The painting above is ‘Convergence’ by Jackson Pollock. It’s one of the painter’s most famous images but what does it mean? Different experts will offer you vastly different interpretations of what the wild man of American art intended when he threw all that paint around back in 1952.
That’s a great thing about art — it can be experienced subjectively. But when you’re trying to understand customer behavior, getting tied up in abstract arguments is just a waste of your time and resources. And that brings me to ‘Birds’ Nests’, the Jackson Pollock painting of behavioral analytics.
Lost in the supermarket
This trolley is as empty as the Bird’s Nest metric
You’ll see Bird’s Nests pitched like this:
When you’re watching a session replay and see a visitor’s mouse trail scooting around the page, that’s a bird’s nest. It’s the digital version of a customer wandering around a brick and mortar store, unable to find what they want.
But that analogy doesn’t work. Watching a shopper wandering the aisles in a supermarket gives us a lot of other context for their behavior:
You can see their face and read their body language — are they frustrated and rushing or just contentedly browsing? Spotting a restless child hanging off their arm or an angry party grumbling in their ear will totally change the way you interpret their actions.
“But,” the bird-brained advocates of analyzing Bird’s Nests will cry, “This is a great indicator of customer frustration!”
Well, not really. It’s an indicator of something. You just can’t be sure what by staring at that single aspect of behavior. You don’t learn much about a shopper from just plotting where the trolley’s wheels went.
A stupidly simple approach to a complex question
Looking at birds’ nests is like staring at this photo — headache-inducing
Just like ‘rage clicks’, another snappy sounding but hollow metric, Bird’s Nests lead to more questions than answers.
You might assume a visitor’s jumbled behavior means they can’t find the frozen aisle when they’ve simply forgotten something on their shopping list, or changed their mind about what to have for tea that night.
Some solutions set themselves up as hunters, helping you to ‘eradicate’ Bird’s Nest behavior but why would that be your focus?
Remember, some visitors are simply browsing, others are just fidgety people. Customer struggle — the kind that really hurts your conversion rates — is a complex mix of behaviors, it’s not defined by one novel indicator.
See the whole sky
“I’m a conversion rate, you’ve gotta let me fly!”
Our data — drawn from thousands of website visitor sessions — indicates that journeys that drop off before converting tend to show a longer mouse distance but it’s not hugely significant and can vary greatly between conversion processes.
Picking out a session where Bird’s Nest behavior happens isn’t much better than selecting one at random. That data point alone is a poor way of predicting both customer struggle and the likelihood of conversion.
That’s why SessionCam takes hundreds of behaviors and browser events into account. You don’t have to waste your time on one snappy sounding metric. Instead you’re able to quickly and simply see your most costly website issues, automatically surfaced by our machine-learning algorithm.
To get a true understanding of what stops website visitors from becoming customers, you need to get your head out of the bird’s nest and look at the whole sky. Anyone who tells you otherwise can’t help you make your conversion rates fly.