Impact of Coronavirus on eCommerce: Online Engagement Still High As Many Sectors Record small decline of Traffic and Transactions (Update 15)

To provide understanding during this uncertain time, we are monitoring the impact of coronavirus on online consumer behaviors. See the latest data on our Covid-19 eCommerce Impact data hub.

Our team has been computing billions of user sessions over the past 16 weeks to share insights into how the unfolding Coronavirus crisis is impacting consumer behaviors across industries. Every week we look at traffic, transactions, and engagement data and compare the numbers with averages from the period immediately preceding the beginning of social distancing and quarantine in the West (or, the first 6 weeks of the year, which we call the reference period). 

Here are some of the insights we surfaced this week:

Traffic And Transactions Go a bit Down But Online Engagement Remains Strong

After a stable first week of June, eCommerce traffic and transactions dropped slightly this past week, with -4% fewer visits and a -3% decrease in transactions from the previous week. As stores reopen their doors to customers around the globe, digital customer engagement appears to be slowing down. Despite this, online consumer activity is still much, much higher than before the onset of the crisis, prompting many businesses to invest heavily in their digital operations.

The greatest increase in the volume of digital transactions is observed in the UK, where businesses are bringing in on average +67% more online sales than pre-Covid. In the US, this figure is +27%.

According to our latest data pull for the week ending 6/14, brands across industries are seeing on average +10% more digital traffic than they were back in January, and +33% more online transactions. Some industries — for example, sporting goods retailers or online supermarkets — are even seeing double the amount of transactions they are used to seeing. Other industries, such as travel, are of course dealing with the negative business impact of the pandemic, although recent weeks show positive — if slow — signs of recovery.

Coronavirus impact on eCommerce - Traffic Coronavirus impact on eCommerce - Transactions

Online Grocery Sector Slows Down But Remains Stable in US

After an initial surge which saw regular volumes of traffic increase x3, the grocery industry continues to experience a slow but steady traffic decrease across the board (-10% drop this past week), although the breakdown by country tells different stories of consumer reliance on online grocery shopping. 

The UK shows a pretty vertiginous drop since peak traffic at the end of March (from +440% down to +220% pre-Covid traffic levels), while the US has seen stable levels of digital engagement since the first week of April. Overall, traffic to grocery sites is still +61% higher than pre-crisis and the volume of transactions is +85% higher. 

Consumer Electronics Sector Sees Slight Drop in Traffic And Sales last week 

On the heels of two weeks of quick growth (traffic + transactions), consumer electronics retailers experienced a bit of a slowdown this past week, with traffic declining by -6% this past week and sales going down by -11%. Still, the sector as a whole is recording +46% more traffic than before the start of the pandemic, and +47% more transactions.

In the US, consumer engagement in this sector has been steadily going down since late April, with surges in the UK and France majorly impacting growth.

Tourism Still On The Up And Healthcare Retail Sees Gains Too

After taking the biggest hit of all industries, the travel and tourism sector continues to see its customers’ digital activity climb, with +7% more traffic this past week compared to the last, and +11% more transactions. These recent increases mean the industry as a whole is now closer to half its pre-Covid traffic and transactions levels — although it is important to note that our reference period, in January, would have different averages than during peak season. 

While traffic has remained steady in the US since end of April, transactions have been steadily climbing for the past 7 weeks, reflecting greater consumer confidence when it comes to booking travel. Sites selling camping trips continue to see the greatest increases across all sub-sectors — both in traffic and conversions.

Meanwhile, last week was a strong week for Healthcare retailers, with +22% more traffic to these platforms and an impressive +68% increase in transactions.

 

Have you registered for Summer Camp yet? We’ve put together a six-part series for adventurous experience-builders looking to capitalize on the summer months to fast-track their digital transformation. Join us for six campfire sessions with digital leaders from Tile and other leading brands, to explore common digital challenges and how best to tackle them (A/B Testing merit badge, anyone?).

 

ECommerce: Nurturing Customer Trust in 2020

Customer Trust in eCommerce in the Post-Quarantine Era

With social distancing still in effect in many regions of the world and lingering uncertainty over the timeline of a return to ‘normal,’ brands everywhere are banking on innovation to ensure business continuity.

The coronavirus crisis has forced teams to rethink decades of marketing best practices and forced brands to shift their focus to what really matters to customers today: trust.

From supply chain issues to new health & safety measures via delivery delays — brands have faced significant challenges over the past few months.

Today we will look at how Covid-19 has brought the issue of customer confidence to the forefront, how teams have had to adjust (sometimes in a matter of hours), and how customer trust is more crucial to businesses today than it has ever been.

How customer trust became top priority in less than 48 hours

Customer trust: from important…

You may not even notice them at this point, but they are everywhere.

Whether you’re ordering a new set of headphones on Amazon, a blender at BestBuy or a repeat order of cat food on PetSmart, reassurance elements are peppered throughout the customer journey.

In marketing lingo, reassurance refers to everything a business does to convince a prospect or client that their purchase is risk-free and that trusting their brand is a safe bet.

Secure HTTPS connection, customer reviews on the homepage, post-purchase guarantees — reassurance is present at every step of the user journey.

And the stakes are high.

Competition has never been so great… and neither have customer expectations. Customers today want to know that their transactions are secure and exactly what you plan to do with their personal data.

 … to make or break

And then came the Covid-19 crisis, a period we are still navigating, and during which our need for transparency and guarantees has never been so concrete and important.

Remote work, furloughs, layoffs, the adjustment of distribution operations, delivery delays —many businesses have had to rethink their entire supply chain in a matter of hours or days.

Here are some examples of measures put in place by brands to adjust their services to these new challenges:

These are just a few examples of some of the measures implemented overnight by brands across the globe. And as businesses set together the new standards of customer-centricity, it will be interesting to see which of these services and changes are here to stay.

In uncertain times, a lack of clarity in the visitor journey and insufficient guarantees are a surefire way to lose customers.

Customer trust: why doing the minimum is no longer enough

There are two types of elements brands use on their site/app to build customer trust:

A – Basic reassurance elements to build up customer trust

You can safely assume that your competitors already have many of these in place. Implementing these on your site is no longer an option, but a question of survival:

Of course, don’t forget to adapt all of the above to the mobile experience by displaying only essential elements, adding touch to your site to make calls easier etc

B – Advanced reassurance elements to build up customer trust

Great — you’ve checked all those boxes. We have good news and bad news for you.

Bad news: having all of the above is no longer enough, especially not during these unprecedented times.

Good news: there are three innovative and creative methods to increase customer trust on your digital properties.

Not all of them will be relevant to your activity or audience. Up to you to figure out which will work, depending on your resources and positioning.

Method n°1: reassure visitors through content

While almost 4 billion people quarantining at the same time, the demand for rich, interactive content has never been higher.

No need to drown visitors in ads — instead, help them stay informed and entertained, now and going forward.

Here are some ideas of things you can do to establish customer trust through content:

Method n°2: build customer trust through communication

Just because you are separated from them by two screens doesn’t mean you can’t offer your visitors a human experience.

