Below are some of the top blog posts in 2016. This has been a great year for Conversion-Uplift as I now offer conversion rate consultancy services to a range of organisations. I also migrated from Tumblr to a WordPress and published a Glossary of Conversion Marketing. This has over 250 pages of definitions and examples from the commercial world.
A successful conversion rate optimisation strategy has the potential to significantly improve revenues from your digital marketing and increase business growth. Companies such as Spotify, Netflix, Google, and Booking.com have mastered this process. They conduct thousands of experiments a year to improve the performance of their digital experience. Yet many other companies struggle to grow their business using CRO and fail to achieve significant uplifts in A/B tests and multivariate tests.
There are common mistakes companies make with conversion marketing. But what are the secrets of success that the likes of Amazon and other organisations embed into their conversion optimisation strategy? Below are some of the key strategies that these companies employ.
1. Start by listening to your customers:
Before even considering A/B testing it is important to understand your customers. What are their characteristics, needs, wants, desires, motivations and concerns? What is it that attracts customers to your proposition and why do prospects buy from your competitors? In CRO being customer centric is not an option, it is an essential ingredient for success.
Once you begin to get a better understanding of your customers. You can develop buyer personas of important customer groups to help you visualise your visitors. And develop hypothesis for why prospects don’t buy from your company. For more information on using personas to improve conversion see my post on the buyer legends process.
If you don’t have much demographic data on your website visitors use your web analytics as a starting point. But also try online survey tools such as Surveymonkey and Typeform to obtain feedback from visitors whilst they are on your website. You should also conduct usability testing to observe visitors attempting to complete important tasks on your website. This can be invaluable for identifying major usability issues or just generating ideas about how you can reduce friction on your site.
All high performing companies start with their customers as they are the people who ultimately determine the success or failure of your brand.
2. Get an emotional response:
Now you are ready to examine and refine your value proposition. People buy benefits, not features and yet many companies still focus on product/service features and treat people like they are purely rational beings. An effective conversion optimisation strategy considers how to target underlying customer needs to get an emotional response.
A product needs to fill some kind of rational need, but we choose a brand for the implicit (psychological) goals that generate an emotional response. From listening to your customers you should get insights into the kind of psychological goals that drive customer behaviour.
Use the psychological goals from the Beyond Reason model below which is based upon the latest neuroscience and psychological research. This has identified 32 primary psychological motivations that determine much of our attention as we seek to achieve current implicit goals.
This motivation model is the intellectual property of BEYOND REASON
3. Get senior stakeholder support:
It is important that senior management understand and sponsor your conversion rate optimisation strategy. HiPPO’s (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion) get a hard time at many conversion conferences. An informed and engaged HiPPO can be an asset to your program, helping to develop a culture of evidence based optimisation.
An effective conversion optimisation strategy removes the need for subjective opinions to decide which design of a web page is most effective at achieving conversion goals. This does require a change in established decision making processes. You will need senior stakeholders to agree to such changes as otherwise you may find internal politics become a barrier to successful optimisation.
4. Follow a structured process:
To avoid random and undirected optimisation it is necessary to use a tried and tested process for conversion rate optimisation. This helps to provide rigour to your program, but importantly it can assist in building credibility within your organisation. It allows you to communicate how you identify, evaluate and prioritise changes and tests. Having a transparent prioritisation process, such as P.I.E (Potential, Importance, and Ease) is critical because it sets expectations and removes subjectivity from the testing process.
5. Resource analytics:
The old saying, if you don’t measure it, you can’t improve, certainly holds true here. Some start-ups might think they can’t afford such tools. Google Analytics has a free version, and Hotjar Insights provides visual analytics and online customer feedback for less than €1,000 a year.
What advanced CRO companies understand though is that analytics requires dedicated resource as someone won’t become an expert at web analytics if they only have time for an hour or two a day. They also appreciate that averages lie and that segmentation is essential for giving meaning to such data. Opportunities for personalisation are often driven by analytics. Once you begin to analyse the behaviour of individual sub-groups you will see how different they are and appreciate they have different needs.
Similar issues arise with user experience tools, but there are also opportunities to integrate such tools with customer facing software to help with customer services, complaint handling and fraud. Again segmentation is key to getting value from such tools. Integrating from analytics allows you to track individual input field completion and drop-off rates. Any conversion optimisation strategy is dependent upon good analytics and insights to inform decision making.
6. Scale matters:
Predicting human behaviour is very difficult, especially with a complex ecosystem such as a large e-commerce website. For this reason the likes of Netflix, Google and AppSumo find that around 80% of their A/B and multivariate tests fail to deliver significant uplifts in success metrics. Our intuition is generally not relied on as even experts are poor at forecasting the future.
This is why after dealing with the low-hanging fruit it is necessary to increase your testing and run multiple tests at the same time. There is limited evidence of interaction between tests. Provided you are not testing on the same area of the page or have the same objective running tests in parallel it should not be a major problem. A conversion optimisation strategy is much more likely to be successful if you can scale up your online experiments to allow for the low success rate.
7. Collaboration spreads the load:
A conversion rate optimisation strategy cannot be implemented by one person. It needs to be something everyone in an organisation thinks about. Whether it is how to improve page load speed, improving the findability of stuff, cutting down on information we request from users or providing a more personalised user experience. Companies that understand CRO ensure they nurture a culture of experimentation and collaboration across the organisation to generate and share ideas, tests and outcomes.
8. Use the 80:20 rule for your test designs:
When creating test designs don’t seek perfection or be overly restrictive with which visitors are included in an A/B test. Yes, little things can matter, but at the same time bear in mind the Pareto Principle. This states that 80% of the output will be generated by just 20% of the effort. Conversely 80% of the problems can be traced to 20% of the causes.
This suggests that once you have fixed the most important elements of a design the rest of the experience will probably have little impact on the outcome. If you also always ask for two designs for each hypothesis you will also have the opportunity to learn about how implementation of an idea influences the outcome.
9. Take risks:
One of the main benefits of online experiments is that you don’t have to test a new design on all your traffic. You can turn the design off in a matter of seconds. This allows you to effectively manage downside risk and should be the green light for developing radical new, innovative designs to test. It is also sometimes necessary to try something totally different to achieve the big uplift in conversion that CRO promises. And yet many managers see CRO as a risky exercise and frequently try to limit testing activity due to misinformed concerns.
10. Challenge everything:
I once worked for an organisation where I was told that I couldn’t test different CTAs, such as the colour or place additional text on the CTA because these were set in stone by the brand guidelines. Companies that understand CRO don’t allow such untested and subjective policies to restrict their CRO program. They take great delight in saying they can even test the colour of their CTAs, not because it’s allowed by their brand guidelines, but because they test anything if they think they can learn from it.
For CRO to reach its full potential it is important that even the smallest detail can be scrutinised and challenged through A/B and multivariate testing. It is sometimes the things that have never been challenged that can result in the step-change to higher conversion rates.
Conversion rate optimisation strategy is a complex process and needs good planning. It requires a structured and rigorous approach that needs resource and support at the highest level of an organisation. The customer needs to be at the heart of your CRO program. A better understanding of customer needs and motivations is likely to lead to stronger hypothesis and more winning tests.
CRO should remove the need for subjective opinions and for that reason everything should be challenged. Management should not be allowed to hide behind untested policies if they want CRO to reach its full potential. CRO is a strategy, not a tactic to solve short-term problems.
