With coronavirus cases on the rise and entire countries asked to work from home, 2020 was a year of shifting paradigms.
The digital transformation that’s been simmering for years was suddenly thrust into the spotlight. In many cases, if it wasn’t digital; it simply wasn’t happening. In fact, some brands experienced 10 years of digital growth condensed into just three months, according to McKinsey. Digital transformation is no longer a choice – it’s a survival strategy.
Which means the digital customer journey is now one of the most important tools in the business world.
Despite this, for many the customer journey bucket is leakier than the average colander. So what lessons can we learn from the past year? We collated data from 20 billion-plus web sessions to bring you some much-needed clarity and help take your web visitors from mild interest to bona-fide customers.
Stage 1: Don’t shut the door in their face
So you managed to get someone to visit your website – great. Bad news though. Our data suggests that 47% of these visitors will leave before you get a chance to create a connection with them.
The B2B industry suffers the most; with a bounce rate of 75%, demonstrating the need to articulate value quickly before the visitor loses interest. The industries with the lowest bounce rates were energy (38%), grocery (40%) and travel (42%), where visitors may be more intentional in their purpose, paying bills or buying their weekly food shop.
We also see that people are most likely to bounce when using a mobile device, reflective of our consistently less patient relationship with digital – one that relies heavily on instant gratification. Little surprise then that high mobile bounce rates are consistent across all industries (with the exception of B2B, where tablets performed the worst). As mobile traffic spiked significantly in 2020 (+16%), it’s more essential than ever to nail your mobile experience.
Did you know:
Google will soon use only the mobile version of your website to evaluate the relevance of your page to a users search query. Make sure your mobile experience at least matches your desktop experience.
So how can you prevent losing half your audience at the starting line?
Attract the right visitors
An engine is only as strong as the fuel you put in it (just ask my mechanic). If your web visitors are leaving straight away, the chances are that they’re the wrong kind of visitor, and your targeting may need attention. Focus on high-value keywords and consider whether your keywords are focused on awareness or conversion.
Improve content accessibility
It’s simple – if a user is unwilling or unable to interact with your content, they’ll leave. Make sure your content is simple and brief, relevant and consistent across your brand. More importantly, there are millions of people with impairments that may actually be unable to use your site, leading to both a terrible experience, a lost customer and a poor reputation.
Ensure your website is speedy
A slow website is sure to frustrate your users. Not only that, but the introduction of Google Core Web Vitals means that from May, your website will be ranked according to the overall user experience, including site load speed. The time to act is now.
Avoid pop-ups on your homepage
The age of the pop-up is over. Disrupting a user’s journey can have a negative effect on sentiment, particularly if execution issues occur (we’ve all had the unclosable mobile pop-up experience). If you plan to use pop-ups, try using them further into the journey to promote deeper navigation.
Stage 2: Don’t drop the baton
You’ve avoided the dreaded bounce, and the user is engaging. Don’t pop the champers though, you haven’t passed the finish line yet.
Forty-five percent of all web content went unseen in 2020 (to calculate content unseen, we compare the total number of pages on a site to the number of pages not viewed by 95% or more of traffic). In the beauty and apparel industries this climbs to 60% and 59% respectively – huge numbers. All that hard work to serve content that most people will never see.
On top of this, we observed that the average scroll rate (or the percentage of the page that a user views) is only 56.8%. Even if a visitor makes it to your content, they’re still missing almost half of what they find.
We also found that users spent an average of eight seconds less on each page in 2020 than they did the previous year; 54 seconds, compared to 62 seconds in 2019. Time spent on page is a great indicator of content engagement, and interestingly the B2B industry exhibits the highest time per page at an impressive 1m 37s, suggesting that B2B audiences are more engaged than we initially thought.
How do we ensure that your content is seen and consumed by your audience?
Sometimes, less is more
To fix the problem, first you need to understand it. Use a behavioural analytics tool to audit your web content. Focus on identifying well-placed but underperforming content and consider replacing it with potential gems that are hidden under a pile of irrelevant fluff.
A/B test everything
Whenever introducing new or updated content, create practical hypotheses that you can test. Nothing should get onto your site without being tested against an alternative. Your tests should be simple but bold, and relevant to your business objectives.
Order, order! *Whacks gavel*
The order of elements on a page can have a huge impact on the consumption of your content. Identify where on a page your users are interacting most actively, and consider switching up the order to promote the most relevant stuff, or to improve the user experience by making it easier or quicker to complete important tasks.
Stage 3: Always be closing
The user stayed on your site, and they interacted with your content. Amazing. Now for the most important thing – closing the deal.
As the range of conversion goals can be wildly different between industries, we’ve focused here on eCommerce. Across all included industries, we measured an average conversion rate of 1.8%, down from 2.4% in 2019.
The dip in CVR may be due to the increase in search volumes in 2020. People were filling their spare time with mindless web browsing, and may have channeled their lockdown frustrations into online window-shopping. We saw especially large peaks in traffic at the start of Covid-19 quarantine.
Grocery brands saw the highest average conversion rate (5%), indicative again of purposeful browsing, whereas luxury sits at only 0.8%. Of all the industries, luxury is particularly driven by mobile browsing, and the conversion rate for mobile continues to be a problem.
How can we boost that all-important conversion rate?
Ruthlessly find and fix errors
Small site UX errors – like failed discount codes, unclear CTAs or lengthy forms – could be keeping your customers from converting, Troubleshoot your site to remove friction and ensure you’re providing users with a seamless, error-free experience.
Simplify your conversion journey
Long and tedious journeys will frustrate your customer and increase the chance of errors. Try to minimise the number of touches needed to convert, and include clear instructions at each stage of the journey so the user can’t get lost.
Focus on your mobile experience
Mobile conversion is an issue, and as mobile use continues to grow year on year it’s vital that you maximise the mobile experience. Consider navigation tricks such as sticky menus to make the user journey easy, but remember to maintain content consistencies between your desktop and mobile journey.
Although questions remain over the stickiness of our new-found behaviours, it’s clear that 2020 rocked the digital experience boat. The move to mobile consumerism continues unabated and it’s more important than ever to tick the technical boxes if you want to reach, engage and convert your audience.
The digital customer journey is the new marketing battleground, but we didn’t need to tell you that. We’re certainly looking forward to seeing some innovative new approaches to creating stand-out digital experiences. One thing’s for sure, though many brands already have a well-established online presence, the race to understand and capitalise upon these shifting digital behaviours is on. Will you win that race? Your customers may thank you if you do.
For a more in-depth look at how you compare to your competition, check out Contentsquare’s 2021 Digital Experience Benchmarks report. With 12 months of data from 900-plus websites and over 20 billion user sessions, you’ll see how your CX stacks up against the competition.