How to understand user behavior to improve your website conversion rate
Published on January 29, 2020 Last modified on May 16, 2022
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
There’s a reason why mind reading is a superpower almost anyone would like to have.
In marketing (or in any aspect of a business, really), “understanding your customer” is an important key—to getting more sales, more leads, more signups, or any other business and conversion goals that you have.
How easier would that be if you can know exactly what your target customer is thinking?
While that’s sadly not possible, here’s the next best thing instead: user behavior data gathered through web analytics tools that help you understand how your customers engage with your website or webshop.
Whether you’re launching a newly developed site or looking for ways to improve conversions on your existing one, this lets you get an idea of what your users think (about your website, at least) and make smarter decisions powered by that insight.
There are four common ways to gather user behavior data: A/B or split testing, heatmapping, session recording and feedback surveys.
In this series, we’ll be dedicating separate articles for each of these methods, but you can often find them offered together in many analytics tools available in the market.
Here are some of the most popular ones that you can check out:
1. Crazy Egg – This tool provides visual reports like heatmaps and scrollmaps (more on these later) generated from aggregate data on your website visitors’ behavior.
It also records browsing sessions and lets you set up A/B tests ranging from text and color variants to re-arranged page layouts.
Crazy Egg offers a one-month free trial, then paid subscriptions that start at $29 per month (as of January 2020).
2. Hotjar – Hotjar also offers heatmaps and session recordings like Crazy Egg, but not the ability to run A/B tests.
However, this tool offers other interesting features that you can take advantage of—funnels, where you can track the pages your users visit on the path to conversion and identify where drop offs happen; and polls or surveys, where you can get direct feedback from your visitors right on the page they’re browsing.
Hotjar has a “free forever” limited plan that offers enough insights for small businesses; for premium options, subscription starts at $29 per month (as of January 2020).
3. Visual Web Optimizer (VWO) – VWO offers a complete suite of solutions for user behavior tracking, including heatmaps, session recordings, on-page surveys, and A/B testing.
You can choose among their three stacks—testing, insights, and engage—depending on your primary goal for your website, but you can also opt for all three and get the fullstack solution.
VWO is the most expensive tool in this list, with the cheapest plan at $99 per month for the engage stack, and $1999 per month for fullstack (as of January 2020).
Some notes on user behavior analytics
Learning about user behavior opens up endless possibilities for you to continuously improve your products or services and better connect with your users.
As you collect data and perform tests, keep in mind the following:
1. Make sure that you have a significant amount of data before you act on anything.
Replaying one session recording and getting a new insight from that specific visitor is not enough to make a definite change in your website.
Make sure that the data you’re looking at is actually significant—of course, a significant amount varies from business to business. (You can compare it with your monthly traffic or average number of conversions for reference.)
But take care that you don’t get too excited with implementing changes based only on a small sample of your visitors.
2. Pay attention to your converters as well.
In gathering user behavior data, most tend to focus too much on the users who don’t end up converting.
While it’s important to zoom in on these users to identify problem areas, don’t forget to take a look at users who successfully converted as well.
As much as non-converters can tell you a lot about what doesn’t work on your website, your converters can also shed some light on what definitely does.
Replaying their session recordings, setting up a feedback survey after they make a purchase or submit a contact form, looking at where they clicked on a heatmap—all these can give you an insight into which parts of your page you can capitalize on or replicate throughout the rest of your website.
In the next articles, you’ll learn about the common methods that you can try for yourself to track and analyze user behavior in your website.
Most examples will be taken from Crazy Egg and Hotjar, but you can find plenty of other alternatives if these don’t quite fit your needs.
Keep in mind that these methods are just that: a way for you to gain more understanding of your users, but ultimately, none of these can give you definite answers on how you can improve your website—this will come as you collect more user insights and continuously test and learn from your data.