5 Essential CX Optimization Tips for Small Online Businesses

You can deliver an unforgettable Customer Experience without breaking the bank or losing your mind.

Aaron Marco Arias
6 min readAug 21, 2020
Photo by Morning Brew on Unsplash

Early this month, Decibel Insight published a report titled “9 New Rules for App and Website Optimization”. The report compiles some of the latest and most relevant studies about costumers’ expectations when it comes to their online buying experience.

If we operate a small business, this customer experience thing can seem to us very specific, ambitious, and expensive. But that doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, many small businesses are already working with these principles in mind without the concepts or information that field experts have, and without ever putting them into words. In the end, a lot of what makes a great purchasing experience is just “common sense”, things that one can figure out naturally because they’re simply the right thing to do.

In this post, we’ll take a few key concepts from the report in question and examine how we can create a better customer experience for our clients within our possibilities.

But, for starters: What are we talking about when we talk about experience? The term “Customer Experience” refers to the impression of our brand that the client gets every time they interact with it.

When we think of Customer Experience, we might consider issues as varied as our brand’s image, its values and mission, the design and functionality of our online store (strictly speaking, its User Experience), and how we interact with our customers before, during and after they purchase our product.

Design with the Client in Mind

The first great conclusion the Decibel report arrives to is that we don’t have to optimize our online presence with the sole goal of converting our users into customers. Optimize for experience, not for conversions. If we work with the sole goal of turning visitors into customers, we’ll fail to establish a strong and constructive relationship with them. We want our brand to be appreciated and remembered. A long-lasting positive impression turns visitors into repeat customers

Nowadays, a lot of sites bombard their users with “Calls-to-Action” as soon as they enter. For example, some time ago, I tried to read the blog of a B2B company to learn more about something related to their product (they run an email marketing management platform, this was a post about strategy), and as soon as I entered, two pop-ups covered my screen: A chatbot, and then an invitation to subscribe to the company newsletter.

Why would I want to chat with someone? I just wanted to read a blog post! I’m not even close to signing up for the platform! I’m not even close to the purchase, I’m just getting to know the brand. Why would I want to subscribe to a newsletter if I haven’t read the content yet? Wouldn’t it be more convenient to give me a chance to read the blog first?

An approach that’s all about overwhelming the user so they feel like they should have already purchased doesn’t work. Or, at least, it doesn’t work for the sort of value-based business you want to run. We want to assume that the customer is emotional, but also rational and set to pick the best option that meets their needs. In this case, better results can be obtained by creating a website that’s a delight to navigate and is loaded with interesting material.

Usability First

When we talk about usability, we’re referring to how easy and intuitive a website or app is. As Decibel notes, on average, two out of every 3 seconds that someone spends online, they spend on a smartphone. This makes mobile usability a top priority.

On the other hand, although Decibel doesn’t mention it, usability is also linked to accessibility. Every section of our website has to serve a clear purpose and be easy to navigate. Buttons must be clearly buttons and be easy to click across devices. Likewise, our copy has to be sharp, evocative, and to the point. When we write copy, we need to strike the right balance between informative, engaging, and instructional.

Build from a clear understanding of your user’s needs and goals, combining a clean user interface with sharp copy is only 2/3 of the work. Usability is also a web development effort. The technologies that guarantee accessibility to the disabled and those on low connections also guarantee top-notch user experience.

What to do

Usability ought to be a key concern for designers and developers. To prove how easy it is to navigate your website, you can reach out to customers, invite a friend to simulate a sale and tell you what they think you can improve, or consult a designer who’s versed in these issues.

On the other hand, due to the link between accessibility and usability, and how much of a noble goal accessibility is, you should examine your website according to basic accessibility criteria, and fix it where necessary. An automated accessibility check-up can be a great place to start.

Customize the Customer Experience

One of the main tips that Decibel shares is that of customizing user experience. 78% of consumers feel frustrated at the absence of customized content. 92% of sales, on the other hand, are influenced by customized suggestions.

It’s often believed that the best way to craft a customized experience is by basically collecting as much user data as possible and showing them suggestions accordingly. As a practice of great platforms, it makes sense. But we are small — Should we create that distance between our customers and ourselves? Authenticity is the capital of small brands. We can understand and follow customer behavior without investing in data collection software.

How to Automate Responsibly and Reasonably

Automatization consists of delegating a process to a machine or technology. For instance, an online store automates your sales process. Newsletters can also be automated. A user fills a form with their email and our email marketing platform adds it to a mailing list, to which our newsletter will be automatically sent with the click of a button. Unsubscriptions and user tagging based on behavior are also automatically taken care of.

Having a relatively small clientele gives us the advantage of being ale to provide a customized experience and treat our clients as individuals. Under these circumstances, automation should have two goals:

  • Dynamism and usability: making the experience as quick, transparent, and simple as possible.
  • Calm: Automate low-complexity but time-consuming tasks so you and your employees don’t get overwhelmed.

What to Do

We should point at three great areas that we can automate: Our sales process, our social media activity, and our emailing.

An online store can automate our sales process, as well as post-sales communication. An email marketing platform will make it possible for us to provide personalized content for specific sections of our audience in an efficient way.

Platforms like Buffer or Later make it possible for us to plan ahead weeks worth of content across platforms, publishing it automatically in our behalf.

In an attempt to further automate user experience, some businesses decide to invest in chatbots. We shouldn’t hop into something just because it’s the lastest craze, or because it’s promised as a silver bullet to all our business difficulties. A chatbot could be the right option for you. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. The mere question requires an essay of its own.

Interactive Content

As Decibel notes, interactive content is what sets apart great CX from good CX. But, what is “interactive content”? The consultancy defines it as follows:

Interactive content requires users’ active participation, and rewards that engagement with highly personalized results, facilitating a deeper relationship with the brand publishing the content.

For instance, remember those Buzzfeed quizzes that match your personality with a Barbie doll, 19th-century poet, or cheese sauce? Some of them are actually branded content, made by companies partnering up with Buzzfeed to engage new audiences while creating a sense of direct identification with a product.

What to Do

There are many quick and easy ways to create interactive content. For instance, we can create interactive content for our Instagram presence by posting quizzes in the form of Instagram stories, designing custom filters, or making contests. If we’ll get ambitious, you can even dive into the world of augmented reality games.

Key Takeaways

  1. Optimize for experience, not for conversions.
  2. Usability and accessibility win the day every day.
  3. Automate the low-complexity busywork that fills your schedule but it’s not at the core of your business.
  4. Provide interactive and customized content to get customers to spend time with your brand.
  5. Stay genuine, don’t set up unnecessary barriers between your customers and yourself, the “human touch” never goes out of style.

Are you a small business owner? What are you doing to guarantee a good customer experience? How has it paid off? Let me know in the comments below. Be sure to clap if you found this post useful. 👏



Aaron Marco Arias

Co-Founder & Creative Director @ Postdigitalist. Helping B2B startups to grow organically.