Have you ever wanted to ask your customers how they would respond to your new store layout, new product launch, next promotional campaign, or any other aspect of your offering?
Were you really able to test your market in this way, or do you think you can successfully do it next time? You probably can or may have already done so. If you’re in a brick-and-mortar business, the time, effort and money required to conduct this kind of customer survey is both prohibitive and impractical. If you are in a brick-and-click business or 100% online business, you can collect your customer feedback by means of online forms and surveys. But, to what extent do you think your customers will act exactly in the same way they said they would? There are also situations where your customers are not able to give precise answers or accurately predict their behaviour.
This is where you can really count on your web analytics. Below are a number of situations that show how your actual customers’ behavioural data can help you make wise marketing decisions, rather than relying on your own guesswork.
How long will they wait for your shop to
load time can be a major factor, among others, but it is not necessarily the
only contributing factor for a high bounce rate. However, you should ideally
take all possible measures to bring down the page load time and see how
responsive your visitors are to such improvements. If further improvements
don’t result in a reduction in the bounce rate, you know that the issue lies
How many times do they need to try before
The purchase behaviours of your customers
can be impulsive, habitual, or complex. Knowing exactly how long they take for
their purchase evaluations and final purchase is very important when deciding
how to measure the success of your campaigns. For example, in businesses where
large number of customers make the final purchase seven days after the initial
visit, evaluating campaigns based only on the first week’s data can be
misleading and unsuccessful. If the purchase time is past 30 days, you’ll need
to reconsider cookie lengths.
What store layout provides the best return?
When designing a landing page, if you are to
choose one each from two different titles and page copies, three different
images, and two different call-to-action buttons, you have the choice of twenty-four
potential landing pages. Even if you are able to produce multiple test landing
pages, how practical would that be in obtaining a sample of your visitors to
select the best combination based on their preferences? Even if they select
one, that choice will be based on what they like to see, rather than on which
option provides the best conversion.
This is where a tool like Google’s Website Optimizer
comes in handy, as it allows you to conduct A/B and multivariate testing while
your real visitors are on the site, actually browsing in a real-life situation.
The results you see are based on how they behaved on the site with different
elements you want to test, rather than on what they think they might do.
Do your customers leave the checkout queue?
Your online offering might be the best in
the market. It may be priced very competitively, and you may be driving
hundreds or thousands of visitors to your site. In other words, your 4P
marketing strategy—product, price, place, and promotion—couldn’t be better. However,
what if you are converting only 0.5% of your customers, and the rest simply
leave the site? How can you find where you are going wrong? Goal and funnel
visualisation reports in your analytics will have the answer.
If you have defined the key stages in your
conversion path, the funnel visualisation report will show where visitors are
joining each stage of the funnel and which stage is driving them away. For
example, if you notice that visitors are still moving from the shopping cart to
the checkout stage, but then they visit the Terms and Conditions page and exit,
the reason could be that you have a very strict return/cancellation policy.
On the other hand, if the issue is at the
product/availability display stage (i.e., visitors are not even adding products
to the shopping cart), the issue can be the way you order and display the
products. Your most competitive products may be buried in the second and third pages
in your display order.
Do customers browse or simply walk straight
Besides attracting more converting visitors
to your website, another important objective of a website marketer is to retain
the visitor on the site as long as possible. In the process, you get them to view
more pages, so that you can promote multiple calls to action: buy the products,
sign up for the newsletter, download the white paper, write a review, share
with friends, and the list goes on.
Many website markers fail to realise that
having too many calls to action is no better than having none. When identifying
different user types, designing user journeys and page objectives are vital. Your
decision regarding how many calls to action to promote on a page should also
depend on the “average time a visitor spends on a page”.
Do you need loyalty cards?
How do you define loyalty? Is it a visitor visiting
the site five times, or the visitor coming back after thirty days? This is an
important metric that needs to be defined, based on your business model, type
of product, and required goals. The data you need in order to define this metric
cannot be directly asked of your visitors.
