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Performance

Stretch Your eCommerce Marketing Dollars By Optimizing User Engagement


No question about it, eCommerce is on the rise. So it’s no surprise that retailers have allocated more money to eCommerce marketing in 2014. But with bigger budgets comes more pressure on marketers to perform. And so the question is: “How do I improve our online business results?”

My recommendation: Focus on user engagement.

As the eCommerce landscape grows more competitive, consumers have come to expect more. Earning their business in this environment comes down to engagement. Retailers must deliver more personalized, responsive and dynamic user experiences that grab consumers from the moment they land on a web site.

This generally requires a complex set of designs and content, and any number of third party JavaScripts aimed at creating a better web experience. Yet, despite the best efforts to create a great e-Commerce site, user engagement often remains elusive

That’s because user engagement isn’t just about the content on your site – no matter how great it is. Rather, it’s how a user experiences and interacts with your site that really counts.

How long before the user sees relevant content? How quickly can a user interact with the site? Does your site load in under three seconds? Each of these experiences has a big impact on user engagement. For example, an additional one-second delay in Time to Start Render (how fast a page shows content) can increase bounce rate by 65%.

Such instances have a measurable impact on conversion and revenue, as well. Pages that are two seconds slower have a 4.3% drop in per-user revenue, and every one-second delay results in a 7% loss in conversions.

Following are five strategies to help marketers optimize user engagement online:

1. Deliver the most relevant content first: You have a tiny window of time to capture visitors? attention. Make sure your page loads the content users expect first. This doesn’t include peripheral widgets, sidebar content and ads. Logos and structural content like navigation can be the very first things to paint in the browser window, but the central content should come directly after, if not first. To see what your users see, try tools such as websitetest.com and webpagetest.org to test your site from a variety of devices and locations. You may be surprised.

2. Achieve “just-in-time” content: Users don’t want (or need) to see every available asset on a page all at once. They prefer a cleaner, more relevant experience. Optimize engagement in this manner by using development techniques that render images and content the moment the user’s eyes land on that location.

3. Minimize distractions: Peripheral content – such as chat widgets, social media and modal popups – is important for users that have already engaged with your brand, but can be distracting for others. Delay the rendering of particular assets to give visitors an opportunity to absorb information before inviting them to engage further with your brand.

4. Don’t overlook the importance of speed: While site speed has traditionally been IT’s focus, there’s no question that speed has a direct impact on conversion rates, revenue and user engagement. You should be concerned with both sending your user a page they can fully use in a matter of a few seconds, as well as a page that starts rendering almost immediately.

5. Ensure device-specific content: During the 2013 Thanksgiving shopping week, mobile traffic grew 77% and revenue increased by 78%. But there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for mobile. For example, even if your site is responsive, if you have a flash video it should not be sent to Apple devices. And if your site is not responsive, images that are functional on a desktop viewport may not work at all on mobile devices. Mobile commerce will continue to grow, and those retailers with mobile-optimized content and sites will see the biggest gains.

The eCommerce landscape is getting more complicated as mobile and other forms of digital commerce emerge. By optimizing user engagement, marketers can positively impact business performance now and in the future.

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