Customer-centric Marketing: How market research and listening to customers informs website optimization

At the heart of every test or optimization effort should be an informed hypothesis. However, best practices can lead us astray. So where can marketers find inspiration for their next experiment?

The answer often lies with our customers.

This week, our sister company MarketingSherpa has a team of reporters at the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition (IRCE) in Chicago, hosting the official Media Center of the ecommerce event.

Courtney Eckerle, Senior Managing Editor, MarketingSherpa, sat down with Matt Clark, Global Head of eCommerce and Digital Marketing, Newark element14, to discuss how marketers can watch and listen to their customers to discover pain points on their sites and in their purchase funnels.

Three steps to effective ecommerce sites

To start, Matt outlined three steps marketers should take to ensure their websites effectively serve customers:

  1. Make it easy to find.
  2. Make it compelling to convert.
  3. Make it easy to use.

Matt shared an analogy that highlights the particular importance of that last step:

“It should be like a hotel where when you walk in, you know the light switch is on your right-hand side, the remote is on the table. If it’s not like that, if it’s not that seamless to a customer, you’re going to lose some customers along the way.”


Three steps to make your website and optimization customer centric

Step 1. Conduct market/customer research

Matt said the team will put both the current web experience and a proposed experience in front of their ideal customers. The only instructions are to buy a particular item. The team then steps back and observes the unaided process.

“Pretty quickly you’ll find that too many of the customers are doing things that you weren’t expecting. … A lot of times you’ll see you made pages too complex or put too many steps in where they lose interest,” he said.


Step 2. Listen to direct customer feedback

Matt said the team collects all customer feedback across their 40+ global websites.

“Each month … we go through all of the negative feedback. You’ll see ‘Your site’s slow,’ ‘It’s too hard to find something’ or ‘The registration process in Germany is consistently broken,’” Matt shared. “That hurts because they’re kind of calling your baby ugly.”

While the process can hurt, it has become a valuable step in their strategy.

“It’s on our calendars and it’s a process we use consistently.”


Step 3. Visit call centers

The team also sits in at their call centers. This provides them insight into a multitude of areas customers seek help with. While some might be more product or service oriented, the team has learned of pain points they can directly address with email or site optimization.

“For instance, in our customer service group, we found that like 50% of their calls at times were based on ‘I can’t find my order status.’”

The team was able to take that feedback and make the order status more prominent in emails and on the website. By listening and addressing this need digitally, the call center can focus on other, more valuable customer activities.

“I think it’s really about doing a little bit of research and really listening to customers consistently, like really listening – mostly to the bad stuff. The good stuff takes care of itself.”

To watch other interviews from the MarketingSherpa Media Center, visit our IRCE 2016 Media Page.


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