How Can Internet Marketers Bring Out the Best in Site Design?

Our lives are embroiled by design. Design of our work places and employee-friendly policies, design of infrastructure (roadways, railways) that get us to our work places, design of shopping malls and aisles of a superstore that simplify our shopping experience, and design of products that we use to ease our lives.

Google disrupted the way we get information before making purchase decisions. Apple’s iPhone disrupted the key-friendly mobile phone industry. Facebook has disrupted the way we connect with friends and family. Design was central to these disruptions, and even today design is paramount to the way we find, consume, and share information.

Therefore, as marketers, our top priority must be design. For it is design that helps consumers get what they want.

Here are three key recommendations for Internet marketers to get the best out of their site design.

1. Analyze: Dig deep into your analytics tool. Data reveals a lot about your site design. For starters, take a look at the pages that have a high bounce rate or pages that have a high exit rate. Fix design for those pages. Now that you have grabbed the low hanging fruit, it’s time to climb the analytics tree and get to the high branches. Get help from your agencies to devise a measurement framework. Make sure that you have mapped your business objectives to goals and then to key performance indicators. Here is a sample analytics framework developed by Avinash Kaushik, evangelist at Google –

Above: Snapshot of Google Analytics that shows top pages (by page views) and bounce rates.

The objective of using your analytics tools is to draw inferences from click stream data and understand user browsing behavior. Understand cart abandonments and make fixes to pages that have dropouts. Learn about conversion rate and what design changes are required to reduce friction on landing pages. Don’t go by your hunch when it comes to making design changes to your site. Use data.

2. Test: Marketers, being human, are afraid of failure. Afraid to put their designs out there and invite criticism. The web, with technology at its behest, allows companies to fail faster, and at a lower cost. As marketing managers, we must seize this opportunity to our advantage. Test everything. Test your chief marketing officer’s idea or the idea that came from your developer.

Testing design is easy. Tools such as Google Analytics must be used to test landing pages, by either employing A/B testing or multivariate testing (earlier done in Google Website Optimizer). For example, in a test-drive registrations campaign for an automobile company, we must create multiple test-drive pages and see which pages are driving more conversions. Each of the pages has a different design: a different color for the call-to-action button, different messaging that communicates the value proposition, or just playing around with the number of form fields.

3. Ask: Nothing like asking customers what they want, and then giving them just that. Online surveys allow marketers to gather consumer feedback and act upon it. Collating and making sense of data is faster as compared to archaic methods such as field research and focus groups.

If you are looking at changing the design of your site or adding new features, it might be sensible to introduce either a page level survey or a site level survey. Surveys can be controlled, i.e., marketers can decide on what percentage of site visitors get to see the survey. Moreover, site visitors can be gratified to fill in the survey and provide valuable information. Make sure that the surveys are not boring or long enough to tire the consumer.

Data and the power to measure form the basis of these recommendations. So, in an Internet marketer’s life that is embroiled in design, are you ready to analyze, test, and ask?

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