product. Providing reassurance messaging around fast delivery and shipping options will remove further hesitation from the purchase journey. And ensuring the promo code is easy to submit at checkout adds even more value to the experience and will make your customers happy.

List Pages Cannibalizing Products Pages for a Quick Buy Effect

Desktop visitors spend 51% more time on Father’s Day category pages than on regular category pages. Mobile visitors also linger on these pages, but only 14% more than they do on regular category pages. What’s interesting though is that, despite spending more time on these pages, visitors are also more likely to choose the quick-buy option — 7% more interactions with this feature on desktop, and 10% more on mobile, versus regular category pages.

The scroll rate on Father’s Day pages is 17% lower than on Mother’s Day pages — both on mobile and desktop. And on desktop the activity rate on Father’s Day category pages is 13% lower than on their Mother’s Day counterparts.

What does this tell us? That customers are less inclined to interact with these pages and favor quick paths to purchase. A lengthy stay on these pages suggests these quick-buy options don’t always meet consumer standards.

Adding reassurance elements in the quick buy pop-up along with product and shipping info will cut out unnecessary steps for determined shoppers. Making filters highly visible and helpful will also appeal to rushed consumers as will optimizing the search bar so it displays shortcuts to your Father’s Day gift pages. And finally, simplifying the checkout and adding a guest checkout option will go a long way to converting consumers who simply don’t have the time to sign up for an account or retrieve a lost password.

Visitors Spend Less on Father’s Day Gifts

At the end of the day, we know the question on everyone’s lips: who do consumers spend more on — their dads or their moms? Painful as it may be to hear for some, our analysis of cart averages shows people are more generous when it comes to their mothers.

Father’s Day carts are lower than the average cart by 19% on desktop. The trend is reversed on mobile, but only by a mere 1.16% increase. Comparatively, the average Mother’s Day cart is 84% higher than the average cart on desktop and 63% higher on mobile.

One way to up revenue per buyer is to offer gift sets with higher price tags and a bigger value for customers. These are great ways to inspire slightly less interested customers, by suggesting bundles and gift sets they might not have thought about themselves.

Seizing the Potential of Father’s Day Campaigns

A side by side comparison reveals that, overall, Mother’s Day campaigns perform better than Father’s Day campaigns, save for a few metrics. However, fret not, as the holiday celebrating dads still comes with a wealth of potential to boost your sales. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the world’s most exhaustive retail association, shoppers are set to spend $16 billion on Father’s Day in 2019 —an all-time high for the holiday.

With the right strategy, underpinned by continuous monitoring of customer engagement and conversions, brands can maximize the potential of their Father’s Day campaigns. The addition of slideshows and banners with Father’s Day gifts on display can be gainful for businesses —the key is to give consumers what they want, i.e. quick gifting suggestions and easy ways to complete purchases.

Father’s Day 2020 is a whole year away, giving brands plenty of time to implement a data-driven strategy that will make customer-centric optimizations child’s play.

 

Busting 5 UX Myths

You’re embarking on your UX journey. Not the one you experience as a visitor on other brands’ websites, or even when browsing your own, but the undertaking of building/ redesigning your own website. How do you go about creating the optimal UX?

The most potent way to redesign your website is to scope out its user behaviors and build your strategy around them. Or, if you’re at the very beginning of setting up your website and don’t have any past user behaviors to analyze, you may pull from popular UX procedures. But there may be scant to no data supporting these decisions.

What’s worse is that in either case, you may find yourself cocooned in a cloud of myths surrounding UX. We at Contentsquare believe UX decisions should be backed up by data to ensure they provide a solid performance for site visitors. That’s why we’re debunking 5 UX myths.

UX Myth 1: The Homepage is obsolete

While “obsolete” may seem like a stretch, the myth that the homepage is one of the least important pages on your website rages on. After all, with so many ways to enter a website, (social, paid social, ads) the homepage gives off an auxiliary air. But in reality, the homepage carries a wealth of importance.

Besides condensing what your brand offers in one page, the homepage provides excellent opportunities for conversions.

Our analysis of 528 million user sessions across 137 e-commerce sites in late 2018 found that 38.58% of desktop fashion shoppers entered a site through the homepage, compared to 27.68% through a category page and 18.64% through a product page. We observed similar trends in the beauty and luxury industries.

Only in the travel sector did more desktop visitors land on a product page (27.20%) than on the homepage (26.61%). Mobile beauty and luxury shoppers, however, were slightly more inclined to land on a category page.

We’ve also found that homepage entrances are generally good news for conversions — at least in three of the sectors we analyzed. Desktop shoppers browsing for travel, fashion and beauty were more likely to convert when entering a site through its digital front door. Consumers shopping for travel on their mobile devices were more likely to convert when landing on a product page, however — a trend also observed for luxury shoppers on all devices.

While all roads can lead to conversion, these numbers clearly point out that the homepage still has a critical role to play in a brand’s digital success.

