Planning for next year is always hard. It usually hits in late summer and early fall, which is a busy time. The weather changes, kids are back in school, and there is a focus on ending the year well.
Marketing teams have to receive their goals, plan their tactics to achieve those goals, and then accurately predict budget needs for the following year.
If you’re unsure of what to prioritize in 2022, here is a tip: visit your own website and try to do business with your business.
This can give you a quick short list of things you need to improve upon, or at least explore further, next year.
Here are a few recent examples to help show the importance of this:
Test forms and call phone numbers
We take existing forms, phone numbers, and addresses for granted. They are on the site for so long that we just assume they work and are doing what they need to do.
A client shared this week that he filled out the “Schedule an Appointment” form of his hospital system’s website back in August and he just got a phone call back, FIVE MONTHS LATER.
He’s been CMO there for five years and he said that he hadn’t ever gone through his own patient experience.
As he looked into it, he found that less than 20% of all people who filled out the form received a call back to actually make an online appointment.
His team has been spending a significant amount of time and expense to get people to the website, but they are not converting through appointments. It’s not usability, ads, messaging, creative … a lot was just follow through on getting the appointments booked.
Oil and gas example
A digital transformation client in the midstream space was losing customers at an unsustainable rate. Through customer interviews and research we uncovered an incredibly difficult experience.
In order to check to see if a wellhead was functioning, a customer would have to:
- Call into an automated phone number
- Enter the wellhead number
- Enter their pin
- Enter their password
- Get forwarded to another system
- Enter the wellhead number again
- Enter in a separate pin
- Enter in a separate password
If the customer had multiple wellheads (which all of their customers did), they would have to repeat this process for each wellhead.
The process took about four minutes.
We recorded it and played it for the executive leading the digital experience initiative and he was horrified–but had never though to go through the process himself.
2. Go through the online experience
If you have an online portal, account, sign up, or checkout experience, go through it from start to finish. Pick a pretend scenario–a relevant, common reason people come to your website–and go through the entire process.
I recently was trying to schedule a press release for a client, discovering two big experience problems.
I couldn’t remember my password so in going through the “reset password” process, discovered an infinite loop.
- Successfully login but can’t answer the “What is your least favorite childhood food?” security question
- Click “forgot password” to reset it
- Enter my email address and get an email with a link
- Click the link, reset the password successfully
- Be met with the same “What is your least favorite childhood food?” security question again
I ended up having to call into customer service, who then had to submit a reset request to their IT department.
Once I successfully got in, about 24 hours later, I set up a text security code instead. After staring that this screen for a minute or so, waiting for the text to come through, I discovered that I had to click the “Send code” button first.
This is not intuitive and poor usability as the “Send code” button is to the right of the “Enter code” field. Users perceive that “Enter code” would be done first, and then “Send code” second.
3. Site search
We talk a lot about how critical site search is in 2022. Users utilize site search for easy tasks, assuming it works the same as search on their phone, which takes into account user intent.
Unfortunately, most site search features are not tied into a company’s taxonomy or are just direct match, showing irrelevant results.
But a few months ago we were working with a large Fortune 500 company and we discovered that their website search had been down for weeks (possibly months), producing “no results” for every search term.
You can add technology and develop customer personas and even map out a 2-year strategy, but if your business drops the ball in UX 101, none of it matters.
Getting customers to your website is really hard. Make sure you make it easy for them to stay there.