The customer journey on a site is one of the most intrinsic aspects of understanding why people take action. Marketers are always looking to conceptualize the path to purchase for their audience. Where is the evidence of why interest was lost at a particular stage? If you can locate those points before the site is live, changes can be made to optimize the experience for those who visit.
In doing so, it’s important to know that to walk a path takes multiple steps. There are a handful of stages when clicking through, from the “Who We Are” landing page to “Checkout,” that can alter decisions. It’s a complex environment to test out but one that holds value and will pay dividends before A/B testing.
Businesses need to zero in on the way visitors flow through these pages on their site, and what gets in the way of a successful visit. Perhaps they’ll find there’s somewhere in that flow, or sequence, that is causing visitors to drop off. Knowing what a person sees on the first page can show the impact of why they do what they do later on page three. Analyzing that flow as a whole as well as on a page by page basis can reveal what’s missing or not effective in getting the visitor to convert.
The Four W’s
While marketers have their choice of hundreds of tools to measure the performance of websites, ads, social media, and other touchpoints, they rarely understand the “why” behind their audiences’ decisions. Those emotional pivots visitors take after viewing certain pages are vital in understanding a site’s pain points.
Getting a comprehensive look at the 4 “W’s” will better the customer journey before taking the site live. Ask yourself when, where, and what on your site is resonating with visitors, and why are users failing to engage?
It’s not just why they visited the sign-up page, but why they bounced off. It’s easy to tell who dropped off on what page. Why they bounced and whether or not it was that page or something they didn’t see across all the pages is where the true answer lies. Perhaps they bounce on the sign-up page, but you really lost them on the product page because they couldn’t find what they were looking for.
There is so much more specificity to the problems of a visit. Uncover what the reason was on why their intent changed. If you can emotionally connect your customer’s web-relationship to the mapping points of their digital journey, you can locate the story behind the story through a more granular lens and understand the intent.
How to Achieve Visitor “Path to Purchase” Insight
The journey is everything in a marketer’s world. The conversion funnel typically starts at the Ad (awareness) level, but it has multiple touchpoints to get to a conversion stage. How can you set them up for success to stay awhile and make moves after you’ve lured them on your landing page?
Of course, it becomes beneficial to understand people are in different stages of their decision process when they arrive at your site. Knowing where they are in their process— from just checking it out, to doing research, to making the decision and acting— can expose their thought process.
Most digital marketers know the common high-value path of their website, and the statistics about that path. However, they don’t know why visitors fail to make it through. Ideally, you could pick the experience you want to optimize and test it with enough people so that it’s not just anecdotal. It’s not useful to get information from only a few visitors. Having a large population with statistically meaningful demographics helps to more realistically gather the heuristic evidence needed.
Visitors come in, look at the homepage, navigate elsewhere, then decide what they’re going to do. Currently, there is lots of data on what consumers do, yet there’s no way to evaluate why and what would make them do it differently. Businesses are desirous of understanding what on that set of pages works for visitors to see it through to the end, or what info is missing, frustrating, or confusing them.
Understanding the “mindset” of visitors on each page in their journey, AND their overall experience is the only way to optimize that experience.
If you’re Pampers targeting new moms, what’s the flow that you want them to take and how can you enhance that to keep them on the path to purchase?
How do you understand what turns them off or engages them to chart a course? How do you know when and what switches them to Amazon to hit purchase?
When evaluating the customer experience on your site, you pinpoint what people expect to find on that visit. If you’re coming to a website to check out that particular college, what are the things you need to see on those pages to make you comfortable taking the next step (signing up for more information or applying)?
Levering this type of data collection by better categorizing and better interpreting turns it into actionable pieces of feedback so your business is equipped with restored building blocks for doing the work that you do best.
The tools that marketers have are mainly focused on what visitors do (behavior). A few are focused on the why, but those tend to be small and not predictive (e.g. user testing tools, interviews etc). Making the purchase, signing up for the newsletter, or creating a username is ultimately generated from a sequence of clicks or behaviors leading visitors from one page to another. Maybe companies might know when and where people drop out, but not the emotional connection of why.
On top of that, they can only theorize what would make it better. Having a solution that helps to diagnose that multi-step digital experience will greatly help to uncover where those flows are failing and why. Pre-live optimization helps marketers answer the many crucial questions that ultimately improve the online customer experience, supports the eventual A/B testing, and generates real results for their organization.
The future holds one thing for sure. Customer journeys and user flows are going to become even more important in terms of internal testing. It’s going to be a driving force to optimizing those happy paths.