Understanding User Behaviour and Increasing Site “Stickiness” at #SESLondon

Understanding User Behaviour and Increasing Site “Stickiness” at #SESLondon

22nd February 2012

This is penultimate session of Day 2 at SES London and at the SEO track we have Stephen Pavlovich and Jeff Slipko. Stephen and Jeff will be explaining how and why SEO links to brand building and goes beyond just increasing visitor numbers. The subject for the session is Understanding User Behaviour and Increasing Site “Stickiness” and some of the tips they give away should help websites to keep visitors on a site as long as possible.



Here we go:

The first of the two speakers in this session is Stephen Pavlovich from Conversion Factory. He has worked with a lot of clients ranging from start-ups to £5b/yr web giants to help them improve their conversion rate.

In this session he is going to give away some tips that will tell us:

1)      How conversion optimisation can give you a bigger budget for SEO

2)      How it will unlock unprofitable keywords, making your PPC campaigns more profitable than ever

3)      And how understanding stickiness can improve your conversion optimisation strategy

If you take a typical sales funnel (as shown below) we can see that there is a constant flow when it comes to SEO and PPC and Conversion Optimisation impacts every stage of this funnel.

If you can show to your client or boss that you have improved the Conversion Rate, you will stand a much better chance of being able to ask them for more budget to spend on PPC and SEO in order to continue growing the revenue of the site. To achieve this you must have a Conversion Optimisation strategy in place.

Conversion Optimisation also Impacts PPC!

Stephen gave us a couple of examples of how conversion optimisation impacts PPC, one of which is shown below:

1)      You are bidding on an exact match keyword that is highly competitive

2)      It is already profitable and generates a lot of traffic each month

3)      Applying CRO can add a 20% increase to the Conversion Rate so profit is likely to go up by the same percentage

4)      You get more budget to spend on the keyword

5)      The average position goes up and drives more traffic

6)      This all equals MORE REVENUE and MORE PROFIT

You could also do the same for a keyword that isn’t profitable but instead of adding more profit to the keyword, applying CRO can help it to become profitable.

What is Stickiness?

Stickiness is NOT about time on site. We don’t care how long people spend on the site, it is about how many of those people convert, drive sales and increase revenue!

“Time on Site Doesn’t Pay the Bills!”

“Stickiness is about engaging your visitors even after they have converted”

The Online Marketers Buying Process (far too simplistic)

The Traditional Marketers Buying Process

So, how does the traditional buying apply to online marketing? There are two types of purchases that you need to be aware of here:

1)      Impulse – An impulse purchase can last for just one session (iPhone App download, song download)

2)      Complex – A complex purchase which lasts over several sessions over several weeks (Holiday Booking, Car Purchase)

Stephen uses someone booking a holiday for the example to highlight how to use stickiness to increase engagement on a site. As you can see from the below flow diagram there are four sections in the buying process that you should focus on; Immediate, Session,  Between Sessions, Conversion. In this section, we are going to take a look at two of these in more detail:


This is the engagement process that you need to nail. If visitors are not satisfied immediately when they land on your site, you will lose them. Some things to consider for Immediate Stickiness:

Relevance (is this what I was looking for?)

  • Does the page show what the user was looking for?
  • Is the product name clear on the page?

Trust (do I trust the website and company?)

  • Are they are well known brand
  • Do they have credibility logos?

Appeal (is there a motivation to continue?)

  • Discounts and prices are great here
  • Last minute deals
  • End of stock line

Action (what should I do next?)

  • Clear CTA that isn’t hidden
  • It should be above the fold of the page

Between Sessions

When a potential visitor comes to your site, depending on your product offering they are more than likely going to need to go away before coming back to make a purchase. Taking the holiday booking sales process as an example again, the majority of bookers will need to go and discuss the holiday with their family, a partner or a friend before making the decision to buy. So what can we do to ensure that visitors don’t forget us once they leave the site?

Instil Benefits (does the visitor remember why you are different?)

  • Be clear about why people should use you
  • Add credible logos
  • Testimonials
  • Focus on your headlines, benefit statements, straplines and guarantees

Capture Contact Details (and motivate them to open emails from you)

  • Don’t rely on your visitors remembering you, get their email address!!
  • Free newsletter sign ups on every page are great for this
  • Confused.com capture your email at the start of the quote stage and they use this to email you after you leave
  • Offer a risk free, free trial
  • Download white papers to get emails
  • Encourage people to save their search but ask for an email address to do this

3 Key Takeaways

1)      Conversion optimisation and SEO/PPC are mutually beneficial

2)      Does your marketing and website capture and engage visitors during all three phases of the sales process?

3)      Increase stickiness by improving persuasion and usability, then adding mechanisms to bridge the gaps between sessions

Jeff Slipko from Expedia Affiliate Network is up next and is going to be sharing his experiences of understanding user behaviour and increasing site stickiness to improve your conversion rate.

He has used real examples in this presentation of tips and tricks that they have actually used at Expedia to improve this. Some of the minor changes made to Expedia’s site led to a significant increase in the Conversion Rate.

“Businesses need to think beyond the rankings and traffic and think more about conversions, revenue and profit.”

Tips to increase stickiness – Expedia

Everyone has heard of Expedia and they do a great job at building ‘stickiness’ on their site and pushing visitors through to the conversion funnel. As I mentioned above, here are some of the things that Expedia have done to add stickiness to the site and improve Conversion Rate as a result.

Return Relevant Results

  • Increase number of results per page
  • Sort for proximity of landmark / address
  • Visuals (images and map)
  • Suggest alternative properties

Encourage Use of Filters

  • Make sure they are dynamic
  • Use sliders where possible
  • Retain all filters and sorts
  • Add option to clear selected fields

Clear Price Displays

  • Bigger is better
  • Highlight promotional rates
  • Remain consistent through funnel (the promise in an ad needs to be the same as the site)
  • Create transparency
  • Allow customer to change currency

Create Urgency

  • Highlight 5 or less rooms
  • Number of times booked
  • Number of users viewing now
  • Time of last booking

Easy to Find Content

  • Limit the number of tabs
  • Don’t make customers search
  • Show thumbnails on main page
  • Include guest reviews

Streamline Checkout

  • Remove unnecessary fields and steps
  • Test one-page flow
  • Remove links from checkout header
  • Provide a phone number
  • Remind the customer what they are buying

3 Key Takeaways

1)      Stickiness on transactional sites should focus on increasing conversion. NOT time on site.

2)      Focus on the user experience. Make it easy for users to accomplish their goal and they will stick around.

3)      Be transparent about what you are offering.

I think anyone who attended this session would agree that there were a lot of things to take away from the presentations. No matter how big the brand or site is that you are working on, implying some of these tactics will help you improve your conversion rate.

This post in part made possible by a sponsoring from Majestic SEO who have the largest Link Intelligence database in Search.


Written By
Samantha Noble is the founder of Biddable Moments and a former editor and contributor to State of Digital.
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