Welcome to the Customer Era in eCommerce, where relationships are the currency of success.
eCommerce is no longer about clicks and transactions – no matter the medium.
To even have a chance at making it, your only hope of battling increasing costs and fierce competition lies in connecting with your customers beyond the surface level.
From being a tiny blip on the conversation radar, each customer interaction became a stepping stone toward lasting profitability.
Welcome to the age of holistic customer journeys, where pre-purchase CRO processes and post-purchase CLV endeavors must work together to benefit the customer.
In today’s article, we delve into the dynamic synergy between CRO and CLV, unveiling how embracing this transformative shift isn’t just an option—it’s the key to unlocking deeper, more meaningful, and ultimately, more lucrative bonds with your customers.
Are you ready to embark on a journey where every interaction impacts your company’s long-term success?
Let’s dive in.
Exploring the Holistic Customer Journey
A holistic customer experience refers to looking after customers at every step of the sales process (i.e.,pre-purchase) and giving them consistent and enough help after they purchase from your brand.
It used to be that having great products was enough to generate brand loyalty.
Those days are long gone, as how customers feel about your business matters today more than ever.
To experience any significant business impact, you must make customers really happy. Happiness generates customer satisfaction, but for it to happen, you need to understand their journey, know their problems, and make things easy for them whenever they connect with your brand.
Creating a positive end-to-end user experience means taking care of customers from the moment they start thinking about buying to after they’ve made a purchase, with excellent and consistent support.
While the mission may seem daunting initially, ignoring it will cost you customers and, in the worst-case scenario, even your business.
The key to holistic and pleasurable customer experiences is to keep helping customers long after the sale, making their everyday interactions with your brand better and better.
How would a holistic and seamless user experience look in real life?
Meet Emily, your everyday shopper in the world of 2023.
She’s searching for the perfect running shoes to ease her summer runs.
She starts her journey by scrolling through social media during her lunch break, where she stumbles upon an ad showcasing the latest innovative running shoes from a well-known eComm brand, “SportX.”
Intrigued, Emily clicks on the ad, leading her to the brand’s website.
As she explores the website, Emily is captivated by the vibrant images, smooth website performance, and clear product descriptions. She also notices a helpful chatbot that answers her questions about sizing and performance.
Feeling confident, she adds the shoes to her cart but decides not to purchase them.
Later that evening, Emily continued her search on her tablet while relaxing on the couch.
She’s surprised to find an email from SportX reminding her about the shoes in her cart. The email also features customer reviews, further convincing her of the shoes’ quality.
Impressed by the brand’s attention to detail, Emily purchases the shoes.
A few days later, a neatly packaged box arrives at Emily’s doorstep.
She’s thrilled with the shoes’ fit and comfort. Along with the shoes, she finds a personalized thank-you note expressing the brand’s gratitude for her purchase.
Emily shares her excitement on social media, posting a photo of her new shoes and a glowing review.
Over the next few months, Emily receives occasional emails from SportX. These emails contain workout tips, training videos, and information about upcoming sales.
Emily appreciates the added value and continues to engage with the brand’s content.
Emily’s running shoes have clocked in hundreds of miles six months later.
She receives another email from SportX, offering a loyalty discount on her next purchase. Remembering her positive experience, Emily eagerly browsed the brand’s website again, this time eyeing their new line of activewear and purchasing them without a second thought.
Emily’s journey with SportX showcases a holistic customer experience.
From the initial discovery on social media to the seamless website experience, personalized communication, and ongoing engagement, the brand has consistently nurtured Emily’s connection.
This journey isn’t just about selling shoes; it’s about creating a lasting relationship that adds value to Emily’s fitness journey while driving brand loyalty for SportX.
Importance of a Holistic Customer Journey
Even if we tried, we couldn’t over-hype the importance of a holistic customer journey or its impact on improving conversions and maximizing customer value.
Customer or user-focused initiatives can shape not only individual transactions but also long-lasting relationships and sustained profitability.
Every touchpoint matters – from the first spark of awareness to the final stage of brand advocacy.
In the 2023 landscape, you’re not just aiming to sell an item to a random person. You’re fighting against dozens of competitors to form an opinion, an emotion, or a memory that shapes the customer’s perception.
So, embracing a holistic approach means orchestrated customer interactions, each complementing the other, resulting in increased satisfaction and loyalty.
When orchestrating a customer journey, you need to enable customers to transition seamlessly from one touchpoint to another, all while feeling understood and valued.
