As with any hypercompetitive field, e-commerce strategies are constantly evolving. Certain metrics such as bounce rate, time on page, and cart abandonment rate have been studied for a long time and, while still important to track, no longer grant the competitive edge they once did (when everyone is looking at the same data, they’re probably going to be reaching similar insights).
Contrastingly, other metrics, such as customer hijacking, customer intent, and browser extension usage, are frequently overlooked despite having become more significant than ever. Harnessing these data sources can set your brand apart from its competitors, especially as online culture increasingly curtails the use of third-party data.
1. Customer Hijacking
If you’re in e-commerce, you’ll likely have spent long hours carefully planning your customer journey and user experience. However, it may be disheartening to learn that price comparison shopping extensions and unauthorized adverts interrupt over 20 percent of all customer journeys, distracting your hard-won clients from your products, undoing your reputation for pristine UX, and potentially sending consumers away from your sites. Worse still, because the extensions and adware causing these issues are present on users’ browsers or devices, server-side solutions frequently fail to control or even notice the problem.
The first step towards a cure is diagnosis. Ensure that you’re equipped with software solutions that measure when interruptions appear, and how they affect conversion rate. You should shop around for solutions that both give you the option to block certain scripts or extensions that are diverting your traffic away in unacceptable ways.
2. Browser Extensions
Many e-commerce sellers are still asking whether it’s wise to allow browser extensions on their websites, but as seen above, the answer isn’t that simple. Certain extensions will benefit your business, while others curb revenue. Those that are profitable for one business may prove devastating for another, while some extensions work well only on certain pages of your site and prove detrimental elsewhere. Finally, it’s vital to understand that shopping extensions impact your business whether you partner with them or not, so you might as well do so when it makes sense.
Instead of blindly denying or allowing browser extensions based on guesswork and hasty research, you should explore solutions that measure the impacts of individual extensions on a range of metrics, such as average order value, revenue per visitor, conversion rate, bounce rate, and revenue. By systematically testing whether these metrics improve with the extension denied or allowed, you can see which extensions are promoting your brand and which are doing it harm. These solutions provide a tailored blueprint of which extensions to allow in which locations, maximizing your profitability while minimizing the losses incurred through discounts and freebies.
3. Inferred Customer Intent
Marketers traditionally measured customer intent based on data points such as the traffic channel that generated the session, the keyword the user searched for, or their behavior in the previous session. Most of these data points are becoming less reliable with the decline of cookie-based tracking; instead, new technology allows marketers to determine customer intent by analyzing real-time user behavior, from the moment they land on your site, using learning models that study unique, non-personally identifiable information (PII) data points.
Utilizing these noninvasive methods, you can determine exactly how likely consumers are to make a purchase, and when they may abandon their cart. You can then target them with tailored promotions or discounts at the ideal time, making it far more likely that they will complete their customer journey. Many of the available solutions also incorporate first-party data sources, such as the type of device customers are using, what shopping extensions they've installed, and their location to further segment them for targeted marketing. Using these metrics, you can, for instance, steer wealthier customers to luxury products, or those living in hot or cold climates towards region-appropriate clothing.
4. Third-Party Services
Third-party services offer many benefits, such as ready-made APIs, analytics scripts, and website components. However, these service providers are often opaque about how they collect and use PII, and may transfer it unencrypted, leading to data breaches. While the third party may have allowed the breach to occur, GDPR and CCPA laws hold businesses responsible for their users’ data, and you can risk prosecution if not cautious.
Consumers are also more wary of how their data is used than ever before and will avoid sites that fail to offer sufficient levels of privacy. For instance, a recent study revealed that most internet users have changed their online habits because of security concerns and that 73 percent are concerned that their data isn't kept safe by websites.
In order to appease your customers, privacy-conscious consumers, and the law, it's vital that you know exactly where your customers’ data is going, and limit its spread as much as possible. Various software solutions now permit you to measure (in real time) what third-party services have access to which elements of your visitors’ information, allowing you to identify potential leaks and data breaches. This knowledge enables you to make informed decisions about which areas of your site third-party services are allowed to run on, and which services you permit to run. You can then punctually remove redundant services while incorporating those that add value.
Adjust Your Measurement Strategy to a Changing World
As GDPR and CCPA laws tighten, third-party services are likely to form an increasingly minute part of your e-commerce arsenal. Businesses that fail to change tactics are certain to fall by the wayside, scrapped for parts and relieved of customers by those who adapt first. A few advantages of the tactics described above is that they're safe, ethical, and rely on first-party data that you can easily collect and trust. However, the greatest benefit is that, unlike the alternatives, first-party data isn’t going anywhere. Soon to be the only kind of data that counts, make sure you master it before your competitors.
Emily Cawse is the senior customer success manager at Namogoo, a digital journey continuity platform.
Emily Cawse is a digital customer experience consultant, working with enterprises in marketing and digital analytics.
As a customer success manager, I help my clients to get the most out of their technology stack by providing data-driven insights and recommendations for their digital strategy and operational efficiency.
I started out managing campaigns across a range of digital and direct marketing channels - email, mobile, direct mail, and more. Analysing the results of those campaigns led me to the joys of data! I have since specialised in platforms that improve digital customer experience, from behavioural analytics to journey continuity.
I've worked with clients of all shapes and sizes, from financial services (including the “Big Four") to not-for-profit charities, and enterprises across travel, retail and telecoms.