At a digital summit I attended a week or so back, one of the speakers shared an interesting statistics. He said, “75% of the digital economy is driven by traditional brands and businesses.

Most of us are in some form of digital transformation that is changing how we acquire, engage, or serve our customers. This is especially true for e-Commerce websites that have deployed a myriad of different technologies to improve results and drive loyalty in this new age of the customer.

Some of the most commonly deployed technology solutions are:

  • Product ratings and reviews – to build trust with shoppers
  • Search and recommendations engines – to promote good candidate products
  • Live chat – to offer convenient immediate help with purchases
  • Personalization – to deliver customized offers to customer segments
  • Rich media – to help shoppers better connect with products
  • Security badges – to alleviate security and payment concerns

Many of these capabilities can, when properly executed into the customer experience, improve the results. And I believe, after serving hundreds of e-Commerce businesses, that marketing professionals have an earnest desire to improve revenue performance for their company as well as the user’s journey and experience on their website.

Should you believe the vendor’s claim to ROI?

It’s important not to let our desire for business outcomes, cloud the rigor required  to understand the results and  insights about customer preferences. After all, it is these insights and results that lead to competitive advantage.

Each of the vendors offering these capabilities, suggest their application delivers a real return on investment (ROI) that fully supports the business case.

One common claim is visitors that click on (search, reviews, videos, recommendations) convert XX% higher.

Does this claim mean that visitors who perform a second action are more likely to convert, to buy?

What I’m trying to point out here is that this is an incredibly self-fulfilling claim! Visitors who click or interact with something rather than bounce have, by definition, gone through some level of micro-conversion and thus are more likely to buy than the ones that bounce.

Meaningful applications on the e-Commerce site should be expected to produce sustainable lift that is directly measurable.

A method for measuring results

This leads us to the question – how can we reliably isolate the impact on business results? In an earlier blog about ROI, we discussed how using ‘Treatment’ and ‘Control’ groups is a highly effective and reliable method. This lets you clearly compare the results generated when the ‘Treatment’ is present vs. when it is not. It’s a way to understand the directly measurable conversions and revenue results attributable to any marketing program.

Are these solutions improving shopper customer experience?

Another important consideration is to avoid a very serious mistake often made with A/B testing. If recommendations produce a positive lift in A/B testing and product reviews also produce positive lift in a separate A/B test, that does not mean that putting them both on the product detail page (PDP) will produce better results.

The way shoppers experience each web page is a complex interplay between colors, layout, and how we as humans are hard wired to do visual processing. We have to be careful to not blindly believe that putting multiple things together on one page will have an additive affect. We want to avoid the worse case scenario where the combined affect is actually negative rather than positive.

A different way of thinking

To really squeeze all of the juice out of these potential offerings and their implementation, we need a few things: we need a way to gain visibility into how a complex combination of variables impacts the directly measurable results and we need a way to predictively optimize customer experiences in real-time so we can deliver the right experience, to the right user at the right point of their purchase journey.