Articles and Research|April 2, 2019

Analyzing Visitor Behavior For Conversion Rate Optimization

There’s More to Conversion Rate Optimization

You’re probably aware of the weight that analytics carry in your overall marketing executions. While quantitative analytics solutions give you a good indication of what is happening on your website (conversions, bounces, etc), they don’t present a granular understanding of your customers’ user experience. And when it comes to conversion rate optimization (CRO), the more you know, the better.

Behavioral analytics put forth a deep reading of how visitors interact with individual elements on your web, mobile site and app. By tracking advanced KPIs, behavior-based solutions allow you to discover high points of friction and hesitation, which traditional programs analytics do not offer. They also reveal the areas of your site that contribute to engagement and conversion goals.

Let’s take a gander at the more latent analytics waiting to be used at your disposal for CRO.

Behavioral Analysis to Improve Conversion Rates

In the context of website and mobile analytics, behaviors and their derivative behavioral analysis can be narrowed down to a few quick, yet vital actions that users take on your website.

So what are behaviors in the context of site analytics? A behavior is a navigational action made by a user that gets recorded by a tag. Such an action can be culled and accessed as part of a UX optimization strategy to improve a website’s conversion rate. Behaviors can include page views, clicks and hovers (to name a few) with each event painting a nuanced picture of how your site is used.

Since 90% of behaviors occur between clicks, a true observation into behavior would require looking at the behaviors beyond clicks alone. These include the behaviors not limited to a single action, such as frustration, hesitation and engagement.

Being able to understand the customer story behind behaviors is key to rolling out the improvements that will have a positive impact on engagement and conversion rate optimization. Clicks, for example, can signify both interest AND frustration — what matters is figuring out which it is.

Behavioral Analysis Starts with Customer Journeys

The first step of a behavioral analysis is to identify where on your site lie the biggest issues and opportunities. This comes from surveying the customer journey. This journey grants a step by step view into how visitors traverse across your website, mobile sites and apps. You can see all the pages users have visited to put together the story behind their digital journey: where they leave and what has led them to conversion. These paths make up the user flow, a crucial aspect of UX that gives you a clear vantage point to the visitor’s intent, which is much-needed to landing conversions.

For example, a site visitor may be on your site for a number of reasons: to window-shop, check out their local store’s opening hours, add a promotional code to a cart to see the price difference, etc.

Customer journeys are visualizations that shine a light on user intent — vital information when you’re trying to develop a customer-centric digital experience. Understanding customer intent will help you optimize your content and know how to best guide visitors down the conversion funnel. It’s also the cornerstone of a satisfying experience, which itself is a guarantee of long-term customer loyalty. If visitors do not convert on their first go, a good UX will spur them to in future visits.

For example, a number of airlines have earned a negative reputation due to their substandard customer experience. But their low prices have gained them the ability to capture a solid customer base. Airlines that offer low prices coupled with good customer experiences (including digital) will undoubtedly give these shoddy airlines a run for their money due to their competitive edge.

Customer journeys present you with a detailed view of where your visitors drop by on your platform, a function that allows you to see where they enter, where they head to next and all the pages in between exits and conversions. Viewing them will help you understand how your site is being used and how to optimize these journeys to ramp up the conversion rate.

For example, if the bounce rate for a landing page is at 60%, a behavioral analysis will provide insight into why visitors are bouncing. This is because it shows you what users do on a page before they bounce, which you ought to look at to make the proper optimizations.

Other issues affecting conversions can manifest as repeated attempts on a payment or login page. This suggests a struggle and thereby, frustration within users. Identifying this is a must in order to improve the conversion rate.

Zone-Based Heatmaps for Better Readings

Now that you’ve identified your most critical opportunities and issues, the next step is to answer why they are happening and how you can improve. That’s where we dovetail customer journey analysis with zone-based heatmaps, as they perfect the heat map with a more granular measure of digital behavior. Traditional heat maps appear as a big blob of colors on a page, showing the areas with the most engagement. They don’t however, give you insight into the performance of each page element.

That’s where zone-based heat maps come to the rescue. Like regular heat maps, zone-based maps are highly visual aides that display the most and least popular places on a site page in different colors. However, they have the added capacity of gauging each site element, so you can understand how visitors interact with each one, and what role they play in the overall customer experience.

To do this, zone-based heat maps are numbers-based, so along with the colors, they display attribution and performance metrics, such as click attribution, time spent on each element, conversion rates, revenue per click, etc.

Having this information on hand can help teams pinpoint precise areas of hesitation and engagement, allowing them to carry out targeted, data-backed optimizations. For example, rethinking the location of an image that visitors find attractive but is hidden beneath the fold can have a positive impact on revenue.

