There’s a lot to learn from the way site visitors browse and interact with your website. Then there’s customer acquisition marketing, since before users navigate your site, they must be acquired, which is a digital marketing feat on its own. Much of what we cover is UX (user experience) — the environment and associated feelings users undergo on your website and other digital offerings.
But drawing users in is a major step, a push further down the sales funnel, bring them closer to conversion and certainly a crucial to brand awareness. Sometimes it involves perfecting the UX as well, except as an alternative to onsite behaviors, it deals with those on acquisition channels, some of which you can customize, i.e., social media.
As the final installment of our 3-part series covering the UX International Map, this iteration will edify you on what customer acquisition marketing channels look like through a global lens. After all, if you’re going to set up websites for different countries, acquiring the users of these countries and their distinct acquisition manners is key to be mindful of.
Acquisition Channel Methodology
In the past 2 UX map lessons, you’ve read that we parsed through over 35 million visitor sessions in January and February 2019 on 11 luxury websites — that’s 150 million page views and 3 billion clicks.
The 7 countries we focused our analyses on were: the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, China and Japan.
For each of the 7 countries we surveyed, we analyzed the performance of 12 acquisition channels — both paid and unpaid. For each country we scrutinized, we asked the following questions to get a deep read of how websites were gaining visitors:
- Do consumers prefer free or paid channels?
- How do they arrive at your site?
- Did users do independent research or follow a recommendation?
Free Vs Paid Acquisition Channels
The chief divide of digital acquisition channels is whether they are free or paid. Free acquisition channels, as their name suggests, are outlets that you can leverage for free. They encompass the following:
- Organic search results (SEO)
- Direct traffic
- Referral traffic
- Social media posts (unsponsored)
Paid acquisition channels are cost-based and these costs are not unilateral. In other words, while PPC ads will cost you for each click on the keyword you bid on, affiliate marketing will cost you the amount agreed upon with your affiliate marketer. These channels include:
- Paid Search (SEM/PPC)
- Paid Social (sponsored content)
- Display Ads
- Affiliate Marketing
- Brandzone (Baidu)
- Influencer marketing
The Global Majority of Online Consumers Prefer Free Acquisition Channels
While it’s patently obvious that brands and marketers prefer to acquire consumers through free means, our analysis has found that even from a consumer standpoint, the preferred method of arriving at a new website is from a free traffic source. With a 61% global average share of traffic from free channels, this is something of a global consensus.
The customer audiences in Japan and Italy are at the higher ends of the free acquisition spectrum, as they reach websites through free channels at the respective rates of 69% and 65% of their total acquisition. The US comes in at third, with 62% of its site visitors springing from free acquisition channels.
France has the lowest share of traffic from free channels, at 55%. Germany and China come in second at the low end of the free channel spectrum with traffic rates of 58% from both countries.
Acquisition through Consumer Research or Recommendation
Another way to gauge customer preferences and segment behaviors is by analyzing whether visitors land on your site from independent research or by following a product recommendation. It’s crucial to study this, since some consumers arrive at your website through their own due diligence from research, while some need to be marketed to concertedly, i.e., in a direct way, often involving recommendations. (Think targeted ads and sponsored social content).
Here are a few independent research channels:
- Organic search (SEO)
- Paid search
Here are a few recommendation research channels:
- Paid social
- Affiliate Marketing
- Influencer Marketing
So which acquisition method, independent research or product recommendation takes the victory among our swath of global consumers? In this type of acquisition square-off, the emerging winner is independent research, which holds the majority across every country we surveyed.
In Italy, 92% of consumers reach a site through their own research, overshadowing the country’s 8% of consumers who reach a site by following a link. China is at the lowest end of the independent research gamut, with 54% of its users reaching websites through their own research, but even this lower rate shows a favorability among consumers to visit a website based on their own findings instead of recommendations made to them.
Japan and the US follow Italy, with a respective 81% and 80% of users landing on a website through independent research.
Organic Search Traffic Dominates in the US, Italy and Japan
Organic search traffic (SEO) overshadows paid search, affiliate marketing and other acquisition sources in the US, Italy and Japan. This is due to the dominance of free acquisition in these 3 countries, raking in over 40% of user acquisition in these 3 countries, with a massive 70% in Japan.
