Are you Hugging your Site Visitors?

It’s February once again, the month of love and with that I thought we could take a cupid’s approach to our digital marketing mindset. I have made this parallel once before in 3 Tips for Understanding your “Courtship” with Search Engines. However, just a few weeks ago I must have been in a loving mood as I was deep in a review of a client website as well as deep in thought and found myself pondering the questions of “are we hugging our visitors”?

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Yes, I know, off the cuff this seems like a rather creepy thought. Essentially, I was quizzing myself to understand whether we are truly doing all that we can to bring a visitor in and cradling them into our site conversion funnel or are we unknowingly confusing visitors and often times pushing them away from conversion funnels. To understand this question we will take to a review of a website with a few different funnels of analysis to undertake.

That oh so Important First Impression…

I often tell people that the first impression with your website is before they even reach the website. By this, how is your title element, meta description, sitelinks, etc. structured? Are you providing a correlating enticement between the search result listing and the landing page? So, yes, that is truly the “first impression”, but what I am more concerned with in this review is the first impression once they reach the site.

It would be foolish for us to think that all of your visitors reach the site on the homepage. With a well-oiled SEO program in place you shouldn’t see all of your traffic arriving on the homepage. On the other hand, it is quite likely that it is the highest referring landing page on your site. We will start there by default but take a review at your Google Analytics profile for yourself and see what your highest referring site pages are.

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While we have 250 other pages on the site driving traffic to the site, in a given month we can expect that 80+% of that traffic will arrive on the homepage. With this in mind it is a great place to start our review.

 Open Up Them Huggin’ Arms

Ok, I meant figuratively. You need your hands to go back to the mouse and keyword. You need to traverse to your homepage. We know that the homepage isn’t the only referring landing page but an important one. Something that I commonly find on websites is that your first fold of display for a new user is often calls to action (CTA) and enticement towards “non-funnel” directions. Sections such as a coupon, latest news or “check out our blog” text stand out to me, and I wonder, do you want to send them off to content such as blog posts for example, immediately, or do you want to let them understand what you have to offer and why you are different? Why would you push them away from the conversion funnel instead of bringing them in to the funnel?

Example:

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Notice how we are opening our arms and hugging the visitors into the beginning of a destination we want them to arrive at? Yes, we link to our blog in the main navigation but this is definitely not glaring signal when one enters our site. Another point to think about on your homepage is that you want to hug the visitor, but you are doing so below the fold of the screen. Are you confident that users will see this? To gain a better understanding of this we urge you to take a look at behavioral mapping tools such as Lucky Orange(If you are a Vizion Interactive customer, you already have free access to this data).

The point in reviewing data from this source is that we can gain an understanding of how deep within the page most users are traveling so to better identify if they are still seeing us with arms wide open if we are not properly “funneling” above the fold.

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The above example of scroll depth tells me that my second fold of content on the homepage is only being seen by about 70% of those who saw the first fold of content. The point of this review is to ensure your hugging attempt begins in the above the fold display on the homepage. This tool is great as with this our review I can take a specific page of focus and look at link click activity and real-time page path behavior.

Keep on Hugging

So now that we have taken in a review of the homepage I want you to take a look again at the first image above. While the homepage brought on over 80% of traffic, in our case, we can see that the blog is a highly performing site type for driving traffic.

Coming to the realization that not all traffic comes through the homepage, we need to move this internal site section to understand if we are trying to hug the visitor. While I appreciate the average blog, one thing that I have always struggled with educating others is that the blog is often just an extension of a website. It often carries a much different main navigation component as well as an overall separate look and feel. While they can drive a lot of traffic, they can also bounce a lot of traffic.

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How do we turn that blog user around and give them a big hug? We provide an invitation to begin down the conversion funnel. The above image shows the green, yellow and red or the good, the alright and the “could be better”. Some have been interested enough to come to this page and read this resourceful content on persona development. What we are doing right is quickly providing a link to our persona development offering to help them understand why we are a great solution. What is “alright” is that we have the uniform call to action on the page but then again we are already asking for them to request a quote when they likely don’t even know what they might be interested in yet. This…is like asking for more than a hug in the initial meeting. What could be done better (I know, the cobbler’s children have no shoes, right?), is that we provide links in the sidebar to other blog topics when, honestly, we need to provide links and calls to action to offerings that we provide within the standard site section to hug them and bring them further into the funnel.

Where else do we Hug?

Ok, that sounds a little odd but nonetheless let’s keep moving. Again, back to the first image in this review you can see that beyond the homepage and the blog section we have people landing within the funnel. Great, it feels like they are jumping into your arms. Time to make sure we pass the no body odor/no bad breath test.

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Whether they jumped into the funnel at what is likely the second stage or even further down the funnel, are you providing continuation? Keep hugging.

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Analyzing deeper in the funnel, consider that this may not be their third pageview in their visit, this may be their first impression. They are new to the site and hopefully you provide the next step in the funnel and if they are not interested in being in the “hug” you should at least have supporting navigation to related content from every page so that you can help from losing this visitor.

Now, let us think about those who are not landing on the homepage or in the funnel, but traversing through the funnel. They like your hug.

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Head on back into analytics and through User Flow, with an advanced segment of Sessions with Conversions, gain an understanding of those common pathways on your site of those who are site objective converters. Inversely, do the same with an advanced segment of those who do not convert.

From your new “hugging” perspective:

  1. What is the common pathway of both types of visitors?
  2. Is this different from what I understand and had tried to mold as a conversion funnel?
  3. Am I doing a good job of trying to hug through BOTH of these pathways?

Conclusion

Granted, the “hugging” angle may sound a little corny, but you made it past all of the rather uncomfortable sub-headings and hopefully you have will take the “hug” methodology as a Mnemonic device to help you review your site. In the end, the objective of most all sites is to convert the user into a predetermined objective. Enjoy your month of love and remember you can always work to improve your conversion rate. Whoops, couldn’t resist the hug attempt!