working on a laptop in a restaurant

Using Behavioral Intelligence to Improve Your Site's User Experience

6 minute read
Tom Shapiro avatar
Web analytics only tells half the story, digital body language tells the rest.

Imagine you’re at an industry conference. It’s happy hour, so you grab a drink and turn to the attendee next to you. What do you do next? You don’t just throw a business card at them and walk away. If you do, you’re a lousy networker.

If you're a good networker, you start a conversation.

If you're a great networker, you take that conversation to the next level by adjusting the conversation based on their body language. If they lean in when you talk about search engine optimization but check their watch when you talk about paid search, well ... then you talk more about SEO.

So the question is this: why aren’t more companies doing this with their website visitors?

Editor's Note: This is the third and final part in a three-part series on why your audience clicks. Read the whole series here.

The Importance of Digital Body Language

Most companies just throw their digital business card at their site visitors, meaning they rely solely on web analytics such as Google Analytics to understand site performance — but web analytics only tells half the story.

Here’s an example: one of our clients thought they had a popular knowledge hub based on the data they were seeing in Google Analytics. But can you guess what happened when we applied behavioral analytics? Nothing. The hub was an abject failure!

It received a lot of page views (which thrilled our client), but the digital body language on the page made it clear that site visitors were not finding what they wanted or clicking on what was offered. They weren’t even scrolling far enough to see the majority of what was in the knowledge hub.

What our client thought was a wild success was really doing more harm than good. Instead of converting, users left with a bad taste in their mouth never to return.

If this client had only looked at Google Analytics, they would have continued to think the knowledge hub was a success and never would’ve made any changes. It took behavioral analysis to peek under the hood and discover just how bad of an experience the hub was for everyone arriving on the page.

Related Article: Reading the Digital Cues: Actions Speak Louder Than Words

How Behavioral Analysis Is Conducted

Behavior Mapping

FullStory, MouseFlow, Decibel, Inspectlet and Hotjar are all applications that provide behavioral analytics for websites. Behavioral mapping includes everything from click and heat mapping to attention and scroll mapping. These tools are instrumental in finding out if your site is effective. By seeing where on the site people look, click, spend time and scroll, you gain a deeper understanding of what is and isn’t working.

For example, you may find that none of your site visitors scroll more than 50 percent down your page. If your most important messaging is at the bottom of the page, your visitors never see it. With this newfound knowledge, you can adjust your site accordingly.

Or, let’s say click mapping shows your users are clicking the same spot over and over and over again, but there’s nothing there to click. With this data, you realize your visitors are “rage clicking” — clicking a spot repeatedly thinking it’s a link when it’s not. Now you know you need to adjust your design.

Video Recordings

Some behavioral intelligence programs take mapping a step further by providing actual video recordings of site visitors. There’s no webcam involved (that’d be creepy), just a recording of their screen, cursor movements, navigation patterns, and the elements that get the most attention. Essentially, you get a live view of their digital body language.

Learning Opportunities

This type of qualitative data is highly useful in providing insights the aggregate data may not reveal. Filtering the videos by campaign or traffic source or by the type of visitor (new vs. returning, etc.) can help you uncover new opportunities to improve the site experience for your visitors.

Related Article:What Are Behavioral Biometrics and How Do They Fit in Marketing?

Form Analytics

Let’s say you’re collecting leads via a form on your site. Or at least, you’re trying to collect leads. But you’re not getting the volume you’re looking for.

When you look at Google Analytics, all you see is that your users aren’t clicking “submit.” You assume they’re not touching the form at all.

When you fire up the form analytics, however, you see something different: most visitors are filling out their first name and email but hesitating when you ask for their last name or their phone number or zip code. Now you know the form itself is the problem — not the arrangement of the page.

Behavior-Based CTAs

A similar function can apply to behavior-based CTAs. If you have a form at the bottom of the page but behavioral analysis shows your users never scroll that far, you might decide to add a behaviorally-triggered CTA — a CTA that pops up after a user takes a certain action such as when they start to leave your site.

We added one such CTA in our blog, requesting that visitors subscribe to our newsletter. The site visitor needs to scroll down 70 percent of a post before it’s triggered. Amazingly, we experienced a 300 percent jump in opt-in rate. Pretty sweet!

Polls and Surveys

If you thought we were done, think again. There’s still more that behavioral intelligence can do, like uncovering contextually relevant audience insights through polls and surveys. Let’s say you have a page that’s promoting a certain service. Insert a poll on the page that lets them indicate what they are trying to achieve. Or inquire about what brought them to the page. Or simply ask if they’re finding what they’re looking for. Apply conditional logic to the survey, and you’ll be able to customize the survey questions based on their initial responses, helping you uncover deeper insights.

Related Article: Why They Click: The Psychology of Your Audience

Next Step, Excellent User Experiences

All of this awesome data helps you do three major things: 1) understand your audience better, 2) engage with them on a deeper level and 3) deliver a better user experience.

About the author

Tom Shapiro

Tom Shapiro is the author of the book Rethink Your Marketing and is CEO of Stratabeat, Inc., a B2B branding, web design, and marketing agency.

About CMSWire

For nearly two decades CMSWire, produced by Simpler Media Group, has been the world's leading community of customer experience professionals.


Today the CMSWire community consists of over 5 million influential customer experience, digital experience and customer service leaders, the majority of whom are based in North America and employed by medium to large organizations. Our sister community, Reworked gathers the world's leading employee experience and digital workplace professionals.

Join the Community

Get the CMSWire Mobile App

Download App Store
Download google play