At its core, the holistic customer journey isn’t limited to Conversion Rate Optimization techniques or reports related to the Customer Lifetime Value.
The holistic journey is a journey of empathy.
In the end, its importance boils down to the creation of lasting relationships.
It’s about converting one-time buyers into lifelong advocates, turning casual clicks into genuine connections – a shift desperately needed in the eComm Arena.
So – how do you make it happen?
Creating a Seamless User Experience
User Experience (UX) is simpler than it seems.
Sometimes website optimization can resemble a complicated hacking process or guiding the Mars Rover to a safe landing.
Yet, you only need to master a few foundational steps, and you’ll be aptly equipped to optimize your website to anticipate user behavior and delights website visitors.
Prioritize Homepage Design
Did you know that around 35% of users struggle to complete simple tasks on most websites? These users get frustrated and exit the site. You spent all those $$$ on getting traffic for nothing.
The good news is that minor design tweaks can go a long way.
Use features such as sliders to concisely convey important information like product range, shopping categories, services, and deals.
Personalize the Experience
Personalized interactions are irreplaceable.
Imagine visiting a website and being guided through different user paths according to your level of interest. Or experience. Or brand loyalty.
Personalized user-centric strategies yield great results by replacing frustration with convenience. And who doesn’t want comfort in 2023?
The right analytics tools are your gateway to enhancing user experience and improving user engagement over time.
Think of it this way.
Building V1 based on market research, intuition, and best practices is perfectly normal. However, any subsequent changes have to stem from user feedback.
Use advanced platforms such as Kissmetrics to gather user data that inform decision-making. Analytics-based website upgrades produce more refined user experiences that mirror users’ genuine website behavior.
Minimize Data Collection
Avoid demanding excessive user information during registration and simplify this process to prevent drop-offs.
For instance, you should only ask for essential details instead of demanding users fill out lengthy forms before adding a product to the cart. Evidently, you can pick different touchpoints in the post-purchase stage to ask for more data and get customer insights.
Bonus – collecting less data in this customer lifecycle stage will help your data management understand the customer base better.
Build Trust and Authenticity
Even online, customers need to feel secure.
Highlight security measures, like displaying security seals, or return policies to reassure customers.
Remember to display prices upfront to instill customer trust. Research pricing strategies and conduct A/B tests to ensure clarity. Sephora’s A/B test showed that clearly stated prices doubled the number of leads.
Enhance the Search Feature
User-centric design and navigation are essential to the UX.
Implement effective internal search and suggestions for clear user flows and convenient website visits.
These intuitive yet effective measures are enough to start your journey toward seamless user experiences. Yet, what happens when you overlook something, or if customers are still facing issues, despite your best efforts?
Navigating User Pain Points
User pain points refer to digital interactions that trigger frustration or negative emotions among users.
These pain points affect the usability and perception of your products and overall brand, ranging from minor inconveniences (such as slow load times) to substantial barriers (such as data leaks).
Users can encounter different obstacles, resulting in various pain points, each with its unique approach.
Navigational pain points occur when your website has tangled menus or a complex structure, often leading users off course.
To solve it, you need to implement responsive design with an easy-to-understand interface, clear site hierarchy, and breadcrumb trails.
These elements are guiding lights to prevent users from losing their way.
Usability pain points, on the other hand, center around how seamlessly users can interact with a product.
Complex checkout processes and counterproductive features can lower user satisfaction. This becomes increasingly evident as augmented reality (AR) integrates into digital shopping, underscoring the importance of ensuring intuitive and streamlined usability.
Emotional pain points are less obvious, centered around user feelings and experiences. To avoid evoking negative emotions in website users, embrace user-friendly accessibility features such as color combinations with good contrast or clear and concise copy.
Financial pain points pivot towards pricing transparency, shedding light on misleading practices that can erode user trust.
Airline companies displaying an initially low price, then stacking up extra fees in the checkout stage are an obvious example.
Be transparent about all taxes and fees customers need to pay from the get-go. Trying to hide them will only hurt the overall experience.
Support pain points happen when users encounter inadequate support. In this scenario, their frustration peaks, potentially leading to negative reviews and reduced repeat business. Invest in customer support and use NPS alerts to prioritize high-value customers.
Performance pain points underscore the critical importance of website speed and reliability.
Sluggish load times and unresponsive interfaces can sour user experiences. Collect user feedback and use insights to generate actionable steps to improve website performance.