10 Top Conversion Rate Optimisation Strategy Mistakes:
There is plenty of advice on Twitter and other social media about conversion rate optimisation strategy. ConversionXL, Widerfunnel, and Hubspot to name but a few. Despite this many organisations continue to make some basic errors that limit their ability to improve sales and revenues from their conversion rate optimisation strategy. Below are nine of the most fundamental mistakes that organisations tend to make with conversion rate optimisation strategy:
1. Don’t fully integrate web analytics tracking and reporting
The saying that if you don’t measure something you can’t identify if you are improving or not, rings true with website optimisation. Unless you have reliable web analytics monitoring and reporting of your KPIs from the beginning to the end of the user journey. You will never really know how your site is performing and what impact tactical changes have on your revenues. You will also struggle to prioritise effectively as you need web analytics to identify the value of each step in the user journey. Conversion optimisation strategy depends upon comprehensive and reliable web analytics to inform decision making.
They are also important to validate test results and check the robustness of uplifts. A/B testing solutions only support certain browsers and devices and need to be configured to ensure they cover all important use cases. What if your test doesn’t include an alternative user journey? Your web analytics can help identify these kinds of problems so that you can fix them.
Although A/B testing can be a useful optimisation technique, it is only one of many activities that an organisation needs to use for an effective conversion rate optimisation strategy. The chart below shows the many activities companies use to improve conversion rates. Companies that have an effective strategy will do all of these and more. Furthermore, they won’t begin A/B testing until they have completed a thorough user experience audit to identify and fix problems with the customer experience.
This kind of measurement can be misleading because conversion rates continuously fluctuate due to many factors. Competitor activity, website bugs, traffic source, advertising spend and the weather are just a few that can cause your conversion rate to change. Because of this you can only be confident that a change to your website is the reason for a significant uplift or decline in conversion by running an A/B or multivariate test.
These kinds of experiments allow you to isolate the impact of the difference in the customer experience by having control. This is achieved by randomly splitting traffic to both experiences and so all other drivers of your conversion rate should influence both variants equally.
4. Don’t A/B Test.
OK, you’ve fixed your user experience problems. What’s next? Provided you have enough traffic and conversions A/B testing allows you to learn from your mistakes and identify what improves conversion. There are many reasons why organisations don’t conduct A/B testing, but the lack of online experiments can hinder your ability to reduce acquisition and retention costs.
A/B testing enables you to remove subjective opinions from decisions about which design or journey is better at meeting the organisation’s objectives. They also help develop an evidence based decision making culture. Which is key to a successful conversion rate optimisation strategy.
5. Only track a single measure of conversion:
It is beneficial to agree a single success metric for your conversion optimisation strategy. This is especially useful for A/B tests as it provides clear direction to everyone creating experiments. But if your success metric is total revenues or sales leads, that doesn’t mean you should ignore other metrics that could suggest a change is counter-productive. For example if you are optimising to increase sales it would be appropriate to also measure average basket value and total revenues to understand how this affects overall profitability. For a conversion rate optimisation strategy to be sustainable it needs to improve long term profitability and not just short-term sales. This means having a long-term vision and suitable metrics to target.
For ecommerce this means monitoring metrics such as average order value, number of items per basket, sales from returning customers and returns. You will then get a better understanding of how the new customer experience influences user behaviour and your bottom line.
A High Bounce Rate
With content marketing a high bounce rate is often seen as an indication of low engagement. But because of the way most web analytics calculate bounce rates and time on page this may not be the case. Google Analytics defines a bounce as a single engagement hit and counts the session time for such a visitor as zero. What if some of those visitors are spending a number of minutes engrossed in a post and then exit your site? Are they not engaged?
To understand true levels of engagement you need to also track how long bounced visitors spend on a page. This can be done by adding some extra script to your GA tag and setting up events in your web analytics. The point here is that no single metric will ever give you the whole story and it is essential to delve deeper into customer behaviour to truly understand the impact of changes you make to your site.
It is also essential to segment metrics as there is no such thing as an average customer. Device, browser, new visitors and returning visitors are all metrics that can significantly influence how your conversion rate performs. It’s important to analyse the conversion rate by these metrics as otherwise you could draw the wrong conclusions.
6. Don’t have a dedicated team for CRO.
Without a dedicated conversion rate optimisation ( CRO) specialist (or a team in larger enterprises), you will not achieve the full potential from optimisation because generalists will struggle to develop the necessary skills or allocate sufficient time to the task. CRO requires specialist skills (e.g. web analytics and heuristic analysis) that take time to acquire and benefit from regular updating.
Developing strong hypothesis for testing is also a time consuming process. As your A/B testing programme matures you may notice that between 50 to 80% of tests will fail to generate a significant uplift in conversion. As a consequence you will need to run more tests to generate a reasonable return on investment (ROI).
Marketing generalists should be able to deliver landing page and other tactical tests, but they are unlikely to have the time or expertise to develop a more strategic optimisation roadmap that is required to achieve the full benefits of CRO. Generalists also often fail to develop strong hypothesis or have the time to build more complex tests as their time horizons may be too short.
Strong Test Ideas
It is essential to have a continuous supply of strong test ideas in your pipeline to achieve the necessary scale of testing required for a good ROI. A centralised CRO team can easily allocate the necessary resource for the development of test ideas and ensure priority is given to websites or pages with the most potential for generating a high ROI. This minimises duplication of effort and facilitates the sharing of test results with all CRO specialists in the organisation.
A fragmented or silos based approach to CRO is prone to failure because of its inefficient use of resources, often resulting in duplication of effort, and a focus on tactical rather than strategic optimisation. A lack of co-ordination and control of CRO also tends to prevent the implementation of a structured approach to optimisation as silo develops its own ad-hoc processes and KPIs. This is generally a recipe for disaster and a reason why CRO will fail to deliver a good ROI.
7. Put junior people in charge of optimisation.
Source: Freeimages.comA/B testing is a form of experimental research and as such should be seen as part of your innovation strategy. It needs to be headed up by a senior person to deal with all the obstacles that prevent change in an organisation. A junior person is unlikely to have the clout to deal with office politics, and almost certainly won’t have the authority to optimise product, sales channels, Customer Services or prioritise development projects.
This is something that few companies get, for website optimisation to achieve its true potential you need to look at the whole customer journey, and optimise all the inputs, not just the new customer sign up to buy process. Look at the companies that excel at optimisation. Organisations like Amazon, Spotify, Skyscanner and Netflix, they all have directors or senior managers in charge of their testing strategy and don’t limit themselves to new customer journeys.
If you you don’t have a senior role in your organisation for conversion rate optimisation consider hiring a conversion rate optimisation consultant. They can review your processes and ensure your conversion rate optimisation strategy is on solid ground.
8. Don’t formulate hypothesis.
When generating ideas for A/B tests it is important to base the experiment on a hypothesis about how and why the change will influence user behaviour. A hypothesis explains the rationale and also predicts the outcome of the test so that you know which success metrics to set for the test. The hypothesis needs to be based upon evidence gathered from an agreed optimisation process rather than pure gut feeling as otherwise you may struggle to learn from successful tests. Without strong hypothesis A/B testing becomes a random and undirected process that will fail to generate the full benefits of CRO.
