There is way too much data out there and Google Analytics has hundreds of ways you can view the data of what people are doing on your site. The problem is, most people don’t know what to do with all of that data, (which is why Data Scientists are now using Machine Learning) to help make optimization decisions easier for marketers and website owners.
You can sit on your ass and wait for robots to get smart enough to take over your website optimization endeavours or you can do it yourself, quickly, using this simple strategy that will allow you get actionable data that can increase conversion, AOV and any other metric you care about.
Your high level data is stupid. Your revenue, AOV, conversion rate (aka vanity metrics) mean absolutely nothing unless you’re trying to measure overall growth or something, but they won’t do anything for if you’re trying to whip your website into shape. Just ignore those high level numbers for now.
Now choose what segment of traffic you’d like to focus on so that you can make enhancements to your website that are specific to that user. If you’re new at this, focus on direct traffic first. Direct traffic is when people type in your URL to get to your site, which are most likely people that have heard about you through another campaign, such as word of mouth, social media, ads, whatever. Segmenting your traffic using direct is a great place to start optimizing, and yes, you can still take a look at overall KPIs as well since you’ll probably move the needle there as well. Here’s a great guide to learn more about segmentation in Google Analytics.
Now that you know you want to target people that are typing in your website (aka direct traffic), let’s build a funnel to track where your dropoffs are, which will serve as your benchmark. If people are typing in your website in the URL bar, they are probably starting at your homepage, then either browsing, searching or clicking on something else that may take then directly to a product page (depending on how your site is set up). Once these users get a product page, very few will add to cart and proceed to checkout. You’ll need to establish continue rates for each section of your site so that you know what numbers you want to beat. Google Analytics allows for easy funnel visualization and goal flow as well (lets you see if users loop back around).
Make sure you’re using a date range that doesn’t have any major releases on your website or crazy marketing campaigns (or sales) that can skew the data. Check your conversion and AOV on a weekly basis and make sure they are both consistent.
You gotta start somewhere, so just realize that when you’re looking at your data before releasing an enhancement to your website, you’re looking at your benchmark. If your add to cart rate is 5% and your conversion rate is 1%, that means absolutely nothing unless those are the numbers that you’re trying to beat. Sure, there may be industry benchmarks you can use to impress your boss, but at the end of the day, your website is so much different than your competitors so your best bet is to just try and beat yourself, over and over and over again. You’re your #1 competitor when it comes to increasing conversion.
You might have a lot of hunches of what you want to do to try and increase conversion on your website, but chances are, your hunches are wrong. That’s why you should watch users go through your website and see where they struggle. Install Inspectlet on your site, log in and start watching. Start with just the homepage and try and understand why 100% of users aren’t proceeding from your homepage to another page on your site, going deeper into your funnel. If you are stumped from watching videos of people interact on the homepage, try another page till you get the hang of it and can come up with better theories.
If you want to get inside the heads of your customers, you’ll have to ask them for help. Many websites have annoying pop ups or tabs that appear on the side or top of the site that I think are obtrusive and can even hinder conversion on certain devices. My advice is to just put a nice big button on your footer that asks users to help. Use copy on your button that says something like “submit feedback” or “help us improve this site.”
When someone clicks on the feedback button, have a modal come up that simply asks one question. “How can we make this website better for you?”
Any developer can quickly build this form functionality, or you can use a free 3rd party to make this happen.
In a world of user generated content, comments, social media, wikipedia, the world is ready to help you make your site better. Expect tons of responses to start pouring in and then tag those responses in Inspectlet so that you can easily replay their session as well.
Now you have actual website visitors telling you what they want AND you’re able to replay their session so that you can see how they arrived at that feedback.
Hopefully by now, you have some cool ideas you can try to optimize your site, based on actual user feedback and replaying those visitors sessions. I’m sure there will be people asking how to get to certain parts of your site (maybe a navigation redesign) or asking for better functionality (more optimized zoom functionality).
Should you A/B test? Maybe! If the change is light, then yes, why not … but if you’re testing out a whole new piece of functionality, most A/B testing softwares can’t handle that, so just release it and compare it to your funnel benchmarks.