How Manufacturers Can Use Data to Increase Product Selection: Part 1
Getting specified—we know that a primary indicator for building product sales is being specified by architects, engineers and contractors (AECs), but there are other early indicators that can positively impact your bottom line if recognized and acted upon properly. In this article, I will offer some suggestions on how building product manufacturers can use their website data to provide the right insights to their limited marketing and sales resources and convert these digital interactions to sales.
Leveraging Actionable Data Points
In their collaborative study, “The Architect’s Journey to Specification,” the American Institute of Architects (AIA) reports that 85% of AECs research your products on your website. That’s a captive audience coming directly to you. Now, you’re almost certainly getting basic data analytics from your web provider—if not, then quit reading this and do that now. Knowing how many unique visitors, return visitors and page views your website receives is critical to building an optimized user journey that ultimately ends in conversion.
Let’s look at these key pieces of data (unique visitors, return visitors and page views) to understand what they mean to your user experience.
1. Unique Visitors
Counting and tracking unique visitors on to your website should be a priority. First, make sure your data is accurate; you may need to scrub bad data and seasonally adjust data to see true trends. Next, traffic trends need to be monitored regularly. If traffic is trending down, you may want to increase marketing spend to correct this. Any marketing activity should be judged on whether it ultimately leads more AECs to your website.
2. Return Visitors
Knowing how many visitors return to your website is equally important. Return visitors probably mean that you’re doing something right: You’ve given the user a reason to revisit your website.
Conversely, if users are not returning then you need to find out why. Maybe your web experience is poor, for example if your product content is hard to find or unavailable. Maybe your product specifications do not meet the commercial user’s project requirements. To understand why visitors don’t come back, you have to conduct customer research. Use your sales team to contact and survey your target audience, AECs, to find out what they value in a web experience.
3. Page Views
Three clicks or 15 seconds is all it takes—if a visitor cannot find what they are looking for in three clicks or 15 seconds, they will leave a page or website. How often this occurs is referred to as your “bounce rate.” Knowing the page on which a user bounces is valuable to understanding why users are not returning or what else you need to provide on your website.
Visitors that don’t make it past your homepage can be scrubbed from your data. However, if a user makes it to a product page and then bounces, you may have a product or content problem. If you’re providing technical product content (specs, 2D CAD, BIM/3D Revit, etc.) and users hit your product page but don’t download anything, then your product likely didn’t meet the user’s needs. Understanding page view stats and where users bounce can help you better highlight your products and provide a positive user experience.
As a building product manufacturer, you need a great website so that architects, engineers and contractors will specify your products. Your unique visitors, return visitors and page views provide basic but critical indicators as to whether you’re providing this to potential commercial customers. Capturing and monitoring these three data segments is a starting point to creating an optimal user journey and delivering an exceptional digital experience that will positively impact your bottom line.