8 Ways to convert high value purchases online

Understanding your customer journey is key to success. However, with an increasing number of touchpoints, understanding your audience is getting more and more difficult. It’s critical to know not just their interests and opinions, but also their habits, behaviours and interaction points in both the online and offline worlds. With big ticket items, such as expensive holidays and luxury cars, the customer journey is even more complex to comprehend. Consumers decisions on these items are processed differently to lower value items, people take more time over the decision, compare more alternatives and refer to many trusted sources for advice, but how do they make a decision? Do these sources really make a difference? What psychological tips and tricks can you employ to sell big ticket items to consumers?

Why are high ticket purchase decisions different?

Unlike lower value items, high cost purchases are more risky purchases for a number of reasons:

  • High price. They cost more so it takes more time to save up and pay for the item, consumers want to make sure their hard earned money is not wasted on a bad decision.
  • High risk. When it comes to experience purchases such as the annual family holiday or a honeymoon, there is a great deal of pressure on the person booking to ensure the experience is memorable and that everyone has a great time.
  • Longevity. A car will be something that’s used daily, for a number of hours and will remain in their life for a number of years.

68 days is the average time it takes users to research high ticket purchases

The fragmented but shortening customer journey

The customer journey in the digital era is no longer linear. With the rise of digital technologies and the connectedness that typifies the shopping experience, the costumer decision making process has become more fragmented.

However, the customer journey is also showing signs of shortening for high price items. Research over the last few years shows that consumers may be becoming more decisive. This may be because evidence indicates they are researching much earlier and spending much longer in this stage of the process. From 2013 to 2015, the average time taken in the research phase decreased by 14% for high cost purchases, from 79 days to 68 days (GE Capital Retail Bank and Synchrony Financial).

User experience in the digital world is no doubt contributing to this shortening timeline. The more that digital experiences, such as websites and apps, are designed around user needs, the more likely it is that the customer’s questions and concerns are answered and they’ll more likely reach the moment of truth. The key is ensuring that your website is the one to do this so that you keep the customer in your website as opposed to them going back to Google and a competitor to meet their needs. You need to identify and prevent all those barriers that can make people bounce, and work to actively keep them engaged with your product.

Rational and irrational decision making

“95% of our decisions are emotional, and 5% are rational. So even with all of these touch points we tend to go with our gut.” (Kahneman)

In the decision making process we think we are being very rational, researching the product, collecting information, comparing what’s included and prices, reading reviews, looking at photos and watching videos… but unbeknownst to consumers, their final decision to purchase is driven by emotions (irrational).

M.Talks of Ignition One states “We may be getting more decisive, but it doesn’t mean we’re getting any more loyal. Perhaps we’re just using all the information to filter down to a decision, but it’s still going to be an emotional decision. We’re not going to be any more [rational] about it… with some items we’re going to look at all the facts a bit more, but we’re still going to go with our emotional reaction to things. When it comes to marketing, it’s all about how you feel. If you don’t feel towards a certain brand, then you don’t want anything to do with it. You want to make sure you’re playing up all of your marketing campaigns to play into those emotions. The thing about the big-ticket items where you have to make a big financial commitment is that naturally, you want to make more time about that decision and have as many opportunities to verify your decision as possible. But our decisions are mostly driven by emotion rather than rational thought.”

Still likely to purchase in-store, despite their increased use of digital

88% are likely to purchase a high priced item in-store, not online. So, despite the increased use of digital throughout the customer journey, the final transaction is mostly still being made in a physical store.

8 ways to convert high ticket consumers online

1. Focus on mobile customer experience

With 50% of consumers using their mobile at some point during the research and purchase of a high ticket item, it’s more important than ever to focus on your mobile customer experience. Mobile is by far the most difficult platform for brands to get right due to the small screen space, so it’s worthwhile investing in expert help to focus on analysing your online user experience, identifying barriers and opportunities to engage and convert your consumers.

Mobile shopping CX

2 Limit choice

The potential for your consumers suffering from the paradox of choice increases the more options you give them and the less likely they are to make a choice. And when they do finally make a choice they’ll be less satisfied with it – this is called Buyers Remorse. This is what happens when you book your holiday then a week later see a better deal that you wish you’d booked instead.
Parados of choice

3 Have a clear call to action on each page

It’s important for you to guide your customer when they’re on your website. Have one clear call to action button for each page. If you need other buttons, make these secondary buttons by decreasing their visual appearance and enhancing the appearance of the primary button to clearly stand out on the page.

4 Use video

High consideration purchases are driven by emotions. “The richer the emotional content of a brand’s mental representation, the more likely the consumer will be a loyal user.” (Psychology Today). The best way for you to communicate emotion is through video.