Here are some ways to engage your clients and prospects through communication:

Method n°3: leverage technology to build customer trust

When it is used correctly, technology can work wonders for eCommerce brands.

Here are several innovative solutions that add real value for customers from the comfort of their sofa:

Better UX FOR ALL

While it is essential to ensure a seamless journey for all your visitors, you also need to make sure the experience speaks to each and every one of them.

Start by making sure your experience is mobile-friendly, and then customize it to make it more personal.

A – Mobile is king

With mobile now driving the lion’s share of digital traffic since 2018, designing experiences with a mobile-first mindset is no longer optional.

We’ve already spoken at length about m-commerce and its unique characteristics, but here are 4 key things to keep in mind:

B – Personalization: the devil is in the details

It’s not the first time we’ve mentioned this but in an era of hyperconnectivity and information saturation, personalization is key!

The good news is that today, customization is within every team’s reach:

Know your audience

Knowing your target audience is of course key to offering the right product, at the right time, and to the right customer.

But while basing this understanding on the behavior of the people who have already visited your site is key, don’t forget to cater to first-time visitors, too!

According to our 2020 Benchmark data, 55% of visitors are new to your site.

During the quarantine, these numbers have surged as industries like online grocery, health or fashion acquired new audiences more used to shopping offline.

A survey of 1115 French consumers carried out by Forrester between April 10 and 15 found that 19% of digital grocery customers were buying food online for the first time ever, and 10% of consumers had never paid for anythign online before. Une étude de Forrester

Nurturing customer trust is even more important when it comes to these customers, who are primarily offline shoppers in ‘normal’ times.

 Up to you to make sure your site is trustworthy, and resembles the physical stores your audience is used to interacting with.

Up to you how you make that happen but chances are, making digital more human is the key to success 😉

 

Have you registered for Summer Camp yet? We’ve put together a six-part series for adventurous experience-builders looking to capitalize on the summer months to fast-track their digital transformation. Join us for six campfire sessions with digital leaders from Dell, Tile and other leading brands, to explore common digital challenges and how best to tackle them (A/B Testing merit badge, anyone?).

Impact of Coronavirus on eCommerce: Digital Traffic and Sales Remain Strong As Stores Reopen (Update 14)

To provide understanding during this uncertain time, we are monitoring the impact of coronavirus on online consumer behaviors. See the latest data on our Covid-19 eCommerce Impact data hub.

Our analysts have been capturing and analyzing billions of digital visitor sessions over the past 15 weeks to bring experience makers up-to-date insight into online customer behavior. Our data spans industries, providing a fresh look at how the Coronavirus crisis has impacted various sectors. Each week we’ve compared traffic, transactions, and engagement metrics with data from the weeks gone by, and with metrics captured in the period immediately preceding the introduction of quarantine measures in the West (or, the first 6 weeks of the year, which we call the reference period). 

Here are some of the insights we surfaced this week:

eCommerce Traffic & Transactions Stabilize at High levels 

After phased reopenings in many countries and a couple of weeks of declining digital traffic across industries, the volume of visits barely budged this past week, suggesting we are perhaps entering a new phase of stabilization. Brands across sectors are seeing +15% more visits on average than before the crisis. The volume of transactions even grew by +1% last week from the previous week, with an average +37% more sales online than before the pandemic started. As more regions of the world start to ease lockdown measures and allos non-essential businesses to open their doors to the public once more, it is interesting to see that eCommerce retains a strong share of digital traffic/purchases. And visitor engagement is not waning, either. In fact, time per session was up +1.5% from the previous week, with engagement on the up since mid-May, following a sharp decline in customer engagement at the end of April.

Travel and Tourism Industry Slowly Climbing Back

It was another week of promising numbers for the travel and tourism industry, with a +21% increase in the volume of traffic this past week — the 6th week of growth in a row. And transactions jumped up +40%, confirming the trends of the past few weeks, as relaxed restrictions worldwide restore some aspects of life pre-Coronavirus. Our breakdown of data into sub-sectors confirms that when it comes to transactions, a significant portion of this growth is owed to consumer engagement with sites and brands specializing in domestic forms of travel (car rental, camping vacations, etc). Sites offering camping trips, in particular, saw their traffic jump by 40 points this past week — and while some of these gains are due to it being peak travel booking season, this is still a positive sign when compared to the much slower progress of other tourism sub-sectors. Cruises and airlines, for example, are struggling to take off and are still severly hurt with sales volume last week at -95% (cruises) and -85% (airlines) of the pre-crisis levels. Overall, the travel industry is still suffering from a significant loss of traffic and revenue, with -51% fewer visits than before the introduction of quarantine measures, and -53% fewer transactions. 

Luxury and Fashion Industries See Performance Slow Down

Traffic to luxury sites was slightly up after two weeks of decline, growing +2% this past week from the previous week, and leaving the sector just shy of its pre-Covid levels of digital traffic. Transactions however were down -2% from the previous week, although luxury brands are still seeing +22% more sales online than before the onset of the crisis (much less than the +42% growth recorded in mid-May). Engagement remains largely unchanged, with a slight +3% increase in the time per session from the previous week. Despite a slight increase in the UK and France, US luxury sites lost the most traffic this past week, and were also faring less well than their European counterparts in terms of transactions. 

It was not a strong week for the fashion industry, which saw sales dip by -9% from the previous week. Traffic was also down -8% this past week, although customer engagement was slightly up, with +2% more browsing time than the week before. In the US only, both traffic and transactions were down, marking the worst week for the industry since early April.

Impact of Covid-19 on eCommerce: Other Industry Ups and Downs

The financial services sector recorded a +3.5% increase in digital traffic this past week, on the heels of a +15% increase the past week, contributing to a +26% surge in visits since the start of lockdowns, as consumers get used to replacing branch banking with online money management. 

Meanwhile, retail healthcare sites recorded fewer visits and transactions this past week, marking the 4th week of declining customer engagement. It was a good week for consumer electronics retailers, who saw traffic and sales climb by +8% and +10% respectively this past week, contributing to an overall +66% surge in website transactions since March.

Have you registered for Summer Camp yet? We’ve put together a six-part series for adventurous experience-builders looking to capitalize on the summer months to fast-track their digital transformation. Join us for six campfire sessions with digital leaders from Dell, Tile and other leading brands, to explore common digital challenges and how best to tackle them (A/B Testing merit badge, anyone?).

Digital Predictions: Recipes for Conversion Health in 2020

You’ve spent the last few weeks making merry with friends and family, and it’s likely you overindulged. Today, you don’t want to look at another cookie, and you’ve swapped the booze for green juice. You’ve resolved to fill the next decade with yoga and maybe even meditation.

But what are you going to do to improve your digital strategy in 2020? How are you going to go about building a healthier, nourishing, more blissful experience for your customers? 

Here is our roundup of 7 trends we think should guide your digital resolutions this year.

1. The experience wars heat up

The numbers have been out for a while: the gulf between businesses’ perception of their own customer satisfaction versus the consumer’s reality is widening. On the other hand, brands that are synonymous with excellent Customer Experience (CX) are reaping outsized benefits. According to a Forrester report, insight-driven companies are growing 7-10x faster than the average enterprise.

