just hits. My 15 year old daughter gets a ton of hit on her website. Hits really mean very little at this stage of the game. It’s relevant metrics like your browser to buyer ratio. Your click stream – the number of clicks to actually get to the purchase decision, where people are clicking – those kinds of metrics – how many people are clicking on your buy now button in the upper left hand corner vs. the lower right hand corner. So, really getting a good grasp of the metrics.
You also want to empower your clients and I have both internal and external. To me my internal clients are my marketers, the people that are managing the content on our sites and I try to empower them as much as possible and give them the ability to go in and change the content. If they need to change the wording, if they need to change the structure of an application and move a question around, I try to give them that freedom as much as possible. But also your external clients – your policyholders, the clients that you’re serving to give them really a lot of the self-service capabilities. Essentially what you’re trying to do is to meet or exceed that expectation that they have when they go to, say, E-Trade or to their bank. You really want to meet and/or exceed the services they’re getting there because we’re another financial service to them at the end of the day.
I would also suggest that when you’re looking at an existing e-commerce application and you’re looking to re-launch it, conduct an in-depth usability analysis. This is like a focus group of your site. You really want to see where folks are clicking on your site, how are they performing common tasks, are they finding what they’re looking for? Are they completing tasks that they originally came to your site for? It’s a pretty eye-opening experience. We do it here at Aon Affinity and we’ve always found a lot of great information. We think we know where people want to go but until we actually see what the user wants, it’s going to be difficult.
We also strongly recommend you adhere to the World Wide Web Consortium design standards. Sites can be very complex and have lot of neat interactivity, but if you’re not adhering to standards, say like for following the ADA standards for Americans with Disabilities you’re going to block out a percentage of your target audience.
If you have esoteric technology on there or technology that only works within one browser, you know, if you’re using technology that only works in Internet Explorer and you have a user that’s visiting your site using Firefox or Google Chrome, they’re not going to be able to have that full experience. So we always try to adhere to the design standards that were set forth by the W3C.
At the end of the day when it comes to design – less is more. You know I mentioned earlier that you really shouldn’t have your IT department drive the design of your e-commerce solution and the same holds true for your art department. Art departments tend to get very arty. They want to have lots of neat, cool interactive stuff – lots of colors and lots of pictures and graphics, etc. But it doesn’t really do a lot for the experience and it adds to the load time.
You want to have your solution as utilitarian and as simple as possible and really have a good overall user experience and part of that is the amount of time it takes for the site to load. So, once you build a site, you can’t expect people to come to your site. You know, if you build it they will not come. You really need to market your site. So, how do you do that? There are things like search engine optimization, search engine marketing; pay per click campaigns. They can certainly drive traffic to your site; but as we found in the dot-com world, it’s not just traffic coming in on the Web. You really need to have a consistent message. So it’s more than just buying banner ads or optimizing your site for Google, you also have to back that up with a mail campaign, or a phone campaign or an e-mail campaign. You really need to have that consistent message all around with your brochures, your applications, your mailings, your space ads, your trade show booths, etc.
Once you build a site and people are starting to come in, you need to give them a reason to stay there so you really want to give them a reason to come into the site. We suggest you link your established systems and processes and give them to the end user. So, things like e-services – the ability to change your address to request a certificate of insurance, change a beneficiary, etc. Giving people online applications. This has really been limited, sadly, by a lot of carriers in their reluctance to offer electronic signature as an
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