For Analytics that Illuminate, Explore the User Experience

The User Experience. Your sales, your customer growth and the overall success of your brand all hinge on it. Give your customer a better experience, and all other things equal, your business wins the sale. Give your customer an inferior experience, and she’s likely not coming back.

As critical as UX is to customer acquisition, customer retention and overall sales growth, it’s uncommon to find a clear summary of UX performance within the typical recurring dashboard reports marketing teams use to assess performance. Why? Because it’s difficult to quantify. And what is hard to see is sometimes relegated to a lower priority.

But there is a danger in focusing on the statistics and data points that are easier to report and quantify. This pitfall is formally known as ‘observational bias’, and has also been nicknamed in business school textbooks as the ‘streetlight effect’. The term ‘streetlight effect’ is derived from the old anecdote about the inebriated man who lost his keys somewhere en route home, but when asked by a passing policeman why he was continually searching underneath a lamppost, responded that it was where all the light was.

Observational bias is a hazard for analysts of all stripes, but especially for digital marketing professionals deep in the weeds, analyzing eCommerce and Lead Generation performance.  Like a big box store parking lot at night, online business performance is illuminated by an expansive patchwork of performance indicators:  conversion rate, time on site, bounce rate, exit rate, pages per visit, etc.  And these are cross-tabbed by campaign, channel, day-of-week, geo, device and more.  Yet with all the data at hand, there are many businesses struggling to understand fundamental performance drivers that may be impacting results across the board.

For example, where do you look next if performance is down 10% everywhere? How do you find the missing sales comparing equally-impacted dimensions?

To find fresh inspiration on where to look deeper, observe your customer from a user experience perspective. Not just once, but repeatedly over time so that you can begin to recognize when behaviors look anomalous.  User Experience observation does not inherently mean expensive focus groups in usability labs. It can be done for less expense than you might expect using usability testing platforms, heat mapping tools or indirectly with pathing analysis tools like Google Analytics flow visualization reports.

Ultimately, there could be many issues and challenges globally impacting performance such as poor navigation elements, relevancy of internal site search results, confusing form fields or stock availability, to name a few. While standard reporting spreadsheets and statistics are essential to quantifying performance, observing behavior can be a critical step to unlocking which new questions to ask of your data.

So, if you are looking for an epiphany on where to go next, try following your customer beyond the everyday streetlights of your standard reporting, and dig into observing your customers’ user experience.

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