Moving from data-driven to human-centric

Almost anyone remotely involved in marketing nowadays says that they are data-driven. Everything revolves around data and numbers and ROI. 

It kind of feels like our society has built this environment in which we’re all obsessed with numbers – the numbers of likes a picture gets on your Instagram account will, most likely, determine how you feel about it afterward. The number of shares or claps or retweets one of your articles gets will determine its value and the quality of its content. 

We need to reach a certain income by the time we are a certain age. We have Forbes 20 under 20, 30 under 30, 100, 500, and so on. The hierarchy seems to be determining our level of happiness and self-appreciation. Even

Our obsession continues with numbers at the box-office for any new movie. “Bad boys for life tops Super Bowl Weekend while The Rhythm Section is a record worst opening”. This will make 80-90% of us want or not want to see a movie. If not that many people thought it was good, why would we risk wasting 2 hours of our lives on it? And that’s what it comes down to in the end, no? We don’t take chances anymore – take a chance to have a meal at a restaurant that does not yet have enough reviews, take a chance to watch a movie that is not so highly rated or reviewed and so on. 

That brings me to the point I’m about to make with this article, an article which started as a completely different thing but you know what, this is important too 🙂 

Are we too focused on numbers that we forget to take into consideration the human aspect of it all? Our Instagram posts should be aimed at humans, not algorithms. Our blog articles should offer value and knowledge, original information that readers care about, not a 1200-words piece rotating around that keyword we definitely need to rank for. Data-driven is great but it should lead to a human-centric approach wherever possible.

Find out why things are not working. Not just what’s not working.

We are seeing this behavior in ecommerce businesses and the way they look at their buyers, their website visitors, their returning customers. What’s the first thing that we do when we want to analyze an online store’s performance? We look at the numbers in analytics! We draw up our reports and identify segments based on specific demographic features, we identify drop-off points from the conversion path, we identify which sources of traffic are bringing in valuable users that are likely to convert and which sources of traffic are bringing in users that are not likely to convert so we stop spending money on those users. 

Some might stop there – they know where “they’re leaking money”  (an expression we all love and have used until there was nothing left of it) so they can fix those leaks and then voila! Increased conversion rates, more money, more profit. 

However, although numbers give you the “what” is not working in your conversion funnel and on your website, the numbers are not giving you the “why” it’s not working. 

For those purposes, we need to get back to being human and start talking to our users. Sometimes this is the only way through which you can get valuable information and actually start making worthwhile decisions for your business. 

There are different ways to learn what your users want and what they don’t want from the experience they have on your website and with your brand and products. 

Bring in the qualitative research

This is really where qualitative research comes into play and it is a major part of our conversion research for any ecommerce scaling program. 

The purpose of qualitative research is to help you get an in-depth understanding of the customers’ behavior and the reasons they behave that way. 

Techniques for qualitative research

  1. Site polls
  2. Customer surveys
  3. User testing
  4. Live chat transcripts
  5. Session recordings

Site polls

Where do you launch these site polls? Do a quick funnel analysis and identify the drop-off points. 

If 70% of your users are leaving on the product pages, there might be something there that is not convincing them. What better way to find out than to ask them? Our typical site poll looks something like this:

Customer Surveys

We typically like to ask between 7 to 10 questions. The idea behind any question is that you want to understand more about your buyers and what defines them, just make sure it’s information you can actually use in your future communication and in the way you tailor their experience. 

It might be fun to know whether your customers wear briefs or boxers but unless you’re selling underwear, it might not be very useful to you. 

This is a list of what we usually ask and then tailor questions according to each brand:

What can you tell us about yourself? (you want to find out their age, occupation, location but also how they identify themselves – it might be golf pro, fishing aficionado, vegan, etc.). 

What made you buy our products/become our subscriber/sign-up? (this is good to identify the main points that convince users to buy so you can emphasize them in further communication with your prospects)

What doubts and hesitations did you have before buying/subscribing/signing up? (by knowing their doubts you can immediately address them on your website and make the conversion process a lot smoother)

What would you miss if you could not use our products/services anymore? (this will give you a nice insight into the things they value the most about your product or service) 

What is the one big thing we are missing? (you always want to improve your services and product and who better to ask than your clients?)

User testing

User testing is a way to see first-hand how users interact with your website. 

  • You need about 5-10 test subjects
  • They should follow a set of instructions on the site. Write these in such a way that will walk users through the funnel but also leaves enough freedom for them to stumble on the things that maybe don’t make that much sense or are not that obvious
  • You can also include a competitor in the mix and let the user choose between the two 
  • Their comments and feedback will be full of insights and value

There are several platforms out there, you just need to choose the one that is best for you.

You can get users on Fiverr as well, especially if you need testers for a site that is not in one of the main languages provided by the platforms mentioned above.

Live chat transcripts can be a gold mine

You will see that almost any website now has a live chat widget. Most likely, you also have one on your website! 

How often do you actually look at the chat transcripts if you’re not the one managing the chat? These chats work exactly like a customer survey and you will be able to pinpoint what main issues or doubts bother your users and prevent them from converting. 

Really understand what your users are saying

Now that you have all this information from your users and the way they feel about specific things, you need to properly interpret it and categorize it in action items. 

Some things will go in the bucket where you just do them, they won’t need to be tested, they just make sense and are a hindrance to the user experience unless they’re fixed.

Other things will go in your A/B testing pile, you should develop solid testing hypotheses based on the information you collected and then implement and test. 

We have an article on conversion rate optimization for ecommerce stores that walks through the basics of testing so go ahead and give that a read as well. 

If you feel like you’d use some help in crafting optimization strategies or implementing them, drop us a line at [email protected] and let’s talk!

By Andra Baragan

Andra Baragan is an experienced conversion optimization specialist and a certified ConversionXL Optimizer and Data Analyst. She has worked with over 80 online businesses and has brought over 6 figures in increased revenue for them. She is the founder of Ontrack Digital Agency.

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