6 Ways to Optimize a Customer-First Ecommerce Experience

When it comes to customer experience (CX), the benefits are no joke. NTT DATA found that businesses with top-performing CX strategies are three times more likely to see significant improvements to customer satisfaction, revenue growth, and operating profit.

It’s clear that CX should be top of mind for every business, but how do you go about crafting an effective customer experience optimization strategy?

The answer starts with data. Using data, you can prioritize CX throughout the customer journey. Let’s look at different ways you can use data, testing, and feedback—our Testing Trifecta—to optimize your customer experience strategy through personalization, speed, convenience, and feedback loops.

How are CX and profit connected?

Focusing on customer experience is shown to improve satisfaction, and satisfied customers tend to be more loyal and more likely to spend money with your business. McKinsey discovered that CX-focused growth strategies boost customer satisfaction and engagement by up to 30%—and boost cross-sell rates by 15 to 25%.

On the other hand, a poor CX can drive customers away. Qualtrics found that 80% of customers have switched brands for this very reason. This can happen even after you’ve got your CX strategy nailed down and your customer satisfaction scores up.

For example, let’s say you add a new product to your ecommerce store. You expect to attract more new customers with this product, but instead, your conversion rate drops—even for the original products. Why?

Chances are you’ve created a confusing customer experience and introduced analysis paralysis into your buyer’s journey.

To fix your drop in conversions, you need to adjust your CX.

6 CX optimization strategies for DTC businesses

A good CX strategy is data-driven and customer-centric. While CX does benefit your business, don’t be fooled by any advice that skips building customer relationships.

With that said, here are six strategies to take your CX optimization efforts to the next level.

1. Analyze the right metrics

To truly understand your customer experience strategy’s ROI, you need to set goals and analyze the right metrics. Customer experience KPIs often involve analyzing the following metrics:

  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT) surveys  
  • Net promoter score (NPS)
  • Customer retention rate (or customer churn rate)
  • Click-through rate
  • Conversion rate
  • Number of sessions
  • Bounce rate
  • Cart abandonment rate
  • Average order value

How can you track these metrics and understand what they mean? Some of our favorite methods at SplitBase include the following:

Dig into heatmaps

We use Hotjar or Heatmap.com to analyze session recordings. You’ll want to watch 50+ recordings to identify patterns. We recommend watching them on one device at a time and segmenting recordings into two groups: customers who made a purchase and customers who visited through a key landing page but didn’t convert.

While watching the heatmap recordings, look for these clues:

  • Do users click on elements that aren’t clickable (but perhaps should be)?
  • Can the elements that users interact with most be improved?
  • Do users click on unimportant elements, and should you remove these to emphasize other elements?
  • Do users scroll far enough down the page to see important information?

Test for usability

Using UXArmy or TryMata, run a test scenario where at least 10 real users go through your website, find a product, look for specific information, and make a purchase.

This test can help you identify how different people use your website—and it may surprise you to see that they don’t use it in the same way you do.

Track events

Set up Google Tag Manager to track when important events occur. These can include:

  • Conversion events, like a customer clicking an Add to Cart button
  • Downloads
  • Video watch times

Additionally, Google Tag Manager can give you a clearer understanding of your bounce rate by showing you how long customers interact with your content.

Segment customer journey data

Segmenting your customer data in Google Analytics 4 (GA4) allows you to better understand the heaps of data you collect.

Start by comparing the customer journey of those who make a purchase on your site to the journey taken by those who don’t make a purchase. This helps you understand what different customers look for and the best ways to engage them.

For example, you may try to optimize your CX by offering multiple variations of your service. But if customers don’t purchase these variations, chances are you haven’t met their needs.

Gather customer data

While data is a key component of your customer experience optimization strategy, you shouldn’t rely on it alone. Your customers don’t decide to buy because your brand’s NPS score is high. They buy because of their needs and pain points.

Metrics only tell half the story. You need to optimize for humans, not numbers. Send out surveys and analyze customer reviews to gather the context you need to build a great CX.

2. Map the customer journey for better insights

CX doesn’t end once someone makes a purchase. You need to consider your entire customer journey to create a consistent and seamless CX.

Your GA4 data is a great place to start mapping your customer journey. Create two user segments: one for customers who made a purchase and one for those who didn’t.

Dig into and compare the segment data. Look at your customers’ behavior—the pages they visit, the paths they take to get to those pages, and the events or actions that occur. What are the main differences or the common themes between the two segments?

Understanding the steps that customers take before, during, and after their shopping experience helps you unravel the mystery behind why some don’t make a purchase and others do follow through.

3. Analyze your user experience

Is your website design causing customers to abandon their carts? The idea is cringeworthy, but it’s possible that a poor website user experience (UX) contributes to an even poorer CX.