The key to a great CX lies with… your customers. The new standards of experience demand greater, smarter customer proximity — one that hinges on a true understanding of what your audience expects and how it wants to connect with you in 2020 and beyond. If you choose not to go all-in on creating an unexpectedly great experience this year, you do so at your own peril.

2. Leaders scramble for new metrics

Knowing how your brand stacks up to customer expectations — and how many different factors from price, to app ease of use, to customer support — contribute to the experience is still a challenge. This is the year many digital professionals will rebel and demand meaningful analytics that are easy-to-consume. Many brands are finding themselves constrained by old metrics, which can tell you how many people visited your site, and how many converted, but don’t offer many clues as to why they left without buying, or if a purchase was in fact the primary goal of their visit. 

When it comes to understanding customers, metrics such as content attractiveness and engagement, friction scores and even an objective measure of consumers’ Digital Happiness paints the story between the clicks. You’ll see more CX Index and e-NPS type metrics coming out from agencies, consulting firms and analytics players this year to help meet the demand.

Having access to a system of insights that can capture the nuances and fluctuations of customer behavior, and translate these into actions is how you turn customer intelligence into intelligent CX.

3. More brands flip the acquisition model

Digital teams understand that getting as many people as possible through the door is no longer a viable business strategy. It’s simply too expensive and it is not in fact, a customer-centric approach. Why invite someone in unless you can actually deliver value to them? More brands are shifting their focus to analyzing what happens once customers are on their site in order to better understand who they should be marketing to in the first place, and how.

Think about it — not everyone will want to convert on your site (maybe they’re here to check out in-store availability, use the store locator, etc), and those who do will have a specific customer agenda (they might want to see if a coupon works, to check out fast on their smartphone, etc). The key is to understand: 1) what are your high-value segments, 2) how they like to browse.

By analyzing and understanding the journeys and behavior of customers who are already on your site or app, you can surface intelligence about what they’re trying to do, and in turn, use this intelligence to target specific segments with highly relevant experiences. Don’t forget: the best remedy for churn is a relevant customer experience.

4. Smarter content

Which brings us to content (…don’t all roads lead to content?).

Businesses invest a ton of time and resources into creating content that communicates the brand’s offering and helps customers connect with their values. But how do you measure the impact of content decisions? How do you know what content to display for which audience? How do you maximize your creative investments and merchandising strategy?

Well, it goes back to those smarter metrics. Your customers are giving you real-time feedback on your content with every swipe, tap, scroll, click, etc — each element of your site is either a relevant step in the journey, a distraction, or worse, an obstacle. Customer journey insights are finally becoming operational at scale. And, advanced AI-driven analytics will help translate this customer feedback into actions your team can take to improve the experience and your bottom line. Don’t be left behind.

5. Personalization partners with privacy

Brands in 2020 are going to become better at combining their personalization efforts with their customers’ privacy concerns. Why? Because consumers today want more of both. High profile data breaches and an overload of personalized marketing that isn’t in fact that relevant have made consumers wary of oversharing in the digital world.

But is it really possible to personalize without personal info? We think it is. The beauty of behavioral data is that it delivers on both these demands: privacy and personalization.

Because one consumer does not equate one way to browse a website. And just because a brand knows your name, birthday, address and a few of your interests, doesn’t mean they know what drives you crazy when you’re trying to refill a standing cat food order on your mobile. By analyzing and aggregating the behavior of specific customer segments (based on their context and intent) digital teams can unlock a much deeper, truer type of personalization than that made possible by demographic data. 

And if you are going to collect data, the key is to use it well. Be transparent and clear about any request for personal information — customers are often willing to give information that is genuinely going to add value for them.

6. D2C is the new flagship store

Marketplaces don’t afford brands the same level of control over the end-to-end customer experience as direct-to-consumer (D2C) marketing. By entrusting others to promote and sell their products or services, businesses are not only settling for lower margins; they’re essentially giving away crucial customer intelligence they could be using to elevate and personalize the brand experience. 

And when you’re competing on experience, as brands are today, owning the relationship with your customers so you can better meet their needs and expectations — and strengthen your community at the same time — is crucial.

This isn’t an entirely new phenomenon, and it’s not only reserved for new, agile startup companies. Leading brands like GoPro have shifted their strategy, and are putting more emphasis on owning the end to end experience, and cultivating a meaningful, enduring relationships with their customers on their digital properties.

7. Inclusivity becomes core to your digital strategy

According to the CDC, one in 4 U.S. adults has a disability that impacts major life activities. So if your website and app are not accessible to everyone, that’s 61 million people (in America only) you’re not including in your CX decisions.

The good news is when you design for disability first, you often come up with solutions that are more advanced and smarter than if you hadn’t. Brands everywhere are putting innovation at the service of inclusivity, and are leveraging new technology to future-proof the CX, improve accessibility, and ensure customer-centricity is not just for some, but for everyone.

Final thoughts

We’re heading into a new decade of innovation, digital creativity and intelligent technology. Your best strategists in 2020 and beyond will be your own customers. The key will be to tune into their expectations and align your experience strategy with their goals. 

It’s time to get a new yoga mat, and a new solution to translate customer behavior into profitable CX actions. As you navigate your favorite sites to find the first, think of the dozens of micro-decisions you take as a consumer: click on this image over that one, filter by size, give up halfway through a scroll, login as guest, etc. 

We help brands make the journey to digital wellness more seamless and satisfying. The rest is up to you.

 

 

Hero Image via Shutterstock, by Boiarkina Marina

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.

 

 

 

How to Identify and Fix a Broken UX with User Behavior Analytics

Some website users undergo a bad UX, which leads them to exit — or worse — bounce from a website, possibly to never again return. Understanding what causes premature site exits is key to improving the customer experience (CX), and delivering journeys that help customers meet their wide-ranging digital expectations.

Making use of data for a UX analysis is the most practical approach to scrutinizing customer journeys, including high-level views that locate friction points and counter-intuitive navigation patterns. Once you’ve identified your problematic pages through a high-level view of user behavior, you can make more fine-tuned changes by assessing individual pages and elements.

Achieving a fulfilling digital experience is attainable, but you have to identify what constitutes a broken UX in the first place, and establish the visitor segments that come across one. Once you have this insight on hand, you can prioritize optimization efforts to improve your digital experience and make your visitors crave more.

Identifying What’s Amiss in the Customer Journey

We quizzed Ying Yang, our Lead Product Experience Manager, to get her thoughts on where to start. “The first thing you must look at when identifying a poor UX is the customer journey,” she said. “You should be able to break it apart page by page to see exactly how users traverse your site during each session.”

A well-built customer journey analysis tool will show you each step a customer takes during their time spent on a site, help uncover what they are trying to do, and how they went about doing it. You ought to be able to detect where the first UX friction lies on a high level; to find this, you have to pinpoint where users are bouncing or leaving the site, and what led to this outcome.