With analytics, not only can you easily
gather this data, but you also can create custom reports and/or advanced
segments, as well as define goals that need to be achieved with your loyal
customers. Visitors Loyalty Report and Recency Report can be good starting
points to measure your customers’ loyalty, and they can be complemented with
some other variables, such as time on site and page views.
7. In which department stores should you have your concession?
Your visitors will have found your site largely via search engines, display advertising, and/or your email campaigns. At the same time, it is worth finding sources that refer free traffic via blog posts, recommendations given in forums, or free listings included in resources pages.
Although the volume of visitors sent by these sources can be very low compared to your main sources, these referring sites generally send qualified traffic, which will show good conversion rates in your analytics.
In Google Analytics, the report you should look at is the Referral Traffic report in the Traffic Sources section. One good decision you can make from this information is building new advertising partnerships with these sites. Even without any formal advertising arrangements, if these sites can send you qualified traffic that converts well, it is always better to explore opportunities to maximise the traffic volume you can generate from these sites via a well-planned advertising program.
8. What’s the optimum marketing mix?
You may have a large email database of
subscribers to whom you may send regular updates, which provide large volumes
of sales/transactions. You’re probably less reliant on social media, but invest
a fair amount of cash in search marketing. Do you know which customers are
exposed to which channel and to what extent? What will be the impact of having
your online presence in multiple channels? If so, what is the optimum mix?
Which channel initiates the sale and which one closes it?
With Google Analytics’ latest version, you
now have the opportunity to visualise the conversion path of your customers
from two months before they convert. For example, your customer might have
first visited your site through an email campaign. Your PPC ad also might have directed
him to the site more recently, but he didn’t buy. This customer was finally
convinced to purchase after reading a friend’s review on Facebook.
According to many analytics programs, final
click always gets the credit for the conversion, and in this case, it is
Facebook. However, your multi-channel conversions report will show you which
channel initiated the sale and which other channels assisted in the conversion.
Are your opening hours right?
Depending on your product, your customers’
purchase timing and behaviour will differ. If you’re selling holiday deals, for
example, you may find that many customers make the purchase after office hours.
This might be the case with family holidays, where the research is conducted
during the day, but the purchase is made after consulting with family members
However, this may not be the case with a
product like a mobile phone, which is an individual decision influenced less by
family members and more by work colleagues and friends. So, understanding this
behaviour could be very crucial when deciding on campaign timings and aggressiveness.
One good report available in your Google Analytics that can help you understand
this behaviour is the Ecommerce Conversion Rate by Hour. (Unfortunately, this
report is no longer available in the New Google Analytics V5, but it will be a
If you know your average daily conversion rate
increases by 50% between10.00 am and 2.00 pm, you can and you should
definitely bid higher on your PPC keywords to capture more sales during this
time. Options like day parting with AdWords are very handy in automating your
bid scheduling, so that you don’t have to worry about changing your bids
Ensuring the same great experience for all
If you are not technically savvy, it is
highly likely that you are relying on your web development agency when it comes
to website usability. Even if you are well tuned in to some of those concepts,
you may be relying on your own judgments and assumptions rather than determining
the exact market condition.
However, with the reports grouped under
Technology & Mobile in Google Analytics (V5), you are not required to be an
IT/online marketing expert or to do any guesswork when it comes to making your
website fully functional and compatible in all major browser types and
versions, mobile devices, and screen resolutions.
These reports show how many of your visitors
are using these browsers and devices, as well as their versions and other
For example, your web development agency may
assume that the latest versions of the Firefox browser are used by the majority
of your visitors (version 5 and above) and, when ensuring the browser
compatibility of your website, they may concentrate only on the latest few
versions. However, your analytics may reveal that version 3 and its subversions
are the second most popular version, and that you need to work with your web
development agency to ensure that your site is still compatible for those older
versions as well.
You also need to make sure that your
visitors can complete all calls to action, including purchases, without extra
effort or clicks under all popularly used screen resolutions.
example, the report below shows a large number of visitors view the website
with a 768x1024 resolution. However, its contribution to transactions is
significantly disproportionate. Could this be because they cannot find the call
to action in this resolution?