9. Don’t have a clear strategy for testing.
There is no point relying on low hanging fruit and best practice to direct your A/B testing as these sources will soon run dry and you will lack direction in your testing programme. It’s important that you follow a recognised and structured optimisation process that draws insights from a range of sources, especially from customers.
And yet companies are often more concerned about competitors and copying their ideas than listening to customers. This is a serious mistake and will lead to a sub-optimal testing programme. Customer insight and usability research is vital because to develop strong testing ideas you need to have a good understanding of customer personas, goals, tasks that lead towards goals and how users interact with your website or app.
Otherwise how can you expect to develop hypothesis to predict user behaviour? You could be making assumptions about customers which might not have any basis in reality. The more insights you can get from your customers the greater the chance you have of identifying a significant problem or improvement you can make to improve conversions.
10. Think it’s all about design.
I’ve heard this so many times, but do your visitors really come to your site to look at its design? I don’t think so. People come to your site to complete a task and are rarely interested in your “cool” design. In fact most conversion rate experts agree that all too often ugly wins over beautiful designs.
Just look at Amazon.com and ebay.com, none of them are what anyone would call aesthetically great designs. They are functional, they offer a great deal maybe and most importantly of all they let users do what they want to do without having to think too much. Conversion rate optimisation strategy must focus on the customer first and not the subjective opinions of designers.
Designers may be good at composing a new webpage or app screen, but that doesn’t mean they understand your main customer segments or know what improves conversions or revenues. Conversion optimisation strategy requires a collaborative process and so designers must work closely with CRO experts to deliver new experiences based upon evidence rather than subjective opinions. Otherwise you will end up with new experiences that are based upon design principles rather than CRO insights and there will be limited, if any, learning from the process.
Web analytics tools allow you to track exactly where visitors go on your site, how long they spend on each page and how they interact with your site or app. This allows you to understand more about your potential customers and to measure, analyse and report on your traffic. Web analytics tools answer four key questions:
Who visits your website – in terms of number of visitors and their characteristics?
Where do your visitors come from – the source of traffic?
What do visitors do when they get to your site – which pages do they visit?
Where do they go afterwards – if you have links to other sites (e.g. you are an affiliate)?
This is useful to know so that you can begin to measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns and the performance of your website. Unless you measure something you won’t know if you are getting better or not and what changes to make to improve performance and revenues. This means using web analytics tools to set benchmarks and start monitoring changes over time.
Web analytics tools allow you to measure:
How many visitors land on your site every day?
Your audience and their demographic profile – the gender mix, their age, what are their interests?
What geographic location do your visitors come, such as the city or country?
What proportion of your visitors are new or returning visitors?
Audience behaviour – engagement levels and frequency of returning to your site?
What browsers are they using? Important to know so that you ensure you support old browsers if lots of your visitors are still using them.
Technology – what devices are your visitors using and their screen resolution? Again very useful because you want to optimize your site according to the devices & screen sizes of your visitors.
Landing and exit pages – what are they?
Which is your most popular content – which pages do they visit most? Critical for prioritising effort and A/B testing.
Which channels drive most visitors to your site – organic, direct, referral, paid, social?
Which campaigns generate most visitors to your site?
Referrals – Which domains are generating most visitors for your site.
Keywords used by visitors to find your site.
You can compare website traffic against your key competitors on metrics such as bounce rate, time on site and source of traffic by using a website audience comparison tool. These tools use information collected by ISPs, panels and other sources to track competitor website traffic and demographics.
Using Web Analytics Tools To Set Goals:
This is all interesting information, but what really matters is whether you are achieving your business goals. Web analytics tools allow you to set up your organisational goals to measure performance over time and identify reasons why you may not be achieving them .
One of the main tasks of conversion rate optimisation is to align each individual webpage with the relevant business objective. So for instance if you have an e-commerce site you will want to set up goals that lead towards a sale, such as view a product page, add to basket, enter checkout and finally complete a sale.
For a blog you will be more interested in engagement metrics, such as time spent on site and number of pages viewed. Once you have defined your key metrics you can set up automated reports to monitor your conversion rates and begin to investigate any changes that occur.
Next you need to better understand your visitor behaviour to identify user journeys and whether you can improve goal achievement through making changes to your site. You should monitor bounce rates and page load speed times to ensure any changes you make to your website don’t put visitors off browsing your site.
One of the most useful benefits of web analytics is the ability to look at the visitors’ path to purchase so that you can identify the drop-off rates at each step in the journey. You will be able to see if any particular stage is more problematic than the others so that you can consider what changes might help reduce this leak in the conversion funnel.
You should then begin to investigate whether your conversion rate at each step in the funnel varies across some of the metrics we have just listed. This might highlight that your website is not that user friendly for visitors on small screens or that your site doesn’t render properly in certain browsers. You can then use one of many cross-browser testing tools to view what might be causing the problem.
If your overall conversion rate is significantly lower in Germany than the UK and there is no obvious reason why this is the case you might want to review your copy as German tends to use more characters than English and direct translations can sometimes fail to allow for local cultural differences. A/B tests have shown that cultural differences can influence how visitors respond to a user interface and so ideally web optimisation needs to allow for cultural preferences in design and behaviour.
Source of Traffic:
Web analytics tools can tell you where your traffic is coming from and which channels are converting better than others. If you are paying for traffic this helps you to understand if you are getting a reasonable return on investment. Again, investigate why you see differences in your conversion rate to try and understand if it relates to your website or the nature of the traffic for each channel.
Find Broken Stuff With Web Analytics Tools:
If you see a sudden drop-off in conversion or decline in traffic from a reliable source this may indicate something is broken on your or a referrer’s site. Use your analytics to flag up when and where on your site there may be a problem with your site so that you can prevent it going unnoticed and costing your organisation significant sums in lost business.
With most subscription web analytics you can set up automated reports that will be emailed to you on a daily basis to help you monitor your key metrics. This will save you having to login every day and allow you to monitor site performance even when you are out of the office.
Web Analytics Tools – Recommendation:
I’ve used all the most popular web analytics tools on the market from IBM Core Metrics, Adobe Analytics to Google Analytics. The clear winner for me is the free version of Google Analytics because it’s by far the most intuitive solution, it’s fast, very little delay in reporting and it integrates so easily with other tools. The support in terms of documentation is second to none and there is a wealth of advice on the web as so many professional optimisers user it.
It is difficult to beat Google Analytics if you are on a limited budget. If want a more sophisticated product then Google 360 is worth considering as this has all the benefits of the free version with the advantages of a paid solution.
18 Website Analytics Tools Compared:
Below you will find the 18 most popular web analytic tools, some of which are free, and so there is no excuse not to start measuring your visitors and their behaviour.
Previously Omniture/SiteCatalyst. Adobe Marketing Cloud is one of the most popular of web analytics tools on the market. An enterprise solution with e-commerce sites that you can fully integrate with Adobe’s Test & Target A/B, multivariate testing and personalisation platform.
A comprehensive suite of features, including mobile, ad-hoc analysis, and the ability for real-time and rule-based decision-making tools to target key customer segments.
This positions itself as a behavioural analytics solution as its focus is on tracking events rather than simply visitors. Amplitude offers real-time monitoring of user behaviour and unlimited individual user timelines. Pathfinder, their user flow analysis, allows you to better understand how visitors navigate through your site or app by visualising the aggregate paths that they take.
