If you run a physical, real world, “bricks and mortar” shop you have a significant advantage over online businesses. You can engage directly with your customers at a subconscious, emotional level. When store owners talk to customers they know instantly whether they are happy or sad, or whether they are really interested in buying what they are looking at. Good sales people in the bricks and mortar world of retailing will tap into the emotions of their potential customers to serve them better – ultimately gaining more sales.
But online you have no real idea of your website visitor’s emotional state. Is each visitor really motivated to buy? Are they really, deep-down, interested? Do they actually like what they see on your website?
The answer to such questions appears to be provided by website analytics software, such as Google Analytics, which is the market leader in this sector. There is no denying that analytics programs provide us with more data about our customers than ever before. You know exactly where they come from, where they live or work, what pathways they take through your site and how long they look at things. Gosh, how wonderful it would be if a bricks and mortar store had so much information about their customers. Frankly, they have no idea.
With something like Google Analytics you can find out which keywords people actually typed into a search engine and which page that led them to. You can discover which parts of the page get most clicks. And you can understand the way in which people arrive at your site in the first place. This is all valuable data and you can certainly use it to build a better site.
However, it tells you almost nothing about your customers. Unlike the sales person in a bricks and mortar store, you have no idea as to the motivation of people and you have no insight into their emotional state. Yet that is the most important piece of information you need to connect with customers and make a sale. This is reflected in sales conversions. Typically, a retail store in the real world has conversion rates of between 15% and 20% of customers – up to one in five people who walk into a store buy something. Online, average conversion rates hover just above the 1% mark. In other words, bricks and mortar retailers are much, much better at selling than most online stores. The difference is that online stores get many, many more visitors so the low conversion rate is outweighed by the traffic.
If, though, website owners could tap into the emotions of their website visitors, they would doubtless increase their sales in the same way this happens in physical stores. And that possibility is on the way – meaning very soon you’ll be able to ditch the time-wasting effort of delving deep into web analytics. Instead, using emotional sensors which will be present in all kinds of computing technology you will know the emotional state of each of your online customers, enabling you to connect with them at a much deeper level than all that data in Google Analytics can provide.
That technology will be with us in a year or two. In the meantime, rather than spending hours looking at your analytics data, you’ll gain more sales by actually talking to your customers and getting inside their minds. Remember analytics software really only gives you historical information – it does not let you know intentions and motivations.
- Why You Need Marketing Analytics, Not Web Analytics (hubspot.com)
- Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics: What to Track (searchenginewatch.com)
- A case for analytics: If you’re not measuring, you’re not marketing (thenextweb.com)
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+