Understanding internet Audience and Online Consumer Behavior
Understanding internet Audience
Step 1: Understanding Google Analytics
Life changed for digital marketers in 2005 when Google acquired Urchin and created the freemium web analytics package. It transformed the way in which we worked, for we no longer spent efforts just trying to increase our visitors; we could now start to understand them – the pages they were looking at and how long they spent on the site. The tool has since grown and we now have a whole host of metrics at our fingertips.
Whether your business is B2B or B2C, using conversion tracking is a must. Ecommerce tracking will allow you to collect data on product sales, purchase amount and billing locations. And Goals, if set up with the optional funnels, can provide valuable insight into the journey your users are taking to arrive at the desired location – this could be an enquiry form or landing page for some value-added content.
With so much data in Analytics, there are many ways to flag areas of the site that might affect the user’s experience.
Step 2: Heat mapping and scroll mapping
Much of Google Analytics’ data is derived from the link and page metrics. However, understanding more about in-page activity can put an all-new perspective on what is valuable content. We can gain this insight though heat mapping tools. There are several on the market – Crazy Egg is a favourite of ours because it shows where everyone has clicked, whether it was on a link or not. This highlights usability errors and, often, areas that could result in an improvement in conversions.
With Crazy Egg, we can compare both desktop and mobile versions of a site. Typically, menus and site structures can vary and so it’s useful to understand how audiences react to both. In addition to this, we are able to drill down and see how users from different channels, browsers – even new and returning visitors – interact with the site.
By cross referencing our findings back with Google Analytics, we can create a picture of how a website is being used.
Step 3: User testing
A designer or marketer may have a bias towards a website. Simply being close to a digital project and the development process can cloud judgement on how usable a website is – if you built it, you know where everything is!
Observing someone while they carry out a series of tasks can help to understand how easy, or difficult, it is for them to follow the typical user journey. User testing can draw attention to anything they find difficult or confusing. This feedback can lead to further web development that can help to improve the user experience.
Using a remote usability testing platform like What Users Do is a highly efficient way of getting normal people to test a website. By vetting the people who subscribe to test websites, What Users Do can match the users with your chosen demographic – how old they are, their gender and even their profession. The company boast that you need only five tests in order to fully understand user behaviour.
But it’s worth bearing in mind that it could be the user’s profession to test websites, so if you need to see the experience of someone less savvy, you might want to handpick your testers. In this case, you can create a controlled environment and observe how a select group of people use your website. We use a tool called Silverback, but there are other tools, like Camtasia, that will record the users’ experiences in real time. Silverback will record the on-screen behaviour and show exactly where the user clicks; in addition, the webcam will record their reactions to the site. If well-primed, the user should narrate their experience during the session. This will highlight any objections they might have.
Step 4: User surveys
Online surveys are commonly used to gather feedback on a user experience. A typical survey will consist of a set of questions designed to assess a participant’s preference – in this case, how they rate their online experience.
The benefits of online survey include:
- Reaching a much wider audience than with user testing – you can gather a larger sample size
- Providing an understanding of the end user’s experience and being able to adapt the online experience accordingly
It is important that you know exactly the type of information you wish to obtain from the survey. User surveys help to quantify the assumptions you have made from the insight gathered in steps one to three, so the questions should be weighted to getting a finite answer.
Step 5: A /B testing
The final step is to put into practice what you have discovered from your user behaviour research. That doesn’t mean ditching your website and creating a whole new experience – wholesale changes can be difficult to monitor, resulting in you finding yourself in a worse situation than when you started!
Small, incremental changes are easy to keep an eye on. Through tools like Google Analytics and Crazy Egg, it’s easy to assess the impact of what, say, a change to a button, introduction of a new colour, or a new menu item, may have on the design.
Online Consumer Behavior
Online Customer Behavior Process
According to the above figure, in the search stage, they might look for the product reviews or customer comments. They will find out which brand or company offers them the best fit to their expectation.
During this stage, well-organized web site structure and attractive design are important things to persuade consumers to be interested in buying product or service.
The most useful characteristic of internet is that it supports the pre-purchase stage as it helps customers compare different options.
During the purchasing stage, product assortment, sale services and information quality seem to be the most important point to help consumers decide what product they should select, or what seller they should buy from.
Post-purchase behavior will become more important after their online purchase. Consumers sometimes have a difficulty or concern about the product, or they might want to change or return the product that they have bought. Thus, return and exchange services become more important at this stage.
Factors of Online Customer Behavior
The first elements to identify are factors that motivate customers to buy products or services online. They are divided into two categories − external factors and internal factors.
- The External Factors are the ones beyond the control of the customers. They can divide into five sectors namely demographic, socio-economic, technology and public policy; culture; sub- culture; reference groups; and marketing.
- Internal Factors are the personal traits or behaviors which include attitudes, learning, perception, motivation, self image.
- The Functional Motives is related to the consumer needs and include things like time, convenience of shopping online, price, the environment of shopping place, selection of products etc.
- The Non-Functional Motives related to the culture or social values like the brand of the store or product.
Customers use these three factors to filter their buying choices and decide on the final selection of stores they are willing to purchase from. They use the knowledge to filter their purchase options by three factors −
- Trust and Trustworthiness