Having a handle on the behavioral analytics behind online traffic can make a huge difference in reporting for any marketing team.
Knowing your website traffic numbers is basic knowledge for any marketing team. But, the amount of unique visitors to a site or page isn’t actionable by itself. In fact, the data may be downright misleading and may guide you towards marketing activities that could do more damage than good.
How is that possible?
Consider a brand that was proud of the massive volume of content they had generated for the knowledge hub in their website. They pointed to their web analytics data as evidence of its popularity. But, a deeper look at the data underlying this section of the site told a vastly different story.
Although the main index page for the knowledge hub was indeed getting a good deal of traffic, once on the page, visitors had a bad experience. They were not clicking on the main CTAs on the page. They were not paying attention to the content the company felt was important. In addition, they weren’t scrolling down the page, and so never even saw the vast wealth of content being offered lower on the page. Ouch!
What’s the answer? Behavioral analytics.
Understand the Why, Not the What
Behavioral analytics provides you with insights into site visitors beyond typical web analytics packages such as Google Analytics. Although web analytics will provide you with the “what,” behavioral analytics helps you get to the “why” underlying navigational patterns and actions around your site.
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With behavioral analytics, you can read the digital body language of your site visitors. You can identify what’s working—and what’s not—within each page. Uncover precisely where your visitors are clicking, moving their mouse, paying attention, and scrolling. You can do this by date range, geography, traffic source, device, OS or browser. You can also do this by type of visitor (new vs. returning), given that new site visitors typically display different site behavior than those that have been acclimated to your site’s structure, layout, and messaging previously.
Behavioral analytics gives you the ability to view navigational behavior through specific funnels that you define within your site. See where your visitors are taking progressive steps through the funnel, where they are falling off the grid, and the onsite behaviors associated with each respective group.
If you’re trying to drive leads through your site, behavioral analytics can point to the specific areas or elements of the page that drive engagement, or conversely, cause confusion. For one client, through behavioral analytics it was clear that calls-to-action (CTA) on the page were not standing out sufficiently and were being ignored. The corrective action of making the CTAs more prominent was implemented, and clickthroughs increased correspondingly.
Combining Quantitative and Qualitative Data
In addition to all the insights you can glean from the quantitative data, you can also access individual user sessions. By watching actual individual sessions of visitors to your site (functionality included in various behavioral analytics packages), you can see specific areas of your pages that are either working well in funneling your visitor to a conversion event, or alternatively where they are getting confused or frustrated.
One company came to us looking to drive more leads. One of the first problems we noticed with their website was the mobile experience. On certain pages of the company’s site, a popup was blocking all user options on smartphones. By looking simply at web analytics, this user problem was completely unrecognized. By reviewing actual user sessions, the problem was immediately diagnosed and resolved.
Give Your Forms a Conversion Boost
Online lead gen often involves forms. Whether you have one field or 10, it’s critical to understand if there are any fields driving abandonment rates higher. If you’ve done all the hard work in capturing the traffic and intriguing your site visitor enough to fill out a form, it behooves you to understand if your site—just steps from the finish line—is causing harm to your lead generation.
Within your site forms, see the exact fields where your visitors are abandoning your forms. Are they dropping off in droves when you require a phone number? Try making it optional. Still dropping off? Remove the field altogether.
You can also test your forms working in reverse. Start with only the name and email fields. Then, add fields incrementally, studying the behavioral data per form field to uncover the optimal number of fields to secure as much contact information as possible while still maintaining high conversion rates.
By using form analytics in aggregate along with watching recordings of actual user sessions, you can gain a more holistic understanding of the reasons for form abandonment, whether confusion, frustration, or malfunction.
Integrate Behavioral Analysis into Your Marketing Calendar
Behavioral analytics is clearly useful, but if the data is utilized only on an ad hoc basis, you limit the insights you’ll gain. Worse, you may be relying on outdated data. Over time, audience behavior can change. In addition, you’ll miss new insights if you are not conducting separate analyses based on different campaigns. To maximize the benefits from behavioral analytics, it’s important to establish recurring analysis in your marketing or website calendar.
Analysis should be included in an actual calendar, and roles of team members in analyzing the data and deciphering insights should be clarified. It’s too easy to have analytics data available, yet the responsibility to make it actionable left vague and unassigned.
If you review your data based on varying filters, as you should, it’s even more critical to continue the analysis on a regular basis. Although aggregate data may remain similar over a particular period of time, you may be missing key changes in smaller segments depending on the filtering set. For example, perhaps repeat visitors are displaying the same navigational behaviors while new visitors are missing your cues or abandoning the journey earlier than previous visitors.
In addition, the most important aspect of behavioral analytics is taking action from the insights you glean. It’s only through updating your site that you’ll gain actual marketing value from the analytics. With this in mind, it’s important to have a process in place to review the data, document the insights, select a few corrective updates, implement the changes in your website, and then move on to a new round of analysis.