The behavioural cohorting feature allows you to define a group of users based upon the actions they have or have not taken on your site. You can then apply cohorts throughout your analysis to understand how different behaviours impact specific KPIs such as retention and revenues. The Microscope feature allows you to click on any point in a chart and create a cohort of everyone who did or did not take a certain action to investigate what is driving their behaviour.
Amplitude offers a free plan for sites or apps with up to 10 million monthly events. For organisations with up to 100 million monthly events the Business Plan costs just $995 per month.
This offers a suite of analytical and testing tools for tracking and optimising editorial content and advertising spend. It focuses on helping organisations understand what content captures and holds audience attention and monetize inventory on the page.
Real-time web analytics tool with an extensive range of features including data at an individual visitor level, on-site analytics, heatmaps, up-time monitoring, a flexible API, Twitter analytics, Google search rankings, video analytics and big screen mobile mode. Free for single websites.
An enterprise level web personalisation and analytics platform which is popular with e-commerce websites. Used by many of Germany’s top 100 online retailers. This solution combines high-end technology with an intuitive user interface.
Econda’s Cross Sell combines a recommendation engine with an online sales tool and re-marketing suite. Product recommendations are context-sensitive and all entry pages can be tailored for your visitors.
Formismo is a state of the art form analytics platform to identify how users interact with your forms and checkout fields. The tool tracks every input field so that you can identify which fields users don’t complete, plus when they do and don’t use auto-complete.
Your form or checkout is unlikely to work as well on all browsers, devices or certain languages. Advanced filters allows you to view all reports for a segment of your visitors to identify and remedy cross-browser or other performance issues. A highly recommended tool by many conversion experts.
Gauges is positioned as a low-cost real-time web analytics tool for small to medium sized organisations. It was designed to be a website analytics API and the dashboard that you see on the Gauges front-end is a web client that consumes the API. 7 day Free trial available.
The default option for web analytics tools for many organisations. It’s free and being the most popular web analytics tool there is a constant stream of posts on how to get the best out of Google Analytics. What I love about Google Analytics is that the user interface is intuitive and because it’s from Google it integrates really easily with other Google solutions such as the SEO tool Google Search Console, their A/B testing tool Google Optimize and AdSense.
The tool is also generally fast to generate reports, no waiting around for data to be processed or sent to you via email. It’s a great tool to begin getting into web analytics.
The free version of Google Analytics offers most features that smaller organisations need and implementation is simple and quick. It uses sampled data when you have over one million unique dimension combinations in standard reports, or more than 500,000 for special queries, such as in custom reports.
The new enterprise suite of six applications which aims to directly challenge Adobe’s Marketing Cloud. It combines Google Analtyics Premium (now called Google Analytics 360) and Attribution 360 (previously Adometry) which it acquired in 2014. You will also get access to an enterprise version of Google Tag Manager.
It gives you access to Audience Center 360, a data management platform that integrates with Google’s own tools (including DoubleClick) and will take data from third-party tools. Of particular interest is the addition of Data Studio 360 which offers advanced data visualization and analysis solutions. This is powered by BigQuery – Google’s data analytics platform. This provides a native report building option for Google Analytics 360 with all the features of Google Docs (e.g sharing & multi-user editing).
Finally, Optimize 360 is a brand new A/B testing and personalisation tool which includes a visual editor interface to bring it in line with other leading A/B testing solutions. Optimize is the free version which allow you to run up to 3 A/B tests at any one time.
A real-time web analytics tools that gives you insights and access down to the individual user-level. A modern and intuitive user interface GoSquared offers business and enterprise solutions, together with a Free version for the small entrepreneur.
A unique real-time web analytics tool that doesn’t require any code to be implemented to setup event tracking. The Event Visualizer allows you to define analytics events by performing the action yourself and so anyone in your organisation can set up a conversion funnel or retention report in seconds. You can also search for an individual user to see every action they’ve done or find users based upon a specific behaviour.
Heap Analytics offers an integrated graphics solution to plot changes in key metrics over time. This allows you to adjust the range, granularity and visualisation as you require. The solution integrates easily with most popular data analysis tools and you can run your own SQL queries or export data to tools such as Tableau.
A free plan is available for up to 5,000 sessions a month or up to 50,000 sessions per month if you add their badge to your website. A 14 day free trial is available for the Custom Plan.
An enterprise web analytics tool incorporating near real-time web analytics, data monitoring and comparative benchmarking. The click-stream reports are very powerful and allow you to see how visitors navigate around your site.
You can expand the IBM Digital Analytics solution to include multiple sites, offline customer behaviour, ad relevancy, impression attribution and social media channels.
A highly recommended and powerful web analytics tool and digital marketing optimisation platform. The solution has three key advantages over traditional web analytics tools. It allows for flexible custom data with an easy to use API, it focuses on individual users and it tracks user behaviour on a multi-session basis.
By tracking user behaviour on a multi-session basis, and by aliasing anonymous cookie data with identifying information, (e.g. email address), Kissmetrics doubles as a customer database. You can collect detailed purchase information and analyse how it correlates with your behavioural analytics data. This provides a comprehensive view of an individual’s interactions with your site over time. This make it one of the most unique of the web analytics tools on the market.
The product is highly thought of for identifying holes in the conversion funnel. It allows you to build ad-hoc queries to drill down on very specific segments.
A comprehensive real-time web and conversion analytics tool. The free tool will show you how your Google Analytics stats match up with the industry standard. It offers a range of plans, including an enterprise solution. 30-day free trial available and a 60-day money back guarantee.
This is technically one of the most advanced of the web analytics tools on the market. It is superior to Google Analytics for behavioural tracking and is great for content-focused websites. It is also less relevant for e-commerce sites.
You can create easy funnels on Mixpanel and visualise them in the user interface. It also allows you to segment users based upon source of traffic or other characteristics (e.g. city) and how they interact with your site. The Explore feature enables you to create profiles for individual users which can be very useful for assisting Customer Services in supporting existing users.
Due to the complexity of the solution it requires a dedicated analyst who can manage it on a daily basis to fully understand the tool and ensure it is set up correctly to measure all your key metrics. To fully integrate API tracking within the solution also needs a fair amount of technical knowledge. It also requires frequent integration with your website if it has to measure specific events or you regularly update or release new features.
A self-hosted, open-source Free web analytics platform. Matomo is a comprehensive web analytics tool but unlike many packages, there is no limit to the amount of data you can store for free. It also has a mobile app. Because it is held on your own server you own the data and can integrate easily with your own internal systems.
A fully integrated and powerful enterprise web analytics tool that includes analytics, segmentation, testing, targeting and re-marketing. An excellent tool for tracking user segments, purchase funnels, scenarios, drop-off and bounce rates. The solution integrates with 3rd party data including app stores, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Webtrends analytics offers:
Unlimited data collection
Multi-channel measurement across social, mobile, web and SharePoint
Real-time tracking of customer activity across multiple channels including web, apps and emails. It provides a comprehensive profile for every user, customisable segmentation, funnels, retention and automated driven actions. A Free version is available.
Web analytics tools are critical to get visibility of what content your visitors are engaging with and to better understand visitor behaviour when they land on your site. For start-ups get yourself Google Analytics as this is a free and very comprehensive solution that will meet most needs. Other solutions often provide free trial periods and so if you are looking for more advanced web analytics tools there are plenty to choose from without having to commit to a major investment.
