Five Tips for Successful Multi-Channel Conversion

This article first featured in CMS Newswire on the 8th of November 2012.

With smartphone use growing and tablet sales set to hit 126 million this year, it’s all too easy for marketers to become overwhelmed by the challenges of multi-channel retailing and ecommerce. But multi-channel commerce need not need be complex if we remind ourselves that it’s for people that interact with brands, not algorithms or stats on a dashboard.

These five tips, gleaned from our work with leading multi-channel brands, will help make the challenges of multi-channel retail surmountable, by bringing users into focus.

1. Act on Insight and Data, not Hype

It’s all too easy to get carried along by technical hype. Although this can be exciting and enjoyable, it’s fraught with danger if you don’t measure impact and base your business decisions on data, rather than what’s cool.

In a recent Forrester study this conclusion rings very true: “that in spite of technology advances and more sophisticated marketing techniques — nothing has really changed when it comes to what drives people to buy online.”

2. Do as Little as You Can for Tablets

You probably need to do very little to optimize the user experience for tablets. Just identify the big usability problems and fix them — such as removing Flash and adjusting presentational elements that may prove fiddly. And don’t yawn next time your tech team reminds you of the importance of standards compliance.

3. Focus Smartphones on Existing Usage Patterns

Smartphones need more attention. Let your existing data guide how you tailor for this touch point: are users primarily searching on smartphones and purchasing (later) on another device (e.g. tablet or pc/Mac)? We’ve observed this pattern in the fashion sector in particular.

The good news is you can already compare usage patterns between smartphones and fixed web using your web stats package by filtering by device type.

4. Think About Donald Rumsfeld when Choosing Your Data Analysis Tool

As touch-points multiply it’s tempting to seek out an analysis tool that can help make sense of this multitude of unstructured data by applying some form of sentiment analysis. But, as exciting as many of these tools are, they tend to only reveal “known-knowns.” We’ve never heard of a single client reveal a single “unknown-unknown.”

You’re probably better off talking to your call center staff for an hour each week — since they, as humans, can interpret other people’s sentiment better than machines.

5. Observe Your Customers

There’s no substitute to observing behaviour: be that in-store, on-line or on a mobile. Whether it’s in a usability lab or conducted remotely getting into the heads of real users completing tasks (using whatever touch point they’d like), this will be a great source of qualitative data to see how to optimize each of your channels.

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