“You need to identify the last page that a segment of users stayed on during their journey before leaving your site. It is this page in which their UX was disrupted,” explained Ying. 

However, in longer customer journeys, note that a page from which a user has left the site may not signify a bad experience. Instead, the user may simply feel that their stay on the site is complete, and requires no further browsing.”

As such, observe the pages that contain bounces initially, as there is some shortage of retaining the visitors’ interest. Furthermore, since a bounce is more caustic than a regular site leave, it requires immediate attention. (Bounces reveal a non-existent journey, or one of one step/page visit).

Now that you’ve found the page with the UX culprit of bouncing or exiting, let’s delve further. 

A Further Analysis of a Crippled UX

Entering step two of making corrections, you will need to work out the cause behind particular site exits or other behaviors indicative of frustration or unmet needs. In order to spot individual obstacles in the customer journey, you’ll need to analyze specific elements within a page. 

Through this approach, you’ll be able to catch the exact cause of friction (whether it’s a CTA, image, product description, form field, etc), as opposed to guessing what regions and elements of a page led users to leave.

So what do you do when analyzing a particular page element? You take a hyper-focused turn in your UX analysis. “This is a more granular step,” says Ying. “As such, you’ll want to look at a robust batch of behavior and revenue metrics. These present a deeper dive of your UX to follow up the customer journey analysis.” 

Here are just a few of the metrics you can appraise for a granular UX performance check:

Hover Rate: The percentage of pageviews in which visitors hovered over the zone at least once, determining which zones are consumed the most. This helps you rank zones and assess if they are consulted properly, by weighing in factors like averages of other zones and the page length. 

Click Recurrence: represents the average number of times a zone was clicked when engaged with during a pageview. This exposes either engagement or frustration. For example, a high click recurrence on a carousel is good news, as it shows a high engagement with an element offering many clickable areas.

It can also point to frustration. For example, if users click on the same element multiple times — such as an image or link, it means the element is drawing up errors; it’s either unclickable or not performing its function correctly. 

Conversion Rate Per Click: Applying only to clickable zone, this metric relays if clicking on a zone impacts the user’s behavior or conversion goal.This helps you determine which elements contribute to or deter from conversions. A conversion can be any behavior you set. 

Exposure Rate: identifies how far down a page a user scrolls; it’s accounted for when at least half of a zone is viewed. This helps you understand how much users scroll, allowing you to make empirical sizing adjustments.

Attractiveness Rate: Relays the percentage of visitors who clicked on a zone after having been exposed to it. This informs you on optimizing the placement of content on your page. For example, if more users click below the fold, you should move that content further up for more of them to see it quicker. A high rate proves the high performing attractiveness of an element.

Segmenting Your Users for UX Comparisons

After you analyzed the elements of your page with granular behavior metrics, you’ll need to analyze further, by conducting comparisons. This will help you determine what comprises an underperforming UX more clearly. To do this, you would need to compare a good behavior with a bad behavior.

Comparing the experience of visitors who accomplished the goal of a page with those who didn’t, will further confirm what needs fixing. You can carry out a zoning analysis on these two segments as well as make comparisons on each metric. 

This allows you to catch where non-converting visitors tend to hover and where they are more inactive. But most importantly, it allows you to weigh this data against the users who did convert/ achieve what they came to your site to do. 

“For example, you can build a segment for the users who saw a 404 error page and compare it with the ones who had the same issue across different journeys or those who didn’t run into it,” explained Ying. “Additionally, you can create a segment around users who clicked on a CTA, deepening their journey against a segment of users who didn’t, or worse, ended their journey on that page.”

Main Examples of UX That Cuts the Customer Journey

One of the attributes of a broken UX is content that doesn’t engage users or is not seen, thus prompting visitors to exit the site. Pages that require too much scrolling, for example, may yield low engagement or little to no views.

For example, a particularly wide banner that takes up much of the screen may be obscuring other content that’s crucial to generating revenue. Some users may not even be aware of the content below the fold. 

“Most high-performing content should have real estate above the fold,” Ying advises. “Does your business have a major campaign or sub campaign running? Post more than one type of content about it above the fold. These can exist as tiles, a carousel or both.”

This source of friction is especially damaging to mobile UX, which has a much smaller screen size than desktop. As such, some functionalities aren’t well suited to be crammed in. “Big banners, images and accordions (vertical menus) push everything down below the fold, so don’t overuse them. You will probably need to scale back on some of these elements to avoid a UX that has turned sour.” 

Another example of poor content occurs when banner usage is slight and/or doesn’t achieve the goal of a page. For example, a banner can send users to a PDP (product details page) that cuts off their browsing journey.

“PDPs, in general, have high bounce rates, as in the case of our retail clients, so you need to be careful what products you send users to, should your banner send them to a PDP (or even a product landing page). Landing on a PDP is especially detrimental to the user experience when the real goal was to send users to a PLP (product landing page), which shows several product options as opposed to a PDP.”

Adobe Stock, via studiostok


Fixing Customer Journeys

Now you know how to move the needle from a high-level UX analysis to a granular level to spot what caused your customers to struggle or give up with your site. After you identify what leads to bad digital experiences, you are all set to start optimizing. Customer experience analytics are your best friend when it comes to augmenting your content ideation strategy.

Since it allows you to meticulously identify digital experience issues, it fastracks you to brainstorming sessions to rectify the issues in a data-backed way. Some things will be clearer than others. For example, if you find 404 errors and other dead-end pages, the quick fix is the get rid of them, or replace them with the proper pages. 

“For example, if an item is no longer in stock, or no longer being digitally offered, make sure it doesn’t yield the 404 error. But if it’s a product users can purchase, or if a page offers any other type of conversion (signing up for content, etc.), make sure your page is functional and devoid of any confusing elements,” said Ying.”

 

Hero image via Adobe Stock, by Marvi7

4 Tips for Maximizing Engagement & ROI on 2019 Holiday Gift Guides

Wondering how best to set up your digital gift guides in time for the holidays? Follow these four tips to make sure your website is making the most out of its “featured gift” products, and is helping users navigate through the 2019 holiday season chaos with much-needed ease.

1. Avoid using content blocks that take up the entire length of a screen.

Steer clear of what we in UI call the “false bottom” — the illusion that a page has ended when it hasn’t. This UX misstep could stop your visitors from scrolling further down the page, and may restrict their exposure to content. Instead, let your visitors know there is more to see — the more categories they see, the more likely they are to find the one that is relevant to them.

Check which categories have the highest purchase conversion or conversion rate per click and prioritize these. It is possible that some categories drive higher engagement, but record lower conversions. This points to frustration and confusion, intel you can use to optimize a particular site element. 

2. Be specific with gift guide categories.

Your gift guide categories should be as specific as possible. It is harder for users to narrow down a large product catalog on a product landing page (PLP), than to click into a category that already has a narrower scope. 

It should be clear before users choose a gift guide that they will find on the gift guide list page. Is the category based on price, interests, demographic information..? Find out what’s most important to your visitors, and wherever you can, personalize suggestions based on these needs. 

Also keep in mind that in gift guides, users are likely to be shopping for somebody else, so recommending repeat purchases based on past sales isn’t always relevant.

