Reading Between The Clicks

Clicks have been the Holy Grail of online shopping -– but what about all that time between clicks that consumers spend browsing?

A company called Decibel says it has developed technology to understand what's happening as potential customers move their cursors around a website or scroll through an app -- before they actually do click.

Five-year-old Decibel has a mission of figuring out how companies can improve the digital booking experience and avoid leaving money on the table because their sites and apps are not producing conversions, according to CEO Ben Harris. He says the company has cracked the code of the browser so his clients (among them British Airways and TUI, the  European travel and tourism giant) can prioritize those revenue opportunities.

When people have a good experience online or on an app, they spend more, spend more often and refer others — making them valuable customers, he adds. Since it’s expensive to recruit first-time customers, being able to generate repeat customers is ideal. Harris claims his tools can bump conversion rates from the average 2.5% to a hefty 10%.

Harris offers this parallel: When you go into a retail store, the salesperson will watch your body language and determine if you need help. Online, there's no such assistance, which creates a great deal of frustration for the user. Until now, companies relied on data analytics, which is based heavily on clicks. What Decibel has done is to take the data between clicks and enrich it in a way that generates an entirely new set of data -- which he calls experience data.

That data has been broken down into new metrics, such as the distance someone moves a mouse, how fast it is moved, directional changes, scrolling behaviors, etc. Decibel can actually see what words people are reading and determine whether or not they are really engaged.

With all that, Decibel can detect common behaviors and act on them. Example: what Decibel calls a “bird’s nest” is when a browser is confused by a site and moves the cursor all over the page in an erratic way. That’s an indication something is not right, says Harris.

Data is fed into Decibel’s machine learning algorithms, which come up with scores on interactions. From those scores, clients can learn where problems exist and how they might be resolved. Companies can actually get a video replay of how consumers behaved on their sites and apps.

As this tool becomes more and more targeted, Decibel will be able to pop up a message on a site that says “We see you’re having a problem and here’s how to solve it.” Harris says Decibel can then lead a “journey orchestration," keeping someone on their path toward a purchase.

There may be no silver bullet that will get travelers to make that final purchase click -- but knowing how they deploy a mouse before that click can be valuable information indeed.

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