May 03, 2012 | Drew Hale

The Role of Observational Data in the Web Analytics Ecosystem: Part Two


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In my last post, I wrote about how I see observational data playing into the web analytics ecosystem. In today’s post, I want to share a few examples from our clients about how they’ve benefited from observational data.

Here’s a pretty common scenario: a company gets constant complaints that users can’t find certain content on their site. Let’s say it’s belts on a retail website. The web team knows it’s there — they pull up the page and it’s staring them right in the face in the most logical place you can imagine. So why do people keep complaining they can’t find it? And how can the web team solve the problem?

At this point, the web team has a few options. They can:

  • Guess why people can’t find it.
  •  Hire someone to tell them what to do.
  • Hold a focus group to ask people why they can’t find the belts.
  • Bring everyone into a usability lab, ask them to find belts, and watch over their shoulder to see what they do wrong.
  • Assume everyone who can’t find the belts is just stupid because clearly they are RIGHT.THERE. and you don’t need to fix a thing.

The ForeSee Blog | SessionReplayAs an observational data enthusiast, I find that last option to be the best. By watching replays of real user sessions, you may find that broken links kept site visitors from getting to the pages with the products they were interested in, or you may see that your visitors did not view products that were displayed below the page fold, or that your visitors never interacted with the refinement capabilities that would have led them to find the product they wanted. As an added bonus, you can share these recordings internally so your team sees what you see, and then make an action plan to fix it.

Most importantly, by linking observational data with customer satisfaction scores, you’ll likely be able to see a pattern after watching just a few movies instead of watching session after session trying to identify a problem.

Here are some other things our clients have improved using observational tools:

  • Conversion Rates: (identify those planning to purchase and not accomplishing their task and watch what happened) – Insights found watching session replays will push the needle for this Key Performance Indicator.
  • Call Deflection (focus on replays for those planning to call customer service) – Once the paths and actions are uncovered for those that end up contacting the call center, the issues they encounter can be corrected leading to lower call volume and significant cost savings.
  • Site Redesign (target first-time visitors’ frustration in use of new functionality) – In the wake of extensive site changes, technical issues and usability concerns often arise.  Increased use of satisfaction data combined with session replays can help limit how long site visitors experience these growing pains which will prevent loyalty from weakening.
  • A/B Testing (use Customer Passed Parameters to compare different versions of the site) – Before new functionality makes it to 100% of site visitors, testing it with a limited audience and then applying ForeSee voice of customer (VOC) data and SessionReplay recordings can further limit the extent of site redesign issues.
  • Cart Abandonment (Target those abandoning their cart due to a confusing process or technical errors) – Those with items in their cart are just a few steps away from purchase.  Uncovering broken links, poorly functioning coupon codes or simply a confusing process using SessionReplay pays nearly immediate dividends here.
  • Search Optimization (segment by those having search difficulties, particularly no results, too many results, too few results and irrelevant results) – Once the ForeSee survey data points you in the direction of those that could not find information on the site that you know is there, simply watch the search terms that were typed in, followed by the search results received and further user interactions with search refinement tools.  This will allow for better links to be created between search terms and appropriate results as well as improvements to refinement functionality.

In the next and final post in this series, I’ll talk about how session replays can make the identification, acceptance, and resolution of website issues so much faster than they have been when we’ve relied on other methods making your organization that much more efficient.

About the Author

ForeSee Blogger Drew Hale

As ForeSee’s cxReplay specialist, Drew Hale is responsible for sales strategy and development of ForeSee’s cxReplay product. He draws on 4 years of experience as a Senior Satisfaction Research Analyst at ForeSee to understand clients’ business goals and research objectives. Drew helps ForeSee clients implement measures across multiple channels to capture the complete customer experience. He holds a BBA from the University of Michigan – Flint.

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