5 Personalisation

People want to feel that their purchase is unique, tailored on their needs, something that makes them proud to show and tell others about. People enjoy the fun aspect of personalising their product to their needs. It’s an external reflection of themselves. It also enhances their commitment and likelihood to purchase – personalisation can deliver 5-10 times the ROI on marketing spend and increase sales by 10% or more (McKinsey, 2013).
Audi R8 personalisation

6 Post purchase experience

The final purchase decision, especially for expensive purchases can be followed by buyers remorse; Have I made the right decision? Is it the best product? Buyer’s remorse (or buyer’s regret) is the sense of regret a person feels after having made a purchase. It is frequently associated with expensive items or when when customers have made a choice from many different options. A feeling of self-doubt and remorse can emerge after the purchase process. To lessen the risk of buyers remorse, keep in touch with the customer after their purchase, reassuring them of the good decision they made to buy their product and the benefits it’s going to bring them. They will become a loyal customer. Also this goes without saying but ensure you send reminders to them to leave a review!

7 Giving meaningful context

Give context to your customers experience, make your product come alive in their eyes, giving meanings that are relevant and timely for them. In a study, international travellers were asked ‘How much would you pay for insurance that pays $100,000 in case of death for any reason?’ versus ‘How much would you pay for insurance that pays $100,000 in case of death in terror incident?’. Travellers were willing to pay more  in the second condition because of the time and context (the unfortunate questions were asked during a period in which the risk of terror attacks was high).

Context matters

8 Utilise Virtual Reality

To give customers the experience before purchasing. Car makers such as Audi are offering consumers virtual test drives that enable consumers to test drive their cars without the need to visit a showroom. This approach disrupts the standard customer journey of research then test drive, as consumers can fast track straight to the test drive before doing their research. Once consumers finally go for their real test drive it will feel like a familiar experience and remove some of the friction, resulting in a higher chance of purchase. Fashion retailers are already looking at how VR could help to ease changing room friction and queues and utilising technology such as smart mirrors.

Virtual reality

Other posts you may find interesting:

Using the Pareto Principle to improve your user experience
Call to Action Buttons: 5 Psychology tips to increase conversion

5 Reasons to continuously conduct user research

Conducting user research is now something that most successful brands do to improve their user experience and ultimately their bottom line. However, there is still a lot more potential to increase revenue and profitability as many brands still don’t do enough user research. They are reactive and responsive to the demand for research as opposed to ingraining it within their process as an active continuous activity. In fact, recent research has shown that 58% of companies only conduct research on a quarterly or less frequent basis which is far from adequate if you want to be a leader in your market.
58% of companies only conduct research on a quarterly or less frequent basis

User research is not just about waiting until you have something to test. It should be a pro-active activity that provides regular insights into customer behaviour, psychology, process, interaction, expectations and keeps up with the fast changing pace of the digital world at the moment. The way customers shop is constantly adapting and you need to adapt too.

So why should i continuously carry out user research?

1 Understand your customers

Customer behaviour, attitudes and expectations adapt over time and with changes in technology. Conducting regular research enables you to keep informed of how customers perceive your brand and how they’re interacting and transacting with your business. Rather than waiting for changes to happen then reacting to them, you can identify early turning points and be the first to innovate to changes in your sector. This continuous learning enables you to keep all your user documentation such as user journeys and personas up to date so your team are not making decisions based on potentially out of date and no longer relevant insights.

2 Test hunches and hypotheses

Your team should always be coming up with hypotheses to explain data, current and future user behaviour. Some of these you’ll be testing through your split testing but for concept ideas you’ll need other ways to test these and gain user feedback. Assumptions should always be treated carefully – don’t base major decisions on hunches, make sure you have the evidence to back them up through user research. The type of user research you’ll need to conduct depends on what you want to find out – what’s your hypothesis? See 5 user tests every product manager should commission.

3 Benchmark KPIs against yourself and competitors

What do you use as your KPIs? For your online digital experiences you might be using metrics that include those found in the definition of usability ISO 9241-11.

These are:
Efficiency: How long does it take to complete the task? If you’re an online retailer who sells dresses online, how long does it take a representative customer to find and select a red dress for an evening out?

Effectiveness: How do they accomplish the task? Do they complete it using the most optimal path or do they go around the houses, getting a little lost along the way? This is your effectiveness rating and it’s an important indicator of how easy and intuitive your tasks are to complete.

Satisfaction: How satisfied does the user feel after completing (or maybe they didn’t complete) the task? This is a self rated measure.

You’ll find correlation amongst the above three measures. If one scores low it’s likely the other metrics will score low too and all the above correlates with NPS scores. If you regularly run research to benchmark your user experience against yourself (to check the changes you’re hopefully constantly implementing to improve your conversion) and against competitors you’ll always know how you compare and where your strongest opportunities are.

