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The reputation doctor: “Why do people bounce off my site?”

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Q: How can surveys help me understand my website visitors?

A: It is very easy to think that you know what is happening on your website. Analytics tools tell you where and how you got the visitors, and what they did when they were on the site. It can feel like you already understand a great deal about user behaviour. However, the underlying reasons why people do not feel impelled to buy your service or product, abandon their purchases, or bounce entirely are not so clear.

Surveys, usability tests and feedback forms can tell you not just that people are failing to complete your booking request form but why that is the case. When you are optimising a website’s performance, the best way to approach it is to find out what objections your customers have (e.g. price too high, don’t trust the site, booking form is too long) and then try to overcome those objections.

This may mean using testimonials from other guests (make them genuine ones), adding your rates prominently if they are highly competitive or cutting out as many stages in the booking process as possible. You know your site, so you are not best placed to judge what someone coming to the site afresh will think and to what they will object.

Surveys give you the benefit of hearing real customers’ feelings about the site. There are many cheap or even free tools that can help you gather this valuable information, but be warned that with genuine feedback comes genuine criticism of your website – so be prepared to take on board their views. If you are getting a repeated pattern of criticism about an aspect of the site, be prepared to act to resolve the issue.

If you continue to use surveys in this way, discovering problems and resolving them, then you will consistently improve your website’s performance which can only benefit your business in the long run.

This solution was written in conjunction with Richard Cotton, Distilled’s conversion rate optimisation expert.

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