Optimizing Touchpoints for Conversion
Each touchpoint plays a role in the customer journey; even a single unfavorable experience can hurt the entire experience.
Before diving into touchpoint optimization, let’s look at the distinct phases that define the customer journey:
Pre-Purchase Stage: Gathering Insights and Accessibility
The journey begins with the pre-purchase phase, where potential customers dive into product research.
During this stage, customers gather information and contact your support teams to get their questions answered. Optimizing this step involves ensuring that consumers have enough information to help make decisions.
If someone has all their questions answered with minimal effort, he’s more likely to convert. When it’s time for customer acquisition, all the free information you provided until this moment will generate better conversion rates and more qualified buyers.
Purchase Stage: Building Confidence and Excellence
Once customers decide to make a purchase, the focus shifts.
You aim to build confidence in their choice and ensure a smooth buying process. Touchpoints in this phase should reflect your commitment to providing a premium experience and living up to your brand’s excellent reputation.
Post-Purchase Stage: Nurturing Relationships and Repeat Business
Post-purchase engagement often gets overlooked, but it’s an essential phase for customer retention.
For instance, this step can boost the chances of repeat purchases, or address any buyer’s remorse, keeping the product return rates in line.
It’s about nurturing relationships, not just pushing sales.
For a practical touchpoint optimization approach, you should follow the following aspects:
- Appropriateness – the customer experience should align with their interests and seamlessly integrate into the broader sales channel.
- Relevance – the experience must provide value and meet the customer’s anticipations.
- Simplicity – at every step, the experience should be straightforward and devoid of unnecessary complexity.
- Appeal – Prioritizing customer needs and desires should be at the heart of the experience. Ensure you’re offering cross-channel consistency so customers always get their needs met.
By ensuring each touchpoint fulfills these four essential criteria, you’re well on your way to crafting a finely-tuned customer journey that increases retention rates and generates more repeat purchases.
However, if you want a more in-depth approach, check out this comprehensive guide on touchpoint mapping as a tool to optimize customers’ journeys.
Long-Term Benefits of Holistic UX
Let’s start with the sexy part: revenue.
According to a Forrester Study, approximately 50% of respondents saw an increase in their total revenue after investing in and orchestrating holistic customer experiences.
The same study revealed that 52% of respondents saw increased conversion rates, a greater customer base (50%), and enhanced CLV (49%).
While many enterprises have previously employed journey mapping to streamline operations, they increasingly recognize the potential to exploit customer journeys to bolster revenue.
Evidently, long-term benefits continue beyond this study. Holistic UX can generate the following:
Better performing acquisition campaigns
The influence of word-of-mouth marketing isn’t new.
Yet, its power has skyrocketed with the digital and social media era, where businesses count on customers’ praises to amplify their brand reach while reducing the acquisition cost.
A Nielsen Study found that 92% of consumers bank on recommendations from their social circles to pick a product.
This insight reveals that 92% of consumers value recommendations more than all your marketing efforts combined. Leveraging WoM could work wonders on your customer acquisition costs, provided customers have good things to say about you.
Great experiences generate brand advocates, guaranteeing the success of your customer acquisition campaigns through a positive brand reputation.
Honest customer engagement
Engaging with customers fosters interactions and connects your brand with its audience.
Brands offer valuable propositions to their current customers, using email and social media as channels for authentic interactions and feedback.
These ongoing conversations create an atmosphere where consumers freely share their preferences, enabling companies to enhance and improve their products and services in real time.
Better Customer Conversions
An existing, happy customer is more likely to convert than a fresh lead.
Creating a journey that sparks continuous feedback loops enhances conversion rates, but it’s not just about increasing revenue. The real emphasis is on building relationships.
This concept also applies to potential customers. Instead of just making transactions, companies embark on a journey of delivering value, fostering relationships that turn potential customers into loyal supporters.
More effective processes
Imagine a customer-centric approach as a powerful lens that gives companies deep insights into their customers, eliminating the need for guesswork. Not only will this approach lead to lower customer acquisition costs, but it will also revolutionize the way businesses interact with their audience.
Unlike traditional marketing, which throws new products into the mix without understanding the market, a customer-centric strategy includes opportunities to understand the market.
Fierce Customer Loyalty and long-term retention
Creating a seamless customer experience isn’t just about attracting customers – it’s about returning them for more.
When businesses prioritize quality and value, customers are more than willing to invest in premium services.
Customers are looking for products that offer excellent quality and provide exciting interactions. Companies that enhance this value proposition are rewarded with long-lasting customer loyalty and allegiance.
