When is the best time to try and sell something to someone? Should you fit in with their habits or try and disrupt them?
An intuitive, flowing website makes life easy for your users, but the ‘auto-pilot’ browsing habits this builds can make it challenging to get a new message to or create new behaviours in those who visit your site on a regular basis.
It’s for this reason that supermarkets don’t order their chocolate bar selection alphabetically. By making you linger in front of the shelves to find the specific treat you went over there for, they’re encouraging you to spend a few extra seconds scanning the wider range, just in case an extra one catches your eye as well.
Let’s say you’re a retailer with a core of repeat visitors to your website. For certain campaigns or offers you want to disrupt your user experience to draw the eye somewhere new. You could use a timed popover to attract attention to a particular offer. You could introduce some animation into your homepage banner to catch the eye. You might rearrange your top-navigation to prioritise a seasonally-relevant category. Ribbles Cycles recently introduced a Christmas category highlighted red in their top navigation, which clicks through to a landing page covered in animated snow.
Source: Ribbles Cycles
On the other hand, interruption and unfamiliarity can frustrate repeat visitors who’ve arrived on your site with an intention. Sometimes it’s best to let your user complete their first action before trying to start a conversation with them.
Another shop analogy. Supermarkets tend to put their fruit and vegetables upfront in their stores. Why? Logistically it doesn’t make sense for them to be located there. You’ll pick up a bunch of bananas at the start of your visit and they’ll sit at the bottom of your basket or trolley and get squashed under everything else you put in there as your walk around the shop. The reason is that shoppers who pick up some healthy produce early on in their store visit are much more likely to pick up a less healthy treat later on, as a reward to themselves for being good.
Similarly if you’re a bank, 95% of your returning users are probably visiting your site to check their balance or make an online payment. Popovers for these users are likely to get in the way of what they’re there to do, and navigation alterations are likely to be ignored as muscle memory takes over and they click the ‘Log in’ button in the top right of the screen. It’s better to speak to these users after their primary action is complete.
The best thing about connecting with your users this way is that you know something very recent about them, so with the right technical setup you can personalise a message to meet their needs. So if a customer is checking their account balances and they consistently have a large amount of funds in there, you could show them a savings account (displayed as if it’s already one of their accounts) that would give them a higher rate of interest and help their money work harder for them. Or, if they always log on from a desktop computer, maybe you should serve messaging on your online banking exit page to invite them to download your mobile app, deepening their relationship with you and getting them closer to their money.
It’s the same with eCommerce site Thank You/Completed Order pages and follow-up emails. These are valuable pieces of real estate in the purchase funnel that often aren’t utilised enough – and it’s not just about getting a sale there and then. Helping your customers to use, love and recommend the product they’ve just purchased can produce a halo effect that leads to repeat business and referrals to friends.
So, from sending holiday-bookers email content on popular attractions or local tour discounts for their destination, to providing introductory exercise plans to users who’ve just bought an entry level piece of fitness equipment, there are many different ways to connect with your user while they’re highly likely to listen. And ultimately, knowing how to say the right thing at the right time is all about getting to know your customer.