If you want your online business and campaigns to succeed, Google Analytics will not meet all of your measurement needs. That may seem like crazy thinking because GA has a huge array of capabilities.
However, there are many areas where we have better tools for understanding visitor behavior such as interaction, user sentiment and impact from change. Without using these tools to gain insight, you will not be as successful as you can be.
So, if GA isn’t enough, where do we turn for gaining the insights we need into visitor behavior?
I wish there was a single tool with everything needed. I imagine the day will come when there is; but for now, I’ve broken down three areas where Google Analytics has a blind spot that you need to address to increase your online success.
When measuring interaction, you have to go beyond simply knowing what links someone clicked on or how long they read a page. To truly understand how someone interacts with your site, you have to see it in action.
For instance, if you watch a mouse movement heatmap, you can quickly see what people are doing or hovering over. If most of this movement is over the menu, then maybe you need to create more compelling content on the page to draw them further down the page. Simply tracking clicks won’t tell you how someone may have interacted with your videos, modal windows and interactive apps. The more you can truly understand how people engage with your site, be more insight you’ll have to creating a better experience.
Tools like Clicktale will give you insights into average mouse movements and record individual sessions of people visiting the site. This is incredibly valuable because you can begin understanding how people interact with your content and web apps.
The major drawback with that type of analysis is that you don’t know how people actually react emotionally to your content or app. That takes another tool.
Measuring Visitor Sentiment
Visitor sentiment refers to what people think of the content and user experience. Was is a positive experience or negative? Did it drive them nuts or were they able to quickly get the answer they wanted? Knowing this information can help you tweak your designs, branding, messaging and tone.
Measuring sentiment is hard to do, and there isn’t a tool that can produce this insight without directly communicating with visitors.
Youeye is one attempt at recording facial responses of selected visitors. The service asks a series of questions and records their responses and facial reactions. They turn this into a sentiment analysis chart. This isn’t your exact visiting audience, but if you have a large enough sample set, you will start to see trends emerge.
Another option is to conduct surveys that visitors will encounter while browsing or upon exit. This will usually be more free form type responses since asking multiple choice tends to skew truthful responses. Another good point to do surveys is after a transaction (such as a purchase or form fill) occurs.
An additional, often overlooked method to capture user sentiment is to ask people live within the visitor session. This can yield useful information, but it can be difficult to elicit responses this way since it is often disruptive to the user experience.
So, you’ve been gaining insights from your web analytics and these other techniques and you’ve been making changes. But are they delivering results?
Google does have a tool for measuring improvements called Google Content Experiments, and you can gain some insights out of GA from tests you run. However, there are many far better tools for running A/B and multivariate tests.
As a marketer, you don’t really have time to mess around with clunky tools that are not full featured. GCE only really does split page testing and doesn’t do any true multivariate testing. This is extremely important, especially for highly trafficked websites that want to get valid results faster.
Tools like Visual Website Optimizer and Optimizely are great for measuring how the changes you make to a website impact your conversion rates. Both tools have a wide range of different tests your can run, including multivariate testing. They are also much easier to use for the digital marketer that just wants to get the job done without having to go to the IT team.
Content Is King – Analytics Is The Power Behind The Throne
Lots of fads have come and gone in the world of digital marketing. I’m even starting to see blogs saying that content is now dead or dying. I will never believe that; but, through all the fads, the real power in succeeding online, no matter what the trend, is analytics.
By understanding visitor engagement and what drives behaviors that result in online sales, you stand a much better chance of succeeding. Analytics is the key here. You can be far more creative if you understand your customer, how they communicate and how they engage with your brand. The only way to do that is through analytics.
(Stock images via Shutterstock.com. Used under license.)
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.