3. Ensure that your filter and sort function on your gift guide PLPs are optimized and easy to use.

The more difficult your filter and sort function are to use, the more frustrated users will become when trying to find the most appropriate product on a gift guide list page. Avoid adding frustration to the already overwhelming task of sifting through hundreds or thousands of products. 

4. Provide a seamless way to access various categories from the gift list page.

Displaying shortcuts to other gift categories on the list page can help reduce navigation friction. Visitors shouldn’t have to go back to the homepage, main gift guide page, or use the global navigation to quickly access other gift options.


Examples of Online Gift Guides with Great UX

Here are some great examples of online gift guides:

J.Crew

On the homepage, the gift guide category features an eye-catching GIF that plays automatically. On the gift guide list page, there is a category dropdown that helps users jump to different gift categories. Users can also easily narrow down listings using categorization buttons like “Best Selling” and “Gifts under $25 

Madewell

In this example, at least 3 categories are visible on the homepage without the need for scrolling. Once the user clicks to the gift guide list page, they can also use a category dropdown to jump to more specific gift guide categories.

Macy’s 

Gift guide categories are specific and speak to users’ personalities. Above these categories, there are also categories based on price.

 

Hero Image via Adobe Slack, by Nnudoo

Digital CX We’re Thankful for: UX Lessons for Thanksgiving & Beyond

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and as we near this precious time of family reunions, hearty meals and giving thanks for all of life’s blessings, we thought it would be fitting to call out another source of our gratitude: good digital customer experience (CX). 

While gathering data is crucial to building a good UX — and we’re chock full of it — we thought it would be pertinent to get direct feedback from our lovely cadre of UX-perts through a VoC approach.

As such, we surveyed our own team members on some of the best digital experiences they’ve had and they responded with the websites and site features that they’re thankful for. 

Let’s read about the kind of user experience that completes our Thanksgiving, and our daily lives. 

What sites do you like to visit and are thankful for?

“I go to TechCrunch a lot. The way the site is designed and presented is easy to digest and view, as opposed to a regular news site. TheAwesomer is also a great site, not great-looking, but it curates cool stuff from across the internet, like news articles, product finds, Kickstarter projects, videos and more. Unlike Reddit, it’s not user submitted, so the quality is better. It’s filled with thumbnails.”
Greg Tessitore, Director of Digital Experience in Marketing


“Target, it’s super convenient and there are two stores that are in my path when heading home from work. ASOS has affordable clothes that are pretty diverse in the section. From beachwear to wedding attire, you can find it on ASOS.Nordstrom Rack has great sales on designer clothes. And when you order online or via the app, they often give you an additional 15% off
already discounted items.”
Ebony Hester, Director of Demand Generation


“I’m thankful for Zara, Nordstrom Rack and Amazon, as they make shopping online rather easy, and I don’t feel the necessity to have to go in person to any store if I’m feeling lazy. I know what will fit me the majority of the time and the return policy/process isn’t an inconvenience.”
Ashley Ygarza, Sales Development Representative  


“YouTube – I’m thankful for the beauty bloggers’ recommendations!”
Emily Cawse, Strategic Consultant in Global Services


“ESPN, Foot Locker, CNN. For content sites, I like to be able to understand headlines quickly and dive in quick. For retail sites, I want to be able to either locate what I want asap or have appropriate browsing options.”
Joseph Schaefer, SDR Manager


“Twitter. It’s
easy to navigate and I love the content.”
Tito Javier, Sales Development Representative

What subscription sites do you like and why?

UXPin, an open-source code forum, where you can submit pins — a pivot point/starting point on a development project, that’s in code like CSS or Javascript. Users can get involved in a project and put their own spin on it.  I’m subscribed to the newsletter and it’s all in code. It’s basically a digital sandbox that people build stuff in.”
Greg Tessitore


“Freshly.com — used the service and the ability to select meals, edit cart and pause the subscription, which was very intuitive and executable in a click or two.”
Marc Blum, Sales Director


“Birchbox + Careof. Prior to committing to either box, you have to fill out a questionnaire about your concerns and what you would like to implement in your self-care regimen that I truly like. The questions are well thought out and it makes you feel that the items you are getting are truly crafted for you. The packaging as well is very personable and I look forward to receiving them, let it be monthly (Birchbox) or when I finish my current supply (Care/of).”
Ebony Hester


“Curology; it’s easy to get around.”
Ashley Ygarza


“Spotify, because of its seamless experience across all my devices and more music than I could ever listen to!”
Emily Cawse

Adobe Stock, VIa Hurca!

 

What brands do you think have mastered good CX and why?

“It seems like Amazon already has an idea of my preferences based on the product suggestions I get recommended to me on the homepage. Sometimes I end up adding unnecessary items simply because it’s within the category that I’m already purchasing and looks kind of cool /have not thought about buying it before. <span

I also enjoy how easy it is to get to their review section and depend on those heavily if I’m buying an unfamiliar product. Sometimes I go on and buy stuff just bc I’m in the mood to shop and they have everything – they make shopping kind of addicting.”
Ashley Ygarza  


“Lush — I like the easy navigation and the ability to search box spend. Casper is just a clean layout. I like the social media UGC feed and that the pop up for additional offers is delayed just the right amount that you don’t feel bombarded.”
Ebony Hester


“Apple — you get what you pay for!”
Emily Cawse


“Foot Locker. I like the blend of lifestyle content and product pushes/CTAs.”
Joseph Schaefer


“Godaddy, because of the incredible customer support.”
Avi Mash

Can you give us an example of a UX function or individual site element that provided a great experience for you? One that helped you or left you in awe?

“The Digital Panda, a DX agency. They built out cool animated bits on their “what they do” section of their homepage. Instead of having the title of each service and a small paragraph alone, they’re topped with an animation of pandas doing what the services offer — they’re animated descriptions. So I don’t even have to read what they do if I don’t have time; looking at these animations lets me know in a unique way.”
Greg Tessitore


“Wayfair’s app lets you see their furniture in your own space with a 3D camera. It really helped when I redecorated my apartment last year, I had a graph paper floor plan with proper measurements but seeing how the furniture spacing would work in real life was awesome.”
Meredith Golden, Sales Director


“The filtering capability. Being able to drill down into exactly what I’m looking for without having to filter and then do an exhaustive manual search on top of it.”
Joseph Schaefer


“When Google populated my calendar appointments on to Maps.”
Emily Cawse


“Rio2rome.com. I like the functionality and predictability of being able to connect my travel journeys through a variety of transportation options.”
Ebony Hester 

“I didn’t know what size bag to get, but the site offered a great comparison guide.”
Marc Blum


“The Delta app is really clean and easy to use.”
Avi Mash


“Paypal and Apple Pay, because of their rapid loads and mobile checkout capabilities.”
Harold Padilla Villa, Product Experience Manager

Do you know what you want to buy on Black Friday? What sites will you go to?