4 Avoid costly rework

There's nothing worse than leaving user research until just before launch, then finding out that your idea sucks!

Or maybe the idea works but the implementation of it isn’t quite right, it’s not testing well and now there’s not enough time to fix it before launch. If only you’d run some user research on an early prototype! The earlier you can catch problems the better as that’s when it’s much cheaper and quicker to fix them. Some people think user research will add time and cost to their project but it really doesn’t, it slots in easily and quickly, and will save you a heck of a lot of rework later on.

5 Be more successful

By continuously conducting user research in your process, the team are constantly seeing their work from the user’s perspective. They’ll begin to think more like your customers and imagine them as they’re working on their UX designs, when they’re in meetings and when they’re coming up with new ideas. Rather than speaking of their own opinions and experience, they’ll begin to talk about what Alice said last week and this gives them a much more solid basis for coming up with innovative ideas and solutions that are born from user insights. These ideas have a much greater chance of being successful for your business.

What to do next

Commit to a regular schedule of user research and see the changes it makes to:

  • Your team morale
  • The understanding of your customers
  • The quality of new ideas generated
  • The cost savings you’ll make through less rework
  • The improvement in all your customer experiences

…and the business will benefit hugely from the increase in revenue.

User research is a revenue generator and the key to your success

Need to rent a lab for your research?

Other posts you may find interesting:

What is User Testing?
5 User tests every Product Manager should commission

Personas: Why is it important to understand your users?

Persona example 1

Image credit: Xtensio

Personas are amazing! If you don’t have them or if you have them but don’t use them (what a waste!) then you’re missing out on a whole host of business benefits. Let’s have a quick look at these before we dive more into what personas are and how they fit into the design process…

Benefits of Personas

  • Company wide understanding of who your users are
  • Deep understanding of customer behaviour and needs
  • Stop everyone in your company from talking about themselves, their friends and family as the user(s)
  • More effective, focussed conversations and business meetings
  • Clearer and better decision making – focussed on user needs and goals
  • Greater empathy with the customer

Enables your design team and project managers to create much better products and services

Where did it all begin?

Personas were introduced in 1998 by Alan Cooper.

At the time he was working on the design of new software and he interviewed some colleagues (possible future users of the software), to collect some ideas to implement in his project. That day, without even realising it, Cooper started to engage himself in a dialogue, play-acting as a project manager, inspired by one of the colleagues he interviewed that day.

Cooper found this play-acting technique was tremendously effective for solving design questions around functionality and interaction, allowing him to understand what was necessary or unnecessary from a user-centred point of view.

Since then, he used this technique to design all of his products, bearing in mind the benefits of thinking from the users point of view. Hypothetical user archetypes allowed him and his clients to better understand the end user in their projects.

What is the personas method?

Using Cooper’s own words:
“You tend to canvas the user community, collect their requests for functions, and then provide them a product containing all of those functions. I call this the sum of all desired features.”

Personas are narrations, stories about imagined characters; they are imagined and described in interaction with the product that is going to be developed (website, device, app, software etc.). Personas are defined in the early stages of the design process and they guide the project team throughout the product development process.
Defining personas is also essential for any consumer research involving the product. To canvas the profile of future users helps in the recruitment of a representative sample of the population for an effective and realistic UX testing session.

Why are personas so important to the design process?

The most important goal of personas is to create understanding and empathy with the end user(s).

If you want to design a successful product for people, first of all you need to understand them. Designing for everyone results in an unfocused goal that will dehumanise the profile of future users. The personas method allows you to draw not just a profile about gender and age, but to dig into the psychology of the imagined character in their interaction with the product.

“Personas consolidate archetypical descriptions of user behaviour patterns into representative profiles, to humanise design focus, test scenarios, and aid design communication” (Cooper, A. (2004) The inmates are running the Asylum: Why High-Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity)

The power of the narration that typified this method, allows us to create a story that introduces the product in the everyday life of the imagined character. The narration sets goals, creates visibility of problems and potential issues in the user-product relationship.

Personas are a crucial passage in the user-centred design process because they define expectations, concerns and motivations, helping design teams to understand how to design a product that will satisfy users needs and therefore be a success.

People are no longer passive users of a product or a service, but they are actively interacting with it; they are engaged in a ‘conversation’ in which both sides, user and product, are actively asking and responding. Defining personas during the design process helps your team to imagine that conversation.

Designing personas

The story

When designing personas, the story needs to cover the following:

  • Demographic presentation of the character (age, gender etc.)
  • General traits (occupation, interests, hobbies etc.)
  • Psychological traits (needs, motivations, aspirations etc.)

