Tracking and Analyzing Website User Behavior

What is user behavior?

User behavior describes how people interact with a website when they visit. User behavior can refer to how much time they spend on a page, how many pages they visit as well as how many actions they take, such as clicking on a link or playing a video.

User behavior and GDPR

Since the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), you may be wondering whether you might get yourself into trouble when you analyze your user data from your website. The good news is that since Analytics assigns users anonymous ID numbers, personally identifiable information cannot be tied to their website user behavior.

Aspects of user behavior

In order to have a full picture of user behavior, you need to analyze all its aspects. There are three aspects of user behavior:

  • Analytics
  • Usability testing
  • Customer support

Let’s look at each briefly.

Analytics

Track time on site in Analytics

This aspect gives you information about how people are using your website or app so that you can identify trends and patterns. The example above shows strong efforts to constantly increase the average amount of time people spend on the website.

The example below shows a website that is suffering from user experience issues that are causing people to spend a decreasing amount of time on the site.

Decreasing time on site

Customer support

Your offsite customer support is another way to measure and gain insight into your website’s user behavior. NPS surveys, feedback forms and even phone calls can give you understanding into your customers’ goals and what pain points they encounter on your website.

Tracking NPS, response times, bounce rates and other customer success metrics can help create a better user experience for your website.

Usability testing

This has to do with UX. How easy is it for customers to achieve their goals on your website or app? To get this information, you may watch them as they navigate your site to achieve a specific goal.

In this guide, we will focus on the first aspect: analytics, with some solutions leaning heavily on UX or customer support.

Tracking user behavior via the Page Analytics Extension

This is a Google Chrome extension that allows you to connect your Google Analytics account so that you don’t need to keep logging in. It allows you to access the GA interface as you surf your website.

Google Analytics browser plugin

You can select the date range, and see user behavior metrics like page views, bounce rate and average time per session. You can also segment your data into new versus returning users, device (mobile vs desktop), and campaign (paid vs organic). Real-time data allows you to see the users on your site at that moment.

Heat Maps

This part of the extension allows you to see the percentage of visitors that have clicked on any clickable area of your site. What buttons or links did the users click on? Did they click on specific buttons that you wanted them to, like your, call to action buttons?

Heat maps help you to make the necessary changes to adapt to your users’ behavior. You may find that the most popular pages or the pages that engage users the most aren’t the ones you predicted.

Tracking User Behavior KPIs

For you to effectively track and measure user behavior, you need to have overall business objectives. KPIs (key performance indicators) that measure the achievement of your marketing strategy and segmented users, goals, or market activities.

Here are some of the KPIs that you need to look out for when measuring user behavior:

Conversion Goals

You can track user behavior based on the goals that you have set for your website or campaign. People usually think of goals as a purchase but they could also be an email signup, form submission or even reaching a certain amount of time spent on a page.

It may help to assign a monetary value to your goal, so as to track how much revenue you’re driving for your business with your website.

Behavior flow

The behavior flow report helps you determine the paths your users take from one page to the next. It helps you see the content that visitors engage with as well as the pages they visit before leaving your site, thus identifying potential content or usability issues.

Events tracking

Events are usually used in apps to understand how users share content with others when they select specific content and even use the search function within the app. On websites, events can track gadget interactions, file downloads and shared content.

Enhanced e-commerce tracking

If you run an e-commerce site, enhanced e-commerce tracking helps you analyze product impressions, product detail views, checkouts, product clicks, adding products to a shopping cart, transactions and even refunds.

Common Issues Identified by Tracking User Behavior

The behavior flow report shows you the pages that have high and low exit rates. What does the exit rate tell us?

It depends on what the page is, but the exit/drop-off rate can clue us into a few issues.

High exit rates

Obviously, if your order confirmation page has a drop-off rate near 100%, that’s not such a bad thing. This is a sign the user got what they were looking for and then moved on.

That doesn’t mean their customer journey with you needs to be over, however. You may want to include another step that would allow for remarketing, for instance, or signing up for a newsletter.

Recurring customers are more valuable than new customers.

Users did not get what they wanted

Pages with high exit rates that aren’t confirmation pages could point to an issue with your website’s usability or content. These issues could be preventing your site from ranking as high as it otherwise could.

There are 2 options for diagnosing exit rates:

  • Heatmaps: Heatmaps allow you to track how far people scroll when they visit one of your pages. They also allow you to track clicks on a page. This gives you an idea of how far into your page someone gets so you can move content and buttons for maximum visibility.

  • Screen recorders: Sometimes called sessions recordings, this software will record a user’s session on your page. So you can see how an individual interacts with a page on an individual level. This lets you see pages that are confusing or frustrating for users.

Unoptimized sales process

If the users leave in the middle of a funnel, that is a clear indicator of a problem. Depending on how your sales process is set up, you might have too many steps or a form that is too long. Or you might be asking users for information that isn’t relevant or necessary for the transaction.

Again, a heatmap or session recorder could be helpful in identifying exactly what the problem is.

Page popularity disparity

As you track your events data or even behavior flow data, you will notice some really popular pages that help send users around your site and those that seem to have high drop-offs. What pages have more traffic?

Your users could be relating to those more. Create content that is similar to those pages, maybe in terms of content type. Maybe long listicles are actually what your audience needs, or infographics or videos.

You may also have a "most popular content “ section on your website so that you have more traction with the content that is already doing well.

High bounce rates

A "bounce" refers to a user who visits a page and then leaves without taking any other action. A bounce isn’t always a bad thing, it depends on your goal of the page in question. If your page does have a goal action and has a high bounce rate, tracking user behavior can help you uncover that issue.

Note carefully that bounce rate and exit rate sound similar, but they aren’t necessarily the same thing. If someone lands on a page, takes an action and then leaves your site, that counts as an exit, not a bounce.

Next Steps

User behavior is vital data when it comes to improving your overall marketing performance as well as your search engine rankings. If you aren’t already tracking user behavior on your site, your next step should be to choose and install an analytics tool. Google Analytics is a power — and free — option.

Once you’ve installed analytics tracking on your site, it’s time to start collecting data for later analysis.

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