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Creating A Sense Of Urgency For Higher Conversions Rates!

timbuk2_closer

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By every indicator available, ecommerce is continuing to grow at an insane speed. Although it may seem impossible to imagine with ecommerce already totaling up to 5% of overall commerce, there’s astronomical growth still to come.

Still, I’m heartbroken that some the simplest elements of ecommerce stink so much.

It is 2018—why are there still light gray below-the-fold add to cart buttons?

#youarekillingme

There are numerous subtle issues as well. One strategic issue is illustrated by Timbuk2.


timbuk2_closer

Timbuk2 pays a huge margin to its resellers to sell their messenger bags. These resellers, in turn, give a bigger cut to Amazon, who then sells the Timbuk2 bag for 30% off. Yet, when I want to pay full price on www.timbuk2.com, I have to buy a minimum of $99 to get free shipping!

I understand channel conflict, Timbuk2, but this is just plain not being hungry. You could win bigger by cultivating higher more profitable direct relationships, especially when the old world order of commerce is collapsing all around you.

And I’m ignoring the extremely light gray font reviews…on a shade grayer background!

timbuk2_reviews

Painful.

(I really want to buy the Closer Laptop bag. The small one in Jet Black looks cool. I refused to buy it because I don’t want to reward a lack of ecommerce imagination. I am one person, I know it is not going to really hurt them, but I don’t know how else to protest a brand I love.)

Pause. Deep breath.

I do get excited about this stuff. My heart bleeds digital.

There is an ocean of opportunities when it comes to elevating ecommerce. In this post, I want to focus my passion and zero in on something that is difficult to solve for, yet immensely profitable: Inserting a sense of urgency into the shopping process.

I don’t mean: BUY IT NOW OR ELSE!

I mean developing and inserting a subtle collection of gentle nudges that can help increase the conversion rate by a statistically significant amount.

Sizing the Opportunity.

In order to have the same passion to take advantage of this magical opportunity (nudge, nudge) you’ll first want to understand how inefficient your current shopping process is.

Do two things, they’ll bring you to your knees:

1. Go look at your ecommerce conversion rate. It shows you how often you win. 🙂 Your overall conversion rate is likely to be around 2%. You don’t need an advanced degree in math to compute that 2% winning is 98% not winning!

Do something simple. Increase current conversion rate by 25%, quantify how much increased revenue there will be. Yes, that additional $6 mil is not as hard to accomplished for an imaginative focused team – in fact you can get that from implementing half of the recommendations in this blog post.

Bonus: The best computation of conversion rate is orders divided by users (the default in your analytics tool is sessions). This will bring your conversion rate up (yea!!). Still. Big opportunity. And, yes, I did say a decade ago that you should look at the opportunity size within all your website visitors. You should. Still. The conversion headroom is massive.

Google Analytics Ecommerce Reports

2. Go to the Multi-Channel Funnels folder in Google analytics and look at two other yummy reports: Time Lag and Path Length.

They report two dimensions of speed: How long does it take for a human to convert? How many visits does it take for a human to convert?

My preferred choice is Path Length; it is rich and actionable.

This data you’ll see, the analysis you’ll do, will scare you. It will also create a sense of urgency to do something about it!

These two recommendations will help you compute the opportunity size for your management team.

Aim for quintupling revenue, obviously, but calculating just 25% improvement will give you all the budget you need from your management to insert urgency into the shopping process. Present a yummy spreadsheet that quantifies the cost of inaction, how much money you’ll lose by not delivering a 25% improvement every week. It will be heartbreaking, and now you are ready for progress!

Welcome to Nudging.

Nudging has plenty of different definitions. Mine is simple:

A gentle incentive that creates a shift in behavior.

Another insistence of mine that you’ll note below: Nudges are based on a deep understanding of user experience. They solve for the user first, and all of the hard work is done by the company (you!).

In the long run that’ll also create a positive revenue outcome for you. Win-Win.

Below is a collection of nudges, curated from my global experiences, influenced by research and data I’ve access to.

My goal with these recommendations is to have a big impact on your ecommerce existence, and to spark your creativity as you go out and change the world.

Let’s go have some fun nudging people.

1. In-stock status.

It mildly irritates me when sites don’t use this nudge.

How many hotel rooms, cameras, seats in a theater, are left?

Only 15 left in stock. Have that right under the price.

How about: Last run! Be one of the last 9 people to own this credenza design.

OMG! Click, click, click!

Or, 1 in-stock in the REI store next to your office.

Nudge. Nudge.

target_in_stock_status

I’ll admit that you need to have a well-integrated logistics platform to make these ideas work. But given the decade we are in, if you have not already done that, you are facing an existential crisis. Please stop reading this post, pull in your agency and internal teams urgently to figure out how to dig your company out of this deep hole.

If you have a well-integrated logistics platform already, then all I’m asking for is this: lock your online and offline IT folks in a nice Four Seasons suite for 72 hours with your User Researchers, and BAM! Money will start falling from the sky.

Speaking of the Four Seasons, consider how sad their nudging strategy is vs. the one that booking.com has on display:

four_seasons_vs_booking_nudges

All the data you need for this nudge… You already have. That’s what makes the Four Seasons strategy, and that of most sites, so heartbreaking.

Convert the inventory status into a conversion boosting nudge.

2. Life of current price.

It physically pains me how rarely this nudge is used.

Dynamic pricing is everywhere. Why not share that information with the shopper?

This price is guaranteed for the next 18 hours.

This price reflects the highest discount in the past 24 weeks.

Limited-time offer applied to the price you see.

Seasonal promotion! Expires Friday.

Reflects special pricing for our highest-tier Frequent Flyers.

Price has reduced by 14% since your last visit.

I’m sure you’ll find language and phrasing that works perfectly for you (see PS at the end of this post). There is a nugget tied to a unique dimension for your dynamic pricing strategy. Please find it, please use it.

Here’s an example from The Golf Warehouse:

the_golf_warehouse_limited_time_pricing

Here’s another one from Overstock that shows two time based nudges…

overstock_time_bound_sale_time_to_ship

You can take advantage of other dimensions related to pricing that are unique to your digital strategy.

This one comes from YouTube TV: Lock-in this monthly rate for life.

YouTube TV’s price just went up from $35 to $40 (they added more channels). Everyone who’d signed up at $35 was grandfathered at that price – until they cancel!

Yet, this incredible benefit was not a part of YouTube TV’s merchandizing strategy from day one. You can imagine that a whole bunch of additional people (me!) would have jumped on board. Instead not only do I not have YouTube TV, I am sad/upset. Double loss.

You have an entire staff of economists, financial analysts, directors and VPs spending so much time on finding the perfect price to charge an individual. Why not convert that immense hard work into a nudge that creates a sense of urgency?

3. Direct competitor comparisons.

38% cheaper than Nordstrom.

Sometimes, by using one of the multitude of price aggregators, you can have an understanding of where your pricing is at an item level. Where the match is in your favor, why not use that as a nudge?

You can have the comparison for as long as it is valid. You don’t even need to specify a time—people are familiar with FOMO.

Only at B&H, this item comes with a free LG Watch!

First, who does not like free stuff?

Second, who does not like believing they are getting a special deal?

Three, who does not freak out that if they don’t buy it right away, this “insane deal” will disappear?

Me. I did that. At B&H. 🙂

Again, your merchandizing team is working hard to procure these amazing bundles for your customers, so why are they not a core part of your nudge strategy?

Costco Special: Get an extra year of warranty!

Our average delivery times to California are 50% faster than Amazon.

Save $150 on installation compared to Best Buy!

Our return rates are 40% lower than Wayfair.

You catch my drift.

Here’s just one example from SugarCRM:

sugar_crm_comparison

Here’s a comparison on Honda’s site…

toyota_honda

No, actually it is from Toyota’s site.

