Optimize the Journey: Developing a Conversion Path of Least Resistance

Ecommerce enterprises (and the Web workers they employ) know an incredible amount about their digital visitors - if not, they should start an ongoing process of learning and discovery right away.

Purchasing habits, personal preferences and a host of behavioral data is available about visitors and existing customers today for "sellers" in any vertical - from electronics distributors to digital publishing outlets.

Even with the most powerful machine learning and artificial intelligence tools ever developed at their disposal, however, it is often still not enough to enable the majority of enterprises to optimize the digital experience if there is no formal plan in place first to surmount any potential challenges that arise on the user's path to conversion - be that the sale of a physical product or signing up for an information or service subscription. 

For example, we might discover that our enterprise does an excellent job of attracting a specific demographic but it comes to our attention that this group/segment is visiting regularly (perhaps several times per month) without actually purchasing something or subscribing to anything.  

It is the responsibility of the enterprise/business in this scenario to provide a path for these users (and users classified under any identified buyer persona) that avoids potential resistance points - such as failures in identifying a buyer's priorities, decision criteria and success factors -  in order to achieve the conversion.

An outline for a suggested conversion path might resemble the following (but perhaps in greater detail depending upon the complexity of the sale and the effort required to garner a conversion).

  • Establish a rule that if a shopper fitting a specific buyer persona has not converted in the past month, they will be served an email promoting new information or products from their most frequently visited categories.
  • On the second interaction, present content and offers on the homepage (or perhaps in sidebars, footers or headers throughout the digital experience) that highlights the most recently viewed product/information, or sorting products based on the shopper's historical product price range or information popular among similar users.
  • On the third touch, highlight the cart contents and remind the shopper of any promotion he or she might be eligible for, such as free shipping.

Does this guarantee conversion? No, but remember that the aim here is to create a "path of least resistance" and that can't be achieved if you're not actively removing the perceived barriers from the buyer's journey. That ultimately means enterprises need to leverage the available data, test different paths for each buyer persona (and user) and analyze the results to determine conversion impediments.

Realize that conversion optimization is an ongoing and dynamic path, particularly when it comes to the user experience aspect. Let this serve as a starting point as you launch an initiative to optimize the digital experience for conversion. In the end, it comes down to understanding visitors and the buyer personas each user represents, the environment and context in which they are living and working, delivering on those expectations, and never losing sight of what really motivates a conversion.