Do you feel you did everything by the book for your online store but still feel disconnected from your customers? It happens to all businesses, new or experienced. What are you missing from creating that emotional resonance with your audience? We asked André Morys to share his knowledge in experience optimization with us.

André Morys is CEO and Founder at konversionsKRAFT. He and his team help companies build an experience optimization process. They bring in skills and resources that are missing in many organizations, helping them understand how to find levers, optimize campaigns, prioritize actions, validate experiments, and so on.

André Morys said that if he had only one floor or 7 seconds for his elevator pitch, his self-description would be, ”I help my clients make more conversions and revenue.

If he had more time, like 20 floors, he would add that there are many levers optimizing the customer experience to create more happy clients.

If we were in the Burj Khalifa elevator, that would give him the freedom to explain that we can find levers and then use A/B tests to validate what works, and then we can learn from these results.

We invited André Morys to our “Top 100 eCommerce experts” interview series to share his thoughts on: 

  • The recent changes in the eCommerce landscape; 
  • Customer-centricity in eCommerce;
  • The emotional optimization process;
  • Responsible use of cognitive biases;
  • Elements that build trust in online shoppers;
  • The deadly sins of conversion optimization;

The recent changes in the eCommerce landscape

Alexandra Panaitescu: Recent research shows that 44% of all the eCommerce websites active in November 2021 were created in the last year alone. I want to know what do you think about today’s eCommerce landscape. What are the biggest challenges of becoming a customer-centric online store?

André Morys: The biggest challenge is the market’s dynamic. Because of COVID, the demand shifted a lot from brick and mortar stores towards eCommerce. There are many newcomers that try to leverage that potential.

Startups are trying to get more channel share – a part of the cake, and have very high maturity regarding innovation and experimentation. They can set up everything from the ground.

Here, in Germany, we saw this with Zalando, the fashion and shoe retailer. Nobody saw them coming. They started in 2008, and now they have $8 billion in revenue. It’s amazing how fast they have grown. 

Why could they grow so fast? As a young startup, they could build the company from scratch. Newcomers are very fresh, innovative, data-driven. Traditional corporations in the market are very slow when it comes to change, yet they still have higher organic demand.

Because of the market’s dynamics, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Companies have different challenges based on their size, maturity, and demand. 

COVID brought additional growth to the eCommerce industry, but nobody knows if revenue will return to the brick-and-mortar stores or stay online. We work for many traditional omnichannel retailers, and this period was a wake-up call for them. They know they have to improve their digital channel share a lot.

Newcomers are very fresh, innovative, data-driven. Traditional corporations in the market are very slow when it comes to change, but yet they still have higher organic demand.

A.P: Despite all the technology available for eCommerce businesses, it’s still hard to set up a customer-centric company.

André Morys: Or maybe even because of that many technological possibilities, companies forget to put more focus on their customers and their needs. They’re trying to solve everything with technology, but customer-centricity isn’t something you can solve with technology. It’s a mindset.

> See what Brian Massey says about the misconceptions and struggles eCommerce businesses still have around CRO.

The emotional optimization process

A.P: 95% of Purchasing Decisions are Emotional, according to professor Gerald Zaltman. I know you talk a lot about emotional optimization. What does emotional optimization mean, and what is the process behind it?

André Morys: Ecommerce is so complicated because it’s hard to differentiate. The only three things consumers care about are price, delivery, and choice. Either you’re a little bit cheaper, a bit faster in delivery, or you have a bigger assortment. That’s all that matters on a functional level of needs.

Why is Amazon that successful? They were able to differentiate as being cheaper and faster, with a better assortment. But these times are gone, and now it’s impossible to create a value proposition based on these core functional needs from your customers.

So: What’s your area of differentiation when you can’t compete on these functional factors? Brand positioning, customer experience, and emotional resonance are the big differentiation levers that are overseen many times.

Our emotions influence all decisions. There’s always an emotional and a rational part depending on your business and what you’re selling. Customer experience, brand positioning, and the emotional resonance you create with your audience represent the only differentiator when the differentiation on the functional requirements is not possible or too expensive.

The simple proof that this works is that if Apple would release the new iPhone or iPad and hide the call-to-action button, people would start searching for it. This means that you can compete on all the functional things, but if the emotional, intrinsic motivation is that high, people can even overcome functional barriers. People are willing to wait years for their Tesla Roadster to be delivered, while they already paid $250K to get it. Creating resonance with your audience is a powerful differentiation tool.

If I use examples like Apple or Tesla, many people say, “But these are big brands. They invested millions of dollars in brand awareness, positioning, and that kind of emotional positioning.” True, but what’s that kind of resonance? Is it maybe a clear purpose or values that are constantly communicated? I think it’s something any company could do. Perhaps you’re not the next Tesla, but you can use the principle.

“Brand positioning and emotional resonance you create with your audience represent the only differentiator when the differentiation on the functional requirements is not possible or too expensive.”