They know that if their car is more expensive, with worse mileage etc., better to be upfront as the customers are looking for that information…

You can also go deeper when it comes to implementing the spirit of this nudge. Kendrick Astro Instruments has the normal table based competitor comparison, additionally they also have a detailed comparison with images to give you more detail…

kendrick_astro

This shows hunger and desire to win… Their text:

This image displays the quality of Kendrick’s cabling that we use on all Premier and FireFly heaters. Our cabling remains flexible in cold weather (down to -40° C), are all labeled for easy identification and all have metal RCA connectors..

This is the text next to their competitor’s image (which you can view in higher resolution):

This image displays a competitor’s cabling. It is a PVC coated RCA patch cord. PVC gets very stiff in the cold and as a result, makes it an awkward component to use at the telescope. As well, due to the lack of flexibility and give in the cold, it can defocus camera lenses.

Not all that hard to see how this nudge drives higher conversion rates.

Your employees stand up at 11:00 AM each day and sing the company song. There is a line in there about your company’s unique value proposition. Something so special, it stands out against everyone you compete with.

Why let that be your little secret? Why don’t you convert that into a nudge?

Consider how much louder your 11:00 AM company sing-a-long will be when your employees see you laying it out there and going head to head with your competitors.

4. Delivery times based on geo/IP/mobile phone location.

Amazon does this really well.

Each item’s estimated delivery time to you depends on the closest warehouse to your home address. So that Timbuk2 bag might be delivered to me the next day, but it would take two days to get to Carissa in Alabama.

Amazon shows this best delivery time for me right next to the price.

More often than not, I see that Prime One-Day or Prime Same-Day and, as if by magic, I find my mouse glide toward the Order Now button!

amazon_nespresso

The closeness of the customer to your delivery environments remains an infrequently used strategy in creating an urgency nudge.

Another dimension of the delivery time nudge is order in the next 4 hours and get it tomorrow with fast shipping!

In our instant gratification culture, who can resist that?

You are $39 away from overnight shipping has been done to death. (If you are in this category, know that the last “secret” of ecommerce is that figuring out how to weaponize shipping – and free returns – is a powerful conversion increasing engine. Not easy, but your business model has to change to survive.)

But. If you are still in that world—don’t worry, I still love you—know that a behavioral shift from an emphasis on cost to an emphasis on the benefit will make a huge difference.

Add another $39 to your order and get your order 48 hours faster!

This takes advantage of the person’s location, your warehouse location, and your shipping policy, and frames it all as a positive nudge.

A couple more examples to inspire you.

Love these delicious sandals on Express. My wife thinks I’ll look prettier in the red, I think the Mustard really looks like my color. 🙂

I love the nudge they have built-in showing how many in my size are in stock (only one!)…

express_sandal_one_in_stock

Not wanting to risk it, I click on the Find in Store link you see at the bottom of the page.

I get a interstitial that shows me availability of the sandal by geographic location…

express_sandal_location

Here’s the lovely part… I did not have to do anything. Express did a reverse lookup based on my IP Address, matched that with their stores, then checked their ERP system for inventory and got me the answer. All inside one second.

Nudge, nudge!

One more.

Dominos will now deliver a pizza to you wherever you are. Literally wherever. In a park, in the dark woods, under a bridge. They look up your mobile location (with your permission), and they’ll come find you.

Assuming you want pizza that bad.

There are still websites that ask you to choose your country when you land. In this day and age, for the sake of Zeus, I hope that is not you.  But, how inventively are you using the location nudge?

Significantly higher revenue awaits.

5. Social cues to the rescue.

The last couple of months have not been great for social networks. I’m sure something beneficial will come to the entire digital ecosystem from all this.

A minority might believe that the whole social media thing is going to die. It is not. Community and sharing are core to who we are as humans. It is not going to change. (And, you still need a place for guilty pleasures: indulging in the latest Kardashian-West clan developments!)

Stretch your imagination and it is not hard to come up with some super-clever nudges that incorporate aggregate non-PII information that is public.

People have shared this blouse 18 times in the last hour on Instagram.

80 people in California have booked this destination in the last 30 days.

1,846 Pins for this closet on Pinterest.

Our most tweeted style of underwear!

800 plusses on Google+.

Ok, so maybe not Google+ (I was genuinely excited about it, I am sad it died). But you get the idea.

Social cues (/proof) can help create a sense of urgency for a whole host of companies. Yet, I bet you’ve rarely seen the use of this aggregated information to deliver nudges.

Here’s a simple example of aggregated non-PII based social cue, from, a site you’ve seen me express adoration for in the past, ModCloth. Every product has a little heart sign, visitors to the site vote their love which helps me make more confident decisions…

modcloth_midi_skirt

ModCloth also allows their customers to contribute something you might consider PII, their photos. These make perhaps the ultimate social proof as I can see the skirt I want (mustard again FTW!) on different body sizes…

modcloth_midi_skirt_user_pictures

ModCloth has a whole lot of social proof strategies. They have a Style Gallery, #ModClothSquad, #MarriedinModCloth etc.

Think expansively about social proof.

Naked Wines has a lovely widget next to each of their wines that shows the would buy again rate…

naked_wines

And, they show you historical sales and would buy it again rates.

Checkout the Kimbao Sauvignon Blanc you can see sales and would buy it again rates since 2011. At 91%, the rate is highest this year. Sweet. Add to Basket!

Another team thinking expansively about leveraging social proof are the excellent folks at Basecamp. If you scroll to the bottom of their web pages you’ll see…

basecamp_customers_trend

Completely non-PII based social proof, a simple cumulative trend of the number of customers. What better way to convince you to use them than this lovely up and to the right trend?

One final, massively underutilized, social proof nudge for you to consider.

Every smart ecommerce strategy has an individual-level referral program bolted on from the very start. Your current customers refer your products and services to their friends, family, and complete strangers—in exchange for a little benefit for themselves.

It is rare, however, to see the use of that referral information as a nudge.

Your friend Alex will receive $5 if you order in the next 24 hours.

The site is keeping track of the referral (to pay your friend Alex his bounty). They have all the information they need to create the above line of text. Why not use it?

Read Diana’s review of this product.

Diana, of course, referred the product to you, and that insight is in the URL you used to get to the site. The site is simply going the extra mile to surface Diana’s review, as it will likely be more meaningful to you than the other 29.

I love Patagonia; I value the brand’s ethos so deeply. And, when I say love, I mean LOVE. Two of the three pieces of clothing I’m wearing right now are from Patagonia. Yet there does not seem to be any strategy at Patagonia to help me (and you and other brand lovers) to create social cue nudges.

Humans inherently want to share, they want to show off, and they want to pass on recommendations/deals to their community. Got social nudges?

6. Personalization. Yes, from 1995!

Do you remember what I did during the last visit to your website?

No PII, just off the anonymous first-party permission-based cookie. Did you use that to change the site’s home page?

And, if you have a GDPR compliant login mechanism…Does your machine learning-powered ecommerce platform leverage the lifetime of my site experience, complaints, purchases, etc., to anticipate my activity?

Do the pages on your site wrap around my objectives, rather than your static and pimpy ones?

Is your entire sales strategy obsessed with the Do, or does it also obsess about the See, Think and Care bits of the complete human experience?

Personalization is the ultimate nudge—to create ecommerce-related urgency and to bring your brand closer to the customer over the lifetime of their experience with you.

That’s because personalization means truly caring. Personalization requires a huge investment in understanding. Personalization is translating that individual human-level understanding into anticipation. Personalization means helping. And when you do it right, personalization means you pimp with relevance—the best kind.

The desire to personalize across the complete human experiences kicks off the processes that fundamentally alter how you treat every human. The reason it works, when done right, is that deep down, we want people to care about us. And yes, we will end up doing more business with people who show that they care for us. Really care. The ultimate nudge.

