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Website Optimisation – Peeking Over Their Shoulders

July 7, 2011 ark-com

This week I was amazed to read that the US Air force has more pilots training to fly Drones than regular piloted aircraft. Over the last 10 years they have gone from flying less than 50 unmanned aircraft to now having over 700 Drones in service.

Earlier in the month I picked up on the video of our own Kiwi Drone in action. This time it was a $500 device purchased from a High Street store that, when properly configured, was flown into a bent and buckled Christchurch church building to assess its damage. (If you’re interested in seeing the footage, you can find the link here: www.tinyurl.com/parrot-drone-chch)

Here at Permission we’ve been testing out some Drone-like technology ourselves. No, don’t fret. There’s no need to look skyward. This is not something that will hover overhead in a menacing way. Nope, it’s sitting nicely and quietly and innocently on a few customer websites we manage – just checking what their visitors do when they next drop by.

It’s part of our “Grow Conversions – Website Optimisation” module. This module is there to do one thing and one thing only – to increase the conversion rate of your website. In its current form it has been running for a few years now and has produced some sizable jumps in performance for those that have opted to “take it on”.

And I don’t use the term “taking it on” lightly. Because, when it comes to the number and types of changes that will need to be made to your website as a result of the findings from this module, there is no stone left unturned. Altered images, re-written content, restructured navigation, complete new landing pages, and even the grandaddy of them all – replacing a whole site design. Some or all of these together have been foisted upon clients.

Imagine if you could sit behind your prospect and peer over their shoulder as they move through your website, page by page. And by doing so, notice along the way what they click on, how far they scroll down your page or even which parts of your form they have trouble completing. Well, our small but very smart Drone does all this and captures the results, replaying them to us in a series of online recordings. It works just like magic.

One of the really smart things is that there’s nothing the visitor needs to download and install for all this to happen. Clients need to make a quick update to the HTML code on our their website and bingo, the recordings begin. Then all that’s left for us to do is sit back and try not to look at the recordings before we have enough to draw some sensible conclusions. That’s the hard bit. It can get a bit addictive – looking at what the last visitor did. Nevertheless, once a week or so has passed then we can dig in and see what we have.

Here’s just a few of the things that we frequently pick up during this stage.

People clicking on things that you didn’t expect them to. The technology tracks every mouse click and boy do some people click a lot. Fortunately, there’s a way we can look at this data in an aggregate form. Then we see the trends of people clicking on pictures, faces, headings and everything else that in most cases doesn’t have anything behind them. Pictures are a classic case. Small thumbnail photos that are repeatedly clicked on reveal the visitors’ simple attempts to make them bigger. So what do we do? We give them what they want and we make them bigger plus, if we are able to, we add a few more snaps in.

People struggling to fill in forms. It’s well known that the more information you ask people to provide the lower your conversion rate will be. But what bits can you leave out? To you every field is really necessary and none can be dropped off. Nevertheless, looking at the way people complete the form can provide some insight into the problems they grapple with here.

I’ve seen recordings where people struggle with an email address, or a time to call or even a phone number. As you watch their session you can almost hear them think, “Now which one is the best one to give them?” or “ What was our personal email address again?”. They type some details, then back space across it, then type some more in, backspace a bit more and then move away from the form – never to come back. So it pays to keep the fields you want down to a minimum.

Long pages with not enough emotional momentum gained at the top. One-page sales forms can be very effective. You take your visitor from the headline, right through to capturing the lead, without them having to leave your page. That’s the theory. For it to work you need to (a) capture your visitor’s attention with the headline, (b) transfer this attention into the early stages of your copy and finally, (c) have enough emotional pulling points in your words to ensure their attention moves through the complete length of your page. There’s a lot here that can go wrong.

The most common problem is the obvious one – people deciding not to scroll. I’ve seen recordings where the % of visitor attention plummets from 100% of visitor viewing at the top of the page to barely 10% after just one scroll length down. This points to a very poor connection between the headline and early copy. Even when the connection works you still see a drop – but nowhere as severe; plus, in the recordings you see people taking time to move down and back up the form as they read through in detail what you have written.

That’s just a few of the insights we have picked up over the last few months using this Drone-like technology. Yes, it takes some time to interpret the recordings. But the additional insight you gain from walking with your visitor as they move from page to page is truly something else.

Have a chat with us today if you would like to know more about this module.

Tags: Grow Conversions

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