How I Can Help You

You’re running a business.  You might be an agency helping your clients or you might want to increase revenue for your own business.  It could be that you want to increase enquiries, or you run an e-commerce website and want more of your visitors to complete a purchase.

So how can I help?

As a freelance UX consultant, my skills and experience lie in UX (User Experience).  This is all about the experience that people have when interacting with your business.  It covers three basic areas:

  • It’s about removing resistance to make it simple for people to complete a process such as signing up for an account or adding a product to their cart and going through a checkout process
  • It’s about providing them with a story that takes them from a basic awareness of your existence through to trusting you sufficiently enough to part with something that they place a value on whether that’s simply their e-mail address or their cash in return for your products.  This has to be done in steps
  • It’s about making them think or do something different to achieve your business goals

My job is to write the story that will take your users from the bottom of this pyramid to the top.

Basic pyramid of trust showing the stages your users will go through before they're ready to act

The story

This is where the story starts.  We want everything to be driven by real data.  Insights into the people whose behaviour we want to change will be the most valuable data we can acquire.  We need to identify a few basic things before we even think about anything else.

  • Who they are – gender, age, profession
  • Where they go for information – search engines, Facebook, Twitter, websites
  • What are their challenges – time, money, family pressure
  • What devices do they use – mobile phone, tablet, desktop
  • What content will influence them – blog articles, videos, images, peer reviews
  • Who they listen to – if we use curated content, who do we need to get it from so that it resonates with our users
  • How do we engage with them – commenting on a post, filling in an enquiry form, calling a customer service line, online chat

Creating a persona to document your users doesn’t have to be complicated.  I’ve spent a few hours on the phone talking to people in a segment to get a feel for their habits to draw up a single page pen-portrait which will give more than enough information.  You could even do it heuristically using information that is freely available online.  You could go to the other extreme and get a market research company to do it but that’s going to cost.  What you need to remember is that just 6 people will give you a good cross section that is around 85% accurate.  It’s then exponential.  If you want close to 100% accuracy, you need to be thinking in terms of a sample size of a few thousand.

This is about the state of mind of your user rather than their physical or virtual location.  It’s broken down into phases and these might be different depending on your business.  One common model would be Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action.  Another is Discovery, Consideration, Comparison, Transaction and Advocate.  Your business goals will go some way to determining the phases that we choose.

What’s important is that we identify a few different things for each user at each stage:

  • Who they are, what their goal is and what the scenario might be – this is merely a reminder of the persona
  • Channels – where might we intercept them
  • Thoughts – what are the positive and negative thoughts going through their head
  • Content – what do we need to be telling them to reinforce the positive thoughts and remove the negative thoughts
  • Engagement level – what is their engagement level throughout the journey

Engagement is about getting the user to interact with your content in some way.  We want to create micro-interactions that nudge them closer to performing an action.  Engagement is a 2 way thing.  It’s the difference between you talking at someone and having a conversation with them.  You need to create opportunities for them to talk and for you to listen. For example:

  • Liking a post on Facebook – low engagement.  Ok, they clicked a button but that’s the same as them just nodding as you talk at them
  • Commenting on a post – higher engagement.  Rather than just talking at them, you’ve asked them a question about themselves and prompted them to respond

Engagement is about them actually participating rather than being a bystander.  Each time they engage, they take a small step forward and you build trust.  It’s about asking open questions like we did in the olden days when everyone went into shops and we were taught to ask people what they were looking for rather than whether we could help them.

So far, we’ve really just been collecting data.  Everything starts with data before we start to act.  Only once we have the right data can we put our efforts into the activities that are going to give the greatest return on investment.  We know where the fish are and what they eat.  We now stand a better chance of catching one when we cast our line in the right place with the right bait.  There is still an element of chance but we’ve narrowed our field and reduced where we need to spend our marketing budget significantly.

The implementation plan tells us ‘what’ we’re going to do.  We already know ‘who’, ‘why’ and ‘where’.  ‘When’ is taken care of at a high level in a digital world as we’re going to be always on.  You might have a tactic for posting on Twitter and you need to know the best times to do that but we already know the habits of our users so this just becomes an extension of knowing that we need to post on Twitter.

In terms of ‘when’, we don’t ignore it completely.  Part of the implementation plan will still include a roadmap of activities and targets so that we can measure what we’re doing and tick it off our todo list.

Continuous Improvement

Nothing we do is a ‘fit and forget’ solution.  I’ve just said that doing a reasonable amount of research will give us about 85% accuracy.  When we launch, we need to know what we’re going to measure and what an acceptable level of performance is.

The best example of this is when I worked with a high-end watch manufacturer on their e-commerce site.  They just knew what the revenue from the site was, and that they weren’t happy with it.

I spent time with them over a 6 month period to help them improve.  In brief terms, this is how it panned out:

  • Set up Google Analytics with funnels to show:
    • Visitors to the site
    • People adding a product to the cart
    • People visiting the checkout page
    • People visiting the payment page
    • People confirming their order
  • Wait and find out where people are dropping out
  • Make improvements
  • Wait to gather more data and analyse
  • Repeat

Once we had something in place to measure the performance, the first thing we found was that around 8% of users that added a watch to their cart completed the journey.

The results of this exercise were pretty impressive, and very surprising.  They were charging £9.95 for postage, for example.  We gave away free postage for a month and it made almost no difference to the conversion rate.

We moved the logos showing the credit cards that they accepted from the bottom of the checkout page to the top.  This had an immediate and positive impact on sales.  It took about an hour to do this with a one-off cost of less than £100 but added thousands of pounds a month to their revenue.

Bit by bit, over 6 months, the conversion rate went from 8% to a consistent 18% with spike up to 23% around events like Valentine’s Day.  The cost of using me as a consultant over 6 months was about £20000.  I don’t think the cost of the extra development was more than about £2000 and there were no ongoing costs.  In 6 months, nearly a million pounds worth of annual revenue was added to the site.  I think that’s a pretty good return!