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GUEST COMMENT Your optimisation strategy: this time it’s personal

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by Wayne Morris

As an online retailer it’s likely your website optimisation efforts centre around transactions, making your site easy to use and focusing on conversion rates at various points in your sales funnel. But while those transactions are important, in order for your site to be at its optimal level of effectiveness it’s critical for your strategy to address much more than that.

Testing will enable you to understand the design, content and layout combinations that will drive the greatest clickthroughs, booking values and overall sales. But a fully optimised online customer experience means much more than just making it easy for your customers to buy things. It’s about building long-term relationships through personalisation, timely relevance and treating visitors as individuals.

The power of data and creativity

So often I find that retailers are sitting on a huge quantity of data, but have yet to find a way to exploit it. The fact is that as an online retailer you already have the best possible tool available to you for making a better functioning website – the visitors to your website.

The data that is an output of their behaviour and purchasing decisions, together with the right technology able to analyse it in real time, can enable you to make creative yet objective decisions based on knowledge, not just assumptions.

Forget changing the colour of that button, adjusting that copy or moving that header image because you think it will be more appealing to your customers; do it because you know it improves the effectiveness of your site. Harness the data you already have at your disposal to make informed creative decisions that are relevant to individual customers. This personalised customer experience will lead to greater loyalty in the long run as well as conversions in the shorter term.

Building relationships real life retail style

High street retailers have always strived to provide a personalised experience to their customers in-store, and with developments in technology and maturity in the ecommerce sector, there is nothing to stop online brands from doing the same.

In fact, online brands have a huge opportunity to go further. High street retailers are forced to make creative – and costly – decisions on displays and point of sale based on opinion, and will only know for sure if their decisions are right once the money is committed and they go live in-store. Online retailers have the luxury of making informed decisions that deliver measurable results. Technology allows you to test multiple options, combinations and segments, ensuring that the decisions you take are the right ones.

Online retail can learn from the high street however. Real life retailers do not just strive to create a good customer experience for the purposes of making a sale, they want customers to come back. Your optimisation strategy should be striving to do more than make the best possible revenue, figures like returning visitors, length of page views and conversions you can glean from segmenting your customers will tell you how you are building customer relationships.

It’s something we have demonstrated through our work with retailers including Millet Sports, where our solutions generated self-learning, user-driven recommendations. With MandMDirect, we saw conversion rates and average order values increase by making the user experience personal.

Through a marriage of data analysis and creativity it is possible to create a personalised online retail experience, driving more than simply conversion rates, to generate brand loyalty that will benefit your business in the longer term.

Wayne Morris is UK general manager, Maxymiser

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