“Can you take me to get new shoes instead of ice cream?” The little voice called from the backseat. “I REALLY need new shoes.”
“Bud, you just got new shoes. Your Mom took you on Tuesday.” I replied, thinking how odd it was that the kid who’d trade both his brothers for a single M&M found in the crevices of a car seat, would be volunteering to give up top-your-own-yogurt-with-every-sugary-item-available-in-a-50-mile-radius for a pair of kicks.
“I hate them.” He pouted. “They’re not fast. Milan says they’re the SLOWEST sneakers ever.”
Ah, I should have known. Milan, the nastiest viper on the planet. Age 3.
If there’s a time in your life where you question how men get to be exactly how they are, all you need to do is go to a playground with a bunch of 3-5 year olds. Little girls are vicious. But I digress…
If I were the parent in this situation, I’d use this as some teachable moment about how you shouldn’t care what other people say, yadda, yadda, yadda.
But I am an auntie to this particular tiny human, and as an auntie, I just wanted to Hulksmash la petite princess. Okay, okay, Hulksmash may be a bit over the edge but I did think about sneaking into preschool during naptime and stealing the vixen’s shoes AND her tiny tiara – there simply must be a better queen-in-waiting in my nephew’s class and I’m determined to find her.
The thing about Milan is not just that she’s a boy-bully with an obvious Cinderella Curse but that’s she completely clueless:
My nephew’s massively-overpriced Nike sneakers don’t make him fast or slow. What makes him fast or slow is whether or not he is a good runner. (Or, in his case, how many things he stops to inspect/collect while he’s on his oh-so-circuitous journey.)
Yeah, I know, Captain Obvious reporting for duty here.
Marketers do the same thing though. We mistakenly correlate one item to another, when in reality, they aren’t associated at all. (One of the biggest whoppers I see right now is people thinking that because they have a responsive site, it’s mobile friendly from a user perspective. Oy vey.)
Regardless of what device your customer/prospect is using to look at your site, there are only a few things that matter:
Your entry pages (their first 10 seconds on your site has a direct impact on a user’s success)
Your navigation (including internal text search function)
Your checkout/inquiry process (from start to finish)
Your flow (aka path) pages
You can have all the bells and whistles and all the fancy-schmancy whizbang tools known to man and if you’re not focusing on these basics, you will not win the race. Period.
Focus on the top 10%. The other 90% likely won’t matter.
Want to improve your site in a jiffy? Look at where the rat is getting caught in the snake. Figure out which step(s) the user is struggling on and develop a plan to fix it/them. Remember, users often bail because of something that happened up to 3ish steps before (this is especially true in search) so you really need to look at your whole flow to determine where your issues are. (Side note: This will also help you with prioritizing your fixes – far too often people change things in an order that doesn’t serve their bottom line efficiently.)
What happens on your desktop site is typically not indicative of what’s happening on tablets or handhelds.
Tablets, especially the larger ones, are shopping devices. If you’re not getting twice the conversion as you are on your desktop site, there’s probably something wrong in River City.
On the other hand, handheld user sessions are shorter, users’ tolerance level is lower and their distractions are, at minimum, tripled. Handheld conversions are tough with most companies at a quarter to a half of what they typically get on a desktop site.
Want other sure-fire things to help you figure out where your rat is caught in the snake and then to shimmy him on down? Here are four tried-and-true things you can do on a shoestring budget. (Yes, I had to say it.)
Look at your direct/no referrer/branded traffic first. That’s often the easiest to fix as people who come in that way (direct/no referrer/branded) have higher propensity to buy/inquire and they’re usually at your site for a directed (and easy to manipulate) goal. If you’re a catalog business, do people instantly know how to place a catalog order or do you bury it under some innocuous link like Quick Order at the bottom of your site?
If you’re sending traffic from infomercials/TV ads, does your site match what the users saw on TV? What about the folks coming from print? Or radio? Is there a solid transfer from one medium to the other?
If you’re a retail store and the user is coming through on a handheld, is your store locator front-and-center and easy to use or do you bury it in a link cluster at the bottom?
Do you have an adoption issue or an abandon issue? (We focus far too much on abandons these days – abandons are easy and like shooting fish in a barrel. Adoptions? Well, they’re attainable but you’re going to need to work a teensy bit harder.)
Determine how your new visitor paths differ from your returning visitor paths. This is ESPECIALLY important in mobile. Are returning visitors looking at the same pages they looked at last time or new ones? Are they getting stuck in the same places? (For example, in a lead form/checkout or search.) Are you alienating them by asking them for something they’ve already given you like an email address? Are they searching for something they’ve already searched for? (Hint: If you’re not coding your mobile searches, you should start yesterday.) For a lot of companies, the easy money is in the repeat visitor traffic.
Speaking of email… Look closely at your email traffic – what are those folks doing? When someone comes in from an email, they often have a directed goal. If they don’t adopt to action (put something in their basket, sign up for the webinar you are advertising, download a free ebook, etc.), there may be something wrong with your process.
Typically email folks get put into your process too early or too late.
Are you dumping folks into a category page when they should go to a product page? Are you dumping them into a sign-up page with little/no copy when they haven’t yet been sold? Email folks are the easiest to manipulate so if yours are run amok, figure out exactly where they’re running off the reservation.
Figure out whether or not your paths are too heavy or convoluted. I find the rule of 3 (that the user will spend only 3 clicks to do something) pretty outdated these days but there is still a lot of value in calculating AAUS. AAUS means average active user session and it’s the length of time that the user stays actively on your site – every site has a different average and a different sweet spot – knowing your sweet spot is like knowing exactly where the pot of gold is hidden under the rainbow.
If you can’t calculate AAUS, determine how many seconds the user is spending per page on your site. Are they bouncing around looking at too many pages in too short of a period of time? If so, look at your visual match, word connect and navigation – most often one of those three things is to blame.
Is the user spending too long per page? Are they spending lots of time on a lead page and then not converting? All of those things are often caused by poor pathing or heavy loading and with a little elbow-grease they’re easy to fix. Things like instigated chat and staged (step) triggers are two good solutions. (Incidentally, it floors me how few companies take advantage of staged triggers. There’s no need to put someone right back into the place they struggled if you can avoid it. Not to mention you can directly address the user’s primary pain point by using them.)
Have more ideas you’d like to add? Or questions about any of the above? Feel free to write firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, I’ll be looking for a jetpack that’ll fit a preschooler or a sleeping potion for a princess, whichever is easiest to find.