Adobe Stock, via Estheroon


“I don’t really buy on Black Friday, it’s more of taking advantage of any sale. I’ll be on
Wayfair, seeing if any of the couches go down in price. The couch I want is saved in my cart; it would be nice if they sent an email about this if there is a price drop, to show they’re paying attention.”
Greg Tessitore


“Electronics from Best Buy, because of the name recognition and comfort with the brand.”
Joseph Schaefer


“Yes, luggage. Have been on Monos.com a lot and will buy from them. I really like their UX.”
Marc Blum


“Definitely cleaning supplies or certain types of tech gadgets. Most likely Target and Amazon.”
Allison Choi


“A Lumie sunrise alarm clock — I’ll be checking Amazon of course.”
Emily Cawse


“Yes, for Black Friday, looking to purchase a TV and possibly an instapot. I start my Black Friday shopping with a direct mail piece. Target is now taking over as the big gift guide book since the end of Toy R Us. After that I view the website to gather more details about the Black Friday Preview sales. I’m more looking forward to Cyber Monday for flight deals.”
Ebony Hester


“I’ll probably buy some flights.”
Avi Mash

What We Learned from 110 Million Visitor Sessions During Black Friday & Cyber Monday

We’re entering the most hectic time of the year again — and it’s not even (officially) the holiday season. That’s because the holiday season doesn’t formally start until the holy grail of retail events. We’re of course alluding to Black Friday, the crème de la crème for boosting revenue.

Our globally-extracted data attests to the weight this pre-holiday season event holds. (Have you seen the stampedes and clashes over commonplace items on this day?) With strong expectations of drawing in higher volumes of customers who purchase, now is the time to make sure your digital CX is spot on. 

We analyzed 110 million visitor sessions and inspected the performance of 600 million pages during the 2018 Black Friday season, stretching from November 11th to November 27th. 

Our data validates the expectations of higher sales and shopping carts surrounding these retail affairs (in most cases). There was also less site abandonment — in some countries. Let’s look at some of the key insights we gleaned from those numbers.

Big Wins in the USA — Cyber Monday Rules

Black Friday — historically a brick-and-mortar affair — is today a major digital sales event. In 2018, Black Friday digital sales reached record highs, generating $6.22 billion in revenue. Cyber Monday, as its name suggests, has always been about promotions in the digital space, i.e, eCommerce.

The United States followed this rationale, as its largest sales were chalked up to Cyber Monday last year. Black Friday sales saw a 17% hike in conversions, but Cyber Monday sales trounced these, with conversion increases of 60%.

And conversions weren’t the only thing on the rise — in the US, average carts increased during Black Friday by 12%

These heightened conversions were made possible owing to the checkout in particular. This was the case for not solely the US, but also in the UK. Let’s look at the stats we crunched on the checkout portion of the customer journey.

Adobe Stock, via Ivan

 

The Checkout: Higher Conversions, Lower Bounce Rates & Less Logins 

The conversion rate among visitors who reached the checkout funnel was 25% higher during both Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Pre-holiday shoppers who reached the checkout appeared to be more inclined to go through all the steps necessary to complete their purchase, from selecting a product to entering their shipping address. 

The checkout page spurred lower bounce rates in both the US and UK. In the US, the checkout bounce rate went down by 28.3%, and in the UK, it decreased by 32%. 

In the US, the checkout bounce rate went slightly up again on Cyber Monday, but was still lower than the bounce rate in the lead-up to the holiday shopping weekend.

Despite the good performance of the checkout page, it also incurred some engagement issues. Retailers in the UK saw half the checkout logins during Black Friday, and in the US, the logging in rate was 61% lower.

It could be that Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers are in a rush to complete their purchase, or that they are already logged into their account. 

In any case, optimizing the checkout step with a quick and easy login process (think one-click, social login, etc) will only encourage more sign-ins. Encouraging guest users to create an account after they convert is another long term marketing opportunity.

Adobe Stock, Via AlexanderNovikov

 

The Search Bar & Category Pages: Higher Global Usage, Yet Higher Frustration 

In all the countries we analyzed, search bar usage saw a stark increase on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday. US shoppers browsing retail tech sites drove a 31% increase to the click rate on the search bar. 

In the UK, specifically in the retail apparel sector, the search bar garnered a 3.16% click rate increase on Black Friday alone. The click rate rose to 10.01% on Cyber Monday. 

Visitors also browsed fewer category pages in general — 5% fewer in the US and 27% fewer in the UK — confirming the theory that, by the time Black Friday rolls around, shoppers have a good idea of what they’re looking for. 

The kickoff to holiday shopping season isn’t a time for idle window shopping, so brands should put their best offers on display well in advance of the big day.

Despite the seemingly good engagement coming from the click rate of the search bar, it can also be a source of frustration, as it drew in higher click recurrences across the board.

With an average of 2 clicks on the homepage search bar during Black Friday, the US felt the most acute wrath in high click recurrence. The UK followed suit, particularly in the fashion sector, where the search bar sustained a monumental 2,000% rise in click recurrence, from 0.08 to 1.78 clicks.

So while the search bar is a necessary element for possible conversions, it may not be very intuitive. It could be drawing up the wrong results or not pulling in products close to what users are typing in automatically.

Bad UX on the Add to Cart Button Globally

The search bar wasn’t the only element to incur a high click recurrence, as the add to cart button was racked by a similar fate. 

In France, particularly in the apparel sector, the add to cart button suffered a click recurrence increase of 5.85%.

It was slightly bigger in the UK apparel sector, having risen by 8%. Most notably, in the UK tech sector, it shot up by 62%.

The US was dealt the biggest blow on add to cart buttons, as they racked up a heaping 50% in click recurrence increases.

The root of this international UX trouble-maker could be error messages springing up when users clicked on the button, either due to a technical error or issues with inventory. 

The lessons to glean from this is to optimize the add to cart button and make sure you don’t run out of products. Pay special attention to best sellers and other popular items.

An Eclectic Set of Acquisition Sources

Traffic from emails was higher by a hulking 79% during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, compared with the prior period. 

Contrary to the US, UK brands received a higher-than-average visitor flow during this season. On Black Friday, organic traffic, or traffic from SEO, was 33% higher, and direct traffic also increased by 24%.

Cyber Monday did not follow suit in the UK. Instead, brands piqued the interest of incoming visitors through paid sources and CRM. Email-based traffic was 160% higher, while social media garnered a king-size 310% increase in traffic.

Whether your brand uses paid sources or goes the organic route, make sure your copy is compelling. Add your best deals to captivate more interest. 

And when creating SEA or paid social ads, make sure your landing pages are consistent with the messaging and offers mentioned in your ads. 

Capitalizing on Black Friday & Cyber Monday in 2019 & Beyond

As the drivers of major retail events, it is incumbent upon brands to create good experiences — digital and otherwise — to attract customers’ attention and most importantly, retain them. As our data shows, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are key forces for higher revenue streams and fewer bounces. However, there is plenty brands can do to improve the UX, reduce frustration, and engage higher add to carts.

For example, product and CTA findability carries a great deal of weight in user experience. As do elements that appear to be clickable, but turn out not to be. 