Future Trends in User Experience
The synergy between CRO and CVO is set to revolutionize how businesses connect with their audience.
We’re going beyond short-term conversions to foster lasting loyalty through comprehensive Customer Lifetime Value models.
Imagine a world of hyper-personalization, where CRO and CLV don’t just drive immediate conversions but also nurture enduring customer relationships.
With CLV insights in hand, businesses are shaping tailored journeys that anticipate customer needs across various points of contact.
Think of it as a data-driven revolution for UX.
Seamlessly integrating CRO and CLV strategies empowers you to leverage data to make informed decisions about enhancing the overall user experience.
You analyze how customers behave and what they prefer, then use the data to optimize conversion processes and refine the entire user journey.
But it doesn’t stop here.
The power of predictive analytics is enhancing CRO efforts through CLV insights.
You can anticipate a customer’s potential lifetime value based on their interactions, focusing your efforts on high-value segments. In turn, you can combine UX elements to suit these segments, resulting in more effective conversions and sustainable growth.
And speaking of growth, the emphasis is shifting towards post-conversion engagement.
CLV insights are guiding businesses to nurture and retain customers effectively. This could mean personalized recommendations, loyalty programs, or targeted communications.
The shift towards assessing long-term value is gaining momentum.
Metrics like CLV, customer retention rates, and satisfaction are taking center stage, perfectly aligning with the combined CRO and CLV approach.
After all, conversions are just the beginning—a stepping stone toward nurturing valuable, enduring customer relationships.
Implementing Holistic Customer Journey Strategies
Holistic customer journeys are about more than just strategizing; they are about empathy and customer-centricity.
However, you can follow a specific process to ensure your approach delights customers and creates long-lasting connections.
First, picture your customers’ journey – from the moment they discover your product to well after they’ve bought it.
This gives you a bird’s-eye view of the whole experience and helps you spot areas that could use a little extra.
Next, gather data from different sources – like website stats, social media, and customer feedback. This step reveals what your customers like, where they stumble, and what makes them happy.
Now comes the fun part: personalization!
Use that data to craft messages and offers that make your customers feel like you know them personally.
From the creatives used for acquisition to the personalized content they get post-purchase and through website browsing, tailor your approach to deliver relevant content to different customer segments.
Take a page from Starbucks, Apple, KFC, and other franchises dominating our world. Everything – from the decor to the staff – feels the same no matter where you are.
That’s what consistency across different touchpoints feels like. Ensure customers get the same pleasant experience whether they visit your store in person or online.
Remember, the journey isn’t a one-time thing.
People remember how you make them feel. So, add touches that make them feel special – like a handwritten thank-you note or a surprise discount.
Think one step ahead and address problems before they become significant issues.
Use advancements such as AI, chatbots, and AR to make the journey even more exciting.
In its essence, implementing UX strategies for holistic customer journeys is centered around ensuring customers feel exceptional, crafting memorable experiences, and fostering a desire to return for more brand adventures—all while incorporating CLV calculation to measure success.
The Perfect Equation: CRO + CLV = ❤️
Customer journeys are no longer just about the pre-purchase and post-purchase stages.
Customer satisfaction is the foundation on which you’re building your eComm enterprise. In that case, Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) and Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) should no longer be seen as separate approaches.
Instead, you must consider them two essential steps within a more extensive, interconnected process.
Historically, CRO and CLV optimization (Customer Value Optimization – CVO) were often treated as distinct strategies.
Marketing teams focused on boosting conversions, while post-purchase groups concentrated on enhancing the customer experience after the sale.
Even if the process seemed smooth at a surface level, in reality, the separation leads to disjointed customer experiences, causing frustration and ultimately contributing to higher churn rates and negative brand reviews.
Maybe customer retention isn’t necessarily your priority, and you believe a steady stream of monthly new customers is enough to drive revenue growth.
However, even in this unlikely scenario, disregarding the integrated nature of the customer journey can have serious financial consequences.
High churn rates force you to over-rely on new customer acquisition, which can be expensive and unsustainable in the long run.
Combining CRO and CLV instead for a unified approach to acquisition and retention will lead to higher satisfaction, translating into increased revenue and profits over time.
Today, the need for CRO and CLV synergy is more stringent than ever. Customers expect a seamless and consistent journey, from when they discover a product to long after purchase.
This expectancy is precisely the driving force behind connecting CRO and CLV for a holistic customer journey.
