Analytics & Optimization For The Physical World

The following is a guest post from Future Buzz community member Daniel Waisberg

The other day I was at the supermarket buying food, and while pushing my cart I noticed it was in very bad state, making it uncomfortable for me to push it. So I thought: “these guys are not very smart!”

I was frustrated and ended up buying less just because someone forgot to oil the cart for a smooth buying experience …literally.

Have you seen the excellent video below?

It was posted on the Google Analytics channel and it is so good because it describes what many of us feel on the web. But what I felt in the supermarket was the opposite: something that happens offline that would look ridiculous online (i.e. having a ridiculously slow website). So I decided to write a post with a few tips to brick and mortar businesses that we have learned the hard way in the online world. Hopefully businesses that have online and offline presences will start implementing conclusions learned one from the other.

Your cart must be perfectly smooth

As mentioned above, being fast is critical. People don’t have time and both online and offline stores offer too many options/competitors; if you are not fast, your customers will chose your competitor with the blink of an eye. If you don’t know whether your website is fast or not, check the PageSpeed Insights, a tool offered by Google for free which will analyze your site and provide insights on how to improve its speed. Below is a sample report for thefuturebuzz.com:

As for your offline store, you can make a small experiment, it will take 1-3 hours and will cost $200. Hide something in the store and give a $40 coupon to the first 5 customers that visit your store if they find it; but while they do it, they will have to carry two bags! Watch them doing it, what were the obstacles?

Testimonials are very powerful

Testimonials can be very beneficial for website results, it is the nature of human beings to care about what other human beings think about a product or service. According to Noupe, there “are five predominant trends in testimonial design: speech bubbles, quotation marks, images or icons, minimalism, and video.” Check the link above for design ideas on how to implement it in websites. Here is an example from Online Behavior (thanks to Justin Cutroni and Bryan Eisenberg)

This feels like a harder challenge for brick and mortars, but some restaurants do that very elegantly, hanging pictures of famous people with the restaurant owner or newspaper articles about it. I admit that doing the same in supermarkets might look awkward, but creative solutions can be found.

Start a dialogue with your visitors and customers

Feedback tools such as 4Q Surveys and Kampyle are becoming increasingly (sometimes annoyingly) common on the web:

Online marketers have learned that their customers can be a fountain of gold when it comes to insights. As Andrew Follet wrote in his ‘5 Tips & Tools to Boost Website Conversions‘:

“It may sound obvious, but why not ask your customers and prospects for feedback? While they may not be able to provide the level of specificity that an expert might offer, they have a pulse on your company and your industry. If you approach customers in the right way, they can often help you identify areas of your website that need improvement or clarification.”

Now, why have I never been approached in a supermarket with a 5 question interview about my experience? I would certainly provide feedback (maybe even actionable insights) on how to improve my experience.

Always Be Testing

You are probably saying: “come on Daniel, everyone knows how important testing is!” Yes, I agree, most people recognize the importance of it, but very few people are doing it. Google Analytics recently launched the Content Experiments, an easy-to-use tool for marketers to test their websites, so hopefully testing will become ubiquitous very soon:

But what about offline testing? I am always amazed when I visit the supermarket (or my preferred clothes store) and everything is in the exact same place. I have never experienced the same website when I visit Amazon… that’s because they are constantly tweaking the website to test new designs and functionality. I believe brick and mortars should always be testing their display and inventory, in the same way as websites should.

Daniel Waisberg is Owner of Conversion Journey, a Google Analytics Certified Partner, and Founder of Online Behavior, a Marketing Measurement and Optimization portal.