Imagine an owner of a traditional shop. He has his displays arranged perfectly. His shop is stocked and ready to sell. But just as the doors are opening, he dons a blindfold. Crazy, you say. Why, he won’t be able to know what’s working for his customers and what isn’t. He’ll have no information at all about how his business is actually doing. The only thing he’ll know is when the door opens and when the cash register cha-chings.
You might think our shop keeper friend is putting himself at a disadvantage with his blindfold. Yet this same scenario plays out every day in countless online stores. The standard set of analytic tools most websites use provide only part of the picture.
Website Analytics: The Blindfold Basics
Most websites employ analytics to track activity on their site. The basic analytics toolbox allows you to see which pages customers visit on your site. Additional features allow site owners to use pageview data to optimize their site, which we discuss below. In each of these cases, however, the site owner remains blindfolded to whatever user activity happens while a customer is on a webpage.
Tracking pageviews is the most basic way to analyze your site. Connecting a tool like Google Analytics to your site allows you to see what pages your users are landing on and viewing. You can also see additional demographic information based on user location, web browser and device information.
Analytics tools also allow you to track goals by defining desired outcomes and tracking your achievement. You have a goal of signing up customers for a newsletter. In the registration process, you display a confirmation page after a customer signs up. When the user views the confirmation page, your analytics will show a goal completion. Combining goal tracking with pageviews shows the visitor flow across different pages on your site: where they land, where they go next and where they drop off. A well designed set of goals optimizes customer engagement on your site.
If you sell online, your ecommerce data show how many sales you have made, what your revenue is, etc. Including ecommerce in your goal tracking ties pageviews to revenue. Like our shop keep in his blindfold, you can hear the customer enter your store and you can hear the cash register ring them up. But you are still oblivious to customer behavior inside the store — data which can be used to optimize customer engagement and revenue even more.
Event tracking codes can be embedded into almost any element on a webpage. This includes, but is certainly not limited to:
- Clicking on page elements (e.g., buttons)
- Adding or removing products from the shopping cart
- Viewing recommendations, user reviews or additional information in the cart
- Downloading free trials
- Opening invoice files
- Entering coupon codes
- Viewing specific elements (e.g., a don’t-leave-layer)
- And more …
Including event tracking codes on your site is like removing the blindfold from the shop keeper’s eyes. You no longer have to rely on a turnstile tally of how many users landed on your pages, because you can observe every action your customers take inside the page.
Develop Your Shop Keeper’s Intuition
The shop keep drew intuitive conclusions about the effectiveness of his displays, store layout and product offerings. Whether he noticed the body language of his customers, which items drew them over, or which ones just collected dust, the shop keep could judge from direct customer behavior how to optimize his store setup. If that weren’t enough, the shop keep could hear customers’ direct feedback and make adjustments accordingly.
Let’s take a look at the elements in that shopping cart. If Acme Software has event tracking codes embedded in their carts, then they could track if customers are adding or removing items from the cart. Acme could also see how many customers hovered their mouse over the additional information button next to the option to add a backup CD.
Tracking user activity like this helps the keeper of an online store develop the intuition of earlier generations. Let’s say Acme was offering two copies of their product at a slight discount, and they configured their carts to load with two copies of this product as a tactic to increase average order value. Running a basic goal tracking report, Acme sees many customers landing on the special offer cart. But when Acme checks their ecommerce numbers, they don’t see the corresponding rise in average order value.
Without event tracking, there’s no way to know exactly what is going on here. If Acme were employing event tracking codes on the add/remove button, Acme would see that customers are still purchasing the product, but removing the second copy. Knowing this, Acme could attempt to better target that offer. Perhaps combined with the insight that customers frequently accessed the additional information on the page, they could explain to customers about why purchasing two items will provide more value to them.
Acme could not only provide customers the user experience they want, but they would also increase their revenue.
From Intuition to Revenue Optimization
Savvy use of event tracking in your site analytics brings more value than simple commerce intuition. Event tracking allows the site owner to see how every component impacts customer behavior. You can apply traditional cart optimization tactics and A/B testing not only to the page as a whole, but to the individual elements within.
In the example above, the events being tracked are which payment method was selected, and which, if any, payment method icon was clicked. In a case where customers are frequently clicking the icons instead of the payment option buttons, a company could run an A/B test on that specific element. Perhaps the payment icons replace the buttons altogether. Perhaps they are redesigned to be less, or more prominent. As the data begin to come in, your company can fine-tune these design elements to make purchasing easier for customers and keep your conversion rates growing.
Maximizing customer satisfaction and increasing revenue depends on accurate and complete information. Incorporating event tracking into your analytics allows you to see your customers interacting with any piece of your website. Seeing these statistics on a regular basis helps you develop good old fashioned store keeper’s intuition. Even more, they provide you the data you need to provide your customers with the very best user experience and to provide your bottom line with more revenue.
Steven Faatz, Web Tracking Analyst for cleverbridge, contributed to this article.
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