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Behavioural intelligence: The path to personalisation

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/violetkaipa)

Most businesses collect immense amounts of intelligence every day. That’s because data has the ability to inform decisions, give businesses a competitive edge and provide valuable information about your customers. The key to optimising a personalised user experience is understanding the behaviour of your website visitors. Web analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, are the standard method of collecting data around how consumers are using your website. These metrics, including page views, bounce rate and session length, can provide great insight into how people are visiting your site on a mechanical level.  Unfortunately, these metrics are only vanity numbers if they aren’t driving your business needs.

In fact, this surface-level data, without any further, deeper data insights, could lead to inaccurate assumptions and misinformed decision making. As an example, Tom Shapiro, owner of digital agency Stratabeat, revealed (opens in new tab)that despite a blog post on his company’s website receiving over 81,000 unique page views, it generated zero leads for the business. In this case, a seemingly well performing blog post for the company meant absolutely nothing.

The solution to uncover not only what your site visitors are clicking on and looking at, but why they are behaving in the way they are, lies in behavioural intelligence (BI). BI allows you to observe and interpret the digital body language of people who visit your site. Google Analytics can provide you with information about “what” is happening on your site, while BI can better explain why it’s happening. You can observe what visitors are engaging with and, just as importantly, what they aren’t. Gaining a deeper understanding of your audience will, in turn, lead to design improvements on your website that will deliver a better user experience and help optimise conversions.

So how do you get started with BI? There are a variety of BI software tools available but before diving in, you need to start with audience insights. This means defining personas for your audience segments through market research but also actually speaking to your customers. According to a survey from the Content Marketing Institute (opens in new tab), only 42 per cent of marketers say they have conversations with customers as part of their audience research. With that groundwork in place, you can start using a BI software tool.

Understanding audiences

There are a number of features these tools offer including behavioural mapping. With scroll, click, heat and attention mapping, you can begin to see what is and isn’t working on your site. For instance, with scroll mapping it reveals exactly how far down a page a visitor has scrolled. So, if you have important messaging halfway down your page but visitors are only scrolling down 25 per cent of it, they are simply not seeing it.

Depending on the BI software tool you’re using, there are a variety of other insightful features such as video recordings where you can view the screen, cursor movements and navigation patterns of visitors. You can also implement conversion funnel tracking where you can examine visitor behaviour as they move from page to page through the funnel and see, for instance, where any drop-offs are occurring. And finally form analytics, where you can see how visitors are filling out your online forms and the reason they may not be submitting them.

Getting started with behaviour analytics

To help you get started with behavioural analytics, I’ve listed some tools to consider incorporating into your website strategy:

  • Mouseflow (opens in new tab): Shows how visitors click, move, scroll, browse, and pay attention to your website using session replays and interactive heatmaps. Gathers voice of the customer data through custom onsite surveys.
  • Hotjar (opens in new tab): Uses interactive heatmaps of visitor clicks, scrolling and actions, session recordings, and the gathering of voice of the customer data from survey and feedback polls to help you build a data-backed understanding of why and how people are using your site.
  • Decibel (opens in new tab): Captures unique experience data, enriched by machine learning, to reveal digital body language, understand user state of mind and pinpoint problem areas on your website, web applications and native apps. Decibel is a good option for large enterprises with complex websites.
  • FullStory (opens in new tab): Unlocks pixel-perfect session playback, automatic insights, funnel analytics, and robust search and segmentation—empowering your organisation to build a better online experience for your customers.
  • Clicktale (opens in new tab): Transforms millisecond-level behaviours and gestures into meaningful insights using rich behavioural data and intuitive visualisations. Clicktale is a good option for large enterprises with complex websites.
  • CrazyEgg (opens in new tab): Uses heatmaps, scroll maps, and other visual reports to show you exactly how your customers are responding to elements on your site.

Businesses that fail to understand how their customers are using their website risk losing the attention, and therefore the revenue, of those customers forever. A joint international study into Gen Z by WP Engine and The Center for Generational Kinetics found that almost half (40 per cent) of respondents said they would actively stop visiting a website if it didn’t anticipate what they needed, liked or wanted.

The key to building an engaging, revenue producing and efficient digital experience is learning how to detect and interpret the digital body language of your customers. Armed with all this new intelligence about your users, that you can then cross-reference with data from Google Analytics and the audience insights you’ve developed, you’ll end up with a rich insight into not only what users are doing on your site but why.

Fabio Torlini, EMEA Managing Director, WP Engine (opens in new tab)
Image source: Shutterstock/violetkaipa