Read more about how The North Face leveraged granular customer data to optimize their gift guide

Luckily, you can refer to a slew of hard data, including industry benchmarks and see how to improve your digital experience for this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But it doesn’t end here. 

You’ll need a continuous stream of data to refer to — and we’re not only referencing industry criteria. You’ll need to have a sturdy set of data on your customers’ behavior. That way, you can determine where customers are struggling and where they’re having a good UX. Once you’re equipped with this data, you can proactively make optimizations so that for your customers, Black Friday and the holiday season will truly be times of giving, i.e., buying.

Phygital CX: The Changing Face of Omnichannel Retail

Not to be outdone by the wordsmiths of this world, the retail industry recently came up with its own neologism, coining the term “phygital” to describe a new form of commerce — one that blends the best of offline and online experiences for an elevated customer experience (CX). 

It may be early days in the world of “phygital” CX, but brands are experimenting away, and coming up with innovative solutions to fit the needs of today’s omnichannel customer.

But how do you build links between a digital platform and physical store? What experience transfers are already proving successful in terms of engagement and conversions? And how do you make digital features work in the physical world, and vice versa?

What’s certain is that the line between eCommerce and brick-and-mortar is more blurry than ever. The reality is that digital has transformed everyday life. Many of our daily activities — work, communication and of course, consumption — play out in the digital realm. 

In fact, we have fully become phygital beings, and retailers are racing to adapt the customer experience to reflect our evolving needs and expectations. 

THE CUSTOMER IS KING

Consumers today expect seamless omnichannel journeys. But that’s not all they are looking for — they also want choice, and they want to feel special. And VIPs love nothing more than customized product or services!  

Digital has unlocked new opportunities for retailers, but has also made things slightly more complicated. Consumers are no longer looking for the cheapest product or best customer assistance — they seek excellence throughout the customer experience.

“Today we’re seeing a real convergence between online and offline, with many advantages for consumers,” explains Jérôme Malzac, Innovation Officer at Wide Agency. 

“On the eCommerce front: easy search, time-saving, the ability to order wherever, whenever… When it comes to local shopping, the human and physical dimensions are incredibly important, as well as contact between the retailer and the customer — advice, service, getting more info on a product and how quickly it can be purchased.”

LEVERAGING CUSTOMER INTELLIGENCE FOR A SUPERIOR CX

One of the main challenges for brands today is delivering intelligent customer journeys that are adapted to every customer. Collecting and aggregating customer behavior data can help brands identify pain points along the customer journey (both online and offline). But it doesn’t stop there, as a granular data collection allows brands to effectively personalize the experience and services. 

“Thanks to data, we can follow our customers along their journey both on and offline, and suggest relevant products to them. For example, a woman who has just purchased newborn clothes will get suggestions for baby shoes,” explains Vanessa Guignoux, head of digital and eCommerce at Gémo.

Integrating mobile app localization can also help brands deliver useful information to customers at the right time, and make their store visit more efficient. Brands can optimize a store visit based on a digital shopping list, for example. And understanding app behavior allows teams to maximize the role of smartphones in facilitating a great CX at every touchpoint.

“Digital makes omnichannel possible, and allows access to things that were only possible in the physical world, removing obstacles to purchase, understanding, sharing and knowledge. In the other direction, from digital to physical, we see gains on the human, emotional front,” explains Yann Carré, head of the marketing communication cycle for Decathlon. 

“But you need to maximize this potential. The most important thing is to have a completely responsive website, one that can be browsed and visited from any device, be it desktop, tablet or smartphone. To illustrate this, for over a year now, more people visit the Decathlon site on a smartphone than a desktop. All of our content (image, text, video, comparison tools, 3D) are conceived to be accessible digitally and to complete the offline and in-store experience.”

With consumer needs and expectations evolving fast, agility and continuous monitoring of customer behavior have never been more important. Digital teams need to analyze the way customers interact with their digital properties as part of their daily workflow. And adopting a design thinking approach and test & learn strategy allows teams to react quickly and keep up with customer expectations.

THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS

Armed with a better understanding of their customers, digital retailers and brick-and-mortar stores have started to adopt a phygital CX strategy. Drive-throughs, in-store lockers, click & collect and online reservation are just some of the ways brands have integrated offline and online to improve omnichannel CX. 

Brands have also been exploring the benefits of expanding the reliance on digital in-store, removing typical customer frustrations prevalent in physical stores such as: low inventory, or a certain size not being available. Sales assistants now use tablets to help customers complete an in-store purchase online. Some brands even mix in-store help with added online services to offer product personalization, for example.

“Our sales assistants and department managers have access to the same information as our customers via smartphone, tablet or interactive in-store touch-screens. But they’re also able to analyze buyer behavior from a mobile number or email address. By checking their information system, they can view the purchase history and searches, and engage Mr. D with advice, product suggestions, etc,” said Yann Carré. 

“And each department manager also has all the information that will allow them to make pricing, inventory and merchandising decisions. For example, if a competitor is offering a more competitive price on a particular item, they are empowered to change the price of this particular model to match or to offer a more competitive price. They can predict how this will impact sales either positively or negatively. They have all the intelligence they need to make important decisions completely autonomously.” 

Phygital logic also drives a store’s merchandising strategy. For example, if an item gets anything less than a 3 out of 5 customer score, it is removed from both the online and offline store in order to be improved.

There are many other innovations on the horizon. Monoprix, for example, is hoping to speed up in-store checkout with its Monop’Easy solution. It’s simple: customers scan their items via the mobile app, pay, and receive their receipt by email. 

Sephora also offers a mobile app that blends digital and physical realities, allowing users to test out makeup thanks to AR, and delivering info and advice to in-store customers as they are browsing the physical aisles. And beauty brand Passion Beauté has been inviting social media influencers into their stores.

Pure players have also been playing the phygital game, coming up with concept stores that allow them to get closer to their customers. In New York, you can rent pajamas and a book a bed for a 45-minute nap at Casper’s Dreamery. 

Sezane, which started off as a pure player, has opened showrooms it calls “apartments,” where shoppers can browse exclusive designs and new releases in a cozy, trendy setting. 

Brands are constantly coming up with unique ways to explore the transitions between digital and physical, and elevate the click-and-mortar experience. “We want to be (to sports) what Airbnb is to accommodation and travel,” says Yann Carré. “We want to offer more than just the value of the product and create value around sports, too. 

The more people do sports, the more opportunities there will be for us to connect with them, and sometimes, even if not always, that will transform into a purchase.”

 

3 Travel UX Must-Dos for Your Travel Booking Website

Travel UI design can be a hard nut to crack, especially when it comes to conversions. Our recent analysis of 2,100 Million visitor sessions across several verticals found that travel and tourism has one of the lowest mobile conversion rates of all sectors (0.90% average).

Desktop reigns over mobile within this sector on every performance metric, touting higher conversion rates: 2.90% vs 0.90% on mobile, and average cart values $1,860 vs. $1,790 on mobile.

