Behavioral analytics is a way to better understand the behavior of customers on your website. If you have marketing experience, you already know the importance of data collection and how it can impact your future decisions.
However, going one step further by analyzing user behavior can make UX, CX, and the customer journey much more personalized and streamlined for those visiting your website. Nowadays, the average consumer is looking for a trustworthy relationship with the brands they use. Chances are, they’ll be looking at your website first to learn more about you.
If you don’t make the most of that experience and do what you can to understand their behaviors, you could be missing out on a bigger loyal following. That includes so much more than just having a site that’s well-designed or easy to navigate. It’s about learning who each customer is, what they’re looking for from your brand, and how to connect with them.
Let’s dive a little deeper into what behavioral analytics really is, as well as how you can utilize it to improve your website and improve how you market to your audience.
At its core, behavioral analytics is an observational tool. Any time a user interacts with your brand’s digital platforms, they offer information about their needs and wants. You can store that data and build customer profiles. This allows your brand to take a proactive approach to improve the experience for each customer. You can personalize things like emails, social media ads, and much more.
Behavioral analytics also alerts you to any challenges or obstacles that could be keeping your website users from making purchases or coming back. For example, you might notice that users are only staying on a certain page for a few seconds, or that they’re not signing up to receive emails or texts from your business. You can use that information to reorganize or redesign your website so it’s easier for customers to use.
If you’ve used business analytics before, you’re already one step ahead when it comes to understanding and utilizing behavioral analytics. Business analytics uses different metrics to help you make more informed decisions. Using business intelligence, you can collect behavioral data and turn it into actionable insights, including multi-channel marketing campaigns and an overall better website experience.
Data collection is often a lot of work, especially if you have to organize that data and put it into user profiles. However, the benefits outweigh these costs, making behavioral analytics well worth the effort. If you’re still not convinced that you need it on your website, consider some of those benefits, including:
- A better understanding of your audience
- Greater anticipation of customer needs and wants
- Faster innovations
- More efficient movements within your business
Being able to gather data and segment that information to better cater to your customers’ needs will not only improve their digital experience, but it will also build trust and loyalty in your brand.
That isn’t to say there aren’t challenges associated with behavioral analytics. You have to consider privacy concerns. If your audience feels like their privacy is being violated by the information you’re collecting, you’re going to break their trust immediately. Make sure you’re transparent about any data you plan on collecting and let your audience know how it’s going to be used.
This kind of analysis also needs to be consistent. Collecting customer data once and making a few website changes isn’t a long-term solution. Periodically collecting and analyzing data is essential to keep up with changes in the marketplace and to maintain an optimal site that focuses on CX and UX.
User behavior analytics have both internal and external uses. From a marketing standpoint, they allow your business to see how consumers are behaving, rather than just trying to listen to what they claim to want. There are several steps to set up an effective behavioral analytics “campaign” or to make it a regular part of your marketing strategy. Those steps include:
Without quantifiable goals, you won’t be able to track the performance of your campaigns. Get together with your team and figure out specific goals and timeframes. In behavioral analytics, you want to have an overarching goal of tracking user behavior on your website precisely and wholly.
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Your subgoals won’t look the same as sales or marketing goals. Instead of setting goals to reach a certain percentage of sales or number of post engagements, you want to set a subgoal to track certain metrics. Tracking user behavior during critical conversion points — like from landing page to product purchase — is a subgoal example for behavioral analytics.
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are the metrics that are intended to evaluate the success of your website or campaign. KPIs for behavioral analytics look different for every company. Generally, they should align with your marketing KPIs. This way, you can track how user behavior leads to shifts in these KPIs across time.
Once you’ve selected your goals and KPIs, you must decide how to track user data. Choose the best tracking method to give you all of the appropriate data to inform your campaign and website performance. There are many different options for tracking user behavior on your site, including:
- Bounce rate;
- Click-through rate;
- Heat maps of user activity;
- Session recordings;
- Session time;
- Surveys and polls.
You can embed feedback widgets on your website to gain insight directly from users during and after their experience. Depending on your goals, you can track user behavior without direct contact with the user. Behavioral analytics software programs are available that give you options to track where users interact most with your website.
Many digital campaigns have several touchpoints. Assign each user a unique user identifier (UUID) to monitor behaviors across different platforms. This allows you to follow the user trajectory and position in the sales funnel. Further, implementing UUIDs helps you to avoid duplicate data. Many behavioral analytics tracking software programs give you the option to assign UUIDs, so look for this and activate it if possible. Always check your local regulations for tracking user analytics before doing so.
In order to enact behavioral analytics and tracking on your website, you’ll most likely use a combination of in-house analytics and behavioral analytics software. Depending on your specific campaign goals, you will want to create a timeline and guideline for team members to use this software and analytics. This will allow everyone to be on the same page when gathering data and using it to inform campaigns going forward.
Internally, there are many ways to use behavioral analytics, including to prevent business security threats. For example, if you choose to analyze employee behaviors as well, you might be able to pick out certain anomalies that can prevent a security breach from within.
That could include an employee going to different pages or servers that don’t make sense for their position or someone downloading multiple gigabytes of files. While these things don’t automatically mean there’s something suspicious going on, it will be much easier for your IT team to track potential threats this way, rather than having to manually search for them.
It may be crucial to collect website data, but it’s just as important to do so ethically. Failure to do so will scare off your customers and could even harm your brand’s reputation. Start by implementing some of the most widely-used UX research methods, including:
- Focus groups
- Observational studies
These data collection methods will help to optimize your web content and highlight any gaps in your site that are hindering UX and overall engagement.
Another way to actively collect behavioral data is to record website sessions. By recording a user’s browsing habits while they’re on your site, you can see where they’re clicking, which pages they’re spending the most time on, and heatmaps.
There are tools and resources out there that allow you to record website sessions without compromising user information or their privacy. They will block out sensitive on-screen text or data, allowing you to collect what you need without infringing on that user’s rights.
Not everyone is going to be completely open to giving out personal information or having their data tracked. However, it’s a fact of modern life and many have come to accept the fact that most websites will store at least some information that can be used to advertise to them later.
If you’re not currently taking advantage of behavioral analytics on your website, it’s time to get started. Keeping track of user behaviors on your site can not only protect your business from cyberthreats, but also make your marketing team’s job much easier and more effective. Keep these ideas in mind as you remind yourself of the benefits of behavioral analytics and determine how to implement them on your site while prioritizing the consumer experience.
About our Guest Author: Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in digital marketing content. When she isn’t writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter.