Google Analytics Users: We Need New Tools to Turn Website Conversion


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As the web analytics’ market matures, web teams seek proactive intervention with individual visitors (post session remarketing) to drive website conversion

Targeted email remarketing helps follow up on abandoned shopping carts and forms, and is set to become a top tactic in website conversion, Google Analytics users poll shows

When most people think about tactics to improve website conversion, their first thought is to try a number of steps in the conversion process itself: 1) the need to tune pages 2) refine page layouts, and 3) make discount or promotion offers to boost conversion.

But a survey of Google Analytics users conducted by SeeWhy yesterday shows that proactive techniques targeting the individual visitor are set to grow dramatically. Of these new techniques, post session remarketing is set to grow fastest at 152 percent.

This growth mirrors recent research findings by the US trade body E-Tailing Group. In its 2009 merchant survey of US e-retailers, 76 percent of e-tailers ranked “Targeted Email” as the top initiative to improve website conversion.

The SeeWhy survey was conducted in a live online session, on June 30, 2009 with 139 US-based Google Analytics users. Here is what we found:
* Post session remarketing is currently used by 25 percent of Google Analytics Users
* 63 percent plan to deploy session (or website) abandonment follow-up as a technique of increasing website conversion

One of these techniques in re-marketing to abandoned site visitors is the use of targeted email in real-time, which is not possible with traditional web analytics dashboards like Google Analytics. Web analytics tools only provide valuable data to help website teams to understand historical performance of the site.

It’s clear from the research however that there is significant demand to become proactive, intervening in the session itself, or following up on abandoned sessions immediately afterwards. These tactics all have the following characteristics in common:
1. Focus on individual actions
2. Act in real time
3. Feature a personal one-to-one marketing approach
4. Focus on reducing abandonment by delivering great service

Of these techniques, Post-session remarketing is set to grow the fastest at a growth rate of 152 percent.

Other third party tools including In-session surveys (79 percent) and click to call / chat (59 percent) are also set for fast growth at the expense of traditional on site optimization.

This highlights a broader trend towards more proactive intervention, where the organization publishing the website seeks to intervene to either stop the abandonment in-session, or to win back the visitor through remarketing after the session.

These proactive intervention techniques are set to grow at the expense of traditional onsite optimization, though optimizing the site experience remains, unsurprisingly, the single largest category of optimization. This reflects a growing maturity of the web analytics market as new tools become available to move beyond static reporting of historical data.

Since the audience was Google specific, SeeWhy also surveyed to see how extensively Google’s Conversion Funnels tracking is used. The results were higher than expected, at 57 percent currently using conversion funnels, compared with previous data which suggests that the percentage is as low at 25 percent. This may reflect that the participants in this research are more sophisticated, and potentially not representative of the Google base. When asked about future use of Google Analytics conversion funnels, 77 percent said they planned to use the feature in the future.

A more detailed question on remarketing specifically showed that while 23 percent do follow up on website abandonment, only 2 percent do so within the hour. Several authoritative studies by industry analysts have all pointed to immediate follow up being best practice, but it is clear that this is beyond the reach of many due to challenges with integration between the web site and an email engine in real time.

When those that do not currently follow up were asked if they want to, almost 90 percent stated that they would like to.

It is also clear that following up within a few days is far from best practice since it risks annoying the customer. Keeping the email follow-up relevant and personal to the individual recipient is critical, and a delay of several days risks getting out of step with what the customer is doing.

For example, a follow up email to someone who is comparison shopping several days after they have made a purchase is just plain irrelevant and consequently will be poorly received. This can be measured with lower response rates and reconversions, and with a high rate of unsubscribe.

In the current economic environment, it’s also clear that these new intervention techniques are high priority for ecommerce teams. When asked about priorities of following up on abandonment, 79 percent stated it with either a high or very high priority, while 21 percent felt it was a medium priority. Only 1 percent of the 54 respondents to this question rated it a low priority.

Charles Nicholls
Charles Nicholls is a social commerce expert and board advisor to several e-commerce startups. He founded SeeWhy, a real-time personalization and machine learning platform, which was sold to SAP. Serving as SVP of product, he built SAP Upscale Commerce, an e-commerce platform for direct-to-consumer brands and the mid-market. Today, Charles serves as chief strategy officer for SimplicityDX, a commerce experience company. He has worked on strategy and projects for leading ecommerce companies worldwide, including Amazon, eBay, Google and many others.


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