Understanding customer behavior is the key to optimizing the customer experience and ultimately your bottom line. By uncovering compelling insights, organizations are able to implement strategies that improve conversions, aid retention, and optimize the entire customer lifecycle.

Today we're launching a new series that highlights specific use cases in which an organization was able to leverage customer behavioral insight to directly impact ROI. These are real stories, from real companies, sharing real data.

To kick off, we interviewed Jennifer Stagner, SEO and E-Commerce Manager for TOPS Products, an RR Donnelly company. TOPS Products is a leading manufacturer of office and school supplies which are sold under various brand names. Below, Jennifer explains how TOPS Products was able to save an underperforming new product launch by analyzing customer behavior.

The Challenge

What was the challenge that you faced?

We had just completed a successful launch of our new FocusNotes collection and received enthusiastic feedback from our market research groups and retailers.

Our marketing team had done an excellent job supporting the launch efforts with a strong social media campaign that included extra content support such as YouTube demos. However, we weren’t seeing the projected sales ramp up from our e-commerce site despite the overwhelmingly positive indicators everywhere else.

How was this challenge impacting your team?

This challenge was puzzling because all the right steps had been taken to ensure a successful launch – the product elicited rave reviews from test users, the product was 100% in stock and readily available on the website, and the launch was buoyed by social media and YouTube content clearly illustrating the great features and benefits…yet e-commerce sales were virtually nonexistent.

What were you doing at the time to address this challenge? Why wasn’t it working?

The marketing team had covered all the bases quite well – they were continuing to promote the FocusNotes line via every available media platform; however, the effort wasn’t translating to e-commerce sales – that is, until we analyzed customer behavior data from the website and realized what was really happening.

The Solution

Can you describe the solution you implemented to address your challenge?

By studying metrics relative to customer behavior we were able to identify the missing link between a great product, strong marketing, quality content, and e-commerce sales.

The key to understanding the gap was in the website's search terms – an astonishingly high number of customers were using the site search on the website to pull up information about the FocusNotes products. However, the percentage of users exiting the site after searching was abnormally high, as was the percentage of search refinements.

What this meant was that users were typing in terms they expected to pull up FocusNotes, but they received zero or invalid results, and it was causing them to abandon the website completely in frustration. The consumer behavior data revealed that the process was frustrating potential buyers, illustrating how they would repeatedly refine their search term with a wide variety of spellings for FocusNotes – focus notes, focus note, focus Note, Focus Notes books – to no avail.

It was clear from the data that the real issue was the fact that the site search on the website was not responding to user product inquiries in a way that would drive sales volume, and that correcting the site search issue would prevent user frustration and translate missed opportunities into successful sales.

In what ways did you use customer behavioral analyses to direct your business decisions?

We used the customer behavioral analysis to understand what barriers customers were facing when attempting to view our FocusNotes products and how that directly translated into frustration, site exits, and low sales.

We then used the customer behavior data to zero in on exactly how to implement the optimal solution to drive the opposite consumer experience. Because we had data that clearly illustrated exactly which terms consumers were using to find this new product, we were able to set up search synonyms on the website to ensure each term variation would pull up the appropriate product page.

The Outcome

What results have you seen since beginning the project?

Immediately after implementing the search synonyms, we were thrilled to see the first order come through, followed quickly by another, and then another. Consumers already loved the product and had great visibility to it thanks to strong marketing materials on YouTube and elsewhere – now they also had the missing link which was a way to find the product on our website.

Bottom Line: What was the ROI impact of this project?

The ROI impact of this project was 100% improvement; there were zero costs to implement the change as we already had the tools in place and just needed to analyze the customer behavior data to understand how to optimize the consumer experience and increase conversions at the same time.

Tops Products Website

How do you think organizations in general can benefit from understanding customer behavior?

Organizations in general can greatly benefit from understanding customer behavior because it often leads to the a-ha moments that occur when you realize not only that there is a consumer pain point sabotaging your business profitability, but that the tools to fix it may already be available to you. By analyzing customer data and developing strategic action plans, you can satisfy your customers and capture what would otherwise be lost opportunities to make the right impression.

About The Author: Jennifer Stagner is the SEO and E-Commerce Manager for TOPS Products.

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