When was the last time Amazon asked you who you were? Probably when you first signed up for your Amazon account, right? How long ago was that? That’s what I figured!
As soon as you sign into your Amazon account (or simply visit their site if you’re logged in), it immediately greets you on the right-hand corner. Not only does Amazon greet you, but it immediately shows you relevant items: product suggestions based on your interests, browsing history, and even your wish list. There’s a reason why Amazon is an eCommerce powerhouse. It talks to you like a human, and NOT like a website… and it's something many brands should be integrating onto their own websites.
In case you haven’t noticed, many websites have an extremely short-term memory. No matter how many times you visit a particular website, you might find yourself inputting your information over and over again. Even if you’ve downloaded an eGuide from an organization (after filling in your information), and you get an email inviting you to download the next eGuide, you’re probably finding yourself having to fill out your information again. It’s just… awkward. It’s the equivalent of asking a friend for a favor and then saying to them “who are you again?” Website visitors obviously aren’t insulted in a literal sense — but many are certainly agitated.
Like many folks, I’m really good at remembering faces, but awful at remembering names — so I make a concerted effort to remember them for the future. If I’ve found that I’ve forgotten their name, I’ll jot it down in my phone. I also do my best to jot down additional information in my contacts like favorite foods, birthdays, kid’s names, etc — anything that’s important to them. It prevents me from having to ask them over and over again (which is rude) and in the end, folks appreciate the effort. If something is meaningful to someone, I wanna make sure to remember it. Your websites should do just the same.
Now, let’s be honest with ourselves — even if you write everything down, you’re not going to remember every single significant detail. However, you do stand a far greater chance at remembering more details if you make the attempt. Websites should do just the same — especially if they want to better engage with consumers, gain their trust and see more transactions.
Although they’re the most obvious example, Amazon isn’t the only website that’s both forward-thinking conscientious. There are plenty of organizations who have picked up on how crucial it is to make their online experiences that much more engaging and considerate. Here’s a few I can rattle off pretty easily:
Here at PERQ, we started using AskNicely — a program that gathers actionable feedback via a Net Promoter Score through e-mail. For our purposes, we want to gain a better understanding of what consumers honestly think about our product. A simple 2-part survey gets sent out to each of our customers. The 1st part asks a customer to rate their likelihood to refer us on a scale from 1-10. The 2nd part allows for open-ended feedback — basically asking why that customer chose that rating, how we can do better, or who they would recommend. They hit submit, and that’s it! There’s no area to fill in their name, email address, or anything like that. Why? Because we JUST emailed them and should already know who they are!
Would you really go up to a customer of 6+ months, who you’ve developed a great relationship with, and ask who they are? No! Even though these aren’t face-to-face interactions, it just doesn’t make sense to ask them for information you already have. As someone who’s been on the receiving end of such emails, I can tell you that when I have to provide my information to them AGAIN, it almost feels like I’m being sold to… and mind you, I’ve already purchased your product. Don’t ask me who I am when you already know me.
So, going back to AskNicely — a customer clicks on the email, selects a number between 1-10 and then provides additional feedback. That information is then sent over to the organization conducting that survey, where they can better cater to that individual customer’s needs in the future. Their score is immediately appended to their customer profile.
If you’re a marketer, or you own an eCommerce business, chances are pretty good that you know whoFormstack is. If you don’t know,Formstack is a platform that allows businesses to design their own online forms and manage the data collected. Those are the layman’s terms, at least. The platform is far more complex than that (just like AskNicely is), but I’ll go over some of the features that make it a great engagement tool.
Over time,Formstack has made an effort to integrate technology that allows static forms to not be so plain. Along with the visual customization aspects of the platform, businesses can also customize the way forms are displayed to users. For example: depending on how a user has filled out a previous form (or a previous section of a form),Formstack would leverage “Conditional Formatting” to display questions that make the most sense of that user to answer. In fact, some questions can be skipped altogether. “Conditional Formatting” is used to help streamline the form filling process and increase completion rates. Pretty cool, right?
Now, as far as engagement with current clients goes,Formstack has the option of implementing “Pre-Populating Form Fields.” As I mentioned previously, it’s super awkward to ask folks you have a relationship who they are. It’s weird. And even if you don’t necessarily think it’s “weird,” website visitors don’t like having to fill in all of their contact information over and over and over again. For folks who are already engaging with your business, you can make it so consumer contact information is literally being copied from one form to another. It’s not quite the same as not having the form displayed at all, but certainly a great start.
Another option is to send unique form URL’s that attribute the form to a specific user or customer. These URL’s commonly found in “Thank You” emails and they often direct to Follow-Up surveys. Instead of an area to enter a name, email or phone number, it jumps into the first question. There are no introductions — just meaningful interactions.
While I’m not personally an Xbox user, I know lots of people who are. One of my team members, Felicia (PERQ’s Content Specialist), is pretty frequent user. Besides the extensive choice in games, Felicia likes the Xbox One’s current user interface — which is both highly engaging and personalized.
When using an Xbox (or even a PlayStation, for that matter), it’s customary to create a gamer profile — both for the purpose of distinguishing different users and for online gaming. What’s nifty about these gamer profiles is that the Xbox interface treats you just like a human. As soon as you log on, you’re literally greeted with “Hi, Felicia!” or “Hi, Muhammad!” on the screen (and it’ll tell you “Goodbye!” when you leave). It’s talking to you as if it truly knows you — and honestly, it really does.
Your Xbox user profile possesses a unique dashboard with all of your apps, all of your gaming scores and a list of all your current friends. What’s particularly cool about this platform is that, along with showing you everything that makes the experience unique and fun, the software attempts to make the experience EVEN BETTER.
One thing Felicia found interesting was that she was receiving game and app suggestions, NOT so much based on her own usage, but based on what her friends were currently using. Because there’s a sense of community around most video game consoles, and so many users have similar interests, it makes sense to branch out and show users something new. If Felicia sees that a good portion of her friends are playing “Halo Wars 2,” for example, she might want to buy the game so she can play with them. She could then click on the image of the game, and use the card saved on her profile to buy the game, download it and start playing.
We’ve come a long, long way since the days of repetitive form fills, but we’ve still got a long way to go. There are still so many businesses out there that have a habit of “taking the money and running.” They’re getting the information, stats and business they need to sustain themselves — but they’re not actively trying to retain those consumers. If I’ve learned anything over the last few years from working at PERQ, it’s that consumers feel more comfortable when businesses develop relationships with them. Consumers want to feel welcome — but more important, they want to be understood. The more we understand our consumers going forward, the more inclined they’ll be to continue doing business with us.