To uncover potential UX issues and bugs, go through the steps to purchase a product on your site. Check out product pages, lists, and filters, add a product to your cart, and try to make a purchase—both as a guest and as a member.

Take a look at your site’s hero section, navigation, and any other primary conversion pages to ensure that they add to your overall customer experience. Once you’ve analyzed your site on desktop, comb through your mobile landing pages, product pages, cart, and checkout page.

Check for clear and consistent brand messaging as well. Your brand’s voice and tone should be based on customer data and should remain consistent across all omnichannel customer interactions. This prevents a disjointed experience that leads to confusion and frustration.

For example, imagine that your customers see a social media ad for your product that highlights a productivity feature, but when they click on the ad, there’s no mention of this feature on your site. Did the ad lie? Is this the same product? Whatever the case may be, CX suffers along with loyalty and trust.

Pro tip: Check out Baymard Institute’s UX articles for ways to optimize your checkout process, homepage, and more.

4. Personalize to meet (and exceed) customer expectations

A majority of consumers (71%) expect your business to deliver a personalized experience. But how do you do that?

Yet again, data guides the way. Open up GA4 and focus on the 20% of pages that drive 80% or more of your revenue. Look for any pages that have low conversion rates and high bounce rates (at least 65% or higher). These pages are excellent candidates for optimization—but we’re not done yet.

Next, divide those pages into segments based on traffic sources and device types. This allows you to superimpose your customer journey on your data to see if your CX suffers on certain device types or when customers come to your site from a specific source.

For example, SplitBase ran this analysis for Dr. Squatch. The data revealed that the version of its homepage that contained a video performed extremely well for customers who came to the site from Facebook. If customers came to the site from Google, however, that same homepage’s performance suffered.

You can solve this issue by creating a personalized experience for each traffic source. For Dr. Squatch, this means that those who come from Facebook see the video homepage, while those who come from Google get a different experience.

5. Aim for speed and convenience

NTT DATA found that two out of three businesses replaced traditional CX performance indicators with new success metrics. A handful of these metrics that focus on speed and convenience include:

  • Resolution handling times
  • Average response times
  • Customer effort scores

Customers expect your site to deliver an enjoyable shopping experience that doesn’t slow them down. PwC reports that 51% of consumers expect their online shopping experience to be as easy as shopping in person—otherwise, their brand loyalty takes a hit.

Additionally, slow site speeds lead to higher bounce rates, which means your customers leave without making a purchase. Analyze your apps, videos, images, and plugins to understand their impact.

Learn more: Improving site speed is just one way to improve CX. Here are eight more ways to improve your Shopify site’s conversion rates.

6. Build feedback loops and listen to your customers

Personalizing your CX requires you to understand customer needs, pain points, and likes and dislikes.

One way to gather customer feedback is through a survey. Create 8 to 10 open-ended questions and send them to customers who purchased a product from you in the last 30 days. Some questions to get you started include:

  • What made you buy?
  • How would you describe the product you bought?
  • What questions did you have before making your purchase?
  • How would you describe yourself?

While surveys are still the best method, if you have no time on your calendar to create and send them and analyze responses, there’s another way: use AI to analyze reviews.

Here’s how to use ChatGPT, Claude, Bard, or the AI of your choice to crunch the data and produce helpful customer insights:

  1. Gather a few hundred product reviews. You’ll want a large volume of data for more accurate results. If you don’t have that many reviews yet, here’s a trick: use your closest competitor’s reviews.
  2. Filter down to only 4- and 5-star reviews. This helps you focus on the language that your happiest customers use, along with additional information about who they are and how they use your product. Export your reviews to a .CSV file and filter out lower ratings.
  3. Read through at least 200 reviews. Before relying on AI, you need an understanding of how people talk about your product. This step gives you valuable context.
  4. Feed your .CSV file to your AI. We recommend Claude AI or ChatGPT’s Code Interpreter. Once you send your data, ask the AI to generate five statistically significant themes from the reviews. Additionally, ask the AI to explain each theme in detail, list the most-used words in each, and note how many reviews it included in each.

Optimize your CX for every step of the customer journey with SplitBase

By now, you’re likely brimming with ideas to optimize your customer experience. But before diving in head-first, you need to test those ideas. A/B testing helps you determine which of your ideas has the most positive impact and is worth implementing.

Not all ideas are winners, but you can learn from every A/B test. Even unsuccessful tests can provide valuable insights by showing you what doesn’t work. This narrows your focus down to the best possible ways to optimize your CX based on customer-centric data.

The customer is always right, so optimize for their experience—not profits. Do it right and you’ll see increased sales as a result.

We’ll help you weed through the data and test CX optimizations that result in happy customers and increased profits. Start optimizing your CX today with SplitBase.