Every touchpoint, whether the initial ad click or a repeat purchase, shapes a customer’s perception and loyalty.
These small moments don’t exist inside a void, separated from one another, like respawning a character after the game is over.
Customer interactions are interconnected; CRO experts and CRM professionals need to acknowledge the customer’s journey importance and align their efforts toward creating a seamless customer experience.
These efforts would translate into action-driven endeavors such as:
- understanding where customers get their information from
- identifying the technology customers use to purchase
- getting familiar with the overall buying context,
- empathizing with customers’ pain points
- combining them all to create a path to purchase which serves the customer (not the brand)
These efforts together represent the foundation for crafting a cohesive strategy that covers the entire customer lifecycle.
Stronger customer relationships, maximized lifetime value, and a competitive advantage in the evolving landscape of modern commerce.
Case Studies: Successful UX Transformation
Speciality Fashion Group (SFG) – Australia’s largest women’s fashion retailer – aimed to provide its array of brands with access to real-time customer insights and on-the-fly analytics for responsive, data-driven marketing efforts.
Over three months, SFG executed a campaign and analytics initiative that streamlined marketing processes.
This facilitated personalized, precise communications rooted in individual customer behaviors.
The introduction of real-time reporting also empowered SFG to furnish accurate business updates for weekly executive meetings, offering valuable insights for decision-making.
SFG recognized that members who engage both online and in-store have 2.6 times more value than solely in-store members.
By capturing online behavioral data, merging it with customer data, and analyzing it, SFG was able to facilitate cross-selling and up-selling opportunities at their stores.
The production time for electronic direct mail (EDM) was drastically reduced from 24 hours to under two hours.
Since implementing this solution, the most recent 200 EDM campaigns yielded an impressive ROI of 2,200%. Additionally, the following results were observed:
- An EDM open rate increase of 12% compared to industry benchmarks.
- An EDM click-through rate rise of 44% against industry benchmarks.
- Email member contribution to sales increased from 32.4% to 45.7%.
- The average ROI exceeding 1,800%.
Through this strategic integration of data-driven insights, SFG has successfully positioned itself to maximize customer value by embracing Continuous Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) processes.
Disclaimer: for this case study, we had to turn our gaze toward our friends from eConsultancy, who provide some of the most exciting case studies in the field. Check them out for the whole story.
The Holistic Journey is becoming the central approach for eCommerce to gather insights and decode the most intricate aspect of the growth puzzle—people.
Truthfully, strategies will get you far enough, but more is needed to bring you to new heights.
Your mindset also plays into the profitability equation, requiring your focus on customer-centricity, data-driven decisions, and a thirst for innovation.
If you’re ready to start, check out ✊The CLV Revolution – Valentin Radu’s book on Customer Value Optimization, written after 17 years of experience and helping hundreds of eComm businesses grow.
Read Chapter 1 for free and pre-order the book to learn how to turn one-time buyers into lifetime customers.
Frequently Asked Questions about Holistic Customer Journeys
The CRO-CLV synergy yields better business outcomes, helping businesses focus both on short-term conversions and also on building lasting customer relationships.
CRO helps improve immediate conversion rates, while CLV strategies emphasize nurturing and retaining customers over the long term.
The Holistic Customer Journey ensures that every customer interaction is seamless and consistent.
This comprehensive approach considers the entire customer lifecycle, from initial engagement to post-purchase support, creating a positive and memorable journey.
It enhances customer satisfaction, fosters brand loyalty, and encourages customers to return for more interactions.
Navigational issues, usability challenges, emotional frustrations, financial concerns, inadequate support, and performance-related problems.
These issues can be addressed by simplifying website navigation, streamlining usability, fostering positive emotional connections, ensuring price transparency, improving customer support, and optimizing website performance.
Identifying and addressing these pain points lead to a smoother user journey.
First, businesses need to map out the entire customer journey.
Then, by integrating data, personalizing interactions, ensuring omnichannel consistency, continuously improving through feedback, and anticipating customer needs, they can create a seamless and satisfying experience at every touchpoint.
This optimization not only boosts conversion rates but also reinforces brand identity and customer loyalty.
A positive UX helps businesses forge strong customer relationships.
When customers have enjoyable and hassle-free interactions with a brand, they are more likely to become loyal patrons. This loyalty leads to increased repeat purchases, higher CLV, and greater advocacy, as satisfied customers often refer others to the brand.
Therefore, a positive UX is a catalyst for long-term customer value and business growth.