Yanny Laurel listening

Laurel or Yanny? 3 lessons for websites

Take it from the now infamous ‘Yanny or Laurel’ audio debate – then it comes to improving websites, Google Analytics metrics can lead to misinterpretations and headaches.

In 2015, it was the blue/black or white/gold dress debate, and now 2018 upped the ante thanks to one simple, short recording:

No one can seem to agree. Is it Yanny? Is it Laurel?

As the audio continues to divide the Internet, there are three great lessons for websites today to learn from this debate, especially if you rely heavily on Google Analytics.

1. We often see (and hear) what we want to.

Early on in the Laurel or Yanny debate, armchair experts chimed in that one’s interpretation of the recording relies on each person’s own reality. If someone wants to hear “Laurel,” she’ll hear “Laurel.”

Of course, it doesn’t always work like that. As Magicians Penn & Teller once said, “Numbers don’t lie. The people who use them do.”

If you’ve ever used Google Analytics, you likely already know where this is headed.

Let’s face it – Google Analytics has an amazing magnitude of data to help guide you in understanding how visitors are engaging with your website, but it opens the door to an incredible amount of misinterpretation.

Example: Pages Per Visit

If the number of pages per visit is high, what does this mean?

Does it mean visitors were engaged with your site and interested in your content/products? Or does it indicate that content/products were hard to find?

To really understand the issue here, you can’t just glance at one metric and understand that entire situation. You could spend hours analyzing Google Analytics data without being 100% confidence you know the answer or the solution.

As with the pages per visit example, each interpretation would lead your design team in different directions.

Solution: Take the guesswork out of the metrics. Eliminate any debate or confusion by watching visitor records, running dynamic heatmaps, or analyzing form analytics.

It helps by doing more than answering what happened. In the pages per visit example, dynamic heatmaps would be able to show you if visitors are struggling to find specific content or if they are truly engaging instead.

There’s no room for misinterpretation.

2. Look at the bigger picture.

If you entered the Yanny or Laurel debate earlier in the week, you may be quick to think that it’s just an audio trick. However, once you learn the origins of the recording, it’s not as mysterious.

It turns out that the audio was recorded by an opera singer for one very specific page at Vocabulary.com. I’ll give you a hint: it’s not defining a “Yanny.”

Suddenly, by looking at the big picture, the audio doesn’t seem as dividing. It’s obviously the word, “laurel.”

For your website, it pays to look at the big picture, too. One of the best methods we suggest is to run a dynamic heatmap.

By running a dynamic heatmap, you’ll be able to see exactly where your visitors are clicking or moving. You can see if they aren’t making it “below the fold” or how often they seem to click on a specific call-to-action.

Example: Missing link

When one of our users put up a banner advertising a sale, he expected conversion to increase. The metrics weren’t telling him the real reason conversions were low, so he ran a dynamic heatmap.

Very quickly he discovered the reason: the banner wasn’t linked, but visitors were still trying to click on it to access the sale. Linking the banner was a simple fix and increased his conversions from 3% to 8% overnight.

3. You just need the right tools.

I’m not going to lie – I am on team Yanny. I heard “Yanny” from the first time I listened to the clip, and it was difficult to convince my ears or brain that it was anything else.  Thankfully, The New York Times created a helpful tool that lets everyone hear both Laurel and Yanny.

Without that tool, I could have never heard “Laurel” despite trying over and over again. Without tools like Lucky Orange, you’ll never really be able to tell how people are engaging with your website.

“But I have Google Analytics,” you argue.

Look, Google Analytics is a great tool, but it shouldn’t be your only tool.

While Google Analytics does a fantastic job at tell you what happened at the beginning and end of a visitor’s journey, it stops short of telling the entire story.

Instead, tools like Lucky Orange offer insight that Google Analytics simply can’t:

  • Chat with visitors. Actually engage with visitors and stop them before they leave. Answer their questions and co-browse with them to lead them to the right answer or product.
  • Ask a poll. When it doubt, just ask! A question like ,”Was there anything that stopped you from making a purchase today?” can offer more information that Google Analytics ever could.
  • Watch engagement in real-time. Visitors recordings are like a DVR that can be played back at any time, but Lucky Orange also offers unlimited live viewing, too. It’s like sitting with your visitors are watching over their shoulders as they click and scroll through your website.
  • Conversion funnels. Make it easy for yourself and set up a conversion funnel to pinpoint exactly where visitors are abandoning your website. Follow up with visitor recordings or dynamic heatmaps to explore the issues.

Take on your website’s Yanny or Laurel debate

What’s stopping your website from growing? Learn from your visitors – not just metrics – to see what’s really going on.

After all, if visitors aren’t buying from you, there’s a good chance they are going to your competitor.

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