CX Metrics Series: Visitor Intent
by William Braün, on Sep 27, 2017
This is the third blog post in a series that examines key Customer Experience metrics that every Voice of the Customer (VoC) program should measure to better understand your visitors’ digital experience. In this post, we look at a fundamental Customer Experience metric that confirms exactly what your visitors came to your website to do: Visitor Intent
Motivation is the fuel that drives all our actions. Every decision we make is based on a complex series of pros, cons and what-if’s, which ultimately lead us to take a specific action.
Let’s look at an everyday example – you need to pick up some groceries on your way home from work. There is something that drives each and every decision you make that will ultimately impact your experience; everything from what time you should leave for the store, to the store you will go to, to the type and brand of food you will pick up, and even the payment method you’ll use to buy your groceries.
The same applies when you visit a website or mobile app – you came to this website with a goal in mind that you want to accomplish before leaving.
This is the essence of Visitor Intent.
When you’re looking for ways to optimize the performance of your digital properties, whether it’s a website or a mobile app, you must first consider what your individual visitors are looking to accomplish while they’re there. This ‘why’ is crucial in helping you understand your visitors’ needs and expectations so you can tailor your efforts around this knowledge. Otherwise, you might just be aimlessly wandering in the dark without a flashlight.
How you can measure ‘Visitor Intent’
Visitor Intent is founded on determining the main reason for why a visitor is on your website, and what they are hoping to accomplish. To collect this information from your visitors, using a Single-Select question format is recommended over a Multi-Select question, since it asks your visitors to confirm the primary motivation behind their visit and the most dominant driving force behind their actions on your website.
To confirm Visitor Intent, a question like the one below can be used:
“Which of the following best describes the primary purpose of your visit today?”
Using a Single-Select question like this one provides clear segmentation capabilities that simplify your analysis, whereas a Multi-Select question may muddy the waters and make your analysis more complicated. Plus, a Single-Select question allows you to associate your visitors’ stated intent to their behavior in your web analytics (Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics) or session replay (Clicktale, Decibel Insight, Tealeaf, User Replay, etc.). This can come in handy especially when you want to dive deeper and get the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ of your behavioral data.
With regards to the number of answers to include in this question, you should aim to include about 6 to 8 options, based on how granular you want to get in your answer choices. However, you shouldn’t include too many options as that may lead to respondent fatigue or confusion.
Every website is unique, so there isn’t a “default” list of answers you should include for this question. However, you need to make sure these answers reflect anything your visitors may want to do on your website, and that the answers are mutually exclusive to avoid respondent confusion.
However, this question should include an “Other, please specify” type answer that shows a text field when selected. This allows your respondents to specify why they came to your website if none of the answers are applicable to them. Plus, this is a great way to find other answers you may not have thought to include in this question, or even bring to light purposes of visit that you didn’t even think would come up for a website like yours.
Here is a general example of a standard Visitor Intent question for an Ecommerce website:
Now, this is a great starting point so you can quantify the main reason why your visitors are coming to your website, but it can also be useful if you want to do more in-depth analysis about your visitors’ intentions on your website. For example, you may want to determine what their secondary objectives may have been during their visit, which can also prove very useful for additional segmentation capabilities during your analysis.
Why you should measure ‘Visitor Intent’
1. Visitor Intent is central to understanding your visitors’ needs and expectations
Your visitors’ needs and expectations are significant (if not the) key drivers to their website experience. They determine whether your website provides what your visitors wanted, what they expected, and what their next steps after the session will be.
Visitor Intent plays a key part in getting in the mind of your visitors so you can understand the context of their visit, and the underlying factors that drive how they interact with your website.
2. Without customer feedback, Visitor Intent can be a guessing game
We’ve already established that a person’s decision-making process is a complex one, driven by countless motivating factors. So why fool ourselves into thinking that we can truly know what someone is trying to accomplish without asking them?
