What do you know about your customers?
Posted by Malcolm Iliff, on 19th May 2016
What do you know about your website visitors? Do you care who they are, or what they do?
Sad to say, I am no longer surprised when I discover that some clients who have websites rarely or ever look at the statistics relating to visitor behaviour. My question to them is – Would you ignore the fact that you got a zero response from an advertisement you put into a magazine or newspaper? Would you repeat the insertion without evaluating the impact of the first attempt? Of course not. So why is it clients often fail to evaluate the response to their websites? Why indeed do they have a website? Because everyone has one! Is that really a good reason? A website must justify itself; it has to generate goodwill, impact, calls to action and revenue – albeit often indirectly. Here are just a few hints on how to learn more about your customers and visitors – and what really interests them.
Metrics are essential for knowing your visitor and hopefully, your customer. If you do not already use Google Analytics or a similar product to measure and analyse the traffic on your site, then do get it installed. Until you have an analytics package installed, the rest of this article may be simply good theory and of no practical use.
Review the stats – regularly
Get into the habit of looking at the metrics at least once a quarter, preferably once a month or even more frequently depending on the size and popularity of your site. Whenever you send out a web-directed marketing communication always look at the metrics to evaluate the traffic. Have your addressees responded? Have they spent time on your site? Which pages they have visited? Which pages have they ignored? Base at least some of your site updates on the results.
We find two of the most valuable and interesting metrics are page popularity and link popularity. Reviewing our own site, (https://www.cbjdigital.com) a few years back, we saw that the most popular page on the site was a blog written some 10 years ago by our Technical Director on the subject of CSS input button heights! It is still the most popular page on our site even today. So what? The point was that that when we realised this for the first time, despite the page popularity there was no prominent ‘call to action’ to invite visitors to find out more, to make contact, or to provoke a visit to other pages on the site. This was corrected and there is now visitor flow from that article to elsewhere on the site.
More sophisticated users of websites with many thousands of hits per day will be able to carry out A/B analysis to explore different layouts on different size screens, the impact of colours, typefaces, content and so on in order to optimise the effectiveness of their site. However, for simpler sites some basic exploration of the use of links can have a huge advantage for the visitor experience. In Google Analytics, In-page Analytics under the Behaviour menu will show you the use of menu links and shortcuts made by visitors. This is especially relevant for the Home page. For example, on a retail client e-commerce site we look after the most popular link on the homepage was ‘opening hours’. The relevant information was put onto the home page instead of being hidden in an inside page and the link to more detail was made more prominent. Many of the changes one can make to improve visitor retention and interest are simple and require just straightforward interpretation of the statistics.
Calls to action
Every page on your site should have a call-to-action. It is, after all, a basic tenet of having a website that you want it to encourage business. The easier it is for a visitor to respond to that intent the better. Prominent Call to Action buttons to encourage enquiries, sign-ups for newsletters, call-backs, live-chats - all there to make your site more effective. Once a visitor has left your site, you may well have lost them for ever. If you are an inveterate blogger, or maybe a regular mailing fiend who loves engaging with your audience, think more than a few seconds on how you want readers to respond. We all get so much material offered to us on websites as well as in blogs, in emails – so much of it junk that it is worth thinking a while about how you make that message just that wee bit more seductive, more interesting and coupled to as little deterrent to as possible to visitors who may value your services after making contact.
Forms of Obstruction
These can arise in so many ways on a site. The objective has to be to make it easy for the visitor to find, or to submit the information they want to.
- Get rid of any unnecessary steps in the process of getting close to your visitor or satisfying their curiosity that brought them to your site in the first place.
- Ensure there is a search box on your site if the site is more than one or two pages.
- Unless telephone numbers are in the form of a clickable call button in your site or on your advertisement then it is another obstruction to users if they want to call you from a mobile. Older sites may well not have these – get them updated!
- On the mobile display version, ensure the contact information is easily reachable – usually on the home page.
- Use of Captcha codes after form fillingis outmoded and unnecessary. There are far simpler and effective ways to filter spam without asking the human visitor to jump through another hoop before contacting you.
- Cross reference your pages with internal hyperlinks so if there is a mention of a subject on a page that is spelt out in more detail elsewhere on the site it can be reached with ease. It will boost your Search Engine Optimisation.
- Don’t imagine an old fashioned non-responsive site is good enough. You will be losing visitors.
- measure your visitors;
- analyse their behaviour;
- respond to it;
- offer an easy ride through your site;
- make the experience worth their while;
- ensure it is easy for them to respond to a Call to Action.
After all, they only came to your site in the first place because they thought you could offer them something. Are you interested?
Use our Intelligence! (and our experience)
CBJ can now offer an ongoing Google Analytics Intelligence Report service. Each month we’ll send you an easily readable report with the key figures and comparisons from your website’s analytics account. Starting from just £75 per month the report will tell you things like: how many visits and visitors you’ve had, where your traffic is coming from, the most popular pages on your site, how effective your advertising campaigns are, and so on.
Do get in touch!