Part of creating a captivating digital experience on your site is learning how to detect and interpret digital body language. Understanding the digital movements of your site visitors will give you a more complete picture of how visitors interact with your site and what they think the most natural and intuitive path is to navigate it.

Behavioral data can help you understand not only what actions your users are taking but why they are taking them. This data can act as a microscope for your visitor’s intentions and motivations and therefore help inform design, development, and user experience decisions.

Recently, Tom Shapiro, CEO of Stratabeat and author of the book Rethink Your Marketing, joined us for a webinar on behavioral intelligence. In this webinar, he encouraged us to go beyond surface-level data offered by Google Analytics and take a more holistic approach to understanding online behavior. Surface-level data, like pageviews, he said, is often meaningless and can lead you to make misinformed marketing decisions. To help you start making more meaningful decisions better aligned with your target audience, let’s take a closer look at behavioral intelligence:

Benefits of Behavioral Intelligence

While traditional web analytics presents an incomplete view of data, behavioral intelligence, including audience personas, voice of the customer, customer journey mapping, as well as behavioral analytics and session recordings, will give you a more holistic picture of the customer experience. Here are additional benefits of using behavioral intelligence:

  • Gain a deeper understanding of your audience
  • Identify the triggers that influence behavior
  • Improve site usability
  • Increase engagement
  • Increase conversions
  • Increase user acquisition
  • Increase retention
  • Improve site navigation
  • Make better website design decisions
  • Justify your design choices

The Methodology for Better Insights

Thorough knowledge of your customer base as well as the formation of audience personas, the capture of voice of the customer data and the process of customer journey mapping are essential aspects of behavioral intelligence. Behavioral analytics and video recordings are also highly effective in behavioral intelligence, but it’s important to follow the methodology outlined below. It’s important to understand that your customer comes first. Behavioral analytics software comes later in the process, once your audience understanding is already clear, deep, and well-defined.


The majority of companies don’t have documented audience personas. Understanding your personas, however, is an important place to start when approaching behavioral intelligence for the first time.

Personas will help you go beyond the “who” in understanding the “why” of your audience. Why are they clicking? Why are they hovering? Why are they scrolling? Why are they engaging? Or, why do they seem frustrated? You can then customize your site accordingly, ensuring that each persona sees the respective messaging, design, and funnels that align with their persona so they each have an optimal site experience.

When developing your personas, it’s also important to document the problems your audience faces. Too often, advice related to personas centers on understanding minute details about the target audience, but you will achieve far greater ROI if you dedicate at least 50% or more of your personas to understanding their goals, obstacles, problems, and frustrations.

The Voice of the Customer

Complementary to defining your audience personas, you will want to capture the voice of the customer (VoC). Before you start your deep dive into behavioral analytics, conduct interviews, surveys, and polls in order to receive feedback about your brand from your audience itself.

What are their experiences with your brand, your website, your products or services? What are their expectations?  What is the specific language they use to articulate their thoughts about your brand? How do they articulate your benefits?

The more you interact with and listen to your audience, you’ll be able to glean new audience insights. That valuable information will help make your website more effective and persuasive and effective.

Build a Customer Journey Per Persona

Once you’ve compiled the information from communicating with your customers and incorporated it into your personas, you can start to build out customer journeys that align with each persona.

However, it’s important to think beyond what makes “logical sense.” According to a Harvard Business study conducted by professor Gerald Zaltman, 95% of our purchase decision making occurs in the subconscious mind.

The human brain processes 11 million bits of sensory data every second on a subconscious level (compared to less than 100 bits on a conscious level). Human behavior is driven by the subconscious so much that sometimes a person’s unconscious mental and physical reactions contradict what they say when asked directly. It’s safe to say that most decisions on your site will be dictated by the subconscious.

Our thoughts as humans are largely dictated by the subconscious questions running through our minds. In fact, we typically aren’t conscious of most things until we ask ourselves about them. As part of the behavioral intelligence process, it’s valuable for you to identify the subconscious questions that are already in the mind of your visitors at the precise time they arrive at your site and the subconscious questions they continue to ask themselves throughout their sessions on your website.