Web analytics and session replay are powerful pieces in evaluating your website visitors’ experience. However, beyond knowing your visitors’ behavior, you also need to understand what they’re actually trying to do. Customer feedback can be used as a powerful complement to any other data source that tracks the Customer Experience (CX), in particular your web analytics or session replay data.
Visitor Intent can serve as the cypher that makes sense of how your visitors interact with your website, and sheds light on the motivations behind their decisions.
3. Targeted segmentation for your analyses
By accurately identifying the visitors who intended to make a purchase during their session, you can open up the possibility to learn even more about these specific visitors. Here are just some of the ways this Visitor Intent data can help you get more out of your website:
- Push into your web analytics solution to find patterns in how these visitors navigate your website.
- Integrate with your session replay solution to see how purchase intenders act on specific key pages vs. those who only intended to perform research.
- Crosstab with other key questions in your survey (demographics, Purchase Horizon, etc.) to develop marketing content and campaigns that more accurately speak to certain types of purchase intenders.
- Evaluate the unstructured / open-ended feedback of these purchase intenders to get a glimpse into their minds to help you better understand their train of thought as they navigated your website.
Also, let's not forget that different stakeholders within an organization work on different aspects of the website experience, whether it's User Experience (UX), website performance and speed, or content creation, to name a few. Visitor Intent data allows you to easily segment your data into targeted, relevant and digestible portions that you can send across to the appropriate stakeholders in your company.
Use Case: The curious case of purchase intenders
To see how Visitor Intent plays into your Customer Experience analysis, let’s look at an example loosely based on our experiences with many of our clients.
Shopping cart abandonment is a thorn in any digital marketer’s side, and something that has a direct impact on the bottom line. It can be a tough pill to swallow anytime a visitor adds items to a shopping cart but leaves the website without making a purchase. Many different questions can also start making the rounds inside your organization as to why this may be happening, and theories on what can be done to address this issue.
After all, when someone utilizes the shopping cart feature on the website, it’s safe to assume that they’re on your website with the goal of making a purchase, right? Well, that may not necessarily be the case.
When investigating shopping cart abandonment, we have seen great success in digging up insights about visitors’ purchasing habits when integrating customer feedback with web analytics data. One aspect that sticks out to us the most when we look at Visitor Intent and how ‘purchasers’ interact with the website during their session is that:
A considerable proportion of those who access the shopping cart during their session actually did not intend to make a purchase.
In fact, in some cases, we have seen that less than half (!) of those who traditionally would be considered ‘purchase intenders’ – those who accessed the shopping cart during their session – had actually accessed the website with the goal of making a purchase by the end of their session.
Nowadays, shoppers have more buying power than ever, with the ability to access almost any type of information they want in a matter of seconds. This includes the ability to easily price shop (including seeing the final price with taxes and shipping costs included), as well as confirm potential delivery dates – two crucial items on which all Ecommerce brands compete.
This use case is one of many where looking at Visitor Intent shone a light and brought clarity on a misconception many of us may have about our website visitors. Placing yourself in our clients’ shoes, you must admit that the next steps you would have taken to remedy the shopping cart abandonment issue would have been very different had you not measured and confirmed Visitor Intent.
This use case goes to show that sometimes, you just don’t know unless you ask.
The driving force behind your Customer Experience decisions
Every website visitor has a goal in mind when they first come to your website. If the website doesn’t make it easy for them to do what they want to do, then they may abandon your website and, sadly, go to one of many competing websites and never come back. It’s a harsh reality, but a reality nonetheless.
When you take on the task of improving your digital properties, you must first start with thinking about why a visitor might come to your website. This ‘why’ is what drives your visitors’ needs, expectations and behaviors on your website.
This crucial information should be central to any decision you make if you’re hoping to create a streamlined but tailored website experience.
Did you like this post? Make sure to check out these other posts in our ongoing Customer Experience Metrics Series:
Net Promoter, Net Promoter Score, and NPS are trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company, Inc., and Fred Reichheld
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