Visitors spend almost double the amount of time on desktop as they do on mobile sites — 6 minutes 4 seconds on average, suggesting a less than optimized experience. The bounce rate appears to confirm this story, with a considerably higher rate of bounces on mobile than on desktop visitors bounce less, bearing a bounce rate of 39.80% (45.70% versus 39.80%). 

It is clear that even in this mobile-first age, booking an international flight or a train ticket on your smartphone phone may still be far from being user-friendly, let alone instinctive. Since travelers are largely defined by their mobility, developing headache-free solutions is paramount. Take advantage of the following tips to optimize your site for mobile users.

Make it Easy to Navigate Your Site

Whether you provide a multitude of transportation options or accommodation around the world, it’s imperative to optimize your website or app for booking on-the-go.

The best way to achieve this end is by ensuring your users can easily find what they are looking for on your site or app. 

That’s where the navigation menu comes in handy. By providing a clear navigation menu, visitors can quickly navigate the myriad of information and deals you have on offer. The more frustrated visitors become trying to navigate your site, the more likely they will bounce or exit without having converted.

Make sure that the most important parent categories are visible upon reaching the site. Avoid using ambiguous wording for navigation links so that hesitation times remain low, especially for featured content, offers, or features. Don’t leave users guessing what kind of content they’ll be directed to before clicking on something.

In addition to a clean navigation, use category or product pushes throughout the site in relevant areas so users don’t always have to rely on the global navigation (especially if it isn’t sticky to the page.) This can help keep your users engaged even after they’ve found what they’ve been looking for.                                          

An example of good travel UI design: On JetBlue’s homepage, the focus is solely on searching for flights, vacations, hotels, or cars. However, upon opening the menu, users are presented with key categories and CTAs dedicated to booking, managing, or exploring travel options. Categories and subcategories are written in large text and use helpful icons. The contrast in the background of the sub-categories makes it easier to read.

Create Seamless Experiences between Mobile, Web and Mobile Apps.

Many travel apps, especially those for booking transportation and accommodation, require specific functions and features that use the native capabilities of mobile phones.

For example, users are able to add their boarding passes, pull up their tickets or even track their baggage through mobile apps. Are travel brands replicating these essential features for their mobile websites? If not, they’re missing out on key mobile UX improvements. That’s because equipping users with access to the same types of features across platforms is key to providing a seamless travel UX. 

Surface Upsells and Cross-Sells When it’s Relevant

Users are easily overwhelmed when presented with too many options to choose from or multiple tasks to complete. Focusing the user on the most important task, such as booking a flight, is much harder when users are bombarded with a variety of extras or promotions they are encouraged to take advantage of. 

You wouldn’t put every checkout step on one page; the booking process should take a similar approach. It should be spread out across several steps to make it more easily digestible. 

The same goes for any upsells or cross-sells. Options should be progressively surfaced during different stages of the journey and in places where they are most relevant. 

When a flight is selected, the users are immediately provided an option to upgrade their seat. It clearly lists the benefits and price to upgrade. Bold colors that pop from the screen are used to indicate these special options.

That Does it for Travel UX 

Overall, your travel website should make any booking or research process as easy as possible. With mobile users increasingly on the move, any process should be made simple and easy to understand. That includes reimagining and optimizing crucial features so they take into account the context and goals of distinct audience segments. Learn what works best by studying your users’ behaviors and putting customer intelligence at the heart of your experience decisions. 

The Digital Happiness Index: Quantifying Your Customer Experience

Although conversions are the desired outcome of a good customer experience, they are not the end-all be-all for brands. A happy customer may make a purchase, but more importantly, a happy customer will return.

But how exactly do you define customer happiness? How do you understand the nuances of customer frustration and pinpoint what exactly fosters engagement? And how do you turn all this intelligence into an effective retention strategy and greater customer lifetime value? 

There are plenty of systems designed to measure user experience; these primarily and, for the most part, deal with the locations users visit on your site, conversions and the oft-cited biggest UX failure: bounces. 

But a basic set of analyses on user experience won’t cut it, and certainly won’t glean any discernment on the nuances of users’ digital happiness. The good news is that, for brands interested in quantifying the user experience as a whole, there’s a metric that does exactly that.

Calculated from several other behavioral metrics and consolidated into one mega metric, the Digital Happiness Index (DHI) is a unique measure of visitor satisfaction, providing an objective view of whether or not your overall experience is hitting the right notes.

 


What Is Digital Happiness And How Can You Achieve It?

Before we delve into the DHI, let’s focus on digital happiness. A rather simple concept, it denotes the convenience, satisfaction and even the pleasure of interacting with a website or online interface such as a search engine results page (SERP). 

As a feeling, it is incidentally difficult to pin down, even in the digital realm. But with the new, futuristic metric that is the DHI, you can determine how happy your site visitors are, based on their experience with your site or app. 

The first of its kind, the DHI combines KPIs from the 5 key strands that contribute to overall customer satisfaction:

Is navigation seamless and friction-free? Is your content proving effective to helping visitors reach their goals? Are visitors coming back to your site? Are they exiting early or completing their journeys? And finally, are they finding what they’re looking for — be that information or products?

By quantifying these various strands of experience, and combining metrics into one score, the DHI provides brands with an objective grasp of whether or not visitors are enjoying a positive experience.

Calculating the DHI: the 5 Dimensions of Digital Experience 

Here is a look at what comprises the Digital Happiness Index and what makes it tick.

Using behavioral data from our tool, the DHI separates the data into 5 dimensions to filter the numbers into intelligible concepts behind visitors’ digital happiness. Our clients get a comparison to industry standards, and every score represents an aggregate of every session on the website.

As we mentioned earlier, the DHI has 5 components, aka the 5 dimensions that make up its final score, a number out of 100, which is the average of the 5 scores of each dimension. To come up with this rating, we consider the following five dimensions:

Each of these 5 individual scores is determined by its own calculations, based on metrics like time spent on site, time spent engaging with pages/elements, bounce rates, and more. 

It also takes into account if users have reached their destinations and the way they’ve done so. It captures whether users ran into UX issues like non-intuitive navigation — clicks on non-clickable content, misleading clicks, et al.

Making Sense of the Digital Happiness Index

Innovations in SaaS and marketing have led to more avant-garde methods of measuring digital customer experience and benchmarking customer satisfaction. 

Although the complex, 5-tier system of our mega metric is supplemental, it is very much in line with our granular approach to behavioral analytics. 

The fact that the 5 dimensions deal with different occurrences in the UX means the DHI is casting as wide a net as possible to capture your customer’s mindset. Based on this score, you can shine light on areas of friction and other obstacles in the customer decision journey

Customers today will not hesitate to review a poor UX or give one star for a session that doesn’t meet their expectations. But they are also giving you continuous feedback on your site or app through their interactions — with every tap, click, scroll or hover, they are voicing their feelings about your CX. 

Here at Contentsquare, we’ve got a horde of people dedicated to helping you hear and understand what your customers feel and want — in fact, we’ve got 170 people in R&D and innovation alone. 

Happiness of any kind is difficult to pin down to a numerical format. With a consolidation of 5 distinct aspects of the UX, you will come as close as possible to determining how digitally happy your visitors are with your content.