July 31, 2017
One of the common challenges in ecommerce is the pressure to innovate and prove a return on investment. The reality is that the budgets and resources needed to support innovation efforts are not always readily available. So, how can brands do this? Develop a strategic plan — an Iterative Roadmap. This plan should identify “quick wins” to generate incremental revenue as well as the longer-term projects needed to bring the experience to the next level.
The Iterative Roadmap needs to be realistic. It should be focused on producing results quickly while considering longer-term initiatives that may be needed. For example, a complete overhaul of a checkout experience may not be the best use of time and resources for the short term; however, there is value in implementing iterative changes to immediately improve conversion. These changes can be as small as updating the look and feel of CTAs to updating directional copy. Leaving these opportunities untouched this deep in the purchase funnel is leaving “easy” money on the table.
The biggest value of an Iterative Roadmap is prioritized recommendations. The final list of recommendations should be compiled after an expert evaluation of the site. An expert evaluation should include, but is not limited to:
- An Analytics Review to identify the most important issues and opportunities you should be focusing on.
- A UX Audit to identify elements that are inhibiting the user and may be confusing and/or misleading. The goal is to improve flows to expedite user tasks.
- A Visual Audit to confirm that your brand language is consistent and communicating your message properly. The visual language should be aiding the UX, not inhibiting it.
- An Accessibility Audit to check compliance with WCAG 2.0 A standards at a minimum, though AA is recommended. It is a responsible practice for businesses to make their content and services available to people of all abilities.
The recommendations resulting from the expert evaluation should be reviewed by a core team, including stakeholders from both marketing and technology teams. It is important that the recommendations be mapped back to company goals (KPIs) and assigned a priority level for implementation. At Elevate, we consider a variety of factors before assigning priority to our recommendations. We consider location within the purchase funnel, an estimated level of effort to implement the recommendation, as well as the projected impact it will have against the KPIs that have been identified.
We have seen great success when brands bring an immediate focus to improving site usability and basic functionality. Implementing usability and performance optimizations provides an immediate source of incremental revenue that was not previously realized. This incremental revenue not only proves a very clear ROI specific to the optimizations but can also be used to finance larger initiatives such as a full redesign or replatform.
A/B testing optimizations. Through A/B testing, brands have the opportunity to see directional data relatively quickly to validate hypotheses. If there isn’t a big budget for testing, using free tools such as Google’s Optimize can provide valuable insights quickly. We have used this tool with some of our clients, and it has proven to be a great way to validate recommendations and move forward with confidence. After we implemented a test that proved to be successful, our client Macadamia Professional saw a 55 percent increase in engagement with the cart .
It's important for your ecommerce site to be creative and innovative, but if it's not producing the revenue you need, it's time to take action. Whether it is to “stop the bleeding” or to create a source of incremental revenue to fund larger initiatives, you need a strategic plan, an Iterative Roadmap. Most importantly, have a plan that is realistic and reflects your organization's unique objectives.