Love Your Data and Improve Your Design

I love data. In fact if digital techniques were my family, data analysis would be my favourite child. We all know the importance that data plays in improving conversion rate, helping increase ROI and ensuring campaigns are perfectly targeted. However, we shouldn’t just use data to test if a new technique is working, we should use data to inform us what our next innovation should be.

Let’s take a new website as an example. We could design something which is more in line with a set of brand guidelines and brings a digital product more up to date. Or we could take a step back and identify the users’ needs and design a site around them.

Brand guidelines and best practice don’t specify an understanding of what frustrates your users about a particular website, nor does it provide insight into what devices your customers are using and how they are using your services. Thus, the more we know about users, the more we can meet their needs.

To help with this, I’ve identified the top three ways we can design with data and step away from the Don Draper-style of strategy.

1.     Don’t rely solely on web analytics

Tools such as Google Analytics are a great way of getting a quantitate view of how users interact with your digital touchpoints.

However what we don’t get is an understanding of the bigger picture. For instance, how do your customers operate outside of your website? What are their needs? Why are they coming to your site? What are their favourite online experiences? What would they love to see on your website? What other touchpoints do they have with you?

This qualitative data should be intrinsic to your digital planning. It will help create experiences which truly meet the needs of the users, and identify where the main focus of your budget should be targeted.

2.     Stop working in silos

Once you’ve spoken to customers, make sure you build on your findings by speaking to your internal teams. Talk to finance and understand the main frustrations and touchpoints they have with your customers. Chat to your customer service team and call centre staff to understand the call types and volumes they get from customers.

These employees are at the front line of customer engagement and will be able to reel off key themes and customer gripes. Go into stores and watch how retail staff interact with customers. All of this information will help you understand the main issues affecting your organisation, and help you put a strategy together to help solve them.

Couple this with the findings of your user testing and you’ll be well on your way to identifying where you should spend your digital budget. After that, all you have to do is …

3.     Test, re-test and then test again

Incremental iteration reduces risk. It makes big failures unlikely and turns small mistakes into valuable lessons. Instead of overhauling a website with a whole load of new functionality, take the information that you’ve discovered and identify possible tweaks and updates. It could be a button, it could be a new page, it could be a new area of the site, but let your insight inform these key decisions.

Focus your attention on one area, develop a minimum viable product and then release this as a beta test or prototype. This is where web analytics can come into their own, as you’ll be able to understand the data behind the hypothesis and identify how updates perform against the old functionality. Once you know that your hypothesis worked in action you can put it live to 100% of your customers, or you could refine even more with multivariate testing and user feedback.

Using the above points and by focusing on one area at a time, you’ll be able to pinpoint an uplift in sales or an increase in enquiries down to a single update. This will ensure that your learnings of the customer – both in principle and in practice – is forever evolving.

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