Most websites use a video of real person for their web presenter as this can have more impact than an animated figure, but animation is another option for you to consider.
A website presenter can be an effective way of getting engagement when a visitor first arrives or your site to assist the onboarding process. A website presenter can also help explain up-sell or cross-sell during a key step in a customer journey.
Virgin Holidays achieved a 30% uplift in seat upgrades by using a MWP web presenter, whilst Lettingref.com managed a 9% increase in online sign ups that went onto make a deposit by using
a virtual greeter to introduce and explain their service. Econsultancy on the other hand employed a web presenter to explain their membership plans and increased sign ups by 15%.
Real Human Website Presenter:
Here are some video website greeter companies that I have come across.
1. Bellmedia:Offers high quality video website presenter and video web banners. Cost includes 12-month free video hosting.
2.innovatemedia: Employs actors and actresses to deliver a real human website presenter for your website to improve engagement and increase conversion. Choose from their talent database or from 2 to 3 actors and actresses at each shoot day.
3.Model2web: Allows you to view and select from models on their website to create a virtual spokesperson for your website to improve engagement and sales. Prices start from $79 with no monthly fee, cost is a one off payment, with no hosting fee.
4. Studios1: Delivers video web presenter to engage visitors as they land on your site. Offers over 150 actors and actresses to choose from.
5. Vopres: Real-human video presenters to inspire trust, increase sales and reduce customer service costs. Prices start from £395 for a 60 second video (minimum order of 3 videos).
Animated Video Presenters:
1. SitePal:Displays an animated speaking avatar to greet visitors to your site to improve engagement and reduce bounce rates. 15 day Free trial available. Over 250 stock avatars which can be customized, including using your own uploaded images and have an API for advanced functionality.
2. CodeBaby:Offers a range of customized animated avatar solutions for both self-service and e-learning needs. Self-service includes conversion optimization which uses emotionally intelligent response segments to direct the customer experience towards your business goal. Other solutions include benefits, health and service adviser.
Research by the Nielsen Norman Group indicates that most visitors will take just 10 to 12 seconds to decide whether to exit a webpage if it doesn’t sufficiently engage them. Customer onboarding tools can help reduce anxiety and improve engagement. Users know that websites are of highly variable quality and are ruthlessly looking to abandon the dross as soon as they can. So if there is any room for confusion over what the next step in the user journey might be you can be sure this will adversely affect your conversion rate.
“People know that most web pages are useless, and they behave accordingly to avoid wasting more time than absolutely necessary on bad pages.” – Jakob Nielsen – NNG
Why not try improve the onboarding process by giving visitors assistance with navigation guidance or tutorials? Why leave it to chance that users will understand how to use a new feature or know what the next step in the sign-up process is. Give them some help and improve your conversion rate by using one or more of the following customer onboarding tools.
13 Top Customer Onboarding Tools:
Here are summarises of top customer onboarding tools to guide and educate your new visitors. Reduce your bounce rate and improve engagement by giving your new customers all the help they need in real-time.
A customer onboarding tool that serves tooltip-style messages/action to provide a product tour to ensure visitors understand how to navigate or get the most out of feature. It also offers a full-screen ‘Welcome page’, a slide-out and in-app alert. You can inform your customers of new features using bold messaging with a video, gif or coach marks to engage visitors to try out your new enhancement. In addition, Appcues allows you to segment visitors using intelligent targeting so that you can show the right experience to the appropriate user at the best time to improve conversion.
Pricing: Plans start from $99 a month for up to 1,000 monthly
active users (MAUs) who are defined as visitors who sign-in to your platform in any given month. The ‘Growth’ plan starts from $699 a month for up to 20,000 MAU’s and there is a ‘Custom’ plan for large enterprises which offers unlimited MAU’s.
This is a real-time personalisation platform which offers the ability to record how visitors behave and respond to them to improve engagement and conversion rates. The platform monitors the actions of visitors to identify their intentions and needs. This allows you to send users messages to help promote demos to improve new customer engagement levels.
Pricing: Contact Evergage for a quotation based upon your specific needs.
One of the best free customer on boarding tools as this displays a visible bar that sits at the top of a web page to draw the web visitors’ attention. HelloBar acts as a primary website call-to-action. You can include HelloBar on one page, several pages, or across your entire website.
This is an online customer support tool that allows you to create interactive user guides and onboarding walkthroughs. It aims to create sequential instructions to interactively guide users on your website of app.
Pricing: 15 day free trial available. No costs shown on the website.
Offers the ability to create walkthroughs, tooltips, Launchers and support articles for web applications.
Pricing: The cost of the solution is dependent upon the number of active users you have and the plan you select. For 10,000 active users the Standard plan would cost $208 per month, the Standard Pro would be $307 per month and the Enterprise plan $1,220 per month.
Offers an extensive range of customer onboarding solutions from live chat, targeted email and in-app messages, gathering of customer feedback and providing customer support inside your web or mobile app, and by email. The platform provides real-time analytics of what is happening on your site and allows you to segment visitors to deliver targeted messaging when they return to your site or app (e.g. inform them about a new release or promotion).
Pricing: All single solutions (e.g. Live Chat) start from $49 a month and an additional product can be added from $4 a month.
Thiscustomer onboardingtool monitors and analyses browsing behaviour to serve prominent and relevant messaging to assist user navigation when likely to be most effective on your website. You can set rule-based messaging, including timers, triggers and conditions for your messaging to improve their relevance. Segment messages for specific groups or even individuals based upon rules and visitor activity on your website.
In addition the tool allows you to A/B test messages, text, design and timing to understand what works best. You can also sync across devices to ensure users can continue a user journey from where they left off. Free Net Promoter Score (NPS) also available.
Pricing: A free plan is available for up to 100 users and simple tooltips. The ‘Professional’ plan has a free trial period for you to try out the solution and agree a price with Iridize. The is also an enterprise ‘Customized’ plan for large organisation.
This is tool gives users a virtual tour or your website or app. It is programmed to be cross-browser compatible and Joyride version 2 has many new features. This includes responsive design, edge-aware tooltips that re-position based on proximity to the edge of the window, depreciated inline positioning of tooltips and better support for right and left aligned tooltips.
The company acquired Autosend and offers a messaging app and chat bots to create automated personalised behavioural and transctional communications with customers via email, SMS text or in-app messages.
Pricing: The cost is dependent upon the number of active users you have on your site. For 10,000 active users the cost would be $40 per month.
This solution uses in-app walkthroughs to guide users through the onboarding process and uses analytics to track their progress. Pendo offers in-app walkthroughs to guide users through common tasks and features to drive preferred behaviours. It can personalise the onboarding experience by using data to deliver individually personalised guidance to improve the relevance of the process.
If you are evaluating customer onboarding tools then you definitely should consider Walkme. The platform displays highly visible tabs adjacent to the next recommended navigation call to action. This encourages self-service, accelerates training and software adoption, improves conversion, reduces customer service costs and improve the customer experience. It can also be used to train employees to use online CRM and marketing tools to boost their productivity.
Pricing: A basic free plan overs 3 walk-thrus, up to 5 steps per walk-thru and 300 assists per month. The ‘Custom’ plan offers unlimited walk-thrus and assists, with multiple support options and multiple domains. Contact Walkme for a quote.