So. If you own www.canada.ca or www.sainsbury.co.uk using PII or non-PII information… Does your site actively learn and then change? If not, why not?

One huge challenge we had to overcome in delivering personalization was employee capabilities. Employees are terrible at being able to imagine the expanse of possibilities when it comes being able to understand each human and being able to react to each human. Mercifully, Machine Learning (/Artificial Intelligence) will help us solve this challenge with incredible results.

Bottom-line.

You can pray that your conversion rates increase.

Alternatively, you can take advantage of the data you have access to, the permissions your users have given you, and the competitive advantages you’ve worked so hard to create and use them to create nudges that solve for delivering delight to your customers and more revenue to your company.

Your choice?

Nudging FTW!

As always, it is your turn now.

If you’ve tried one of the above six strategies to create a nudge, what was the outcome for your company? If you’ve seen a strategy for creating urgency that you love, will you please share it? What challenges have you run into in trying to personalize experiences? Nudging also works in our personal lives—have you tried it? 🙂

Please share your critiques, brilliant ideas and experience scars via the comments below.

PS: My doctor reminds me during every annual visit that I need to take more walks outside in the sun to make up for a vitamin deficiency. Turns out I spend too much time in my office or auditoriums. The sun is right there. I just need to take a walk. I still do it less than I should. Such is the case with A/B testing. The tools are free and abundant. You know they are the best way to win arguments with your HiPPOs or your cubicle mates. Yet, you don’t use them. I’m off to take a walk in the beautiful California sun, you go implement my recommendations for nudges as A/B tests—it is the only way to unlock the kind of imagination required to create profitable happy customer experiences.



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Orignal Article Can Be Found Here

User Experiences That Print Money

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Like me, I’m sure you are working on complex challenges when it comes to data.

Multi-petabyte data warehouses. Multi-touch, cross-channel attribution analysis. Media mix modeling. Predictive analytics. Human-centric analysis. Oh, and let’s not forget the application of machine learning to every facet of your work.

It is genuinely fun to work on these opportunities. They’re difficult, and every step forward offers a renewed sense of excitement and inspiration.

Despite the joy in these high-level, forward-thinking initiatives, I’ve disciplined myself not to let the unsexy fundamentals go overlooked. I’m particularly vigilant about avoiding friction in the core systems that facilitate the flow of money into the company and beloved products out of it.

So today, that valuable reminder for you kicked off via a case study inspired by Condé Nast. To inspire, and jump-start, a change in your focus, we’ll also look at Heal, Facebook and prAna.

Before we proceed with the stories… The unsexy fundamentals in this post focus on user experience. If you are a reader of my newsletter, The Marketing < > Analytics Intersect, you’ve seen me apply it to metrics (last TMAI was on Bounce Rate), reports, frameworks and more. The concept touches all facets of our professional universe.

Condé Nast | A Story of Unrequited Love.

Condé Nast is in a world of hurt, along with everyone else in the print business. In 2017, they’ve twice replaced the company’s Chief Revenue Officer. They are pursuing a variety of digital experiments, and it remains unclear whether any of them will stick (unlike the New York Times, where new initiative such as “The Daily” podcast and T Brand Studio have proven overwhelmingly successful).

You might assume that Condé Nast, through these changes and new initiatives, would have solved the fundamental issue of subscriber retention.

Join me on that journey.

I love The New Yorker.

“Love” is an understatement. I ADORE The New Yorker magazine. I love David Remnick. And Amy Davidson and Sheelah Kolhatkar and John Cassidy and Jia Tolentino and… all of ’em. Hence, I’m proud to be a paying subscriber. The nourishment that your soul craves is in The New Yorker, and I encourage you to consider your own subscription.

As I almost exclusively read the articles online, I visited the website to switch to digital-only (from digital + print) when my subscription expired in October.

I recall this simple task posing a surprising challenge. I was busy, and ultimately, I gave up. Last week, in my guilt for reading articles online for free, I decided to try again.

The first step was to log into my New Yorker account.

I was already logged into the site and thus found this to be a bit of a nuisance. But, no biggie.

Post-login, I was taken to my profile page, where under the Edit button I received a lovely reminder of my tardiness.

[Full disclosure: The New Yorker, starting May 2017 had sent me at least 14 reminder letters via postal mail with a form to complete fill out and return with a check. I don’t know who does this anymore, certainly not us. I want to add that I did not get a single reminder via email – with a direct link to renew. This despite the fact that The New Yorker has my email address, and it would be cheaper to send me 14 emails than printed letters. Clearly, the Department of Postal Mail is vigorous at Condé Nast.]

I clicked on Customer Care (but not before taking a tangent to explore what “Amazon Digital Subscriptions Manager” is, turns out to be the most expensive way to get a subscription to the magazine!).

Amazingly, I was asked to log in again, this time on a completely new domain.

It was a bit odd to see the captcha. I wonder just how many hackers are dying to access the Condé Nast subscription website to help process renewals!

Mildly irritated, I did as I was asked.

Once again, I was presented with a summary of my account, and I began scanning for my next action.

I simply wanted to change my subscription from digital + print to just digital, and to know what it will cost.

I scanned my options on the left navigation, with few promising options.

I give “Renew” a try.

Wrong choice.

My only choice was to up the game to two years.

I wondered what the Wired cross-sell says about New Yorker subscribers. Had it been tested?

I re-focused.

Next, I tried “Digital Access.” It seemed to smell right.

Wrong choice again.

This just told me how to access the magazine anytime, anywhere! 🙂

Back to exploration mode.

(At this point, I was not irritated. I realized there was a lesson to be learned. So I began taking screenshots of this unnecessarily painful journey, wondering if any Condé Nast employee had ever tried to change their personal subscription.)

I revisited “Manage Your Subscription,” to make the next best choice: “Adjust auto-renewal.”

Right choice? No. Wrong again.

I didn’t want to update my credit card.

This, I was forced to resort to the last bastion of the frustrated: “Subscription FAQs.”

I hate FAQs; they are almost always useless. Will Condé Nast prove to be the one exception to the rule?

“How can I renew my New Yorker subscription,” seemed somewhat promising. I dutifully choose “clicking here.”

Wrong choice.

I was right back to where I started, amazed that this company is in so much trouble financially but won’t offer someone desperate to pay them a seamless way to do so.

Left to the footer, I clicked “Subscribe.” At that point, what did I have to lose?

This took me to a third site, where, finally I was able to choose a digital-only subscription!

No. Not really.

This is a “12 Weeks for $12” offer that only applied to new subscribers. This offered no path for an existing subscribers.

What was even more frustrating — massively so — is that there was also no answer to my other question: How much would a digital-only subscription cost?

In fact, on this subscription page (the one I linked to when recommending The New Yorker above), there is no way to determine how much The New Yorker costs per year.

Let me say that again. If you are trying to subscribe — new or returning — Condé Nast does not tell you the annual subscription cost!

#OMG

What kind of con are these people running?

This put me at my wit’s end. I’d failed to give them my money.

I revisited the second site to select “Chat Now.”

Having logged in three times, as indicated in the top-right corner, I am asked once again to supply my credentials.

I waited an eternity for the chat session to start, completely absent of any status indication (x minutes remaining, or you are 10th in the queue).

Bored, I jumped back to the other window to tinker.

That’s where I noticed the suddenly appealing “Cancel” link. Click!

I found the three choices intriguing.

How many of those who visit the page to cancel their subscription would like to improve the experience? (It was also not clear what “experience” meant.)

I opted to “Reconsider and save $10,” simply because I love The New Yorker, and I wasn’t going to give up on them. I am going to subscribe no matter how inept Condé Nast is.

A friendly message informed me that I was to wait for an email containing my $10 discount.

Why do I have to wait, I wondered.

