Understanding your customer’s intent is essential to any eCommerce business and matching it effectively can give your conversion rates a real boost.
All good conversion rate optimisation (CRO) techniques rely on improving the customer’s experience and the best place to start is with some user intent (UI) analysis.
Doing this effectively allows you to step into your customer’s shoes and see your site through their eyes. This makes it easier to highlight areas of improvement that will enhance their overall experience and encourage them to convert.
This article will focus on identifying and matching user’s intent in order to boost conversion rates.
What exactly is user intent?
Explaining user intent is easy. In an eCommerce context, it is what a visitor to a website wanted to do that lead them there. This same definition can be applied to almost anything both online and off and there is often more than one step involved.
For example, if you have a toothache, you know you need to go to the dentist. To achieve this, you must first lookup your dentist online, then contact them and make an appointment, then travel to the appointment, then sign in at reception, then explain your problem to the dentist and receive treatment. You have to perform many actions and perform many interactions, but your intent was always the same – to get your tooth fixed.
Online, our understanding of user intent is largely based on the information we get from the searches customers make before landing on a site and the actions they perform whilst on it.
Let’s see how this works. Say you’ve decided to be more sustainable so you’re planning to start using some bamboo toothbrushes that you’ve seen advertised. Before you buy them you want to know the price, how they’re sourced and your delivery options.
When you conduct the search you are hoping to land on a site that will answer all these questions and give you a clear path to purchasing. If the site you find has done this then it has matched your intent. If you land on a site and have to look through the site to find this information, then this site has done a worse job of matching your intent.
Is matching user’s intent all about keywords?
Yes and no. Strictly speaking, user intent is the internal thought process that resulted in the customer landing on your site. However, understanding this is tricky unless you’re able to interview every individual visitor about their thoughts.
Nevertheless, all of your organic traffic will have searched for keywords to get to your site and this data is much easier to ascertain and is the most accessible link we have to those internal thoughts.
Keywords can help us understand but matching it is a whole different game. Matching user intent is a building block process that involves various optimisations that work towards the goal of tailoring your site to your customer’s intent.
The only way to achieve this is by not only understanding what your customers are searching for but also understanding how they interact with your site. Once you understand this, when you perform a full user intent analysis, you can begin to implement CRO tools.
User analysis: Finding your user’s intent and working out how to match it
There are many sources that can give you an insight into your user’s intent and looking through any current reviews and customer feedback is a great place to start. This type of feedback is a conversion rate optimisation goldmine that can give you many important insights into your customer’s experiences.
However, it’s important to remember that although there is plenty of useful information to be found in reviews, not everyone takes the time out to write them and most of the time they will be by people who have completed a purchase. To truly understand the intent of your visitors we have to dive a little deeper.
Metrics are your best friend (there is no user analysis without them)
The Google Analytics Behavioural Flow Report is a fantastic free tool that can plot the most common journeys and typical interactions users are making as they travel through your site. This information can then be used to identify areas of improvement and help you decide what conversion rate optimisation techniques would be of most use.
The Behavioural Flow Report compiles data from dozens of different metrics and displays it to you in a simple flowchart. These metrics can then be looked at in isolation and analysed.
Keyword and landing page data
For example, the Keyword and Landing Page data provided by the Behavioural Flow Report will show you what people are searching for before they arrive on your site and what page they are entering through. This information can tell you a lot about your user’s intent and how well it is being matched on their first impression.
If the answer isn’t clear, then you need to look further into the journey. Start by looking at the Bounce Rate of your most popular landing pages. A bounce is when a visitor enters a page and then leaves soon after without making any further interactions. Now, it should be mentioned that a bounce does not necessarily correlate to missing user intent, as a customer could simply find what they’re after and leave straight away, but a consistently high bounce rate is a major red flag and a sign that your landing pages need optimising.
At this stage, it’s important to remember that to understand our user’s intent we need to look at as many user interactions as possible. Bounce rates, landing pages and search data are all hugely useful tools, but to build a holistic picture of how well our sites are engineered towards our user’s intent we must also focus on the users that really experience the site.
Page view metrics
Google Analytics has a well-stocked armoury of tools to help us understand how visitors are behaving on our site. Let’s start with the aptly named Interactions and Session Time/ Page Views metrics. These basically do what it says on the tin. The Interactions metric counts the number of steps a user takes before they leave and the other keeps track of how long they spend on the site and how many pages they visit.
Before analysing, you should build an idea in your head of how many tasks and pages you imagine a user should encounter before converting. For example, if they land on a product page then in theory it should be a straight shot to conversion with maybe between one and five interactions and a checkout page before completion. If the average interactions are way higher than what you’d expect and users are spending a long time looking wading through various pages, then it’s a clear sign that they’re not finding what they need.
Again, we are looking for general trends across as many data examples as possible, long browsing times and high levels of interaction is not always a bad thing but are a sign that optimisation is needed if they are consistently high.
Second page metrics
The Second-Page metric shows you what pages users are typically heading to after they land. This offers massive clues about what information users are having to continue searching for. For example, if after landing on a product page from an organic search you find that users are heading to the product category, this could be a sign that your page could benefit from an on-page similar products suggestion feature.
Taking a more detailed approach, Google Analytics is also able to collect information from your internal search engines and customer service features. This can be especially useful if you have a live chat feature integrated into your site. If the report shows that similar queries are being sent via these channels, it’s a clear indicator that this information forms part of your customers intent and needs to be more accessible.
Going deeper still, the Event Tracking metric keeps a record of how many times a feature on your sites, such as a checkout button or image enlargement, is interacted with. Every event represents a time when a user is having to work to match their intent. Seeing this metric fall over time is a positive sign that your Conversion Rate Optimisation tactics are matching your User’s Intent.
Give customers exactly what they need
A good seller needs to know their customers just as well as they know their products. If you provide those customers with exactly what they need when they need it, you’ll create a memorable experience that will be reflected in your conversion rates. Remember, putting them first now will make them think of you first when it matters.
If you need help, contact us, we have a team of specialists in our conversion rate optimisation agency.