In previous blogs on Google’s Moment Marketing methodology, we’ve explained how to identify the moments that are most important to you, and how to ensure you’re getting seen for them. This time, we’re looking at what happens once you’ve actually earned that click through to your site.
This is, of course, a critical moment in a consumer’s purchase journey. You need it to be a good one, and in a Micro Moment landscape, that means it needs to be a quick one. In this case, quickness doesn’t simply mean that pages need to load quickly (though that is critical); it means that the overall structure and content needs to be designed to facilitate the user’s easy passage through the site. If that passage isn’t as frictionless as it is on competitors’ sites, you risk losing the user’s interest, and ultimately their sale. Indeed, Google has found that 29% of smartphone users will immediately switch to another site or app if the one they’re on doesn’t provide them with the information they’re looking for, or does so at too slow a pace.
First impressions count for a lot in digital, and if you’re not making a good one, that first impression may be the only one you can make. The stats speak for themselves here. Google has discovered that 70% of people leave a site because they’re finding it’s loading too slowly, while Kissmetrics has seen that if your pages are loading for as little as four seconds, 25% of users will drop off. This statistic is boosted to 40% if the site is an eCommerce or travel site, where consumers are looking for just one thing: a quick and effortless journey to purchase.
The first step to improving load speed is working out if you need to. The best place to start is your eCommerce analytics tool. Log in, and take a look at your engagement stats – both for the site as a whole and key individual pages. Understand the time people are spending on these pages, and work out if it’s above or below what you’d expect. To get a greater handle of context, expand the time period you’re analysing to cover several months, maybe even a number of years. You’ll then be able to see how your metrics have fluctuated across a period of time, and understand if they need enhancing.
Most of the changes that need making are back-end tweaks, with the most significant being optimisation of your database. This is where your site’s key information is held, and which is searched whenever a user is looking to find something. Adding an index allows the database to locate this information faster, which means it can be served to the user faster. Some front-end tweaks can help too. Video embeds and social share buttons can put greater demand on your site than you might think due to the amount of additional code they bring. The more features, the more coding, the more time it takes to load everything that coding demands. Streamline code like this to ensure your front-end is working at peak performance.
Even if you have a lightning-fast site, it counts for little if its structure isn’t doing all it can to effectively usher users from point A to point B. This is what User Experience (UX) is all about, but it isn’t a simple case of making a site look clean and tidy. It’s a process of intensive and almost constant analysis to allow you to understand how your customers are using your site. So, for example, it may stand to reason that share buttons should scroll down the page along with the user, and that the navigation bar may snap to the top of the page so it stays in that position as the user scrolls down, but is that really the best user experience for your users?
There’s no one size fits all answer for this. Every site is different, as are different demographics. If your customers are a little older, they may expect a different kind of experience to those who are younger – digital natives who have grown up with the internet at their fingertips and expect it to wrap around their busy lives. Whereas younger consumers accustomed to the visual world of Instagram and Pinterest may find themselves swayed by creative imagery, older consumers who are not interested in such platforms may find that kind of asset distracting or unhelpful, and ultimately put them off the sale. Know your customers and that will help you know your user experience.
If there is one guiding principle for your user experience, it’s that friction is the enemy. Nobody wants to spend longer than they have to searching for an item or standing in line at a supermarket, and that’s as true online as it is offline. Regardless of demographics, customers crave simplicity. So study your analytics and get an understanding of how customers are using the site. Are they regularly visiting Page A from Page B? Are they routinely dropping out at the same place? Are they spending only a fraction of time on your site as a whole? Identify these points and you’ll be in a position to tweak them, enhance UX, and increase conversions.
Content may not seem like a useful tool to make your site quicker, but it can be a significant asset. Think of on-site content like signs and markings on a road and good UX as the road itself. No matter how smooth the tarmac or wide the lanes, if there are no signs or markings guiding traffic to where it needs to get to, those things don’t matter: drivers will simply be confused. The same is true online. A fast loading site and strong, frictionless UX means little if you’re not providing good content to give consumers the kind of information they require, and keep them flowing from their point of entrance to that all-important sale.
That content doesn’t have to come in the form of blogs or articles (though as we saw in the piece about Being There, a blog can help you gain organic awareness through Search Engines and drive extra customers to your site). It can be as simple as useful, impactful copy describing a page or a process. It can be a gallery of images showing off a product from a number of angles. Or it can be a video showing off how that product works. Just as with user experience, it’s about finding the right content for your business and your customers. A simple gallery may suffice if your business sells clothes, but if it’s a computer game, a video showing gameplay may be of more use.
Once again, by studying your analytics tool and identifying key areas, eCommerce sites can gain an appreciation of strengths and weakness, and enhance their content offering to give customers extra road signs along their purchase journey.
Being Quick isn’t just about simple load speeds. It’s about understanding your customers and working out how you can tailor your eCommerce site to best suit their purchase journey. That means studying your eCommerce analytics, working out how effectively you’re achieving your goals, and adjusting your site to improve your chances of meeting them. By doing this, you’re empowering your customers and giving yourself the best chance of increasing revenue.