Stop Obsessing Over Your Conversion Rate

In this piece for RetailTechNews, Matthew Robinson, head of marketing, UK, ContentSquare, explains that too many e-commerce teams are missing the point, focusing on driving short-term uplifts in conversion, and not delivering real change by improving the user experience. There’s one simple truth that many e-commerce teams are missing: permanent uplift in conversion is a byproduct of improving the user experience.

This begs the question: what is a good UX worth? Well, a study by Momentum Design Lab in 2014 found a good user experience is estimated to add between USD$500m-1.4bn (£384.4m-1.08bn) to the earnings of industries like retail and insurance.

Conversely, research by UX School found that bad UX was costing e-commerce businesses nearly USD$1.5tn (£1.15tn) globally.

The problem

Uplifts in conversion are an easy success story for stakeholder meetings, yes. But the fact is, they aren’t always an indicator of real improvement. Achieving steady, incremental results is almost always the result of an in-depth understand of how visitors interact with the website.

In other words, in order to optimise effectively, e-commerce teams must be able not just to identify where visitors are struggling, but why.

However, using traditional web analytics tools to answer this question is like using a fork to eat soup. The system is simply not built for purpose, collecting information about clicks, bounces, and site exits, but letting the delicious UX insights slip between the cracks.

Some e-commerce teams have turned to session replay and heatmapping tools to attempt to shed some light into how visitors are interacting at a page-level. But these tools are often cumbersome and difficult to extract specific, as well as actionable, data from. Session replays, while revealing individual sessions in great detail, often require analysts to spend hundreds of hours in order to gain an aggregated view of customer behaviour on which that testing activity can be based.

The value of behavioural analytics

Enter: UX analytics. Providing an additional layer of insight beyond traditional tools, UX analytics tools reveal both how visitors flow through the site on a macro level (where they struggle, where they bounce), but also show aggregated data on how visitors interact with each in-page element using metrics like click recurrence, hover rate, and engagement rate.

Click recurrence, for example, shows how many times the average user clicks on an element. This can be used to identify areas where users are clicking on elements that aren’t clickable, such as images and text. Hover and engagement rate gives insight into the proportion of users hovering over content without clicking it.

The result? E-commerce teams armed with these insights are able to run fewer, more targeted tests, based on real data, rather than gut instinct or best practice. And what’s more, they can measure the effect of these tests on visitor behaviour – enabling teams to quantify improvements to the user experience in terms of metrics like engagement, hesitation time and, of course, revenue.

Understand your customer

Understanding how customers interact with your website is critical to your optimisation efforts, and is the core principle e-commerce teams should focus on when trying to improve conversion rate. Teams seeking to drive conversion gains by running tests based on intuition or gut feeling, rather than data, will struggle to drive long-term success.

In short, focus on improving your customer experience by understanding customer behaviour online – conversion comes later.