Traffic from SEO has the highest influence in Japan, with 48% of traffic coming from organic search. Italy ranks in second on SEO acquisition, with 40% of consumers reaching websites this way and the US comes in at third, with 32%.
Reel in Traffic with Display Ads in China
Gaining site in traffic is heavily dependent on display ads, along with the Baidu Brand Zone technology. Procuring 28.2% of all traffic acquisition in China, this channel is a force to be reckoned with in order to increase site visitors. While globally, there is far less dependence on this channel (only 4.1%), in China it is a key player in obtaining traffic. Display ads go in tandem with this channel and also fall within the trend of using visuals to keep users interested.
Email Marketing and Social Reign Supreme in the UK
In the UK, customer acquisition is contingent on social marketing efforts. At 12.4%, social customer engagement spurs twice as much traffic in the UK as it does in any of the other countries surveyed. Aside from social, email campaigns are also drivers of successful traffic, raking in 6.7% on desktop and a heaping 18.4% on mobile. Organic search traffic lags behind in the UK, as far as traffic is concerned, accounting for only 23.1% of traffic, as opposed to the global 31.5% global ranking.
France is All About Paid Tactics
Whether it’s coming from SEM, PPC or paid social, paid tactics are driving up traffic in France. Paid channels account for almost half of all French traffic at 45%. This traffic mainly comes from paid search, which rakes in 29% of the traffic. SEM in France brings in roughly a third more in traffic than in all the other countries we analyzed. A significant part of the traffic in France is wrought by paid social — 8.4%, as opposed to the global average of 4.7%.
German Traffic: Paid Search and Direct
German traffic acquisition is dominated by two sources: paid search and direct traffic. Paid search yields 27.3% of all traffic in the country, while direct traffic is even more powerful in drawing in users, as it’s higher in Germany than any of the other 6 countries at 26.1%. The direct traffic average globally is at 21.9%. High direct traffic visitations suggest that visitors in this country have a vested interest and loyalty in big-name brands.
Optimizing The Landing Page — Whatever The Traffic Channel
Understanding how your site acquires visitors, who might later become customers, is as crucial as studying the UX of your website. After all, no matter how ideal your UX is, it won’t matter if little to no one arrives at your website. As such, acquisition channels provide a kind of hook, line and sinker approach where acquisition is concerned.
Acquisition channels are markedly useful and necessary for drawing in customers, but you must remember their limited scope in your overall digital marketing strategy. As their name suggests, they are good for acquisition but have little to do with retention. These channels may even hurt your UX and thereby conversions if these channels redirect visitors to irrelevant pages.
This is why the landing page is a critical aspect of acquisition — and retention. A landing page that’s relevant and optimized for users will maintain a good UX and digital happiness. So make sure to study the elements of your landings pages and see which ones are detrimental to the customer journey. There’s no point in optimizing acquisition only to lose your customers later on.
UX International Map Lessons: Product Page Optimization
Welcome to the second installment in our 3-part series on the Global UX Map, the result of our extensive research into digital trends and browsing patterns from across the world. This insightful series is a surefire way to improve your user experience (UX) and boost your digital marketing efforts. In this chapter, we will be focusing on product page optimization.
If your marketing tactics are successful enough to impel users to land on the product page — or if they clicked into it by virtue of their own interest, that is magnificent news. It means your advertising, SEO and content campaigns were competent enough to push users to the page where actual purchase decisions are made. But getting visitors onto the product page is not enough and certainly doesn’t guarantee conversions.
Like your homepage, blog and other site pages, the product page must keep visitors engaged and digitally happy to encourage them to buy. But if there’s one thing we all know about user experience, it’s that one size most definitely doesn’t fit all. And when you have a global patronage — or are seeking to break into the international market — taking into account the needs and expectations of your local audiences is key. UX Analysis Methodology
As you’ve learned in our previous UX map lesson, we drew our insights from analyzing over 35 million visitor sessions from January through February 2019, on 11 luxury websites in 7 countries. This adds up to 150 million pageviews and 3 billion clicks.
The 7 countries from which we extracted data on the product page are the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, China and Japan. By analyzing how visitors in each of these countries interact with the various elements of the product page, we were able to understand what works and what doesn’t, and where brands should focus optimizations to drive maximum engagement.