Responsible use of cognitive biases

A.P: What is your advice for stores that want to use cognitive biases to transform potential customers into new customers?

André Morys: There’s a strong connection between cognitive biases and emotional resonance. If people are not connected with your offer and brand, the cognitive biases are like putting lipstick on a pig. Some people try to sell cognitive biases as growth hacks and tricks. I think it’s pretty dangerous to trick people into buying. You should never use them to manipulate customers but understand how your customers decide and use them to facilitate decisions. Otherwise, they will come back to you heavily.

One example of cognitive biases I often see in eCommerce is the paradox of choice. I would say 9 out of 10 online shops with big category lists don’t help their customers find the right five products. So they end up browsing through hundreds of products. How can the shop take the consumer from one search query and hundreds of results to one product? The quicker they get to this one product, the better; you help them overcome the paradox of choice. 

Sometimes companies use some tactic called nudging, giving them a little hint, showing them how to use filters, facilitating the search process and the decision. Many businesses focus on product and checkout pages, but there’s high potential in facilitating search.

“You should never use cognitive biases to manipulate customers but understand how your customers decide and use them to facilitate decisions.”

> Discover our interview with Theodore Moulos where he talks about the structure of the dream team and the tools needed for implementing a growth strategy.

Elements that build trust in online shoppers

A.P: One of the greatest challenges of eCommerce is trying to keep the human touch in an online shopping experience and win people’s trust. What are the elements that build trust in online shoppers?

André Morys: When we say “trust,” people often tend to think about badges and certificates. But I would change the angle a little and ask eCommerce people, “what creates trust in normal life?” Sympathy, empathy, likability, humbleness, and humor are elements that help people in real life create trust.

Trust isn’t like an instant button you can switch on, right?

Trust starts to develop if I feel understood and somebody tries to understand my problem and finds the best solution. We can compare it to a medical visit. If the doctor doesn’t ask you anything and just prescribes some pills, you won’t trust them. But if they take time and ask you questions, your level of trust increases.

Trust is generated when people identify authenticity and a natural flow of communication. When customers have an online shopping experience and search for solutions, they create inputs that tell the system what they want. There’s a big difference if the system answers their replies like a robot or simulates the human interaction.

We also have social proof. People react to social signals, and if a place is crowded, no matter how that place is, people will think, “Hmm, that’s something I should have a look at.” Some online shops look empty if we imagine them like physical stores. It’s not just the design; it’s also the lack of social signals, recommendations, elements that show you how many people are looking at the exact item as you at the same time. Booking.com is a great example of what power social signals have.

“Sympathy, empathy, likability, humbleness, humor are elements that help your store create trust.”

The deadly sins of conversion optimization

A.P: Poor user experience ruins the store’s conversion rates. What are the deadly sins of conversion optimization?

André Morys: One deadly sin is to look only at numbers and quantitative data. Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot of potential in quantitative research, A/B testing, validation. I still see people act like eCommerce is only a tech and data game. They believe that if they implement a tool, miraculous things happen. No tool will work if you don’t understand that there’s a consumer in front of any device deciding if they will buy from your shop or not.

You have to understand the market mechanics. People have a demand, and your value creation process fulfills this demand. If you don’t know what your customers demand, no data will help you.

This is why I always talk about being customer-centric first. You can be customer-centric and data-driven, but the root of everything is understanding your customers and their needs. Then you can use data to validate if an approach works or not. You don’t see your consumers’ motivation, fears, or demands in analytics. You learn this by talking to your consumers and observing their behavior. That’s how you learn about your customers and get customers centric. So, counting only on gut feeling and wrong use of data represent another deadly sin.

Another mistake even big organizations make is looking at their customer types and forgetting about analyzing the market potential. Remember that there’s a reason why some people are not your clients yet. You won’t be able to identify potential if you’re looking only at existing clients. You have to understand the market as a whole.

Learn from Guido X Jansen how to use customer data to say on top of competition and customers’ minds.

Takeaways

André Morys made a clear analysis of the current eCommerce environment and emphasized the importance of being customer-centric before anything else and using emotional resonance as a differentiator in a world where competing on functional requirements isn’t an option anymore.

Here are six takeaways from our interview with André Morys:

  • “Newcomers are very fresh, innovative, data-driven. Traditional corporations in the market are very slow when it comes to change, but they have higher demand.”
  • “Some companies are trying to solve everything with technology, but customer-centricity isn’t something you can solve with technology. It’s a mindset.”
  • “You can be customer-centric and data-driven, but the root of everything is understanding your customers and their needs.”
  • “Brand positioning and emotional resonance you create with your audience represent the only differentiator when the differentiation on the functional requirements is not possible or too expensive.”
  • “You should never use cognitive biases to manipulate customers but understand how your customers decide and use them to facilitate decisions.”
  • “Sympathy, empathy, likability, humbleness, humor are elements that help your store create trust.”

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