Collection of data when designing personas

The scenario

The scenario is very important for the effectiveness of personas.

Scenarios are imagined situations in which the character interacts with the product. Personas without scenarios have no value, so defining good scenarios is crucial.

The narration of an imagined scenario follows this structure:

  • Setting a problem, a situation
  • Describe the character’s reaction to the problem
  • Define the role of the product in this scenario (e.g. how does the character interact with the product in that situation? Why does the character use the product? With which aims? What are the character expectations of the product?)
  • Resolution of the situation

Personas design-process

Remember, if you want your product to be successful, you have to design it bearing in mind who will use it.Personas design process

1. Collection of data. In the first step, you collect as much information and knowledge about your users as possible. Data can come from many different sources, even from pre-existing knowledge in the organisation. A good starting point is user research to gather insight into your users.

2. Hypothesis. Based on the data collected in the first step, you create a general draft of the various kind of users, including in which ways users differ from one another.

3. Description of scenarios. You create scenarios that describe solutions; possible situations that could trigger the use of the product are described. Scenarios will be used to better imagine user interaction with the product. The story about how the character will use the product is the personas’ ultimate objective.

4. Description of personas. Preparation of a brief description of the typical user, paying attention to user needs, motivations, aspirations and values. It is very important that you add to the narration one of the scenarios created in the previous step. The ultimate aim at this stage is to generate a narration that creates an empathic bond between the imagined person and the reader.

5. Selection of 3-6 personas. The ideal number of personas is limited (too many and you’ll start to lose track of who’s who). At this stage, choose 3-6 descriptions that are the most representative of your typical users. Selecting a limited number of personas allows you to be more focused during the design of the product.

6. Dissemination of personas. It is important that personas defined during the process are shared with the whole project team to provide a shared understanding of your users / customers.

Example persona

Here’s an example of a completed persona:

Persona example 2

Image credit: Xtensio

Need help or advice?

If you’d like to know more about personas and how they can help you to create a more successful product, contact our UX experts for free, friendly, no-ties advice.

Other posts you may find interesting:

12 Reasons to invest in UX
What is User Testing?

References
The origin of personas (Cooper) – http://www.cooper.com/journal/2008/05/the_origin_of_personas
Persona templates – http://fakecrow.com/free-persona-template/

Why I work in User Experience / UX

 

This is a special insight post by Lisa on what motivated her to study and pursue a career User experience / Usability.

user experience designer Lisa DuddingtonFor some people, making an impact in the world means being famous or stopping world poverty but for me it’s about making all our lives a little easier.

This morning I was explaining to a lovely gentleman on the phone what I do for a living and how we help businesses. Afterwards it led to a discussion between Ricardo and I on why we chose to go into user experience. Our paths are very different. This is mine.

When I was a teenager I remember being very frustrated with products and computers. Back in the 90s you had to read instruction booklets, there was no escaping them. You had little chance of getting anything to work without first suffering a long read of an overly complex instruction manual. The out-of-the-box experience was horrendous. The excitement of your new purchase swiftly dulled by a sense of utter helplessness, confusion and hours spent on the phone to customer service reps who were just as clueless as you were.

Perhaps because I was young, I recall not being frustrated at myself for not understanding how to use products, instead my frustration was very much directed towards the companies designing these difficult to use products. To me, I could see simple solutions, common sense changes that could have made the whole experience so much easier! I couldn’t believe that large brand names who surely must employ very intelligent people could miss such obvious problems!

I just want to make people’s lives easier

This is where my passion for user experience originates. My aim has always been to make life easier for everyday people. People shouldn’t have to think about how to use a product, they should just be able to use it. The product should be a means to an end and something that is a joy to use, not an obstacle that causes unnecessary frustration and wastes your time.

Can you imagine how much time and frustration we’d all save if you could just pick up and use anything without having to think about how to use it?

We only live once so why should we waste our time working out how to do things, let’s just do them!

For me it’s very much an added bonus that my aim in life also has massive financial benefits for businesses. It means that I can get paid to pursue my quest to make everything in life easy, simple and intuitive. It’s partly why I love working on all types of interfaces and products. The more things I can change for people and the more impact I can have on their everyday lives, the better!

I’m a bit like a superhero for everyday people

I guess I’m a bit like a superhero for everyday people, making life better for them without them ever realising. They’ll go about their daily lives without ever knowing that somewhere I’m working away and fighting battles so that it’s easier for them to do their online shopping, it’s quicker for them to use their systems at work so they can get more done and feel happier, it’s easier to record their favourite programmes on tv, use their mobile phone…

For some people, making an impact in the world means being famous or stopping world poverty but for me it’s about making all our lives a little easier, because we only live once so why should we waste our time working out how to do things, let’s just do them!