Visitors In China Most Engaged With the Product Page
While studying the user behavior on the product page across the 7 countries, one country in particular stood out due to its heightened engagement. Consumers in China clicked and scrolled between 1.5 to 5 times more than those in the other 6 countries we surveyed. They also spent more time on the page (25% more than the global average), avidly consuming both informational and visual content.
In fact, the data makes known that users in China often research a product extensively before adding to cart, navigating through many elements on the page, and generally consuming more content than visitors in any of the other regions we looked at.
They were particularly engaged with the product description, clicking on it over 23% more than their global peers. They were also far more interested in the shipping and returns description, with a click rate higher than other countries by over a heaping 95%. With many brands selling exclusively online, shipping costs are often an expensive and unavoidable expense, explaining this extra attention.
Visitors in China also spent much more time viewing product images than their international counterparts, and were 50% more likely to click on the first product image than their global peers — an upward trend that continues onto the following images.
Product Delivery and Shipping Descriptions: Vital in Japan
Descriptions on the product page go a long way to reassuring shoppers in general, as does clear information on shipping and returns. This is most discernible in Japan, where mobile consumers are often reluctant to make a purchase before reading all the information about a product of interest, including its shipping and returns policy.
In fact, the click rate on the product description is 47% higher in Japan than in any of the other regions we studied, and the click rate on the shipping and delivery info, 48% higher.
The US and UK Have a Stronghold on Customer Trust
Visitors in the US and UK spend less time interacting with the product page. In both regions, product visuals receive 22% fewer clicks on the first product images and 53% fewer ones on the third click, compared to global averages.
The scroll rate on the product page in the US and UK is also lower than the global average, coming in at 53% versus 56% for the rest of the world. The click rate on the textual content is also considerably smaller in the US and UK than in the global average.
Precisely, the click rate on product descriptions sits at about 4.1%, versus a 4.5% global average. Meanwhile, the click rate on the shipping info in the US and UK is roughly 0.5%, while globally it’s at 0.7%.
With truncated engagement on the product page, visitors from the US and UK clearly have less time in their customer journey to take in the content on this page. Instead, they make hastier decisions, so you have to catch their interests quicker than those from the other European and Asian countries. If you do, you will earn their trust, proven by their quicker conversions, which occur without skimming through visuals and reading content that’s further down the page.
Visuals Take Priority in Germany and Italy
Chinese visitors on product pages aren’t the only ones captivated by visual content. Much like these constituents, visitors in Germany and Italy also show high levels of engagement around product images. These visitors click 7% more than their global counterparts on the first image, 6% more on the second and 28% more on the third on all devices.
Visitors in Germany also have a favorability towards the product description, clicking on this element 11% more than the other countries surveyed. As such, this element is crucial in their customer decision journey. A product description may compel or dissuade these users from making a purchase, so assure that your product descriptions are up to par, being both informative and marketing-friendly to convince your German audience to buy.
Product Images in Relation to the Product Page for Visitors in France
The use of the product page in France can seem to be contradictory — giving the impression of both a low and high engagement of the page. Visitors in France are much less engaged on virtually every element on the product page, with fewer clicks on product descriptions, shipping info and images, coupled with shorter session times.
However, despite a low session time and engagement with these elements, shoppers in France total in a 60% higher time spent on page than the other 6 countries. This discrepancy relays an audience that is not as interested in content related to the product so much as interest in the product itself.
As such, these users shouldn’t be disregarded; they are still good candidates for conversions, but they must be interested in the product from the get-go, so you should use other marketing channels to promote your products, so by the time shoppers arrive at your product pages, they’ll be interested enough to convert, or learn more.
Refining the Product Page for a Global Audience with UX Recommendations
Product page optimization begins with making the right changes or additions to your product pages across its global editions. No matter how optimized your product page appears to be, remember that it won’t be received in the same manner globally. Here are several data-backed suggestions on product page optimization from a globally-oriented perspective.
For US and UK visitors, opt for simplicity; there is no room for clutter for the least engaged duo in the product page. Align your text and images with a minimalistic style — nominal text, low interactions, large images and as little scroll as possible. The goal is to create a quick and easy consumption of the page. Don’t both laying out a shipping policy, as users from these countries are accustomed to cheap shipping and free returns.