Did Condé Nast have so many employees that someone was going to review my “case history” and validate my worthiness for the $10 discount, which, let me remind you, they offered proactively?

Ding!

My chat window came alive. Hurrah!

No. Not really.

“Leah” seemed unfamiliar with the Condé Nast platform. She directed me to pages I couldn’t see, and asked me to go sign up for an intro offer which I knew I wasn’t allowed to get (that was clear in the legal terms on the page).

After not helping at all, I admired her chutzpah in asking if she can help me with anything else.

Frustrated, I choose “End Chat.”

I decided to wait for my $10. I felt I’d earned it by now.

Now, it has been a couple weeks. Crickets from Condé Nast.

Since I still love The New Yorker, I’m considering a digital subscription under my wife’s name. She’ll get 12 weeks for $12, which is sad as I want to pay full price.

12 weeks into that subscription, perhaps I’ll finally come to find the full annual fee.

Ensuring loyal customers are able to renew and modify their subscription is the most fundamental of functions. It is not revolutionary to say that you really don’t want friction there.

Condé Nast has analysts upon analysts upon analysts. They have a world of user experience experts. I am genuinely and absolutely confident that these 400 people are executing large complex projects to save Condé Nast from financial trouble. None of them though thinks that that starts with something simple and fundamental: Fixing renewals. Or, telling people what a subscription actually costs.

To say that this breaks my heart is an understatement of galactic proportions.

Up next, you.

Condé Nast is hardly alone. I highly recommend a close self-evaluation to ensure that this isn’t true for you as well.

To inspire prompt action by you, let me share a few more UX examples that are super-close to the company making money (the thing they/you should positively nail).

Heal | A Story Unfulfilled Forms.

Heal has an irresistible value proposition: They’ll send a doctor to your house!

I’m blessed to have health insurance. Still going to a doctor is such a pain, and even with an appointment the doctor makes me wait. Heal it is.

I install the mobile app, and proceed to making my first appointment.

The very first thing I have to enter is my date of birth. Seems reasonable.

Here’s the screen I get…

What!

What is the reasonable number of times the Heal UX team thinks a human should be expected to click the little < button to get to their date of birth?

I won’t tell you how old I am (very!), it is a lot of back clicks for me. A lot.

I just gave up.

For this article I opened the app again. There has to be a (hidden) better way.

I tried to click on “January 2018” hoping it pops up a calendar. No dice. I then clicked on “Sun, Jan 7.” Nope. Nothing else seems clickable. Looking… Scanning… Then, I clicked on the little “2018” on the top left. I get a list of years, score! I scroll, scroll, scroll, I’m old, scroll, and find my year of birth.

Consider this: You are a startup trying to upend the existing insane healthcare system. Should you have a simpler way to fill out the date of birth? Unsexy fundamental.

In the month of December, when I needed an annual exam, I could not get the address field in the Heal app to get my home address in there. (Unsexy fundamental.) I had to make an appointment and drive to the doctor. Oh, the humanity!

Facebook | A Story of Unsent $100s.

The only way now to get to your followers on Facebook is to buy ads.

[Bonus read: Stop All Social Media Activity (Organic) | Solve For A Profitable Reality]

No problem. After I would post something I want my Facebook followers to see, I would click the blue Boost button and pay Facebook $100. That seemed to solve the Reach problem.

Then one day a little while back I’m greeted with a new button: Boost Unavailable.

I have 45k followers on Facebook, without boost I get just 4k.

So I want this problem fixed. I want to give Facebook my $100. Except. Boost Unavailable.

When I click on that button, I get this, to me, confusing message.

A long time ago I had a personal page on Facebook. A couple years ago they informed me that I was not a person, I was a brand and forced me to change that page to “brand page.” I lost all my connections, and got followers instead.

Now, I don’t know what to do with this message. This account is all I have.

I click on Manage Page Roles, to see what my choices are…

I have to admit I am lost.

I am confident someone at Facebook understands what is going on, they even understand every option in the 19 choices in the left nav. Sadly, I don’t. The end result is that I can’t give Facebook my $100 and get my posts boosted.

As you might have heard, Facebook is just fine without my $100 every other week. They are clearing $10 bil a quarter. Still, an example of an unsexy fundamental that their user experience team could consider solving for.

prAna | A Story of Unfiltered Sadness.

I appreciate the opportunity to support businesses that solve for fair trade, green and sustainable business practices. If their products last forever, even better as I have to buy a lot less over time.

prAna is a good example of such a company. I also admire their brand building efforts – from the logo to the shipping envelopes.

I can’t afford their clothes at full price, but can’t resist looking at the men’s sale section when I need something.

Filters are your BFF when you are in environments with lots of choice. You can quickly go from being overwhelmed to narrow focus.

prAna’s site has loads of filtering choices: Gender, size, activity (yoga, hiking…), fit (slim, fitted), inseam, color, fabric (fair trade, HeiQ…), performance (PFC Free DWR, quick dry…), rating, silhouette (button down shirt, flannel, that’s it, really!), country of origin.

Guess what’s missing?

Imagine you have go trawl through hundreds of items on sale for clothing you need. What is the first thing you want to filter by?

Think.

Yes! Type of clothing.

Pants. T-Shirts. Jackets. Shorts.

That is the one filter prAna does not provide. Unsexy fundamental.

Even with the other 9 filters, it is hard to quickly find what I’m looking for.

#arrrhhh

I have received 7 emails in the last handful of weeks from them with this subject line: “40% Off: End of Season Sale – Your Favorite Looks are Going Fast – Don’t Miss Out.” I wonder how long it will take the User Experience experts at prAna to figure out why the conversion rate is zero percent.

If the UX experts shop on the site, they’ll find these unsexy fundamental issues everywhere.

The most common reason I return pants are that they are not long enough. Pants with 34” inseam fit me.

I was looking for new pair of travel pants. The Calculus Pants look like they could do the job.

Two weird things.

No waist size. I can take a gamble on M, but length is not a gamble I’m willing to take. I scroll around a bit. Nothing.

I click on “Size & Fit Guide,” in case it specifies something for these pants.

I get the generic guide. It is helpful in that it confirms that I need “Long Inseam.”

Except. That information is not on the Calculus pants page.

Scroll up. Scroll down. Scroll around. Switch to mobile site, because why not. Nope. Nothing.

Perhaps these pants don’t come in the three choices (Short, Regular and Long). But at least tell me what the inseam size the Calculus pants are! Unsexy fundamental.

prAna charges $8 for returns, for any reason. That is a lot. Hence… No pants for me.

[For prAna’s UX team, possible inspiration: Patagonia’s men’s sale page]

Bottom-line | Recommendations.

Unsexy fundamentals are very sexy. I recommend two actions on your part:

1. Create a dedicated (small) team to obsess continuously about the most fundamental functions. Ensure that you have a special rewards mechanism in place for them (like every other company out there you currently only reward people who work on shiny object projects).

The team’s work will start with the fundamentals closest to your core transactions. Cart and checkout for digital; cashier experience in your store. Build from there.

2. Create incentives for your employees to be secret shoppers. In fact, ask your CEO to try and do business with your company. The frustration she/he/they feel will drive amazing impact (on User happiness and company profit).

Sure, it will delay your multi-channel attribution predictive analytics powered single source of the truth initiative, but it’ll be worth it.

2018: the year of doing the unsexy fundamentals well!

As always, it is your turn now.

Do you have a program/team in place to focus on unsexy fundamentals? What currently stands in the way of your company obsessing about ensuring all pathways to making money have been smoothed over? What is the primary mechanism in helping you figure out what unsexy fundamentals are broken? Do you have an example of a user experience, any mobile app or site, that is persistently frustrating?

Please add your insights, stories, frustrations, and wonderful accomplishments via comments below.

Thank you.

