If you own an online business of some sort, you must already know that it takes a village to attract enough people to generate profit. Customers are fickle and sometimes, their acting is downright puzzling. But there are ways to make sense of it. And to use it for your own benefit.

We spend a major portion of our lives online. It would only make sense for us to know everything about the virtual life already. But we don’t. We still struggle to understand why customers leave briefly before checking out and paying, why they navigate our websites the way they do, or why they do not respond to our ads at all. 

Collect information

Well, the first thing you can do to change that is to get to know them. Intimately and thoroughly. Technology will help you, as always. You have limited options (can’t sit them down for a coffee and a friendly chat), but still, your hands are not completely tied. 

You, as the owner/administrator of a website, can look deep into the patterns of those who visit it. Every piece of information is valuable. Map your visitor’s search requests, track their behavior on your website (what do they click on, how long they stay on different websites, whether they have a repetitive pattern, etc.). 

Check out what kind of people visit your website. Are they unique visitors, new visitors, and what is their ratio? Do people come back once they’ve bought something? How do they get to your website? (social media, search engine, link, etc.) Where do they come from (geographically)? Do they share your website on their social media? What device do they use? 

Data analytics will be discussed at Outreach. Download agenda now to learn more. It's fast and simple:

Google Analytics is great for a start. If you decide to go further, you might want to try things like mouse tracking. Or a good old survey, if you trust a sufficient amount of people to actually take part on it.

But whatever you do, make sure that once you get the input (incoming traffic) you came here for, you actually change the stimulus to an output (conversions) as well. It’s the only way to achieve a better ROI (return of investments). 

Understand your customers

In short, the whole process of navigating your website from the initial click to the purchase of your product is called a funnel. It encompasses every little thing the customer does between coming and leaving. The funnel consists of 5 levels. At first glance, it’s rather discouraging, but don’t lose hope just yet. 

The levels (numbers in the brackets are the examples):

  1. Awareness (100.000 people see your ad)
  2. Interest (1.000 click on it)
  3. Desire (10 add your product to their shopping carts)
  4. Intent (6 hit the ‘buy’ button)
  5. Purchase (1 goes through with the purchase)

To increase your conversion rate you must understand how customers behave on each level of the funnel. To do that you must go through the same journey by asking yourself the right questions. 

Only a miniscule fraction of those who see your ad will actually buy your product. So what is it that makes them stop along the way? Obviously, if the first three steps fail (they don’t click on your ad at all, or they don’t add your product to their carts), then it didn’t speak to them. 

To increase these numbers, revise your advertising strategy, try a new advertising method, or a new advertising spot. (It’s unlikely that you’ll revise a whole product.) This is a key step. Why haven’t the other 90.000 chosen to visit your site? And how do you get them to do it? 

But why do they change their minds once it’s already in their virtual bags? Why do they click on ‘buy’, but then never actually buy it? Is your website really as seamless as you think? Are your payment methods accessible? Perhaps consider altering something about them, if this pattern recurs constantly.

Test it

Keep in mind, however, that clients don’t tend to like dramatic changes. If you do change something, test it first. Use tools like Google Analytics Experiments.  

If you’re using social media--which you hopefully are--then that’s even better. Not only is it another site for you to track, it’s also a great way to find direct feedback. People leave it in the comments section of your posts, or they mention you in their own posts.  You don’t only want to know everything people are telling you about your product (direct feedback), you also want to know what they’re telling one another. Social media are also a great place to advertise your product. 

Or you might be the e-mail-reliant marketer. In that case, analyze what your customers do with their subscriptions. E-mail subscriptions have an amazing potential if used well. Look at the opening rates, deleting rates, and unsubscribing rates. What do people react to well? Do it again. What makes them get fed up with you? Avoid that. 

Once you know your audience--which usually takes a while of time and resources--you can target them much better. Define your target group by their age, gender, land of origin, or even hobbies, and then cater to those features.

Employ influencer marketing (known people are the most reliable sources of recommendations for customers), behavioral advertising, and most of all, make sure that you are always up to date with the identity and preferences of your customers. Only then can you pull their heartstrings in a way that will generate a profit. 

We will dedicate the whole session to the Data analysis on the first day of the Outreach 2016 conference. You will hear about marketing automation, how to predict your customers’ behavior, SEO success enabler and much more.

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