The UX optimization of the product page on your Chinese site is in direct opposition to the US and UK, since users there are much enthused about content on the product page. Since users in China are prone to scrolling, design your page with a vertical interface. You can rest assured that loading your product page with content will stimulate high engagement. Feel free to add affiliate links, reviews, images, descriptions, articles, etc. You should pay close attention to the product and shipping descriptions since there is high engagement there. Visitors in China are less certain on shipping, so give them cost-efficient options. For more slider engagement, speed up your load time; it is notoriously slow in China.
Much like China, the consumption of product and shipping descriptions is also high in Germany and Italy, particularly on mobile. Posit your product in the best possible light in these descriptions and provide all the relevant info on them, as visitors in Germany and Italy are inclined to read them. Make sure they are easy to access on mobile.
Since product imagery has a decent performance in Germany and Italy, don’t be scant in your product images on your site in these countries. Include at least 4 product images per product page. To ensure slideshow images are seen, implement visible arrows on the slideshow. While both countries are fans of images, visitors in Germany prefer horizontal navigation in the carousels, while Italians favor the vertical variety. Don’t forget to add a zoom function on your images.
Since users in France have a rather contradictory behavior on the product page — a long time spent on the page but few interactions with individual elements, you have to optimize accordingly. This may appear challenging, but luckily, there is a way to maintain a balance between few interactions and high consumption. To achieve this balance, insert a summary of the content above the fold with anchors that steer users further down. A long time spent on page means that these users are willing to consume it, so long as they don’t scroll.
Optimizing the Product Page
As there is no marketing “one size fits all” strategy, the same should be applied to your globally existing product pages. As our UX map findings show, browsing behaviors vary from country to country, and it’s enlightening to be able to identify and sort them into different global localities. Localizing the user experience begins at understanding what needs to change and which areas of the UX require the most attention. To capitalize on this localization, you should continue studying user behaviors through unique metrics like scroll rate, time spent on element, conversion rate per click and more.
The Global UX Map: Menu, Search Bar and Slideshow Usage Around the World
Digital marketers, website developers and ecommerce businesses from far and wide: welcome to a 3-part blog series constructed from our Global UX Map — an in-depth report on digital customer behavior from around the globe.
While we strongly recommend you download our UX map, which offers a wealth of data-backed insights on how worldwide site visitors browse websites and interact with specific pages/ in-page elements, this series will condense some of these topics for a more organized, topic-based read. As such, this series is set to help you increase your ecommerce conversions in a more focused way.
In this round, we’ll illuminate our recent findings on the menu, search bar and slideshow usage through a global lens, and provide tips on how to optimize these elements to cater to your international or US-based audience.
UX Analysis Methodology
We ran our UX analysis on over 35 million visitor sessions from January and February 2019, on 11 luxury sites in 7 countries. This rendered 150 million page views and 3 billion clicks.
We observed visitor interactions with the menu, search bar and slideshow starting domestically, in the United States. Our international analysis gathered data from 4 European countries: France, Germany, the UK and Italy. Additionally, we studied the UX in 2 Asian countries: China and Japan.
The aforesaid UX elements we studied all exist on homepages, so this post will discuss the top-priorities for the homepage in particular. These 3 UX elements all point to critical visitor mindsets — determined if they leverage the search bar, seeking inspiration from the slideshow, or methodically browsing the menu.
The Attractiveness Depends on the Device
The menu, search bar and carousel have varying levels of attractiveness depending on the device, and visitors engage differently with these 3 UX elements on mobile and desktop.
Desktop visitors, for example, are more likely to engage with these features than their mobile counterparts, except in the UK. There, mobile visitors clocked in 7% more interactions with the menu, search bar and slideshow combined than desktop users.
In all other countries, except China, mobile yields 20% fewer interactions with the menu, search bar and slideshow. In China, this lowered attractiveness is compounded, with mobile driving 70% fewer interactions than desktop.
Per these findings, you should expect more usage of all 3 UX elements on desktop, and you should be thinking about ways to efficiently and seamlessly guide customer journeys on mobile.
The Slideshow: Not Getting Much Love from the US and Italy
The click rate on the menu, search bar and slideshow differs from country to country; some regional audiences are much more likely to click on these top homepage navigation elements.