Bonus | Read: More examples and lessons in UX/Design, from HTC, United and Patagonia: Suck Less | A Plea For User-Centric Design: Powered By You

Bonus | Process to Implement: Heuristic Evaluations



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Orignal Article Can Be Found Here

Smarter Survey Results and Impact: Abandon the Asker-Puker Model!

FoldsToday’s post comes from a source of deep pain. Analysis Ninjas are valued less than I would prefer for them to be.

The post is also sourced from a recent edition of my newsletter, The Marketing – Analytics Intersect. I send it once a week, and it contains my insights and recommendations on those two topics. Like this blog, the newsletter is geared towards being instantly actionable (rather than just theory-smart, which is pretty cool too). Do sign up if you want to deliver a small electric shock of simulation to your brain each week.

TMAI #41 covered a graph that resulted from a survey done by Econsultancy and Lynchpin. I received a ton of responses for it, and great discussion ensued. It prompted me to write this post, essentially an expanded version of TMAI #41. I’ve added new insights, recommendations, and two bonus lessons on how to do surveys better and a direct challenge to your company’s current analytics strategy.

If your heart is weak, you can stop reading now. I promise, I won’t mind one bit. I heart you. If you are open to being challenged… then here are the short-stories inside this post…

Let’s go and challenge our collective thinking!

The World Needs Reporting Squirrels. Wait. What!

Some of you know that I created the phrases Reporting Squirrels and Analysis Ninjas to emphasize the difference between those that puke data and those that puke insights with actions attached to them.

Here is my slide the first time I presented the concept in a keynote…

reporting squirrels analysis ninjas

Cute, right? 🙂

While companies, medium and large, often need both roles, I’ve massively pushed for every company to want more Analysis Ninjas and for analysts to have careers where they can rapidly undertake metamorphosis from Reporting Squirrels to Analysis Ninjas (after all the difference in salary is tens of thousands of dollars).

If you are curious, here is a April 2011 post: The Difference Between Web Reporting And Web Analysis.

With that as context, you can imagine how heart-broken I was when Jane shared the following visual from a study done by Econsultancy and Lynchpin. It contains the answers to the question which analytics skills are most in demand…

econsultancy analytics skills

Checkout the y-axis… what do you see as the common pattern across them all?

Just data puking.

One row after another of data puking skills.

Ranked.

Almost nothing that quite captures the value of Analysis Ninjas! N. O. T. H. I. N. G.

I did a random Google search and got this list of analytical skills:

+ Understanding relationships between numbers

+ Interpreting mathematical information

+ Visual perception of information

+ Ability to organize information

+ Pattern recognition and understanding trends

+ Argumentation and logical thinking

+ Ability to create insightful data visualizations

+ Hypothesis development and design of experimentation

+ Strategic thinking skills

And, that is just a random list!

None of these are in demand?

Look at the list in the graph, what kind of purple squirrel with ant legs and an elephant’s nose that nobody needs is Lynchpin describing?

This did not happen at Econsultancy, but the data did cause introspection at my end.

And, my first question was the one that is also top of mind of all readers of Occam’s Razor… Is the world so dark that the only “analytical” skills that are valued are directly tied to data puking and you should immediately shut down your Analysis Ninja efforts?

Let me share three thoughts for your consideration, then some guidance on how to do surveys right, and end with a call to arms for all of you and the “data people” you choose to work with.

Three thoughts that explain the Econsultancy/Lynchpin graph.

1. The survey design is at fault.

The otherwise well-respected Econsultancy and Lynchpin dropped the ball massively in creating the list of answers for the respondents to choose from.

I have to admit, I believe this is a major flaw (and not just for this question in the entire report). What is disappointing is that they have done this for nine years in a row!

It poses these questions…

How is it that in nine years no one at these organizations realized they were simply asking people to rank data puking answers? Did the survey list the skills Econsultancy and Lynchpin hire for and value in their own analysts?

The graph illustrates data for three years… Was the fact that almost nothing changed in three years in terms of priority not trigger a rethink of the options provided for this question? Anyone reading the report at the two companies creating it should have thrown a red flag up and said hey guys, the respondents keep rating the answers the same, maybe we are not asking the right question or providing the best choices for our respondents to pick.

More on how to avoid this flaw in your surveys, of any kind, below.

2. The survey is targeted to the wrong folks.

They might be the wrong folks to accurately judge what analytical skills and how to appreciate the value of each skill as they rank them. That could explain the results (not the answer choices though).

Econsultancy/Lynchpin provides this description in the report: “There were 960 respondents to our research request, which took the form of a global online survey fielded in May and June 2016. Respondents included both in-house digital professionals and analysts (56%) and supply-side respondents, including agencies, consultants and vendors (44%).”

The survey was 76% from the UK and EU. Respondents were solicited from each company’s database as well as Social Media.

Here is the distribution provided in the report:

econsultancy lynchpin survey audience

On paper it looks like the departments are to be what you would expect. It is difficult to ascribe any blame to the folks who got the survey. There is a chance that there is a UK and EU nuance here, but I don’t think so.

3. It is our fault.

My first instinct in these cases is to look into the mirror.

Perhaps we have not succeeded as much as we should when it comes to show casing the value of true data analysis. Perhaps all the people involved in all digital analytics jobs/initiatives, inside and outside companies, are primarily data pukers, and none of them have skills to teach companies that there is such a thing as data analysis that is better.

Then, you and I, and especially our friends in UK and EU, need to work harder to prove to companies that CDPs (customized data pukes, my name for reporting) do not add much value, the rain of data does not drive much action. You and I need to truly move to the IABI model were we send very little data, and what little we send out is sent with copious amounts of Insights from the data, what Actions leaders need to take, and the computation of the Business Impact.

The more we deliver IABI, by using our copious analytical skills, the more the leaders will start to recognize what real analytical skills are and be able to separate between Reporting Squirrels and Analysis Ninjas.

Bottom-line… I would like to blame the competency at Econsultancy and Lynchpin, especially because I believe that truly, but I must take some responsibility on behalf of the Analysis Ninjas of the world. Perhaps we suck more than we would like to admit. I mean that sincerely.

Bonus #1: Lessons from Econsultancy/Lynchpin Survey Strategy.

There are a small clump of lessons from my practice in collecting qualitative feedback that came to fore in thinking about this particular survey. Let me share those with you, they cover challenges that surely the E+L team faced as they put this initiative together.

If your survey has questions that cease to be relevant, should you ask them again for the sale of consistency as you have done this survey for nine years?

There is a huge amount of pressure for repeated surveys to keep the questions the same because Survey Data Providers love to show time trends – month over month, year over year. It might seem silly that you would keep asking a question when you know it is not relevant, but there is pressure.

This is even worse when it comes to answer choices. Survey Creators love having stability and being able to show how things have changed, and they keep irrelevant/awful/dead answers around.

If you are in this position… You will be brave, you will be a warrior, you will be the lone against-the-tide-swimmer, and you will slay non-value-added stuff ruthlessly. You will burn for from the ashes shall rise glory.

If you are the Big Boss of such an initiative, here is a simple incentive to create, especially for digital-anything surveys: Give your team a standard goal that 30% of the survey questions for any survey repeated each year have to be eliminated and 10% new ones added.

Your permission will 1. force your employees to think hard about what to keep and what to kill (imagine that, thinking!) 2. create a great and fun culture in your analytical (or reporting 🙁 ) team and 3. push them to know of the latest and greatest and include that in the survey.

If I feel I have a collection of terrible choices, do you have a strategy for how I can identify that?

This does not work for all questions of course, but here is one of my favourite choice in cases where the questions relate to organizations, people skills, and other such elements.

Take this as an example…

skills gap question

How do you know that this is a profoundly sub-optimal collection of choices to provide?