This solution allows you to design interactive product tours, onboarding task lists and deliver just-in-time contextual guidance. Whatfix helps users to quickly develop a high level of application competency to improve engagement and conversions. The solution also allows user-level segmentation to create a personalised user onboarding experience.
Pricing: Complete the form on the Whatfix website to get a personalised quote.
New customer onboarding tools can help educate and guide users to improve engagement and reduce bounce rates on landing pages. Customer onboarding tools have been known to significantly improve conversions when implemented appropriately. Whether it’s a website or an app, research has shown that unless users quickly become confident about how to navigate a site they will leave within the first 10 seconds. People are generally impatient and lazy browsers of the web. So, don’t leave anything to chance and see if one of these customer onboarding tools will help solve your new customer engagement problem.
To create a pain free user experience and optimise conversion it is essential to carry out usability testing research. Sure, you can ask a few people around the office to check out your new site, but it is more important to get feedback from ‘real users’ who do not work in e-commerce and are not connected to your business.
Psychology tells us that as we concentrate on a task or project we are prone to see what we expect to see because our visual cortex unconsciously takes the decision to filter out things that it regards as less important to achieving a task. This is why we often miss the most obvious mistakes if we proof read our own work. Usability testing removes this filter as it does not rely on our own opinions.
We also get too close to our pet projects and as a result we overvalue the things we create, (see the IKEA effect). As a result we are not the best people to evaluate websites that we helped to create. Anyone connected to your business may also suffer from some of the same cognitive biases or may just not want to hurt your feelings. Usability testing avoids these biases by getting the views of ‘real users’, that is people not connected with your organisation.
Usability testing is not about proving or disproving something works or not. It is about informing decisions and giving you insights into how users interact with your website. If you need a definitive answer then you really should be conducting an A/B test. As I pointed out in another post on whether usability research is reflecting real behaviour all research is subject to bias and limitations.
People for instance change their behaviour when they are aware they are being observed. This can be a particular problem for usability testing which is conducted offline. However, it is possible to build procedures into usability testing to minimise this problem. For example you can get the user to complete a few fake tasks to disguise the real test experience.
When Should You test?
The earlier you do some usability testing the better as this will allow you to respond to user feedback at each step in the development and design process. Wire frames, prototypes or even drawings can be tested to give you useful feedback before you move onto finished designs.
Don’t use focus groups as usability research needs to deal with one user at a time. Otherwise people can get distracted by what other people are doing and you also need to give them your full attention. It is important that you observe and listen to users and avoid asking questions as people will over-think their behaviour if asked to explain it.
However, there are also some affordable online services available, some of which are free. The benefit here is that they can manage all the admin and recruitment for you, plus conduct the usability testing and if required do the analysis. All you have to do is agree the brief. I would still recommend you get videos of your usability tests as you will often learn more from watching people browse your site than from reading a report. A video brings it to life in a way a report cannot.
One other advantage is that such suppliers offer a range of solutions including remote automated usability testing, card sorting for developing your navigation, tree testing to evaluate how easy it is find content on a site and eye-tracking to identify where on page attention is drawn to. Such suppliers can also use their expertise to advise you on how to best design a usability test study.
Who Should You Recruit?
Some usability test solutions, such as Hotjar, offer you the ability to serve pop-ups on your site to recruit your own visitors to complete specific tasks. You can then share screens using Skype or other web meeting tools to observe how successful they are at achieving the set task. Alternatively many suppliers offer the option to recruit testers who match your user demographics.
Don’t get too obsessed though with matching your target audience as usability testing is about understanding how people in general interact with your site. Setting very strict recruitment criteria will just increases the cost and time needed to conduct the testing without adding much value to the outcome.
Online usability testing with your first project free (up to 5 tasks and 2 questions). Covers over 40 languages, provides heatmaps and clickstream analysis, real-time reporting, and you can test on mobile devices.
Pricing: A Free usability test is available for new customers. Pay as you go costs $350 per project. All plans include 1,000 participants per project, unlimited tasks and questions, testing on mobile, real-time results and 24/7 email support.
The Micro plan costs $158 a month and is designed for organisations with between 1 and 10 employees, plus for non-profits and public sector clients. The SMB plan costs $410 per month and is for 11 to 100 employees. The Enterprise plan is priced at $825 per month.
Remote usability testing which provides videos of visitors undertaking set tasks on your website. You also get written answers to questions you set. Get your first test for Free – normally costs $35.
Pricing: The Personal plan charges $35 per test credit. A desktop test requires 1 credit, whilst a mobile test costs 2 credits. Includes up to 20 minutes of video and audio feedback, written responses to custom survey questions and the ability to analyse your results with tagged, time stamped annotations.
The Team plan costs $299 per month. This gives you 10 credits per month, testing with your own users for one month, multi-user login, collaborative video annotation, crowd sourced key insights with the UXCrowd, UX diagnostics and the ability to download your video results and test data.
The Enterprise plan is not priced on the website. However, this
includes 100 test credits per month, unlimited testing with your own users, extended 30-minute length for test results and one-click report generation integrated with video playback.
UsabilityHub have a great selection of simple but effective usability testing solutions. You can obtain first impressions of your mock-ups and designs, see where visitors want to click or discover how easy visitors find it to navigate your website.
Simply upload an image, and select the type of test you’d like to run.
Question Test – allows you to conduct fast surveys by uploading an image and asking users questions about the design.
You can then decide how many people you want to be in the test or even recruit your own testers. UsabilityHub then create a report showing a detailed breakdown of the interactions each tester had with your design.
Pricing: Responses from testers you recruit are free. Testers recruited by UsabilityHub cost 1 credit each and responses from testers of specific demographics cost 3 credits each.
The Free Community plan allows you to create unlimited tests, with responses from your own users being free and buy responses from UsabilityHub from $1 each.
The UsabilityHub Pro plan costs $99 a month and allows you to buy responses at 50% off all credit purchases, starting at just 50 cents per response. Create unlimited tests, customize the test experience with messaging and redirection after the test, use a single link for multiple tests in a row and target particular demographics.
Established over 25 years ago Usability Sciences offers a full managed service for usability testing, offering a comprehensive range of solutions including card sorting, rapid iterative testing, mobile & tablet user testing and eye-tracking research.
Watch videos of real users talking about what they think as they use your website. UserBob recruits people to visit your website. Set a scenario for the user and specify a task for them to attempt to complete. The user then goes to your website and tries to complete your task. During their visit they record their screen and voice as they think out loud about the experience. You then receive a copy of the video to learn about what users say about your site.
You decide how many users you need, what demographics match your visitors, and how long each one should spend on your website. The test is instantly made available for users to participate and you will normally have a video to review within a few hours.
Pricing: Start at just $10 for First Impressions where 10 users will spend one minute each on your website. Users will discuss their first impressions of your website, who they think it is for and what you can do on the site. Task Completion costs $20 for 5 users who spend 4 minutes attempting to complete your task. The price of the Custom test is variable. This involves between 1 to 10 users each spending up to 8 minutes with a specific scenario and user task to complete. You may also specify user demographics for Custom tests.
Get 5 to 15 minute videos of users recording their experience on your site and identify where the pain points are. Hear what users are thinking on their personal devices and in their natural environment.
Omni-channel usability testing solution. Will supply user testers from their panel or recruit to your specific demographic requirements. Alternatively you can recruit participants using a customisable invitation widget, by posting a link on blogs, websites, twitter, by using TaskRabbit, Mechanical Turk, Craiglist or by using a third party panel provider.