UX Myth 2: Speed Trumps Personalization

Speed is certainly a decisive factor in the UX of a website. After all, longer site load times result in site abandonment. According to digital marketing guru Neil Patel, 40% of internet users will abandon a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.

In fact, those who expect their mobile load times to be the same as in desktop and those who believe it should be almost as fast as desktop totals 46%. But speed does not trump personalization, especially when conversions are concerned.  Unfortunately, personalization is difficult to achieve; only 5% of marketers use their data to implement personalization to their content, but it is certainly worth implementing to secure higher conversions.

It’s key not to rely on customer categories alone; instead you have to tap into a user’s mindset, which comprises a combination of a user’s persona, context and intent. This means that in order to personalize, demographic data alone won’t suffice.

Instead, behavioral data can unlock user intent and show a clearer context. While behavioral analytics won’t tell you everything about a user’s mindset, it can pinpoint a variety of interactions that you wouldn’t otherwise know about, ones that provide additional insight on the persona and intent of a consumer and their UX.

Additionally, it will allow you to fine-tune your segments based on user behavior and understand how customer experience varies in different contexts.

For example, just because a customer purchases one way on desktop doesn’t mean they’ll renew their orders on mobile, especially when the time of year is concerned. That’s why the context is key, as well as intent, which is ever-changing.

AI helps personalize and humanize the experience in a way demographic data can’t, and this is favorable because it doesn’t interfere with privacy guidelines and concerns.

busting ux myths

UX Myth 3: The Menu Has More Gravity than the Search Bar

The menu gives an overhead view of everything your website offers, while the search bar, as an element alone, is empty. The users must fill it up themselves. So it appears that the menu carries the most weight for your users digital experience. But this is simply not the case.

Both the menu and the search bar are key UX elements in the navigation, a crucial aspect of your customer journeys. However, the search bar is the most used element when it comes to finding something on a website, be it a product or section. Our findings on our 2018 grocery report posit that the click-through rate for the search bar on desktop is at 18.3%, which is 76% higher than the menu click through rate. Also, users are quicker to click on the search bar than the menu by 3 seconds.

Therefore, while the menu appears to be more comprehensive and intuitive, as it presents several options for users and sorts products and pages into categories, it does not more importance than the search bar. In fact, the search bar has better engagement and is a stronger conversion driver than the menu. (The search bar has a 66% higher average conversion rate).

So optimizing your search bar is vital to your UX strategy. You can make it more intuitive by having it show suggestions as users are typing on it, similar to how a search engine functions, or the search bars on major e-commerce sites like Amazon and Target.

UX Myth 4: The Checkout Is Not an Obstacle for Conversions

While it is true that  The checkouts is one of the main site elements that result in monetary conversions — the ultimate end goal for any business —  it is are not immune to UX flaws. These flaws often lead users to user frustration if not to an altogether site departure.

There are specific elements at checkout that hurt conversions, such as login requests, which exist in most online shopping experiences in today’s digital climate.

We analyzed 9.76 billion user sessions across 105 sites in the first quarter of 2018, and 528 million user sessions across 137 sites in late 2018 and found pertinent data on page logins. Page logins on e-commerce websites have held chunky exit rates in 2018, at 23.82% in desktop and 28.74% in mobile. All the steps at checkout are crucial elements to optimize as well, as they present obstacles for the user. Collectively, the three steps of checkout have an exit rate of 26%.

Form fields at checkout can be marred by a variety of bugs, so you should streamline the checkout process with shorter forms by way of fewer fields and steps.

It’s essential to optimize checkout elements, not in spite of their high conversion rates, but because  of them. You don’t want to lose conversions where they occur the most from an easily correctable UX mishap.

UX Myth 5: Scroll Depth Doesn’t Need Optimization

While it is longer form content (articles, guides, loaded infographics) that require scrolling all the way down, shorter content, including product pages, can be equally contingent upon the success of their scroll rates. (Yes, you should be measure scrolling behavior).

But does this particular behavior need to be optimized for the UX? It may seem secondary, especially since measuring the performance of individual site elements dominates our digital experience analytics. But in truth, scroll depth is important, especially when conversion is concerned.

The percentage of a page that gets viewed shows you how “sticky” your content is. Smaller scroll rates also result in higher bounce rates. With higher bounce rates, users are less likely to convert, since they don’t stay long enough to view enough content, let alone stick around to convert. Conversion also come into play with scroll depth when the CTA is located towards the bottom of the page. In such cases, you want to optimize your scroll rate so that users don’t miss the CTA.

Making UX Optimizations

UX is not just an area of concern for UX/UI designers; it is a crucial aspect for conversions, brand awareness and brand loyalty. As the chief characteristic of a brand’s digital success, it should be firmly planted in the minds of everyone on the digital team. As such a major topic of concern, there is a wealth of UX myths floating around, which may be hard to detect as just that: myths. Luckily, once you implement an analytics solution that can back up the productivity of every UX element with data, you can tinker with your site elements accordingly, which will ensure a better UX and conversions.

Still curious about improving your UX? Download our Mobile Optimization Report.