For anyone with even the remotest amount of relevant experience, subject matter expertise, it is easy to see these are crazy choices – essentially implying purple squirrels exist. But, how would you know?

Simple.

Start writing down how many different roles are represented in the list.

That is just what I did…

skills gap question roles test

It turns out there are at least five roles in a normal company that would possess these skills.

So. Is this a good collection of skills to list? Without that relevant information? If you still go ahead and ask this question, what are you patterning your audience to look for/understand?

Oh, and I am still not over that in looking for what analysis skills are missing in the company, no actual analytical skills are listed above! Ok, maybe statistical modeling smells like an analytical skill. But, that’s as close as it gets.

I share this simple strategy, identifying the number of different roles this represents, to help you illuminate you might have a sub-optimal collection of choices.

There are many other strategies like this one for other question. Look for them!

If your survey respondents are not the ideal audience for a question, what’s your job when crafting the survey?

J. K. I.

Just kill it.

If you don’t want to kill it… Personally interview a random sample of 50 people personally (for a 1,000 people survey). Take 10 mins each. Ask primitive basic questions about their job, their actual real work (not job title), and their approximate knowledge. If these 50 pass the sniff test, send the survey. Else, know that your survey stinks. JKI.

I know that I am putting an onerous burden on the survey company, taking to 50 people even for 10 mins comes at a cost. It does. I am empathetic to it. Consider it the cost of not putting smelly stuff out into the world.

If your survey respondents won’t be able to answer a question perfectly, what is a great strategy for crafting questions?

Oh, oh, oh, I love this problem.

It happens all the time. You as the survey creator don’t know what you are taking about, the audience does not quite know what they are talking about, but there is something you both want to know/say.

Here’s the solution: Don’t do drop down answers or radio button answers!

The first couple times you do this, ask open ended questions. What analytical skills do you think you need in your company? Let them type out in their own words what they want.

Then find a relatively smart person with subject matter expertise, give them a good salary and a case of Red Bull, and ask them to categorize.

It will be eye opening.

The results will improve your understanding and now you’ll have a stronger assessment of what you are playing with, and the audience will not feel boxed in by your choices, instead tell you how they see the answers. (Maybe, just maybe be, they’ll give you my list of analytical skills above!)

Then run the survey for a couple years with the choices from above. In year four, go back to the open text strategy. Get new ideas. Get smarter. Rinse. Repeat.

I would like to think I know all the answers in the world. Hubris. I use the strategy above to become knowledgeable about the facts on the ground and then use those facts (on occasion complemented by one or two of my choices) to run the survey. This rule is great for all kinds of surveys, always start with open-text. It is harder. But that is what being a brave warrior of knowledge is all about!

If your survey results cause your senior executives, or random folks on the web, to question them, what is the best response?

The instinct to close in an be defensive, to even counter-attack, is strong.

As I’m sure your mom’s taught you: Resist. Truly listen. Understand the higher order bit. Evolve. Then let your smarter walk do the talking.

Simple. Awfully hard to do. Still. Simple.

Bonus #2: The Askers-Pukers Business Model.

The biggest thing a report like Econsultancy/Lynchpin’s suffers from is that this group of individuals, perhaps even both these companies, see their role in this initiative as Askers-Pukers.

It is defined as: Let us go ask a 960 people we can find amongst our customers and on social media a series of questions, convert that into tables and graphs, and sell it to the world.

Ask questions. Puke data. That is all there is in the report. Download the sample report if you don’t have a paid Econsultancy subscription. If you don’t want to use your email address, use this wonderful service: www.throwawaymail.com

Even if you set aside the surveying methodology, the questions framing, the answer choices and all else, there is negative value from anything you get from Askers-Pukers, because the totality of the interpretation of the data is writing in text what the graphs/tables already show or extremely generic text.

Negative value also because you are giving money for the report that is value-deficient, and you are investing time in reading it to try and figure out something valuable . You lose twice.

Instead one would hope that Econsultancy, Lynchpin, the team you interact with from Google, your internal analytics team, any human you interact who has data sees their role as IABI providers ( Insights – Actions – Business Impact).

This is the process IABI providers follow: Ask questions. Analyze it for why the trends in the data exist (Insights). Identify what a company can/should do based on the why (Actions). Then, have the courage, and the analytical chops, to predict how much the impact will be on the company’s business if they do what was recommended.

Insights. Actions. Business Impact.

Perhaps the fatal flaw in my analysis above, my hope above, is that I expected Econsultancy and Lynchpin to be really good at business strategy, industry knowledge, on the ground understanding of patterns with their massive collection of clients. Hence, knowing what actually works. I expected them to be Analysts. Instead, they perhaps limit their skills inside the respective company to be Askers-Pukers.

Both companies are doing extremely well financially, hence I do appreciate that Askers-Pukers model does work.

But for you, and for me, and for anyone else you are paying a single cent for when it comes to data – either data reported from a survey, data reported from your digital analytics tool, data reported from other companies you work with like Facebook or Google or GE – demand IABI. Why. What. How Much. If they don’t have that, you are talking to the wrong people. Press the escape button, don’t press the submit order button.

[Isn’t it ironic. Econsultancy and Lynchpin did exactly what their survey has shown for nine years is not working for companies in the UK: Reporting. The outcome for both of them is exactly the same as the outcome for the companies: Nothing valuable. This is explicitly demonstrated by their full report.]

Bottom-line.

I hope you see that this one survey is not the point. E + L are not the point. What their work in this specific example (and you should check other examples if you pay either company money) illuminates is a common problem that is stifling our efforts in the analytics business .

This applies to E+L but it applies even more to your internal analytics team, it applies extremely to the consultants you hire, it applies to anyone you are giving a single cent to when it comes to data.

Don’t hire Askers-Pukers. Don’t repeat things for years without constantly stress-testing for reality. Don’t make compromises when you do surveys or mine Adobe for data. Don’t create pretty charts without seeing, really looking with your eyes, what is on the chart and thinking about what it really represents.

Applied to your own job inside any company, using Google Analytics or Adobe or iPerceptions or Compete or any other tool… don’t be an Asker-Puker yourself. Be an IABI provider. That is where the money is. That is where the love is. That is where the glory is.

Carpe Diem!

As always, it is your turn now.

Is your company hiring Reporting Squirrels or Analysis Ninjas? Why? Is the work you are doing at your company/agency/consulting entity/survey data provider, truly Analysis Ninja work? If not, why is it that it remains an Asker-Puker role? Are there skills you’ve developed in your career to shift to the person whose business is why, what, how much ? Lastly, when you do surveys, of the type above or others, are there favourite strategies you deploy to get a stronger signal rather than just strong noise?

Please share your life lessons from the front lines, critique, praise, fun-facts and valuable guidance for me and other readers via comments.

Thank you. Merci. Arigato.

PS: I hope this post illuminates the valuable content The Marketing – Analytics Intersect shares each week, sign up here .

Smarter Survey Results and Impact: Abandon the Asker-Puker Model! is a post from: Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushik


Source: Avinash

Suck Less | A Plea For User-Centric Design: Powered By You!

SlicesAnalysts, honestly, make the world go round when it comes to any successful business – yes, data is that important. As you might expect from any role, they also make a handful of important mistakes. I’ve written about the biggest mistake web analysts make.

Today’s post is an adjacent mistake: The cardinal sin of spending too much time with data and in reports!</p

Wait. What?

Yes, I worry that Analysts, and Marketers, are spending too much time with their head buried in custom reports and advance segments and smart calculated metrics and strategic or tactical dashboards. Yes. They are all things I love and have repeatedly asked you to care for. But, perhaps I’m at fault for creating the problem of you spending all your time with data. Additionally, you are spending your day in the warm embrace of Adobe or Google Analytics because your job is set up as “data people.”

