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Get a VOC Clue! Digital Tools for Understanding Online Visitors

Posted on 12.01.2013

:: By Tim Ash, CEO of SiteTuners and Chair of Conversion Conference ::

A lot of lip service is paid to the idea of “voice of customer” or VOC. In the daily reality of online marketing jobs, however, it’s something rarely listened to. Instead, Internet professionals substitute their audiences’ attitudes and motivations for their own biases, resulting in frustrating user experiences on websites and lost profits for digital enterprises.

It does not have to be this way. There are many tools available to learn about visitor perspectives.

These VOC tools are classified in two ways: qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative tools provide the ability to collect unique, detailed and personal insights from individuals, while quantitative tools allow for the measurement and analysis of aggregated behavior from many site visitors. Some tools combine both qualitative and quantitative aspects. Used in combination, these methods offer a proven way to get inside Web visitors’ heads.

Quantitative Tools

Google Analytics (GA) has become an industry standard in quantifying website visitors and their behaviors — meaning most readers are likely quite familiar with the service. Google Analytics shows how many people visited a website, where they came from and what they did on the site. Marketers, or the like, can drill down deeper to learn about the devices they use, where they are located, if they are repeat visitors and other rich metrics. Custom goal tracking can also be set up to measure the key performance indicators (KPIs) that are important to a business.

Adobe Analytics is a popular enterprise solution. It collects, analyzes and segments data to help marketers understand the meaning behind the numbers. To receive additional insights, marketers can also link to other data sources, such as customer relationship management (CRM) or marketing automation solutions. Adobe Analytics even integrates with Adobe’s Test&Target platform so inferences can be tested.

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Clicky real-time Web analytics offers detailed information on a site’s visitors, including their IP addresses and the companies the visitors come from (if known). The solution also provides robust metrics including current online visitors, number of actions, return visitors, new visitors, page-level data, location-based data, technology- fueled info (like browser, operating system, etc.), as well as, and perhaps most impressive, mouse-movement heat maps of visitors’ actions.

Some newer analytics tools are getting much more granular, recording the minutest level of information about individual user sessions occurring on a site. The “in-page” analytics packages are measuring mouse movements, the time it takes to complete form-fields, as well as recording individual user sessions for later playback.

ClickTale’s mouse-movement heat-map functionality, for example, provides a mouse-hover overlay showing where users position their cursors most frequently on a Web page. Additionally it offers “scroll reach” heat maps showing how far down site visitors actually go based on a percentage. User sessions can be recorded and played back. ClickTale is also solving the mystery of mobile browsing with ClickTale Mobile, currently in beta.

Crazy Egg is another great option for inexpensive inpage analytics. The solution counts the number of clicks on certain page elements and reports on the numerical data, and its “confetti” feature lets one distinguish clicks by referral source or screen size. Crazy Egg's ScrollMap tool even shows how far down the page site visitors are scrolling and gives the insight needed to see what aspects of a page site visitors aren’t seeing.

Another way to incorporate voice of customer is to actually see what people prefer. Testing tools allow Internet professionals to show different versions of content to people, and to determine which one they prefer.

Optimizely is a popular split-testing solution because it works for both entry-level and enterprise marketers, with a pricing model, features and benefits that scale from startup to enterprise. Higher-end packages allow for testing through the funnel — offering multivariate testing, geo-targeting and support targeting down to IP addresses. The starter edition doesn’t bog down small teams with extra features, and provides just the essentials. The solution also offers easy configuration of tests, so non-coders can run experiments quickly and frequently.

SiteSpect is a noninvasive solution for testing just about anything that is best suited for larger enterprises. Internet professionals working with creaky and complex content management systems (CMS) that tend to break when new features or code are added to pages, might want to consider SiteSpect. The solution works by intercepting page requests from Web servers and substituting one of the versions being tested on the fly.

Qualitative Tools

Not all voice of customer input needs to be objective, measurable or based on large statistically valid samples of visitors. Often, the quirky feedback from one specific site visitor can lead to critical realizations and ideas for improvement.

SurveyMonkey offers a suite of survey tools to help get answers in quantitative and qualitative formats. Marketers can custom design questions and deploy the surveys directly on a Web page, through Facebook or via email. The questions can be answered in a number of ways including multiple choice, rating scales or open-ended text comments.

Qualaroo is another option to survey website visitors and obtain comments and feedback directly through Web pages. Companies can gain actionable feedback by asking questions on high-bounce-rate or low-converting pages, for example, or after a conversion takes place.

UserTesting is unique in that it has a pre-screened panel of Internet users ready to interact with a site and try to accomplish whatever tasks a business puts in front of them. The user panel is taught to talk aloud during their tasks, and the screens and audio are both recorded. This helps eliminate the biases that are brought to design, as having people unfamiliar with a site grappling with it can often be an eye-opening experience. Businesses pay per user session recorded, and usually get results back very quickly without having to recruit people for a usability test.

Loop11 lets brands set up their own self-serve usability tests and recruit their own audiences. So if a marketer’s needs go beyond the more generic audience, he or she can fully manage all aspects of the usability testing program in-house.

About the Author: Tim Ash is the CEO of SiteTuners, Chair of Conversion Conference and bestselling author of “Landing Page Optimization”.

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