Companies need to know that online users are the key to their success, not their customers. In his book, Users Not Customers, digital-marketing CEO Aaron Shapiro makes the case that focusing on users’ online experience with your business will increase your profitability and success in spades.
It’s hard to imagine that anything can be as important as the customer experience. After all, customers are the reason we can continue doing business, right? But Shapiro's research shows that online users are the reason that our companies stay in business. (Shapiro is the CEO of Huge, a digital marketing agency.)
The digital impression that we create for our users directly correlates to whether they become profitable customers.
Think of users as prospects or potential customers. They are the people who are interacting with our business online and offline. And the quality of their impression—how easy it is for them to choose us—is how they choose whether to purchase from us.
Be quick and clear about who you are and what you do. Shapiro says that people are online for only two reasons: to do something or to see what’s new. If your online impressions don't match their purpose, they'll move on to something else.
1. Put yourself in your users’ shoes. Think about what would trigger people to land on your website. Are they searching for how to handle a problem, such as “manage money online”? Or, are they searching for a solution such as “snow shovel.” Look at your website and make sure that you are talking to your customer specifically.
2. Think about what your users will want to do. When they land on your site, will they want to compare prices? Will they want to get more information? Make their needs the highlight of the site and create an obvious button so they don’t have to search for what they want.
Build engagement, relationships and fun. Sometimes, we forget that our customers and prospects are armed with virtually perfect economic information. All they have to do is Google your product or service or scan a bar code and they can get the lowest price instantly. Your job is to set yourself apart with the experience that you create.
3. Make it easy for customers to reach you. Provide clear contact information on your website. Don’t hide your phone number—make it easy to find. Include e-mail addresses, Twitter handles, Facebook pages and any other manner of getting in touch with you.
4. Take the time to read reviews. Reach out to customers who give poor reviews to find out what the problem was. Reach out to customers who left glowing reviews and reward them.
5. Engage customers through Twitter, Facebook or Foursquare. A terrific book, The Power of Foursquare, details more than 50 case studies of small businesses that have used the power of Foursquare for their business. These companies have engaged with their customers and created fun, as well as profit. Make the commitment to learn new ways to build relationships and conversations with customers.
6. Standardize and simplify your offer. Your offer should be easy to understand. Having something customized is sometimes valuable, but not always. Design the complexity out of your offer and the purchase process. Your prospects will choose you because they understand what you're offering and can purchase it easily.
You'll find a process for how to turn your high-cost customized offer into a streamlined standardized product in John Warillow’s book Built to Sell. If you are a service business, start by mapping out the process that you use to deliver your service. Create online forms that take the place of long meetings.
To see how to standardize the logo process, check out 99 Designs. It can help you consistently deliver a killer user experience.
Embrace this new way of buying, selling and interacting in a digital world. This is really a mindset issue. The longer we try to hang on to the way it used to be or should be, the more difficult it will be to do something new and different.
Create a new normal that includes and acknowledges the mobile and digital customer experience. Don't try to adapt the new technology to your old thinking. Instead, use the new technology as a tool to help you achieve what you never thought was possible in your business.