'User Experience' in the broadest terms deals with the quality of every 'moment of truth' that a user experiences with your brand.
This includes their experiences while using your website, while browsing through the shelves in your physical stores, while getting a problem fixed through your customer care representatives or even while consuming the various forms of marketing communications that you put out there, such as television commercials, radio ads or billboards.
Why am I going on and on about user experience? Because, more often than not, better user experience = better conversions. And who would say 'No' to better conversions?
While there are umpteen ways to optimize your site for better conversions using everything from better SEO to simpler forms to bigger buttons or more white space, most of these deal with cosmetic changes to your website and do not take into account the person actually interacting with the website - the user.
One of the most immediate ways that technology allows us to interact one on one with our users is through social media. Your fans, followers, connections or pinners are not just faceless, personality-less masses. They are complex, interesting, intelligent individuals who will tell you far more about how you can make them buy more from you in a five minute interaction than a million A/B tests on your website design will.
So if social media holds the key to so many varied insights that can improve the way your site interacts with your users, why do we shy away from integrating social media into our websites?
I do not mean adding a bunch of social sharing buttons on the footer of each page. That's plain tokenism. What I mean is truly harnessing the power of thousands of customer voices that roam free on social media, using that power to create a more beautiful user experience for your brand that leads to exponentially higher conversions.
1. Knock down the Walls with Social Media - Social Logins
How many times have you raged in frustration as you had to remember yet another User ID and Password combination to gain entry into or buy something from a particular website? Pretty often, if statistics are anything to go by!
About 69% of US consumers claim to have forgotten their carefully chosen passwords at least once in the last 2 years. Would you really want to subject your visitors to frustration just to access the cool stuff you offer?
No one likes filling out multiple fields in registration forms. Forcing customers to register on your site just to gain access creates high barriers to entry.
Make life simpler for everyone.
According to the Nielsen Paid Social Media Advertising Report 2013, 4 out of 5 active internet users visit social media and blogs regularly. If social media is so popular (surprise, surprise!) why not just let users enter your website using their social media accounts?
There is a well-known, but perhaps not-so-well-utilized solution: social login. Social login providers such as LoginRadius allow your users to connect to your website through more than 30 different social networks around the world, giving you access to 200+ points of social profile data and a starting point for analyzing the reach of your business content.
2. Know Thy Users - and Personalize for Them
Before social media made its grand entry, marketers had to rely on data they gathered from customer surveys or website registration forms to know their customers better. Often this data was incomplete or just plain wrong - giving out misleading data is a measure most users resort to in order to protect their privacy.
But all that has changed with the social media overrun that we all are currently experiencing. Social media brings a wealth of information into your hands about each of your users - including their age, gender, location, their likes, their favorite brands, their favorite music, and so on. In fact, social login tools have the potential to give you direct access to social profile information across multiple social media platforms in a unified normalized format that is immediately usable.
Use this information intelligently and customize the way they experience your website.
Craft product recommendations based on insights you derive from social media. Is your user female? Show them banners related to female centric items first on your homepage carousel. Your user likes gardening? Don't bury your gardening products in the back; show them up front to the customer on their next visit. Did they recently buy a new phone? Show them options of new phone cases.
3. Social Proof for Better Conversions
It's common sense that advertising will be biased towards the advertiser and may not be the most trustworthy source of product information.
What DO users normally depend on for making purchase decisions then?
Product reviews from friends and family top the list, followed by reviews from other users who are unrelated, independent research, etc.
Build confidence in your user's mind by providing real customer-speak that is more trustworthy than loud ad copy. Integrate social media reviews about your products/services on your site to improve credibility and increase conversions.
Also, encourage new customers to leave behind feedback about your products on your site or on your social media platforms to increase your pool of customer reviews and increase customer engagement on your site.
4. Magnify Your Reach through Social Sharing
People love to share the latest news, the juiciest gossip, the silliest pictures - you name it! This inherent need to share that we social animals have, has led to the social media phenomenon that we are witnessing today.
Plug into this wave by offering social sharing options across your site. Don't just have "Follow Us" or "Like Us" buttons on your header or footer, allow sharing of cool content inside each page. Each time your users share your content on their social networks, you get free visibility among their list of friends and followers.
Another interesting way to reach out to your users' friends is directly posting on the users' social networks about their purchases on your site, with their permission of course.
5. Quicker Checkout = Happy customers = Happier bottom-line
Cart abandonment is an everyday crushing reality that every e-commerce business has to live down. According to the Baymard Institute, an average of 67.91% of all visitors to e-commerce sites will abandon their shopping carts mid-way through their shopping process.
While there are many reasons that contribute to shopping cart abandonment, interminable checkout processes that ask for all kinds of personal information are a prime killer of potential e-commerce sales.
At the time of checkout, leverage the fact that your customers are connected to you on social media and allow them to register using their social networks, instead of filling out a brand new registration form or logging in to a separate user account on your site to checkout. Avoid becoming a part of the 67.91% cart abandonment statistic.
If a customer has signed into your site using their social media accounts, you can even pre-fill information in their checkout forms using information from their social networks and speed up the checkout process even more.
Fewer checkout steps = lower friction = higher conversions.
6. Better Customer Service
If customer service in your book is limited to your 1-800 help desk number or your customer support email ID, you are woefully behind times.
Social media is not just a marketing tool. It is a relationship tool. If you can promote your brand on social media, nothing stops you from reaching out to a troubled customer and helping them out via social media. Tools like Zendesk help you integrate social media into your traditional customer care channels and optimize performance for the entire customer care team.
Brands like KLM Royal Dutch Airlines have turned social customer care into a fine art. They have a dedicated team handling customer service requests on social media 24 x 7 and have a track record of replying to customer queries on social media within 60 minutes and resolving customer complaints within 24 hours.
The idea after all, is to leave your user feeling delighted about their interaction with your brand, in other words improve your UX which improves conversions.
Considering social media a mere marketing tool is like using just one blade of your Swiss Army Knife. There are many more engaging ways in which social media can make a real difference to your website experience. Know of any interesting ones? Waiting to hear them in the comments!
Featured image credit: Andy Bright, Flickr