Using data analytics to inform everything from data strategy to marketing and growth plans is nothing new. For e-commerce companies, customer, visitor, and transaction data exists in abundance. Leveraging that data for maximum insight, of course, guides the creation and improvement of marketing strategies and the development of understanding customers and their journeys. Yet an occasional misconception exists that the user experience (UX), and design, in particular, is not inextricably intertwined with data. It is. Design is central to user experience and is not independent from data.
What does design have to do with user experience?
Design should be an integral part of your overall data strategy, both in terms of using your own data analytics to understand how your design performs and how users respond to it, and in terms of evaluating what happens when you change design elements. The most visible and interactive elements of your site can and should play a key role in how you understand user behavior and decision-making. In addition, a number of corporate chief data officers recommend applying design thinking to data strategy development, essentially creating a cyclical process: data, including consumer behavioral data and actions, drives the data strategy, which continuously evolves as more data is generated. Much of this data will be about user interactions with visual design elements and content marketing collateral, such as the user interface (UI), landing pages, forms, and dropdown menus, and how appealing, user-friendly, intuitive and useful these elements are. Without data, how will you know what works best, and how can you iteratively improve the user experience?
Forging a data-driven path forward is the way to customer-first thinking, whether in marketing, product design/development, content development, targeting, etc. — and putting the customer or prospect first is what user experience is all about.
What is data-driven design?
Data-driven design is powered by data and design coming together to be interpreted and expressed as a data-driven UX. How does the data provide value, what can it tell us that will enhance users’ experience, and the why behind what they are doing? A different approach to UX design departs from the traditional UX flow, which is largely static and often based on observations and assumptions. Instead, data-driven UX design incorporates dynamic and adaptive elements to activate the data in real-world implementations. How can data feed into user-centered products and human-centered experiences?
Design isn’t just about what things look like and how attractive they are. With the advance of technology, design involves different devices, screen types, sizes, and resolutions and needs to engage users actively. But design is fundamentally a human prerogative: what do people respond to? To be able to cultivate engagement and interactivity, the design must be informed by actual data about the use and employ usability data to target users, which can only enhance the experience and prompt conversions and purchases. That is:
- Persona development: Use data to better segment audiences and learn who has visited your site or used your product before? Who are your target audiences and their attributes? Who is the ideal user?
- Behavioral understanding: How are users engaging? What activities are they completing on your site versus what you want them to do? How do you want them to engage? How much time is spent engaging?
- User interface and customer journey flow: The design (look and feel) may be most important here; the UI influences the steps a user takes in their journey. Data can help you understand where users are taking actions, where they are abandoning the process, how long they spend on different screens in a process, for example in a purchase journey. Maybe the checkout is not intuitive, maybe shipping options and costs aren’t transparent, or the unintuitive design of the journey as a whole can affect how a customer behaves.
- User expectations/intent: How does the design reveal user intent? Conversely, how can data inform and help anticipate user expectations?
How can you integrate data into design to achieve a data-driven UX?
Let’s think about data-driven design examples — that is, ways that data can be used to differentiate and create unique user experiences.
Tapping into adaptive content
In an age of increasingly personalized content and experiences, adaptive content is at the heart of these kinds of efforts and can add tremendous value to content marketing initiatives. Adaptive content feeds directly into better user experiences as it aims to deliver relevant, targeted content to users at the most individual level possible, as though it was tailor-made just for the recipient. Essentially adaptive content delivers a unique experience to each user. No more high-volume “spray-and-pray”, generic, static marketing and content. Instead, you’re able to use data points from actions a user takes to create a picture of their needs, wants, personality (i.e., from developing more generic personas to more granular single customer views) and adapt accordingly.
What kinds of adaptations? For example, you can adapt the user interface, visuals, and content users receive based on their ongoing activities and attributes, such as person (who is it?), device (what device, what OS?), and context (what location, intent?). This can lead to all manner of content adaptations, including dynamic text replacement, more relevant images, location-based information, and other shifts based on behavioral or cookie-based data. Adaptive content can include various examples, ranging from local weather information in banners, local-language/location-based advertising, specific instructions or text tailored to the device type being used, and other responsive and immersive contextual information across channels. All of these efforts combine to increase conversions exponentially (3 to 10 times more) and create an immersive, sticky user experience.
Tapping into e-commerce growth hacking
Growth hacking is exactly what it sounds like: your marketing efforts, regardless of what they are, should first and foremost be focused on how to achieve growth, e.g. new leads, sign-ups, subscribers, conversions, customers, etc. A range of growth tactics can be introduced to an e-commerce growth hacking strategy to drive these crucial metrics. By no means an exhaustive list, here are a few of the clearest and most effective growth hacking methods:
- Creating targeted and/or personalized home or landing pages
- Highlighting relevant customer experiences, testimonials, and reviews
- Undertaking active A/B testing of site pages, including different headlines, texts, images, use of video, length of text or video, etc.
- Using pop-ups to sign up for certain activities or on exit from a page/site
- Suggesting cross-sells and up-sells based on purchase data
- Retargeting of ads and tracking performance
- Running seasonal or time-limited campaigns tailored to the user
- Adding a live chat/conversation popup tool to interact with users
- Thinking constantly and actively about visual elements: Make buttons and offers stand out visibly
- Focusing on delivering high performance, even though users won’t notice unless performance isn’t going well. For example, page load times affect whether users stay on the page, engage with the page, convert, and your Google rankings. Similarly, optimizing pages for smooth navigation, easy-to-read, concise text, etc. will help with overall performance and user impression/experience.
Delivering a progressively better user experience
The complexity of the user experience isn’t to be underestimated. Consumers expect more all the time, and to keep up with the emerging demand for personalized experiences. User design stems from user experience data and insights and evolves constantly to deliver a continuously improving user experience. Using your e-commerce data to create a better user experience requires data analytics results and research to dive into the why of user behavior and how user interaction and data consultancy experts can help you undertake this research and operationalize your findings to make the right UX decisions.
Get in touch to discuss using e-commerce data to create more engaging, sticky user experiences.