Beyond the Click: Online Experience Streams

by Patrick Bultema, CodeBaby

Much of the focus on optimizing website results has been around “clicks.” For instance, we’ve focused on how to make a landing page more effective at getting a visitor to click on the desired button, to get that crucial first click. Similarly, we’ve focused on how to make an eCommerce page more effective at getting a customer to click the Add-to-Cart button. Now let me say, this focus on these key points, these key clicks is appropriate. After all, if a person doesn’t make that first click, you don’t have any chance of getting to the desired outcome with a site visitor. But this focus on clicks is only part of the story.

The broader, more complete picture is that one click leads to another. In fact, rarely is a desired outcome achieved with one click, with one action on the part of a customer. Instead, these crucial first-clicks typically lead to a whole series of clicks that result in a desired customer outcome, or conversion. That’s why more and more attention is getting paid to not simply tracking clicks at key points, but identifying, analyzing, and optimizing these click streams. And there are an emerging range to new products and capabilities that help you identify and analyze these click streams.

But there is something more fundamental about all of these than even thinking about click streams. In reality, what stands behind these clicks is a human experience. It’s this bundle of experience that grabs attention, engages, and motivates a real human to take action and follow a particular behavioral path. So it’s more than just a click stream, it’s an experience stream. It’s less about clicks and navigation of technology, and more about what motivates a real human, in the context of personal experience, individual motivation and human dynamics to take a series of human actions … that just happen to be clicks.

The real opportunity to to focus on this larger, more holistic experience streams. And in fact, that is the core innovation behind the approach of micro-sites for instance. Here, the organizing principle of each of the? individual micro-sites is a focus on human experience streams. To start, you identify the personas, the characteristics of a particular group of people you know are coming to a site, interested in a particular product or service you have to offer. Next, you identify the specific and distinct interests and motivations of a particular persona group. Then, you map your particular offer and desired outcomes to that persona. Finally, you create an optimized experience stream that best matches your interests as a company and those of the persona group. The entire micro-site, then, is built around these optimized experience streams with a limited number of branching options based on individual interests and behavior. In short, a micro-site is build around a complete customer experience plan. Of course, all this means you need to create tens if not hundreds of separate micro-sites.

Regardless of whether you’re inclined to move to this micro-site approach, I think the principles are generally applicable.

  1. Identify specific and distinct Personas
  2. Map human interests and motivations to your offer
  3. Design optimal and distinct customer experience streams
  4. Implement web processes and technologies that bring these experience streams to life

So the key question is: What are the desired experience streams you need to enable and optimize on your site? In many cases, there may be tens if not hundreds of potential experience streams on a website, but only a? handful of experience streams account for most of the interest on the part of the company and it’s customers. Is your site optimized for these key experience streams? At the very least, you need to be asking this key question. And better, what can you do to optimize and bring to life these key experience streams? For therein lies the bigger picture and path to success beyond just focusing on the click.

About the Author

Patrick Bultema is CEO of CodeBaby, a new media, internet software company providing innovations for online customer experience and conversion metrics. Throughout his career, Patrick Bultema has been recognized as an industry and company maker. He has served as an executive, venture investor, board member, and advisor to tens of venture-financed startups. He was most recently a Venture Partner with vSpring Capital. He was CEO of XAware, and CEO of FrontRange Solutions, a global CRM software company. He was a founder and Executive Chairman of Knowlix, and was Chairman and General Manager of the Help Desk Institute, then a Ziff-Davis company.

A noted author and speaker, Patrick is recognized as one of leading experts in the customer industry … throughout his career bringing together technology and customer experience. He was founding Executive Editor of Customer Support Management Magazine, and has been a thought leader in the CRM space. Patrick holds a Bachelor’s degree from California State University and a Master’s from Princeton. He will be presenting on the value of rich media engagement at Conversion Conference West 2011.

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