Userlytics allows you to test prototypes, videos, mobile apps, display ads, search and social behaviour, desktop and web applications, smart-phones and tablets and websites.
Pricing: Starts from $49 per user tester and depends upon the testing features you require, whether you need respondents recruiting, demographic needs, session length and reporting requirements.
Get videos in an hour of real people speaking their thoughts as they use your website, apps, prototypes and more.Do it yourself or access User Testing’s on-demand panel of over one million users to find an exact match of your target audience.
You can either select your users and write your own tasks or use the expect research team to complete such tasks as creating and managing tests, long term research road-mapping, moderating tests, annotating videos, analysing videos to identify key findings and creating research presentations.
Pricing: Basic plan starts at $49 per video for the first 10 videos, and then rises to $99 per video. This will provide you with video and audio of your site or app across a full range of devices, 15 minute maximum video length and a storage limit of 25 videos.
The Pro plan offers a Free trial and quote on request. This allows for a maximum video length of 60 minutes, unlimited video storage, screening and video demographic filters, moderated usability testing, competitive benchmarking, user testing with your own customers, highlight reels, customer experience customer experience analytics and for the research team to summarise key findings.
Finally, UserZoom is an all-in-one SasS customer and usability testing research and analytical solution. They provide a suite of services including recruiting participants for user tests, and research software for mobile and desktop devices, voice of the customer studies, remote usability testing, UX design tools (e.g. card sorting & tree testing) and an online survey tool. In addition they provide support services from defining a study to analysing the data for you.
Pricing: Annual software subscription starts at £19,000 per year. All quotes are customised according your individual requirements and dependent upon the number of user accounts and use of premium features (e.g. UserZoom Recorder and mobile testing capabilities).
Live chat can help improve visitor engagement, reduce bounce rates and cut operational costs by offering real-time interaction with customers whilst they are on your website. Why wait until visitors have left your site to try and contact them? This is a key tool for conversion rate optimisation and helps to improve your conversion rate in real-time.
Live Chat is the ideal solution for dealing with a number of issues with your website. There are six main benefits of integrating live chat on your site:
Benefits of Live Chat:
Pain points –
When a customer has a frustration or an unmet need, live chat can help resolve these ‘pain points’ by giving them instant access to a company representative. Web forms are common pain point for many visitors. By adding live chat to forms you can often significantly improve your conversion rate.
Increased sales –
Live chat is a proven tool for increasing sales because if a customer becomes confused or unsure about something they can be walked through the process. This helps reduce visitors dropping out of key revenue generating customer journeys and puts the company representative in a good position to recommend additional products.
It gives you a competitive advantage –
Many websites don’t offer live chat on their websites or only for a limited number of customers (e.g. registered customers). Given the benefits to your customers and your organisation you will be able to leverage it as a competitive advantage. Ensure it is available for new customers, whether on your sign-up form or on your homepage. They often need more assistance than existing customers.
It’s convenient and reassures customers –
A live chat system provides immediate access to help for customers who may be struggling to find what they are looking for on your website. The presence of live chat also provides reassurance to visitors that they will be able to contact someone easily and conveniently if they do get into difficulties on your website.
It reduces expenses –
Live chat can save on staff time and phone expenses by lowering average interaction costs and improve contact centre efficiency by enabling employees to handle multiple chats. As staff spend less time on the phone because customers can use live chat to contact Customer Services this means that contact centre operators can multi-task during chat conversations and reduce the waiting queue significantly compared to a traditional call centre.
Live chat allows you to gather feedback about your website –
Having the ability to communicate directly with visitors whilst they are browsing your website gives you the opportunity to gather feedback on your website and generate ideas for improving the user experience and revenues.
These services can lead to a significant uplift in revenues to provide a substantial return on investment. Here is a link to a great infographic that summarises many of the benefits of live chat.
All the providers listed below offer free trial periods and so you can test them out without making any financial commitment.
An enterprise chat software that offers innovative features including an automated, tiered chat routing that manages chats between agents and has extensive monitoring and reporting capabilities.
The open API allows surveys, chat windows and promotional pop-ups to be extensively customised. It allows agents to assist visitors to fill out forms, complete purchases in the shopping cart and access technical support. The dashboard also allows agents to see the customer’s referring webpage, keywords they used, their geographical location and their chat history. Free demo.
A fully customisable live-chat facility that offers a comprehensive range of features including extensive real-time monitoring, 1 or 2 way video chat, offer demonstrations, ask for feedback or gather leads, and design multiple fully configurable forms. Dashboard allows agents to view how visitor’s arrived at website, their location and much more. Offers full integration with CRM systems, social media platforms and Google Analytics. 21 dayFree trial.
A relatively new live chat solution that also offers light CRM functionality to proactively target customer segments according to their online behaviour. The chat button is customisable, with email alerts to keep you up-to-date with activity and you can even respond to messages when offline as Crowdstream will email you any messages whilst you are away.
The solution allows you to create smart segments with triggers based upon customer behaviour and you can also broadcast messages in a non-intrusive way to all visitors or just to specific customer segments.
The Starter plan (up to 2,000 profiles) is available for just £35 per month, whilst the Growth plan (up to 5,000 profiles) costs £75 per month. A Business plan (up to 25,000 profiles) is also available for £195 per month. All plans include a 14 day Free trial.
Offers an enterprise fully customisable live-chat facility including real-time monitoring, allowing chat windows and promotional pop-ups to be extensively tailored. Comprehensive dashboards at campaign-level for understanding how engagement is affecting your KPIs and operational level for how your agents are performing. 30 dayFree trial.
The UK’s leading small business telephone answering service provider also offers a live chat solution. It offers a 24 hour service and will email key chats directly to you so that you don’t miss out on any urgent business opportunities.
Enterprise and small business live chat software which is fully customisable allowing chat windows to be tailored to your business needs. Extensive dashboard enables behaviour of visitors to be tracked and monitored to improve engagement. The missed chat report allows you to view a list of all the times a chat request was made and how an agent responded to the request. Monitor agent login activity using an agent login report which tracks when agents are working, on a break or actively chatting. Has a Free trial offer.
Provides a suite of plans from 1 user to enterprise. Provides intelligent targeting for a personalized experience. Dynamically invite visitors with a personalized message based on their predicted requirements. Allows you to create rules and triggers – based on visitor behaviour – with specific actions allowing you to segment visitors into categories such as geographic location and repeat visitors. A 30 day free trial .
Offers a unique chat design along with a wide range of contact options to help build customer engagement. Zopim’s services also give you analytical tools for understanding your customers’ needs and making better business decisions. The chat window customisation options are limited to changing your window to match company brand colours.
Live chat solutions offer a win-win situation. Free trails give you the opportunity to work out which one works best for you and customers get a simple and instant means of contacting you when they need your help. That is not to say you don’t have to put the policies and procedures in place to manage live chat. However, live chat does give you an opportunity to engage with customers when it most matters and encourages a two-way conversation so that both parties benefit.
Usability research is essential for checking whether a site or app is intuitive and easy to navigate to create a great customer experience. It helps inform our decisions about the choice architecture. Remote usability research solutions or face-to-face user interviews identify the main usability problems. Do these methods of research reflect real behaviour?