In the biggest mistake post above, I’d encouraged you to spend time with the business, with the site (mobile or desktop) and dig from a non-data point of view. Today, I want you to do the same… Spend less time with data and a bit more time with your website. Specifically, the most key elements of the website.

The higher order bit is simple. In the second post on this blog (one million words ago), I’d shared the value of qualitative analysis because it is the only way to get context you need to answer the question why something was happening, rather than just relying on data which only answers the question what happened. Lab usability testing and online surveys both provide great strategies to obsess about user centric design. My love for heuristic evaluations is sourced in the fact that they are relatively straightforward, require the best possible cost – almost free -, and rely on you and your team.

My idea today is even simpler. The four-point self-driven path-to-business-glory:

1. Find the most critical experiences in your digital existence.

2. Try them yourself as if you were the actual user.

3. Cry.

4. Now that you have the why, use the what to highlight the importance of improving the experience.

You must be freaking out, you have a huge website and 25 mobile apps.

While I do think it is a great idea for you to carve out 30 mins each week to execute the four-point approach above, I want you to start with places where your for-profit or non-profit entity is most likely to make money. Then, because this will be so addictively sexy, you should make time every week (might I suggest 1330 – 1400 hrs each Friday).

The initial focus of the above four steps will be the last-mile (core) experiences on your website. The starting point will be as simple as it can possibly be so that everyone in your company will care tons: Are we fabulous at the things most important to us making money as a company?

It does not matter if you are are B2B or B2C. Neither does it matter if you are a for-profit or a non-profit (it takes capital – human and financial – to change the world, right?).

My advice for you how to execute this massively important process is broken into the following sections, using delicious real-world examples:

Intrigued? Ready to learn from three wonderful companies, and their real-world reality, how be a one-woman/man user-centric design revolutionary?

Let’s go!

HTC Does Not Check-out

Let’s look at one example of the four step process above in action. It comes courtesy of a personal experience.

We all know HTC is in trouble. I’ve always thought they pushed the edge and took risks. I have had three HTC phones, and I loved HTC One. They have an approach to simplicity in software that is closer to a pure Google experience (when compared to the nails scratching a blackboard irritation that is personified in the Samsung phones).

I was in the market for a new phone recently (turns our tripping on oneself and falling into a swimming pool for a quick ten seconds is enough to fry a Nexus 5X). The announcement of an HTC 10 was that very day. A quick review of the even simpler approach by HTC to software (very close to pure Google, most default apps are Google) and pictures of the HTC 10 and I was sold.

Within ten seconds of getting the available for order email from HTC, I was on the Buy Now page.

And then… I was stumped…

HTC Checkout

Select Carrier was pre-selected as unlocked, exactly what I was looking for.

I could not figure out how to Select Color, which presumably would ungray the PRE-ORDER button.

#ARRRRRHHHHAAA

I reloaded. No dice. Opened the page in the Edge browser – sometimes Microsoft is all you need to do the trick. No dice.

Extremely frustrating.

I am a usability expert after all, I did figure it out.

Turns out you have to click on the Unlocked green icon. It does absolutely NOTHING when you click on it. But, that click opens up Step 2 for you to Select Color. That in turn opens up the PRE-ORDER button.

#doh

Now consider this. Here is a company in deep financial trouble. They desperately need early order like mine (at full price!), a full month before they’ll ship the phone. They really need to know if their marketing, and last hope the HTC 10, is going to be received well. Yet, no one bothered to try the web experience to check how much it sucked. AND, it was the only way to submit a pre-order!

The insanity of it all makes my blood boil. And, I don’t even work for HTC. As someone who loves the web, who is passionate about digital experiences, it makes me bat-crap cray-cray when I see this level of staggering incompetence.

It should upset you too. This is happening on your website.

When was the last time you submitted a product review on your site? Or, tried to submit a lead? Or, unsubscribe for your company mailing lists? Or, download a piece of software? Or, customize the layout of the car (boo BMW boo!)? Or, tried to return a product? Or…. or anything else that is directly connected to you making money?

Just do it.

My recommendation will yield two great outcomes:

1. You will get insights you can use for your data/campaigns. The why for your what .

2. You are going to become stark-raving mad at the incompetence you’ll see from your own company.

Thing 2 is priceless. And, your career will really, really take off.

United Breaks Hearts.

To prove that these experiences come in many different shapes and sizes, let’s look at another example.

united wifi

I humbly believe the worst checkout experience in the known universe is buying Wi-Fi on United planes. It does not work with password managers like Dashlane (which would greatly reduce the nightmare). The form has a crazy captcha that will require prayers to Buddha and the layer of magma in the middle of planet Earth. Drop-downs in the form related to credit card expiry date or other elements are terribly organized. It is missing primitive intelligence, like the city does not get auto-filled after you type in the Zip Code. It does not remember that I’m a United 1k member, and that they have all my credit card, underwear size etc. info already, and let me press one button to buy.

I would keep going on, and this is a one-page experience, but let me stop.

It honestly is the worst. I challenge you to submit an experience worse than this via comments below.

Oh, and one more thing. Set everything above. United is experimenting with pricing, you can buy Wi-Fi by the hour.

How about making it easy for me to figure out how much to buy…

United Wi-Fi Checkout

I’m flying from SFO to ORD.

It is not an 81 hour flight.

Not wanting to pay too much, I had to buy Wi-Fi twice because I guessed wrong the first time. Frustrating.

Why is something so gosh darn easy so very, very hard? I understand times are tough at United-Continental, but don’t United employees buy wi-fi on United planes? Or, even better, tried to buy Wi-Fi on competitor planes and realized how much better they are? Why do they put up with this atrocious horribleness? Don’t they love their company?

While I’m being a bit more passionate than you might expect me to…. consider that, literally, hundreds of thousands of people each day sit on a United flight – which is already frustrating for reasons that have nothing to do with United – and the very first thing they have to deal with is avoidable pain.

Patagonia Returns No Love.

Here’s a story of unrequited love.

There is perhaps no brand I love as much as Patagonia. I love, love, love Patagonia. I love the clothes, the quality, the fit and all that normal stuff. The reason I love, love, love Patagonia is the depth and breadth of their corporate responsibility and the fact that as a B Corps company doing good for the world is in their legal charter.

Patagonia though refuses to return my deep love for it because of how difficult it makes the most basic thing an ecommerce company should be good at: returning products.

Let me explain.

If you see me out and about, anywhere in the world, I’ll be wearing my well worn scratched blue nano puff jacket. I love them so much, I buy them for others. Recently though, my aunt did not like the green color and I had to return it.

It is easy to start a return…

patagonia returns step1

When you click continue you land on the Shipping & Billing Page. The Shipping Cost is described as “flat rate repair shipping cost.” I don’t actually want to repair anything, I just want to return the jacket. I don’t know if that is what Patagonia will charge me to return the jacket, or returns are free as I’m not sending anything for repair.

patagonia returns step2

What is also a tad bit confusing is that they are asking for a shipping address.

My mind goes back to the multitude of returns we have made via Amazon Prime, and I can’t recall having to confirm my shipping address.

Is the assumption of the Patagonia digital user experience team (if they have one) that most of their customers move after they buy Patagonia products?

Worse is yet to come.

When I scroll down on the above page, I see this… REVIEW ORDER.

patagonia returns step3

REVIEW ORDER?

What order?

Order to return a jacket?

Is Patagonia so short of buttons that they could not make a separate one for the return process and call it PROCESS RETURN?

I genuinely pause at this moment not sure how much the return costs, and what I’m ordering. Perhaps an address label?

But remember, I love, love, love this company. So, I persist.

Here’s the next page…. It is called Shipping & Billing. What the hell happened to REVIEW ORDER!

patagonia returns step4

I would have assumed at the minimum the above step would happen when they asked me if I had moved homes after ordering the jackets.

