Marketing and e-commerce department are in the early stages of understanding customer experience optimization. It’s about the directly measurable revenue improvements from delivering the right experience to the right visitor at the right point in the purchase journey at exactly the right time.

The process of methodically honing and improving the customer shopping experience that yields unique insights about customer preferences. This learning process of understanding what is working for your users and what isn’t, reveals valuable nuggets helping us understand our consumers in a way that leads to a real competitive advantage.

The technology that powers the customer experience optimization engine deserves a lot of credit. Its predictive modeling algorithm delivers the optimum experience – one that works, to each site visitor. And by the one that works I mean the one that delivers a user experience that helps the shopper micro-convert to the next step of the buying journey.

While the algorithm is the engine that automatically creates best possible outcomes, it is a totally different way of thinking about how to go about the process that is the fuel of success. You have to have a strategy and good ingredients to move the needle when optimizing user experience.

What is User Experience?

Formally, User Experience is how an individual feels about their entire digital relationship with an organization. It can also reference how a web interaction makes a visitor feel about a particular experience.

In my frame of reference, having spent more than a decade on the web performance side of user experience:

Business outcomes (results) come from user behaviors (actions) driven by user experiences.

I’ve always felt that the Application Performance Monitoring market did UX an injustice by suggesting that so much of it was based on the ‘is-it-fast and available’ aspect of digital interactions.

The components of user experience are actually very well referenced in human computer interaction models as meets needs, ease of use, and is enjoyable. This is also the model that Forrester uses when they talk about Customer Experience and their CXi . It’s kind of a simplified Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

I really like this particular view of experience.

Customer Experience Hierarchy

Aberdeen Research interpretation of Andrew’s CX hierarchy

Borrowed from a slideshare (slide 15) by Steven Anderson in 2006 and the clarified graphic is courtesy of Aberdeen Research.

Anderson’s view provides an excellent way to categorically analyze every possible perception of the experience a customer can have with a product or organization. Note how it’s more challenging to achieve the highest level of experiences for any organization.

Speed is a commodity

With modern e-Commerce platforms, speed has become in many ways, a commodity. By putting more coins into the cloud or Akamai, we can deliver the first two levels of our experience hierarchy reliably. While this may not hold true across the board 100% today, it should be if using a modern SaaS e-Commerce platform or scaling your own operations in the cloud.

Focus on the right experience to the right visitor at the right time at exactly the right point in their buying journey

With the assumption that our e-Commerce infrastructure is available and delivering fast enough web performance, we can focus on the business of user experience and marketing.

This means we need to examine and begin to address optimizing user experience across 4 different dimensions of e-Commerce.

  1. Visitors that segment into new and returning, from specific geographies, or based on specific site behaviors or inbound sources.
  2. The purchase Journey and how to encourage visitors with just the right amount of nudge to help users micro-convert to the next step.
  3. Experiences that a visitor has at any particular stage of the journey and how the human eye absorbs the information and elements on the page.
  4. And how user preferences change over Time requiring a more automated approach to identifying all the factors driving user behavior so we can maximize business outcomes.

Bringing this back to our customer experience pyramid, our objective must be to identify the best site enhancements to try to improve the visitor journey of each of the above dimensions – by identifying what we can do to make the purchase consideration more usable, more convenient, more pleasurable, and more meaningful as it relates to driving end-to-end revenue results, brand equity and customer lifetime value.