Many may think that SEO should be the priority of an online store trying to get off the ground. This isn’t true, as above all else, customer experience should remain of the utmost importance. It’s safe to say that regardless of how good the SEO tactics or how many SEO hurdles an e-commerce outfit could overcome, it would all be for nothing if you don’t get customers (more importantly, repeat customers) to the store.
This is how a business works: customers come and purchase a product or a service, and the company continues to thrive. But these days, it’s not just enough to sell. All the markets are heavily saturated with competition. Different companies have started to use various strategies to attract and retain customers, but nothing works as effectively as a good customer experience. And it’s a strategy that’s so effective that many brands are now shifting towards improving it through various methods.
Some of these methods include elevating product pages, scaling up multi-platform marketing through email outreach tools, and creating more engaging, authoritative content. And among the many varieties of “growth hacking” that a company might employ, data analytics remains a significant pillar to establish if the goal is to improve customer experience. E-commerce websites stand to gain a lot from data analytics, and there are even plenty of products and software that can help them do it. But most importantly, analytics provides much-needed customer information such as their verified email address, demographics, online behavior and more.
Many e-commerce sites use a variety of information about their customers. They can look into what customers buy, and see how long they spend on the site, among others. Moreover, information gleaned from analytics could also be used for both SEO strategies and customer experience enhancement.
The Power of the Consumer: Why Customer Experience is Vital in E-commerce
Image source: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
But why is customer experience so important, especially for online retailers? It’s not just the fact that there has been a tremendous boom in online shopping thanks to the pandemic crisis. There’s far too much evidence that suggests that excellent customer experience is a significant factor in an online store’s success.
Consider the numbers:
- 73% of customers place customer experience as the primary influence on whether they would buy a product or avail of a service from a brand.
- Within the USA alone, approximately 49% of consumers reportedly say that they have had genuinely excellent customer service. 43% of them explain that they are willing to pay more for it.
- For customers within North America, 80% of them express that the three major areas that make up a good customer experience are informed help, convenience, and speed. In particular, speed is crucial; up to 40% of customers say that they would be willing to pay more for it.
- Businesses understand this importance: they place an average of 20% of their marketing budgets into improving customer experience.
- According to a Forbes article, American businesses could see up to 70% in revenue boost by putting more focus and heavier investment on the customer experience.
In trying to determine what makes a great customer experience, you have to consider all aspects of what the consumer will experience during visiting the website and making a purchase. You have to put yourself in their shoes and assess your online store’s retail process. Are customers able to find what they want without difficulty? Is the website easily navigable even for non-expert users? Will they be able to understand what a product is about quickly? Is the checkout process simple?
These and more are just some of the critical questions that a business has to consider. And among these questions is how SEO factors into the experience.
From Keyword to Customer: SEO’s Impact on CX
Customer experience is an integral part of the business culture for online retailers. These brands now have to consider it down to the SEO and search aspects of the shopping process. Some things that online stores have to consider in the searching stages of a customer’s purchase process is that along with a rise in spending; there is also a rise in confusion, as 63% of US consumers don’t know how search engines work!
Because of that confusion, many of them likely won’t stray past the first page of the search engine page results. Customers want convenience and speed; this means that to capture their attention and provide the best CX necessary, brands have to make an effort to appear at the top of the lists. Searching or seeking out information about a product or a service is the first stage of the customer experience. Brands have to respond by leveraging SEO techniques, reinforcing that they are making the right decision.
Fast Facts: SEO Factors in Customer Experience
- Click through rate and bounce rate – Are people receiving what you are advertising to them?
- High performing landing pages – Does your page answer their questions along the buyers’ journey? Is the search engine crawling your site efficiently to bring them these answers?
- Views on your tertiary pages – Does the rest of your website get a decent amount of traffic? Is essential content being bypassed?
