3 Ways Not To Be The Jon Snow Of Website Optimization
Who likes Jon Snow from ‘Game of Thrones’? I do. Sometimes he might be a bit boring but he’s a cool and actually kind of a tough guy. There’s only one problem – Jon thinks he’s smart but the truth is that he knows nothing.
(Image source: Tumblr)
The same goes for marketers. We think we are smart but we know nothing (kind of). We observe, in Google Analytics, how effective our AdWords or Facebook campaigns are. We an eye out for how much time visitors spend on the website, how often they bounce, or how each channel converts. But there’s so much more to learn about people who visit our websites.
Of course, it’s invaluable to know how your campaigns are performing – it allows us to optimize them and cut cost. But do we know what people actually do and why they behave in a certain way on the website? Not really, at least when looking only at Google Analytics data.
In this article, I will show you 3 ways to find out what is happening on your website so you can stop being like Jon.
1. Heat Maps
You want to draw people’s attention to certain elements on your website. You probably want them to click your calls to action or links to pages. Reports in Google Analytics show that very well (read this article to find out more about the report). What you won’t see are all the clicks that don’t result in an action or transfer to another page.
You won’t know how often people focus on elements that are not supposed to be clicked, like static photos, for example. On one hand, such a click makes no harm – simply nothing happens. But on the other hand, visitors might get confused and leave, or start randomly clicking to check if your website is working.
So, what can you do? Start using heat maps. They will show you where website visitors click. Most importantly – they will show you how far they scroll. You might find out that 70% of your visitors don’t scroll below the first screen and only a handful of them scroll to the bottom of the website. Analyzing heat maps will tell you if scrolling is a problem and help you minimize the number of clicks on non-clickable elements. It’s a challenge for you and your designer as usually you want people to actually scroll.
Hint: take a look at this report for benchmarks of scroll to see whether you should be worried about your stats. For some tools to get you started with heat maps, take a look at these:
- CrazyEgg –from $9/month (paid annually)
- Ptengine – free plan available, premium plans from $7/month (paid annually)
2. Session Recordings
Heat maps will show you an aggregated report where people click. But wouldn’t it be nice to be able to watch someone using your website? Just to clarify: those tools capture only screen, movements of the mouse, and clicks on your website. They don’t record people with their web cameras or collect sounds with microphones.
It could give you additional information and insights that could lead to improvements in your website design. So, session recordings, are they hard to use? No!
Session recording tools allow you to get information with ease. You can watch people using a certain page or their full sessions. See how fast people read (or scroll), where they move their mouse, or whether they mark any text. Plus, you can see how they fill out forms – how many are filled out before leaving the page or even what people type in (doesn’t apply to passwords and other sensitive data).
These recordings are the closest to running a real-life usability test and watching people browsing your website in the real time, at a fraction of the cost. If you’re not sure how it works or it this is something that interests you, click here to go through a live demo. Also, here are two tools worth checking out:
3. Website Surveys
Observing how people use your website is incredibly useful. Heat maps and session recordings will tell you a lot. But still there will be blind spots. Example: you watch a recording and see a person who visits your website and leaves after 3 seconds. Good to know, but why did that happen? There are dozens of possible reasons, from slow loading and unappealing design to lack of a link between an AdWords ad and the page. Guessing is costly, so asking the person why they behave in a certain way would greatly help remove the guesswork. Worry not, it turns out asking is a simple tool to add to your arsenal or analytics.
Simply ask visitors why they behave as they do using website surveys. Target precise survey widgets to match the context and ask questions vital to understanding visitor behavior. Ask why they are leaving without converting, what stops them from buying, or what you should change on the website. These kinds of insights will help you understand what is your visitors motivation and how you can solve problems they face. Result? Better user experience leading to higher conversion rates.
If you’re curious how survey widgets might look on your website, go through a live demo here and see for yourself.
Two tools worth looking into:
- Survicate – free plan available, premium plans from $50/month. (Little disclaimer: I work here :))
- Qualaroo – pricing from $79/month (quarterly billing).
See? You can easily get smarter and learn more about your visitors by using the right methods and tools! But keep in mind that tools just collect data. It’s up to you how it is processed and used. So, it’s time for the next step: how can one use all the described techniques to turn data into better business results?
Heat maps and session recordings
- Check the results and think what they are telling you. People click on elements that are not meant to be clicked? Did you notice on your recording that people actually scroll well below the first screen but they do it so quickly that there is no way for them to read the content? Maybe they don’t scroll at all?
- Stop for a minute and think what might cause these things. Maybe users don’t know what to do on the website because they can’t find navigation tools or calls to action?
- Set goals for possible changes (e.g. you want 50% of visitors to scroll to the bottom of the page instead of 30%)
- Compare results and decide whether your changes provided positive results. Iterate to achieve the best results.
Here the process is a bit different since surveys won’t collect any data by themselves.:
Secondly, decide what you want to learn. For example, find out why people abandon carts or how visitors assess your pricing
- Create and launch surveys that will provide you with answers to questions that matter to you, then wait for responses. (little tip – you can assume that around 5% of visitors will fill out a survey)
- Analyze data and decide what it means for your business. In the case of our example, you can learn that people abandon carts due to unexpected shipping cost.
- Implement changes to solve spotted problems.
- Launch a new survey and compare results with the previous data to see how changes influenced results. Similarly to heat maps and sessions recordings, iterate to find the best solutions.
Now you know all 3 techniques that you can use to find out what happening on your website and how to apply them. It’s time to choose the tools and start using them on your website. Good luck! If you have any questions regarding any of the described techniques, don’t hesitate to leave a comment and I’ll be happy to help you.
P.S. Survicate is offering a 25% discount to GetResponse customers and readers. You can claim it here.
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