How to continuously improve your HubSpot website using data insights

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By Michael Wallis - September 10, 2020

In a time gone by, websites were mostly static entities. Once the strenuous periods of ideation, design and development were over this finished and polished asset would be set up on a server and asides from updates to content and minor tweaks, it would remain mostly untouched until it was out of date and in need of a rebuild. Looking back, this was never a great approach. Users are human beings, and if there is one thing human beings are not, it’s static entities. Consumer behaviour is a continually shifting set of standards, quirks and expectations, which change depending on attributes like gender, age, location, language and countless other sets of evolving criteria. If the tools at your disposal are not able to match this fluidity, then there are potential golden opportunities being missed.

What does it mean to be data-driven?

Every day countless decisions are made by marketers and salespeople, which range from the tone of voice to use in marketing collateral to the price structures of products. Similar decisions are made throughout the design process of a website and can have similarly large impacts on the performance thereof. Examples of these might be the kind of imagery used, the amount of copy that is ideal, the most efficient navigation and even the level of compatibility required for older devices or browsers.

A common thread through these decisions is they’re often difficult to make, and their impact on the ultimate success of a business or project is massive. With this much at stake, our decision-making processes need to be as robust as possible, and this is where data becomes so critical.

Say you are a designer charged with designing a new website for a client. Without much data to rely on, you look to the guidance of your client who wants a futuristic, experimentally-driven site aimed at separating them from their competitors. Come launch time, the website performs dismally, as many people complain about feeling lost and frustrated at long load times. Upon digging into the user data, you realise very little of the site's audience are using modern browsers and are visiting from locations known to be sensitive to internet access costs. A neat and clean layout would have been a far better design decision, and data would have helped the team arrive at that conclusion.

Put simply: being data-driven is about putting tracked and reliable data at the centre of your strategy.

What is growth-driven-design (GDD)?

“The only constant is change” is not just one of our favourite quotes, it’s also an unfortunate reality all organisations need to grapple with in a digital age. Trying to design a fixed solution for a dynamic audience is impossible, and so our solutions themselves need to be designed with change in mind. This challenge is where GDD comes in handy.

As the name suggests, GDD focuses primarily on growth, and it does so by opting for an ongoing, long term strategy for a project lifecycle rather than the previously described 'set and forget’ method. Typically this would involve developing a minimum viable product or MVP (the minimum amount of functionality required to deliver value to your customers immediately) and then creating a wish-list to add more features or optimise current features as time goes on. This approach has several benefits:

  • Websites can get up & running with less initial investment.
  • The project has a clear and outlined way forward which can align with business objectives.
  • User insights are available early in the project lifecycle, allowing better value-for-money decisions down the road.
  • Your plan can not only handle change but welcome it.

Putting these together practically.

Let’s go through a practical example of how all of the above could play out in a real-world scenario. As the project manager for a medium-sized business, you are tasked with leading the development of the new website for the organisation. The previous website was a costly exercise, and the directors are determined for the new site to be a long term value-add.

First, you sift through all of the current website's user data. This research could be done through analytics tracking tools like HubSpot CMS, Google Analytics or behavioural tracking tools like Hotjar. Digging into the data reveals the following behaviours and insights:

  • Your average browsing session is short. There is the potential for using content on the new site to keep people around longer, such as blog articles.
  • Your most visited pages are the Services and Contact pages. Prioritise these pages as much as possible.
  • Your main Contact Us call to actions are rarely clicked. This is likely a design problem and users are missing the visual cue.
  • Most of your audience is visiting from their mobile phones. This means any rebuild will need to be optimised for performance on phones.
  • Many users abandon the contact us form after a field, in particular the Subject field. Perhaps more conversions would be worth not having this information?
  • Your new vs returning user ratio is heavily skewed towards returning users. Most of your users know who you are.

Now that you have done the data collection necessary for understanding your current audience, you can put together a scope of work for the rebuild. The new website is going to include the previous home, about, services and contact pages. It will additionally include a blog section and a password protected login section for customers to update their contact information. Design-wise you are going to ensure you develop a mobile-first experience and also make your call-to-action buttons a lot more prominent.

The budget available for this quarter is not enough to develop all of these pages and features immediately, so you opt for an MVP. This initial development will include the home, services and contact pages, with the about page and the blog section scheduled for phase 2. The login system is not critical just yet, so will remain on the waitlist until we have assessed the site’s performance and have more funds available.

Once the site goes live, you use a combination of Hotjar, Google and Hubspot Analytics to assess the performance over time. You notice that users are spending a significantly increased amount of time on the re-designed Services page, which leads you to add individual service detail pages to your wishlist. You also notice increased traffic to the Contact page from other pages on the site and in particular from those redesigned buttons, and the form on this page is converting a much higher percentage of visitors after removing the Subject field.

What's next?

Reporting your success to the directors, of course!

Now that you have a documented trail of observed behaviours, designed solutions and increased results you can demonstrate a clear understanding of what your audience looks for in a web experience as well as provide an outline for the future that the entire team can get aligned on.

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...my two cents worth

Teamwork.

It's a lot more rewarding when you work with like-minded individuals who keep you in-the-loop, are keen to share knowledge and who are passionate about turning-out a kick-ass product.

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