What’s more is that today, teams don’t even need to tag elements manually, thanks to the technology that scans all your site elements with precision, identifying CTAs, photos, text, carousels and other content in the process. This kind of smart technology is far ahead of the kind you’d get with a traditional analytics solution.

Reining in Confusion & Interest by Observing Hesitations

Behavioral analytics has the capacity to determine not just where people visit, but to also reveal what feelings individual elements of content trigger within visitors.

One of the things it can reveal is if and where users are hesitating on your website. You can leverage hesitation time, a metric that relays the average time elapsed from the last hover to the first click on a zone, which shows you whether your content is easily understood, or if it causes users to hesitate. Understanding this gives you a data-backed picture of the content that stalls visitors — crucial knowledge when deciding on where to optimize the UX for better conversions.

Scroll Behavior to Identify Exposure

Scroll behavior is crucial to evaluate in order to optimize conversion rates. A user’s scroll behavior depicts which part of a page garners engagement. When analyzing scrolling behavior, you can surmise that users are scrolling when they read something or are in search of a particular piece of information. In either case, there exists some level of interest in your content.

This behavior allows marketers, along with web designers to comprehend exactly how to tinker with page length, or the length of an in-page element that has a scrolling function. In short, scrolling behavior provides context into the impact of longer content. This is especially important for conversion rate optimization, as many scrollable elements lead to CTAs.

Scrolling behavior can be analyzed by way of exposure time, which you can use to see the elements users are scrolling past, to see if they are missing or ignoring a particular element. Or you can also refer to exposure rate, which reveals how far down users are scrolling on a page on average.

This can help you uncover real gems under the fold — areas of the page where visitors who scrolled far enough stopped to linger and engage with the zone. This insight, combined with the hover to conversion rate, can highlight highpoints of visitor engagement that would benefit from more visibility.

Measuring User Engagement with A Designated Metric

Conversion rate optimization can be bolstered by creating engaging content, but no matter how well you think your content is faring, it has to be measured for its efficacy. Traditional analytics fall short here because it cannot distinguish whether an abundance of clicks conveys positive engagement or frustration. Fortunately, there is a formulaic way to measure user engagement.

With the engagement rate metric, you can determine how intuitive your site elements are, i.e., how well users are able to understand how they work and what they do. The metric is calculated by dividing the number of page views who click on a zone by the number of page views with a hover on the zone. This represents the percentage of visitors who clicked on a zone or element after hovering over it.

Clickable elements, especially those that lead to conversions, should have high engagement rates, as this metric essentially shows if a zone has good affordance in light of clickability. So you should make all the aspects of the zone underscore that it’s clickable. This metric will show you if you need to make any changes to such site elements.

The engagement rate of an element can also be used to guide you where on a page to place an element. For example, elements with high exposure and a low engagement rate show that while visitors see these elements and are hovering over them, they don’t click.

Such a scenario reveals either confusion or a lack of interest in users. Thus, this insight points to the need to clarify these elements, i.e., they should clearly show why users should click on them and what they’ll see when they click.

Performance Targeting by Way of Benchmarking

Performance targeting comes from a kind of competitive analysis, one that brings you a  side-by-side comparison of content element performance and the like. Performance targeting provides data and insights on how your website is performing against industry averages, essentially showing you the behavioral standards sector by sector.

Additionally, it scraps the need to scout out analytical sources of industry averages, which are not readily available to the public. Performance targeting puts various benchmarks on display for comparison (such as engagement, conversion and revenue). Additionally, it provides insights into content element performance — average locations and sizes for common site elements like the search bar, menu and homepage hero banner.  

Lastly, it shows the typical behavioral standards on websites in a particular industry. This allows you to determine exactly what type of content to target and how to modify for better engagement and CRO.

Summing Up Unique Behavioral Analysis for CRO

Collating analytics should — and usually does — involve examining the most relevant metrics for conversion rate optimization. These bits of data will help you configure the best practices for the UX, as well as weed out the harmful elements of your website. But common behavioral analyses and their corresponding metrics like bounce rate and conversions are not enough, certainly not for conversion rate optimization. To tap into the minds of your site users and potential customers, you need to employ a unique behavioral analytics solution, which provides additional data-based perspectives and a slew of insight that will prove invaluable for conversion rates.

Author
Lorraine Ryshin

Lorraine Ryshin is Contentsquare's Content Writer, who enjoys crafting words for the Internet. She is a multidisciplinary writer who hails from a background in marketing and SEO. A Jill of All Trades writer, she has produced written content for clients in a distinct array of industries and disciplines. To hone in on her professional pursuits, she seeks out new and creative channels to communicate with a digital audience.

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