How many usability research proposals acknowledge that the process of undertaking usability research can influence the behaviour we observe? We may have taken users out their natural environment and set them objectives that lead them to behave in a certain way.
Asking respondents direct questions is especially problematic as people over-think issues. They switch to their slow, rational brain when encountering a mentally demanding task. Unfortunately most of the time when we are browsing a website we rely on our fast, intuitive, unconscious brain to make decisions without really engaging our conscious thought process. The implication here is that we cannot even access the rationale behind much of our behaviour when interacting with a website.
Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, fast and slow
“People don’t have reliable insight into their mental processes, so there is no point asking them what they want”.
Avoid taking people away from their natural environment if at all possible. Certainly don’t use focus groups as this is about far away of a normal browsing behaviour as you can get. How often do you search the web with a group of people you have never met and discuss your likes and dislikes of the site?
This is why remote user testing methods have an advantage over some face-to-face methods. Participants can be in their normal environment, with their normal distractions and so their behaviour is less likely to be influenced by the testing process. Don’t get me wrong, there will still be some bias as a result of the testing method. But it may be substantially less than techniques which take the user out of their normal browsing environment.
Observe and listen rather than ask:
You will get more meaningful insights from simply observing and listening to your users during a usability test as past behaviour is a more reliable indicator of future behaviour. Try to avoid verbal interventions as much as possible. People don’t like to admit when they do something wrong and you are likely to influence how they then behave in any future tasks. If you do want some verbal feedback, just ask your testers to say what they are doing as they go through the task.
But always keep in the back of your mind that usability testing is about informing your judgement, and not to prove or disprove someone’s opinions. It is also an iterative process that should begin early on in the development of a design.
Most of our daily choices are made by our fast, intuitive brain which means we don’t have time to rationalise why we are making those decisions. New implicit research techniques such as functional MRI, EEG, biometrics, eye tracking, facial decoding and implicit reaction time studies (IRTs) are allowing marketers to access the sub-conscious part of the brain to better understand how we respond to communications and designs.
Eye tracking research helps identify which specific elements of a page or message attract our attention, but also the communication hierarchy of messages. Heatmaps allows us to display this data to reveal the proportion of visitors who noticed each of the key elements on a page. Plus the frequency and duration of gaze on each element.
Click and mouse movement heatmaps from visual analytics solutions such as Hotjar and Decibel Insights can provide similar insights for existing pages. For true eye tracking research though solutions from Affectiva and Sticky allow for you to evaluate both new and existing web page designs.
In the final analysis the only way you will know if a change identified through usability research improved agreed success metrics is to conduct an online experiment in the form a A/B test. It is only when visitors are acting on their own impulses and with their own money that you will see how they behave.
Prioritise the insights you get from usability testing to decide which are worthy of A/B testing. A/B testing will give you the evidence to show exactly how much difference your usability testing has had on your conversion success metrics.
Pictures are important for websites because studies indicate that a relevant image improves engagement and views of a page. Images grab our attention and can trigger emotions much more quickly than text. Our brains process images almost instantly, but it takes much longer to read copy. But do you need worry about image optimisation?
Serving images has a cost as it increases the weight of a page and consequentially the page often takes longer to load. According to the latest HTTP Archive Report which collects technical data from half a million of the web’s most popular websites, the average page now weighs 2,262 KB, up by 16% during 2015. The average webpage has grown by 221% since 2010 and well over half (64%)
of the weight (1,443 KB) is comprised of images.
To keep pages to a manageable weight it is important that images
are optimised to avoid slow load speed which can be damaging to conversion. Google penalises sites with slow load speeds and visitors are more likely to abandon a site the longer it takes to load. Image optimisation directly influences SEO and conversion.
Research by Akamai and Gomez.com discovered that almost a half of users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less, and many will leave a site if it hasn’t loaded within 3 seconds. Etsy found that 160KB of additional images resulted in a 12% increase in the bounce rate on mobile devices.
To help alleviate these problems here are 14 resources, many of which are free, for image optimisation.
A Free online image optimisation tool that supports GIF, JPG, and PNG. Upload an image up to 9MB, select compression level, and view.2. FILEminimizer Pictures
Offers Free software to reduce the size of your images, photos and pictures by up to 95%. Compress your JPG, BMP, GIF, TIFF, PNG, and EMF images and pictures. Compress whole digital photo albums at once. Choose from four different compression levels. FILEminimizer also comes in a premium suite that integrates with Microsoft Office, Microsoft Outlook, and Lotus Notes.3. FileOptimizer
A Free lossless file image optimisation tool for Windows that supports over 100 different formats. FileOptimizer has a simple interface that’s easy to automate. All processed files are copied to the recycle bin, so you can easily restore them. FileOptimizer is an open source application.4. ImageOptim
This is aFree application for Mac that optimizes PNG, JPG, and GIF images. To do so, ImageOptim integrates a batch of tools, including PNGOUT, Pngcrush, Zopfli, JpegOptim, and Gifsicle. ImageOptim finds best compression parameters and removes unnecessary comments and colour profiles.
A Free tool that’s available online or as a download. Change image dimensions, quality, or file size. Choose an image or compress images in bulk.6. JPEGMini
A image optimisation and compression application that reduces (up to 80 percent) the size of photographs, while preserving their full resolution and quality. JPEGmini Pro supports photos up to 50 megapixels and includes a plugin for Adobe Lightroom. Lite is Free. 7. Kraken.io
Designed with the purpose of being a single, easy-to-use tool to optimise images. Offers multiple methods for resizing and cropping images, lossless and lossy options, and has a WordPress plugin. You can store optimised images directly in Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure, and Rackspace Cloud Files.8. PNGOUTWin
An application for Windows that uses its own proprietary algorithms for image optimisation and compression. Convert and compress to PNG from TIFF, GIF, BMP, and other formats, or optimize your existing PNG files. Compress one or more files, and drag and drop multiple files on the main window.9. PNGGauntlet
A Free PNG shrinking application for Windows. It combines PNGOUT, OptiPNG, and DeflOpt to create the small lossless PNGs. PNGGauntlet converts JPG, GIF, TIFF, and BMP files to PNG.10. PNGOptimizer
A Free small Windows program that cleans and reduces PNG files. It also converts other lossless image formats (BMP, GIF, and TGA) into PNG. PNGOptimizer has a simple drag-and-drop interface and creates easily available PNG screenshots.11. PunyPNG
AFree online tool that supports JPG, GIF and PNG. Compress up to 20 files, with a max of 500KB each. The Pro plan offers higher compression and optional “lossy” (e.g. slight quality reductions) optimizations, with a 1MB max file size for 5,000 images per month.
(Radical Image Optimization Tool) is aFree image optimisation programme for Windows to visually adjust compression parameters while retaining minimum file size. Compare the original image next to the optimised image in real-time and instantly see the new file size. Its features include batch support for multiple files, image adjustment tool, and colour reduction.13. TinyPNG
A Free online tool that provides lossy compression to reduce the file size of your PNG files. By selectively decreasing the number of colours in the image, fewer bytes are required to store the data. TinyPNG also offers a plugin for Photoshop, for Windows and Mac.
This is a Free cross-platform tool image optimisation for PNG and JPG files. Trimage uses OptiPNG, Pngcrush, AdvanceCOMP, and Jpegoptim, depending on the file type. All images are compressed on the highest available lossless-compression levels. Available for Linux and other Unix systems.