Using Psychology To Enhance Your Web Analytics

Lucy Hughes our consultant managing the role
Posting date: 10/3/2019 9:15 AM
Web Analytics have long been used to help companies understand their customers’ online behaviour, extracting and interrogating an abundance of information; from time spent on pages to bounce rates and conversion rates. Having provided a lot of insight as to what customer are doing online, these techniques have been less useful for understanding why they do it.

This is where psychology comes in. As the why of Web Analytics becomes more and more important, with companies always looking ways to edge out the competition, there are more links to psychological principles than you might expect. 

Of course, traditional Web Analytics and metrics remain very important. However, what psychology can do is help us speculate as to why customers may be behaving the way they do and, by doing so, allow businesses to make more informed changes to their websites, or conduct more conscious testing.  Without directly asking we will never know the real reason behind customer’s actions, but we can use a number of established psychological constructs to make well informed assumptions. We can then work this backwards and use these constructs to make changes to our sites that will fall in line with these assumptions in order to convert more customers. 

Familiarity


People tend to favour that which they are familiar with, whether it be items of clothing that match their preferred style or holidays like ones they have been on before. A customer visiting a page to find a series of unfamiliar products is more likely to leave without making a purchase. This is why personalisation is important; it gets rid of unnecessary information and leaves the user with products they are more likely to want. 

By working backwards, businesses can personalise their sites to each individual customer. If you’ve ever bought an item of clothing from an online shop only to be shown a number of similar items the next time you log on, you’ll know what I’m talking about. The thinking is that, as these items are more familiar to you, you’ll be more likely to either purchase them, or remain on the site to purchase something else. 

Social Proof 


Research into social proof has shown psychologists that the more people who reinforce a certain concept, the more likely it is that other individuals will perceive it as correct. This heuristic is used widely by companies like Just Eat and Deliveroo who allow customers to leave comments about their restaurants and give them a star rating. It is much more likely that conversion rate will be higher on restaurants with better reviews as the rating allows the customer to make a quick judgments on its quality. 

Scarcity


This is a cognitive bias where humans put more value on things that are scarce over those that are in abundance. If one site is showing a product with no indication to the quantity left but another company is showing a similar product where there are only three left, the customer is more likely to convert on the second site. Where an item is nearly unavailable, this suggests a number of things; it is more valuable and it is desired by more people (social proof) etc. Companies like Amazon and Asos use this technique by showing visitors when an item is low in stock or even showing how few are left, giving them an edge on conversion over their competitors.  

Web Analysts and CRO professionals should take note of user psychology and start to implement it in their day to day practice. In fact, some might be already without even knowing the fundamentals of the psychology behind these techniques. Applying the above techniques and testing these ideas could produce a boost in conversion that simple changes to user experience, like changing the position of the checkout basket, aren’t providing. 

A number of businesses are now looking for Analysts who can explain why customers are behaving in a certain way and tell a story with the Data, rather than just explaining what was found. Finding someone with this deeper understanding of user psychology has therefore an integral part to many hiring processes. By looking into this area, candidates are likely to increase their chances of securing the role they want. 

Whether you’re looking to expand your Web Analytics function or want to take the next step in your career, we can help. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to find out more. 

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