Behavioral Analytics

While the strategies and tools used for behavioral intelligence are broad and diverse, covering everything from personas to VoC to customer journey mapping, marrying this information with behavioral analytics will help you to interpret and understand your site visitors’ digital body language. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to identify how to adjust and optimize your website to deliver better customer experiences.

Scroll Mapping

Google Analytics can tell you how many people are visiting a certain web page, but how far down the page are users actually scrolling? Instead of surface-level data, scroll mapping can tell you about your customers’ actual experience on the page.

Scroll maps can be collected on desktop, mobile, and tablet and the color is used to represent the most and least viewed parts of a page, from hot (popular) to cold (unpopular). Various behavioral analytics software packages will provide you with the exact percentage of page visitors that have scrolled at each depth down the page, to the precise pixel measurement. The scroll map will often also automatically calculate the average fold: the cutoff point between what is visible immediately upon landing on a page and what requires scrolling in order to be visible to the site visitor.

Click, Heat, and Attention Mapping

A click map is a graphic representation of the spots on your web page where your visitors click. This can also be visually represented via a heat map.

While Google Analytics can help you see the number of users who visited a specific page and even the time spent on the page, behavioral analytics tells you exactly what the site visitor is doing while on the page itself. Maybe they clicked on a text link or a call-to-action button or an image. Perhaps they clicked on a navigational element or they clicked on a link in your global footer. Or perhaps they left their computer for 10 minutes to go grab a coffee—yes, behavioral analytics can decipher that as well.

At the other end of the spectrum, they may be trying to click on something on your web page that’s actually not clickable. Some may even engage in what’s called “rage clicking,” in which they repeatedly click and click and click on something they are convinced is clickable, yet is not.  

All this information will help you understand how and why your visitors are using your site the way they do.

Form Analysis

Beyond looking at the page level, behavioral analytics is also helpful in enabling you to see inside the performance of your forms. Google Analytics can tell you the number of people who submitted a form.

However, it can not reveal the specific fields in your form that have given visitors trouble or caused them to abandon the form altogether. Form analysis will allow you to access the analytics behind every form field, remove the problematic fields where abandonment is high, and improve your conversion rate.

Behavior Through the Funnel

Not only can you analyze behavior on a particular page or form using behavioral analytics, but you can also analyze user behavior across designated conversion funnels. Using behavior analytics technology, you can set up conversion funnels throughout your website and see where the leakage is at each individual stage through the funnel.

Session Recordings

Many behavioral analytics software packages are able to capture video recordings of your actual users’ sessions on your site. You can use this information to analyze individual site visitor’s digital body language on your site, complementary to the aggregate data in the heat, click and attention maps, and in the form and conversion funnel analytics. This provides you with both qualitative as well as quantitative data to make informed decisions about steps to optimize your site to deliver more intuitive pages, easier-to-use navigation, and better experiences overall.

Certain behavioral analytics packages, such as FullStory, also give you a documented play-by-play of every action your site visitor is taking, which helps to reveal what is intuitive and working well for your site visitors as well as what is a bottleneck or might be causing confusion.

Get Started with Behavior Analytics

To help you get started with behavioral analytics, we’ve listed some tools you might consider incorporating into your website strategy:

  • Mouseflow:  Shows how visitors click, move, scroll, browse, and pay attention to your website using session replays and interactive heatmaps. Gathers voice of the customer data through custom onsite surveys.
  • Hotjar: Uses interactive heatmaps of visitor clicks, scrolling and actions, session recordings, and the gathering of voice of the customer data from survey and feedback polls to help you build a data-backed understanding of why and how people are using your site.
  • Decibel: Captures unique experience data, enriched by machine learning, to reveal digital body language, understand user state of mind and pinpoint problem areas on your website, web applications and native apps. Decibel is a good option for large enterprises with complex websites.
  • FullStory: Unlocks pixel-perfect session playback, automatic insights, funnel analytics, and robust search and segmentation—empowering your organization to build a better online experience for your customers.
  • Clicktale: Transforms millisecond-level behaviors and gestures into meaningful insights using rich behavioral data and intuitive visualizations. Clicktale is a good option for large enterprises with complex websites.
  • CrazyEgg: Uses heatmaps, scroll maps, and other visual reports to show you exactly how your customers are responding to elements on your site.

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