Consider your answers to these questions. If you’re failing on more than one, chances are you’re not using SEO the right way to give your customers the best experience. Fortunately, there are simple tactics to resolve these matters.
SEO at the Top of CX: Five Strategies to Enhance the Customer Experience
#1. Customer is King – Be more User-Friendly
The first recommended strategy is the simplest—have a user-friendly site. Customer confusion is growing online, and you don’t need your brand to add to it. By making your website user friendly, with straightforward navigation and easily comprehensible section, customers would be more inclined to browse your site and make a purchase from it.
Simpler website architecture also contributes to how easily search engines can crawl a site. Better crawling gives it more visibility on the search engine, improving its ranking on the search results. It brings your site to more customers faster.
Do an audit of your online store and check how it navigates: is it easy to understand? Would a customer find their way immediately? Does that have too many pop-ups or sections? Simplify the site as much as possible.
#2. Faster than a Speeding Bullet – Make your Store Load Faster
Many search engines (Google in particular) checks the speed of website loading when ranking them on the SERPs. Using the right techniques and design that enables your e-commerce website to load faster allows the search engine to read more quickly, further improving its search engine ranking.
Furthermore, fast website loading aids the customer experience by delivering information and solutions to the customer immediately. A customer’s attention span only lasts a few seconds; they won’t wait for a cumbersome website to load. They want to see what they’re looking for immediately.
Online stores can use free tools that will measure website loading speed and offer methods to improve it. This could be anything from optimizing the site images to enabling browser caching to make it even faster for repeat visitors.
#3. Master of Mobile – Make your Online Store Mobile-Friendly
Search engines also take a website’s mobile version into account. Does it load simply and easily on mobile? Can customers enjoy the site with the same convenience as they do with the web version? Don’t forget that mobile commerce rocketed up to 2.91 trillion dollars in 2020, and any e-commerce site should respond to those numbers by improving the customer experience on mobile. Customers armed with smartphones should easily pull up the site and navigate it to make a simple purchase. It enhances both speed and convenience.
Check for common issues that might arise on your mobile site. Use simple, easy-to-use navigation and sections that respond well to a mobile platform. Ensure that the sections are easy to read even on a smaller screen and that product photos are optimized for a retina display.
#4. The Big Blog – Add a Blog Section that has Relevant, Important Information
Having a blog page on your website yields dual benefits in customer experience. First, it gives your online store more opportunity to create keyword-rich, informative, and quality content that will help the site rank better on search engines. Secondly, having a repository of critical information around your products or services (which include recommendations, how-tos, and even vital facts or special events) give your customers valuable insight into both the products and how to use them. It’s also a form of advertising, urging your customers to pick up an item when they realize how useful it could be for them.
Make sure the blog page is easy to read on both platforms as well as relevant and informative. You can also make sure it has timely information such as announcements, promo deals, and more.
#5. Immediate Answers – Utilize Google’s “Featured Snippets.”
Consider the larger industry that your eCommerce site is a part of. Are there common or frequently asked questions among the consumers? You can help your customers get the answers immediately by using Google’s Featured Snippets. These are the short paragraphs of information that appear at the top of the page when a user asks a question. Not only do they immediately answer the query, but they’re a great way to improve traffic since it can redirect the consumer to the website itself to read more. It also brands your site as an authority, building trust among the consumers.
Create pages on your website that answer these FAQs. Don’t forget to add screencaps and informative images as well. Clear, direct responses or straightforward step-by-step instructions are a big bonus in this regard.
Remember that the customer experience is paramount. It’s a service that provides customers with a reliable, convenient, and speedy experience to offer solutions to their problems. Happy customers become repeat customers, building trust and loyalty in your brand.
Most of all, these same customers would spread the word about your online store, recommending your products or services to others by valuable word-of-mouth or excellent reviews, which brings in even more customers, growing your business tenfold.
What methods has your brand used to improve customer experience? Have you noticed an effective tactic that we missed here? Let us know in the comments below.