Web Analytics and Customer Behavior

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One of the challenges of using Web analytics techniques to improve a site's performance is that Web analytics can only measure what's there - not what's missing.

In working with two new clients I found that the most of their key indicators in Google Analytics were fine, but revenue was below their potential.

Both sites needed to make adjustments that put their Web sites on the path that consumers normally follow when making purchases. Some or these changes dealt with what customers do before going on the Web to make a purchase. Other changes dealt with matching products to customer personalities.

Joshua Porter, a user interface designer for social Web applications, pointed out that consumers frequently use off-site techniques to make purchase decisions:

For example, we did a huge user testing study where we tested over a dozen e-commerce web sites. We had 70 or so people actually buy products from these web sites and part of our research was to find out how they made purchasing decisions. In more cases than I can count people said things like “Well, I knew I wanted a digital camera but I didn’t know what kind. My friend really likes Canon cameras and recommended them to me”. People who don’t know something rely on their social network to find it out.
This is a piece of the marketing puzzle that no Web analytics system could measure. It takes combining an understanding of how customers make purchase decisions with the Web experience you provide to create a compelling reason to buy from you.

This requires constantly testing ways to help customers evaluate and purchase your products and measuring the performance of each part of your customer experience.

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