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Is it time to rethink website optimization?

4-minute read

Having a well designed website isn’t enough to engage visitors, drive conversions, and generate business growth. Eye-catching graphics, special offers and captivating content will only get you so far. Clicks and unique visitors are metrics that are closely watched in website optimization strategies. Many companies default to paying to get the clicks, and web analytics show lots of visitors on the website. It’s a good start. But what’s happening to visitors once they get there?

This type of website optimization is akin to an airplane full of passengers, traveling to a tropical island destination, with the expectation of being able to enjoy a relaxed beach vacation in a resort. But when they land and disembark, they’re left standing on the airstrip. No guide to meet them, no vehicle to transport them to a hotel. All they experience is the view of palm trees in the distance and the warm scent of a tropical breeze. They know that what they want is there but they’re not getting to experience it. Standing on the airstrip is not what they signed up for, and the last thing that they want after a long flight is having to figure out how to make their dream of a beach holiday a reality. Without any guidance or support, chances are, they’re more likely to get back on the plane and head somewhere else.

Now, no credible travel business would deliver that kind of experience to their customers. So why do so many companies invest so much time, money and effort in getting visitors to their website and proportionally so little once these visitors are on the site? Could this account for low conversion rates despite high volumes of traffic? And why web visitors are so quick to search for an alternative when they don’t immediately find what they’re looking for?

Website optimization is about more than visitors and clicks

The journey that takes visitors from first viewing a site to clicking on a call to action resulting in a conversion is far more complex than meets the eye. Especially if companies wish to retain newly acquired customers and convince them to buy more. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for any company, particularly if there is a customer centric business strategy at play. Then it’s not just the business goals that are important. Understanding and applying the voice of the customer (VOC) becomes the starting point for all website optimization efforts and it needs to continue throughout the entire customer journey encompassing pre- and post-sales motions.

There are many website optimization tools available to help companies gain more visibility on their web traffic. But there is no guarantee that that website visibility will translate into clicks and revenue unless customers are getting an experience that meets their expectations.

To revisit the tropical traveler analogy: Gaining visitors is only getting the travelers onto the island. After travelers arrive, there needs to be a warm welcome, transport to the resort (the next step in the journey), and once they get there, the fulfillment of the expectation of being able to relax on a tropical beach. Every meal or drink they get served during their stay is part of the experience. Every activity creates a memory that will hopefully make them want to return.

It’s no different for the digital user experience. The same nurturing of the customer experience needs to take place, but at scale, incorporating all demographics and customer segments, as well as seasonal events and shifting customer expectations. When the voice of the customer factors into touch points throughout the customer journey, that’s when website optimization really starts to be effective and results in driving sustained growth.

2020 has highlighted how quickly market dynamics and customer behavior can shift. If there was any doubt before that companies need to be agile, this year has proven it. Digital leaders on the hook to drive record growth through digital channels have recognized the need to be able to respond rapidly to shifts, and this means getting more accurate customer insights, and much faster. If they’re having to work harder to drive traffic across all channels, website optimization success has to go beyond getting eyeballs and clicks. It needs to focus on reducing friction throughout the customer journey and methodically engaging visitors to take the desired actions. Providing value, delivering relevance and creating memorable customer experiences.

But how is this possible when there are so many variables and dynamics?

Historic data only tells you what customers have bought in the past, and while it’s relevant it doesn’t accurately predict their interests or needs in the future. However, taking website optimization ideas and implementing ideation at AI scale turns lots of ideas into thousands of unique variations and combinations to find what appeals to customer’s unique interests and needs. The ability to change, remove or add to ideas while the optimization is in progress only serves to improve the results. Link up those ideation efforts to strategies aligned to specific company metrics and that’s when website optimization starts to drive business growth.

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