There's more to evaluating the effectiveness of your online initiatives than Google Analytics. Below are some low cost, valuable tools every online marketer should consider adding to their toolkit.
Get a unique understanding of how visitors perceive and interact with your website, the possible issues they are encountering, and how they are moving around inside your site.
CrazyEgg allows you to create and analyze heat maps that show you exactly what your visitor are clicking on (and by default, what they ignoring). Simply choose the pages that you want to see this visual analysis for and choose the ‘Heat Map’ option. The brighter the color on the Heat Map overlay that gets shown, the more people are clicking on that area.
A ‘Confetti’ tool shows click behavior for specific segments of your visitors like repeat or new visits, or visitors coming from a certain referral source. Use this tool on your top entry pages to ensure that your visitors are clicking on the high value links or navigation options on these pages. If not, adjust the wording or layout on these pages to focus attention toward your conversion goal. Prices start at $9 a month.
ClickTale takes visual analysis one step further by recording and playing back your visitor’s interactions with your website in real time. These recordings allow you to watch your visitors' mouse movements, what they hover on, how far they scroll down the page, and even which form fields they get stuck on the most. The results of these interaction recordings are then automatically translated into static reports with aggregated data.
These recordings differ from traditional usability tests because visitors do not know that their web visit is being recorded, so their actions are more spontaneous and natural than they would be in a usability lab.
Similar visitor recording tools include Tealeaf and Userfly.
If you don't want to wait until your site is live before checking for things that might trip up your visitors, AttentionWizard might be a good option for you. This web-based tool uses a proprietary eye pattern algorithm to analyze and predict visual attention and flow. AttentionWizard works with a screenshot image of your landing page, so you can upload either a design mockup or a screen capture of a live page. Within minutes, you'll receive a heatmap that shows attention "hot spots" and how the eye is predicted to travel from one design element to the next.
While analytics reports what visitors are doing, the only way to really understand "why" is to ask. These tools can give you important visitor insight.
Chances are good you've either created or taken a survey by SurveyMonkey in the past. But have you thought about using it to collect feedback from your site visitors? With its easy interface, SurveyMonkey allows you to quickly create a survey that would ask important questions about your visitors' goals in coming to your site, whether they found what they came for, and if not, what problems they encountered.
Other online survey tools include Avinash Kaushik’s 4Q tool (free but limited in functionality) and OpinionLab.
By placing a feedback button that stays in the bottom corner of your website, this tool allows your visitors to click and give feedback in a number of ways. The first and most simple way is for them to rate your website on a scale of 1 to 5 – a useful barometer of the overall visitor satisfaction of your website.
Second and even more useful, your visitors can choose a particular feedback topic they wish to rate, for example ‘Suggestion’, ‘Bug’ or ‘Complaint’.
Some of the best ideas for your improving website won’t actually come from your team, but from the people who use your website most often – your site visitors. UserVoice is specifically designed for this purpose, allowing your website visitors to publicly submit and share their ideas, as well as browse and vote up other visitor’s ideas. For as little as $19 a month, you can quickly generate a list of the top 10 things that visitors want to see improved or added to your website.
Live web chat services such as LivePerson allow you to programmatically pop-up offers to help whenever it seems a visitor is "stuck." For example, if a user's activity stalls on the middle page of your shopping cart, you can popup a message and ask them if they need help. By analyzing and categorizing your web chats, you'll be able to quickly identify the pages or processes on your site causing the most visitor confusion.
Many websites often have basic, easily preventable site performance and technical issues that alienate visitors or reduce possible conversion rates. Slow loading web pages, or processes that don't function the same in all browsers, can cause major drops in conversion.
Do you know if your website breaks or has issues with any of the different combinations of browsers, screen resolution sizes and operating systems? And do you know whether vital information is not showing above the fold on common screen resolutions? Probably not, because the number of combinations you would have to test is mind boggling. CrossBrowserTesting automates this process, and allows you to easily see if your site looks strange or breaks on different combinations, for example Mac users using FireFox 2.5 on a screen resolution of 1680 X 1050. This really is essential for uncovering basic website issues, a bargain at just $20 for the basic monthly plan.
Usability testing allows you to test your design ideas on actual representative users of your website. It can be an effective means of uncovering disconnects between user’s expectations and your designs and therefore potential issues with your website and landing pages. These cost-effective alternatives to traditional testing eliminate every excuse you might have had about not doing usability testing.
UserTesting allows you to select from a network of anonymous website testers, set tasks and ask questions for them to try and answer, and then gives you a video of them talking through the process of interacting with your website as well as a written summary describing the problems they encountered on your website. At prices as low as $29 per user, you can collect some inexpensive anecdotal feedback that is based on your specific conversion tasks. While testing just a few users may not be statistically valid, the results could be eye-opening for your team when it comes to basic site usability issues.
Loop11 allows you to invite your actual site visitors -- while they are on your site -- to participate in a brief task-completion exercise. An example task might be ’Find our product demo request form’. If the visitor completes the task they click the ‘task complete’ button, and if they can’t complete it, they click on the ‘abandon task’ button. You can then review task completion reports and come to a better understanding of task completion rate - and fix any problematic tasks that users are experiencing.
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