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Forrester Research has found that 79% of online shoppers who have an unsatisfying shopping experience at a website are unlikely to make a purchase from that site again.

E-tail marketers must therefore take a page out of the CIO's book. Having a well-designed website to keep customers happy is necessary, of course, but it's also imperative to continuously monitor your IT infrastructure and Web applications to understand performance trends in the online (and mobile) shopping experience.

Using customer experience monitoring tools from IT, alongside sales and marketing measurement, will provide your team with improved campaign performance and increased sales.

By monitoring its network, a publicly traded apparel retailer, for example, increased visibility into the sales process on its e-commerce site and now better understands how its online campaigns are performing; it increased revenues while increasing IT staff productivity. The company earned back the cost of the product in 11 months, earned a 114% return on investment, and reaped an average annual benefit of $25,000.

One key to maintaining happy e-shoppers is customer-experience monitoring. Companies with clear visibility into every step of a customer's visit to their website provide Marketing with detailed consumer info on shopping trends through a full replay of the customer experience, which can be used to fine-tune Web design and collateral to facilitate more sales. IT can also experience exactly what the customer does and quickly zero in on and resolve potential problems before they cost the business more sales.

Here are three tips to help marketers succeed with customer experience monitoring before that customer's shopping cart is abandoned.

1. Assign at least one person the responsibility of applying your customer-experience capability, full time, to keep customers as cheerful as possible

This is the equivalent of the manager of a brick and mortar store who walks the store or watches the security cameras to keep an eye out for any disruption of business. When a fire-drill concern arises, your customer-experience dedicated expert can investigate and see how the problem is affecting the experience of your customer base.

When things are going smoothly, your expert can look for more subtle problems that can drain revenue you aren't even aware you're losing.

2. Use your customer-experience capability with your Web analytics to determine why your customers are abandoning their carts and taking their money elsewhere

Your Web analytics solution should give you close to real-time insight into what your conversion rate is, segmented by various dimensions, such as geography or browser type. If you see conversion dip, segment the issue as best you can to answer the what/where/how often questions, and then immediately engage your customer experience expert to give you what the Web analytics cannot—the why behind the problem—so you can take immediate action to solve it.

A dip in your conversion rate can have roots in even your most customer-friendly tactics. Take promotion codes, for instance: Maybe an update process causes valid promotion codes to issue an apology message saying the code entered was invalid. This obviously will annoy customers who are expecting a discount, and they will leave. Working together, your Web analytics solution and your customer experience expert can help you find the root cause of the problem so you can roll your database back to a point containing the most up-to-date promotion codes, your error messages subside, and your conversion rate is back up in the expected range.

3. Prioritize your problem-resolution efforts based on actual business impact

Flawless execution of your online presence is critical, but Murphy's Law says some issues will cause you to stray from that goal. A good customer experience solution should give you the ability to track your customers' actual abandoned cart values. Make sure you watch this metric overall; when the inevitable problems occur, use it to prioritize your team's resolution efforts.

It's easy to become distracted and pulled in a direction that seems the most important. Let's say one of your load-sharing database servers is down hard, but the other paired server is handling the load and performance has degraded by only 10% and there is not yet a measurable effect on conversion rate or abandoned cart values. Then, you have one particular server in the Web farm throwing a higher than normal number of errors, although it's not exceedingly high. But even though it is only one server out of 10, it turns out to be affecting more customers, and more business, than what—at first glance—you thought was your more critical issue. Your user experience expert can use your customer experience solution to help make the priority calls.

You may end up with the same exact mean time to recovery, but, by prioritizing based on actual business impact, you will end up with every retailer's favorite holiday gift—a stronger bottom line.

* * *

So, make the most of your customer experience monitoring capability to create loyal customers who will happily divest themselves of their loot on your website, and you can be sure your success will be the envy of those who will be adding customer experience monitoring to their own New Year's resolutions next year.

Continue reading "Monitoring Only Like a Marketer Is Losing You Online Sales" ... Read the full article

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image of Steve Rosenberg

Steve Rosenberg is VP & GM of performance monitoring at Dell Software.

Twitter: @foglight

LinkedIn: Steve Rosenberg

MarketingProfs Partner