I persist of course and give them my credit card, which will be charged for $5 or $0. I’m not quite sure.

Then I have to go to two pop-up windows to separately print a page I have to include in the package and the page I have to stick outside the package.

The whole experience is so bad, it hurts my feelings. Especially because I really do love this brand and I can’t believe they suck so much.

I don’t understand what the problem is. Is this so bad because Patagonia run out of money having created a order submission process that they had to re-use it for processing returns? Is this so bad because no human at Patagonia has experienced returning anything they’ve purchased on the internet? Is this so bad because I am the only person who has ever purchased anything at patagonia.com and hence honestly they don’t need to give a crap for one person?

As an outsider to United, HTC and Patagonia, it is hard to understand why companies that put so much money into trying to provide a service seem to run out of money, or love, at the last-mile.

Fix that for your company. Fix the last-mile.

Oh, and remember my beloved blue nano puff jacket? Don’t bother searching for it using the search box on any patagonia.com webpage. You get zero product results. Zero. For a jacket that costs $199 list. Zero results via search. Patagonia is making me cry, I don’t know how I’m going to fall asleep tonight.

Your Turn | Ideas To Impact Your Bottom-line Today.

If you are a part of an ecommerce company, order something right now (in a different tab, keep this one open to read the rest of this post!). Make note of what frustrates you. Email it to the CMO. Then tomorrow. Try to cancel the order. Take notes. Email them to the CMO. If it won’t let you cancel the order, try to return the order after you get it. Take notes. Email them to the CMO.

That is what it takes to drive change.

If you work at Salesforce, submit an online lead, experience your company in all its frustrating glory that your potential customers do.

If you work at Unilever, go to any brand’s active Facebook page and submit a problem using the comment system. See what happens.

If you work at AT&T, try to review the current month’s bill to understand the charges on a family plan before you use the online bill pay feature. Then, get really, really mad. (Or, ask me to send you a video of my pain as I try to do that each month.)

If you work at the Lutheran World Relief, try the funky box that opens up when you hover over the red Donate Now, see how it feels. (Then fix it please.)

I hope you’ll be the bright star whose obsession with true digital simplicity and glory will infect others in your company. Imagine how many problems will be found, how much improvement can be driven…. all without Google or Adobe Analytics.

Oh. And, before I forget. Try all of the above on your mobile websites and mobile apps. I would post screenshots, but I fear the pain it would cause you. So. Be sure to have a friend or lover hold your hand before your dive into your company’s mobile experiences. It is going to suck a lot, but consider the fact that you are going to be doing God’s work and making the world a better place.

Bonus | Download: The team at Google has already spent loads of money on research to identify the mobile best practices, with loads of cool examples. Why not benefit from Google’s spend and improve your mobile experience? PDF Here: 25 Principles of Mobile Site Design.

[sidebar] I’m writing a weekly newsletter that shares tips on how to make sense of data, my favourite data visualizations, marketing strategies and things to avoid in your quest to be a smarter digital person. No advertising, just amazing advice. You can sign up here: The Marketing-Analytics Intersect. Thanks. [/sidebar]

BUT I Want Data-First!

For some in our audience here, it is hard to leave analytics and data behind no matter how desperately I want you to. I understand the pain of trying to let go of years of accumulated comfort from never having to experience your business, and only living through data. I’ve done it.

You can use data as a starting point, if you really want to.

It is possible that the HTC team could have found their heartbreaking Pre-Order page via the fabulous Shopping Behavior Analysis report that is part of the magnificent Enhanced Ecommerce Reporting in Google Analytics.

shopping behavior analysis google analytics

The above data does not belong to HTC (15% also might be a bit too high!). But, the first column is what we would be looking for. That could trigger a visit to the website to try the user experience.

I do want to caution that not everything broken will be so easy to find, hence I want you to complement your data skills and analysis efforts with just going to the site/app and trying to emulate a normal person (you!).

Another source of starting points, if you insist on using the data, is to leverage the Behavior Flow report that automatically helps you unpack the complexity of the user experience on your website or mobile app.

behavior flow report google analytics

I am not a huge fan of path analysis, so do know that you have some of those issues here. But, the GA team has done a wonderful job of trying to avoid some of the issues. Besides, you will likely be most intrigued by the red bars above and any really dark gray bars that are ending up in odd places.

By reflecting the actual behavior, GA is trying to get make this a productive use of your time and when it comes to trying to walk in the shoes of the user this report does a pretty decent job.

There are other reports you can use as well. I hesitate to give you a complete list because my core ask of you is to skip the whole data bit and just use your site/app.

Everything’s Fine. Our Digital Experience Rocks!

It does not.

If you want me to prove it to you, reach out with your URL. It won’t take too long to find the issues. 🙂

I do not believe in the everything’s fine mantra. Stay hungry, stay foolish. If my four step process outlined at the start of this post does not yield anything meaningful, I take it as an indicator that I’ve become assimilated.

In these cases, my strategy is to use the blessings of the multitude of online usability testing tools to identify problems my beloved users might be facing that I’ve become blind to.

Steps One and Two are the same as I’ve recommended for when conducting Heuristic Evaluations.

Then, you’ll pick a unmoderated usability (or moderated if you insist) tool you like, from UserTesting to UserZoom to Loop11 to UX Recorder (for mobile) to the many others out there. Conduct your studies, wait for the result to roll in, reflect on how much there is to do (a good thing!) and get stuff fixed.

Testing Kills/Delays Good Ideas.

If you have read either one of my books, or even bits of this blog, you would have learned of my extreme stress on experimentation in terms of fixing the user experience. And, I do stand by it. Most Analysts and Marketers are less than ideal proxies for actual users (you are too close to your own company).

There is a class of fixes, everything above, where you should not recommend testing anything. First, stop the bleeding. Just fix the primitive problems.

(I’m not sure there is one, but if there is one…) What should the United digital user-experience team to first? See what two of it’s main competitors are doing, take the simplest things, implement them right away.

No testing.

HTC team? Patagonia?

Ditto!

Or, just copy Bonobos or Amazon or someone who has already figured it out.

In these cases, testing becomes another boondoggle that will continue for another trillion years while the bleeding continues. You can even quantify the bleeding if you use any of the above report. It is very expensive.

Once the core is fixed, then use experimentation and testing to elevate yourself beyond your direct competitors, beyond how great your customers thing you could ever be.

Closing Thoughts.

I really did write this post for you, the person whose job description does not have one word about user experience or user-centric design. No matter what your title, dogfood your own digital experiences. You’ll find valuable insights that give context (why) to your data (what). Besides, you’ll get mad and pity your customers, and, because you are awesome, you’ll get things fixed.

And, once you fix all the last-mile (core) issues, don’t stop there. Most Analysts, Marketers, rarely search for their own brands on Bing or Google or Baidu and follow the experiences that come up to the end. Rarely do they click on their display ads and see what happens (remarketing to death!). Most don’t follow their brands on social media and are self-tortured by the embarrassment that is their social media presence. Most… You catch my drift.

User-centric design powered by you can transform your company. You can get a ton of enriching insights if you set aside 30 mins every week to use your mobile and desktop website, your mobile app, your Search ads and your social channels. So… make time, solve for world peace.

As always, it is your turn now.

Does your company have an existing user-centric design practice? If yes, are all the last-mile user experience problems solved in your digital experiences? Is there a cultural incentive in your company to do what I’m recommending above, even if your job is not UX? What is the most embarrassing thing you’ve discovered about your company? What is the most delightful phone buying, wi-fi ordering, order returning experience you’ve seen? Is there a painful experience you want to share, perhaps we can get it fixed (!)?

Please share your tips, best practices, painful experiences, joyous clicks, and masterful guidance via comments below.

Thank you.

Suck Less | A Plea For User-Centric Design: Powered By You! is a post from: Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushik


Source: Avinash

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