If you own a physical location such as a restaurant or retail shop, it’s pretty easy to see how prospective customers interact with your products and services. They walk in, pay attention to certain items, ignore or don’t notice others, and over time, show you the path that the majority of people will take toward purchasing (or not purchasing) from you. In a coffee shop, for example, it’s pretty easy to watch customers and notice if they are more drawn to high cocktail style tables or comfy armchairs. You can see if they’re searching under the tables for outlets to power their laptops or asking for the WiFi password. You know which drinks they are most interested in (mmm… pumpkin spice!) or which they are turned off by (was it the name or the ingredients that they hated?).
But how can you gather that same information from digital customers – those who check out your website but never make a purchase? How can you learn what brought them in, got them to click through, or ultimately turned them off before they completed their purchase?
There are many ways to get this information. All you need to know is how to ask.
Monitoring their Actions
This is the simplest form of user monitoring, and if you can set it up yourself, it’s free. Google Analytics tools will allow you to embed code on your website that will show you how people got to your site (did they click on your paid ads? directory listings? a link in a blog you wrote last year on another site? online search results?) The basic analytics tool will give you access to see which pages (ie: which products, services or topics) they were most interested in, how long they stayed on the site or on a particular page, and how they navigated through your pages. You can even see which page they left your website from.
By employing more advanced (still free, but more difficult to setup) Google Analytics monitoring, you can set event tracking and goals for specific actions. Want to know if people were more likely to click on a button or a text link, to increase the number of people getting to specific content? Want to see whether people coming from social media channels (free traffic) were more or less likely to request a meeting with you than those who came through your more expensive directory listings? You can do all that and more.
What Google Analytics won’t help you do, however, is identify and build relationships with specific people. It treats everyone on your website as the same person and identifies data based on numbers and percentages. It will not help you connect with prospective customers and provide them more tailored information that they are looking for, or follow up with them later.
Making the Ask
In order to start identifying individual people and learning more about them so that you can give them exactly what they’re looking for, find new people out in the world who have similar traits and interests and draw them into your website, and following up with them to build a relationship and entice them to come back, you’ll need to ask them for some contact information. At a minimum, an email address will help you to start building these profiles. Learn more about how you can collect email addresses and why they are so important in digital marketing.
Identifying and Profiling Users
Now we can get to the good stuff – using the email addresses and contact information you’ve been asking website visitors for to connect it to your analytics data in order to develop profiles of both individual users and segments of prospective customers. This is where a tool like Hubspot comes into play.
Among MANY other capabilities, this robust tool will allow you to use those email addresses to build profiles, and then to connect with people both on your website (customized content that’s tailored just for their needs! forms that are already filled out for them, and continue to lead them to give you more information to give them exactly what they want!) and off. Want to know what prospective customers are posting about on Twitter? Want to find more people who are similar to your best customers and advertise ONLY to them on Facebook? You can do that by using Facebook’s lookalike audiences to focus your ad budget on people who are more likely to be interested in your products or services.