France has the highest combined click rate on all three of these elements on desktop (see above), while the UK has the highest click rate on these elements on mobile (49%).
Users in the US, however, are not so click-happy when it comes to these top homepage elements, as they average in the lowest click rate of all the countries surveyed on desktop, roughly 43%. The US also holds the second lowest click rate on mobile, at 33%, only to be outdone by China, which has the lowest click rate on mobile, with only 13%.
As for the slideshow, visitors in the US and Italy show the least interest in this feature. The US has the lowest slideshow desktop click rate, at only 3.7%, followed by Italy, at 3.8%. Across all the countries we studied, the slideshow and the search bar received the least amount of interactions, with the menu coming out on top.
Visuals are a Big Engagement Driver in China and Japan
Visual elements are a crucial ingredient of a good UX in China and Japan, as they produce the most engagement and fastest time to first click. Indeed, visitors in China and Japan are among the first to click on the slideshow. Japan proves that images rule, with the shortest time to first click — 87% faster than the global overage. The time to first click in China is 28% faster than that of the other countries.
While the slideshow is well-received by visitors in Japan and China, the search bar and menu don’t forge a good UX for these audiences, especially on mobile. These 2 site elements garner less interactions within these countries due to their complex writing systems. These elements are ill-adapted to Japanese and Chinese and it shows in the data, particularly in China, where the menu has 74% less engagement and the search bar 60% less than in the other countries.
The Search Bar and Menu: Successful in the UK
Unlike visitors in Japan and China, those in the UK are much engaged with the menu and search bar, as they depend on it more than any of the surveyed countries. Certain in what they want, this audience is eager to find the quickest path to product.
Opposing the UX in Japan and China, the search bar is crystal clear to UK visitors, who use it roughly 45% more than the users in all of the other countries we surveyed. Mobile visitors in the UK also dominate in menu use, and are 50% more likely to rely on this feature than anywhere else.
Specifically, the UK click rate on the menu comes in at 38.3%, the highest out of all the countries on desktop. Its click rate on the search bar is also the highest, at 6.7%.
The Menu Reels in the Best Usage in France and Germany
The menu is the most preferred navigation element in France and Germany, which reels in over 15% and over 11% higher engagement, respectively. Visitors in the UK and Italy are also highly reliant on the menu, while Chinese and Japanese visitors rarely use this function.
With a much heftier use of the menu in Europe, you ought to capitalize it by making it adhere to a clear, visual hierarchy. But it should also have an air of simplicity to maintain its good results for these countries.
More Formulated UX Tips from our Data on a Country Basis
Here are a few more tips we extracted from our data assembly:
Visitors in the US, UK and Italy are determined in their browsing and are looking for the shortest, most direct path to the product. So there’s no need to cram the slideshow. Instead, feature a highly visible, sticky search bar on mobile. This will assure that no matter how far down these global users scroll on the homepage, they’ll have an omnipresent shortcut to the product. Make sure this UX element is fully optimized: enabling an autocomplete function for all search queries will also appeal to this audience.
A general deduction of the European countries we examined is that visitors in these countries are highly engaged with the menu. Optimize it for desktop with a hoverable dropdown feature for ease of use. On mobile, a hamburger icon is a popular, quick menu access solution.
Accentuate the bestselling items on desktop and create a shortlist of recommended products and product categories. Another great UX strategy is to suggest content based on searches such as blog posts, videos, etc. This also presents a solid internal linking opportunity — not all of your content will be stumbled upon by SEO.
Remember, audiences in China and Japan interact heavily with visuals. Go bold with the slideshow: meld in dynamic content such as standout colors, videos and inspiring images. Use product links on the slideshow to lessen the path to purchases. Each image does not have to be bound by one product link.
Since the use of the menu and search bar is low in these countries, add a sticky navigation bar, so it stays in your users’ site even as they scroll down the page.
Optimizing Navigation UX
That does it for our findings on the usage of the menu, search bar and slideshow across 7 countries. It’s time to start tailoring the UX of these site elements in line with the expectations of your local audience.
Localizing the user experience is not simply limited to applying the language of the country your website is tailored for. Brands that can localize the experience in accordance with user expectations and habits will be well poised to improve retention and conversion rates, allowing them to conquer international markets.