Listen to your website activity: it’s talking to you

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Listen to your website

Website activity is notoriously difficult to measure – there are various definitions and it doesn’t present a single behaviour that can be assigned a single metric. But there’s plenty to learn from how users are interacting with your site, and how you can target your audiences more effectively based on analysis of various types of activity. Two areas that will give you immediate insight regarding your room for growth is your bounce rate, and the conversion rate from ‘add to cart’ and the checkout page. Monitor activity closely and you’ll find areas where improvement and development will provide satisfying returns from the consumers you want to engage.

Bounce rate

Bounce rate refers to the percentage of visitors who come to your website and leave without viewing any other pages. A high bounce rate means you’re not retaining many visitors – users who end up on your page, don’t find what they’re looking for and get the sense that they’d be better off looking somewhere else entirely, or users who find exactly what they want and aren’t persuaded to explore your offerings further.

There is a third scenario. Users land on your page but everything they need and everything you want them to consume is on that page – a single-page site for example.

This being the case, it’s not always clear whether a high bounce rate is definitely a bad thing, particularly if the call to action on your page is to re-direct a visitor to your eBay shop, for example, or encouraging users to call a number.

To figure out what is and isn’t working according to plan, you’ll need a Google Analytics profile for your site. This will enable you to access valuable information like the bounce rate for each individual page, the best traffic sources, demographics data and your most effective keywords.

In case of a single-page site or something similar, Google Tag Manager is your friend. By configuring event tracking correctly and setting “non-interaction” to FALSE, users who do interact with your page will no longer count as a bounce, giving you a much truer picture of your bounce rate.

Once you have this material, renovations can begin: you’ll be better informed and therefore able to target audiences with greater precision.

  • Work on your content. If a high bounce rate correlates with a low average time on the site, it may be that the audiences you’re bringing to your page are not finding what they want. Review your content and see if there are opportunities to add relevant information, or keep audiences on the page longer with videos and pictures.
  • Sprinkle your sidebar with links to internal content that your users might like. They’ll scroll through the options for longer, and may well end up finding areas of the website that are less immediately accessible but that match their interests.
  • Develop your product pages to present a wider range of information in a broader selection of formats. Reviews, manuals, case studies and plenty of photographs are likely to keep prospective buyers engaged for longer.
  • Control the direction of those who leave your site. If you can’t stop users leaving, send them somewhere valuable to you: make sure your social media profiles are easily accessible from the pages on your website. If customers like what they find on your Instagram, for example, they might come back to the site.

Adding to cart

Too many shoppers fail to make it past the first step of checkout systems. Pay close attention to the quality of your checkout page, and the drop off rate for that step in the process – you’ll find it surprisingly revealing.

It makes sense that you would have poured time and energy into helping customers fall in love with the products your site displays, but quality of experience frequently plummets once users get to their cart. So how do you improve the conversion rates?

  • Simplify the sign in process, and use a few programming tricks to recognise who is already a member. That way you won’t have to give customers the options to register, check out as a guest or sign in: they’ll roll right through to the next step.
  • Install a progress bar at the top to reassure consumers that they’re nearly done with the admin, and the purchase is almost complete.
  • Ensure that the branding and design on your check out page is consistent with the rest of your site. It’s immensely reassuring in general, but particularly for buyers who are concerned about being sent to external pages to have their card details obtained.

Careful setup of your goal funnels will enable you to find better ways to convert your existing traffic. The funnel visualisation report is one of the most insightful tools in Google Analytics, allowing you to track your customers as they step through each touchpoint of the sales process. This can work whether you’re tracking sales, leads or downloads. For example, if you have a three-step process from basket to checkout, users will have to navigate each step to convert. Sales funnels will show you your customers as they go through this process and highlight where they’re dropping off so you can go back and optimise those pages.