Analysing ‘digital body language’ and getting real-time responses from your users

Can you tell whether your website users are engaged? Frustrated? Bored? Your customers’ emotions and mindsets are valuable information for personalising service. In brick-and-mortar stores, this information is readily available through body language.

The digitalisation of retail removes body language from the equation, and makes online service personalisation that bit harder. Ecommerce brands can’t rely on tell-tale hand gestures or eye flickers to gauge customer mindset. But ecommerce hasn’t killed body language as a sales tool – it’s digitalised it.

From slow scrolling to quick-fire clicking to hovering mouse pointers, eCommerce shoppers are offering a world of signals that act as digital body language. Reading this digital body language – and responding to it in real-time – is becoming an essential aspect of eCommerce success.

Banking on body language

Body language refers to our communication via non-verbal means. Our small movements and fleeting facial expressions may be almost involuntary, but they volunteer key insights into our mood.

Before the digitalisation of retail, salespeople could use these body language cues to optimise engagement with each customer. They could differentiate between passive and eager shoppers, and identify customers that needed help. For example, if a customer looked lost in the store, a team member could proactively offer assistance before it’s asked for.

Online, it’s not possible to see the way your customer is sat, standing or gesticulating. You can, however, see the way they interact with your website. So, understanding digital body language starts by tracking how a user behaves while browsing your pages.

General digital body language

Just as there are different levels of physical body language, there are different levels of digital body language. You have broader, general factors such as a physical stance, as well as smaller, fluctuating factors such as the twitch of a lip or the movement of an eyebrow.

In the online space, these more general digital body language cues cover the wider behaviour of your visitors. Think factors such as how the user found your website, how often they visit, and the bounce rates for each page. They aren’t the kind of micro-details that will finetune your understanding of the customer, but they give away overarching information.

Knowing where most of your customers come from tells you were to focus your other marketing efforts. Page popularity and bounce rates highlight the content and buttons on your site that are performing well, as well as those that aren’t. How often a customer visits signals how likely they are to be ready to buy.

In other words, general digital body language starts to paint a rough data picture of your shoppers. Built up over time, this data provides a rich source of information that will help you improve your overall website performance.

Real-time digital body language

Real-time digital cues give you the opportunity to start understanding each visitor’s mood and mindset on a deeper level. These are the smaller, flickering micro-actions that betray the user’s mood as their journey unfolds.

In a brick and mortar store, your team can respond to subtle, real-time changes in body language immediately. The digitalisation of retail and body language doesn’t need to change this. You should be able to interpret (and respond) to digital body language as you would face to face.

In this instance, you’re thinking factors such as fast and slow scrolling, the way the visitor moves their mouse, and how fast they click. These online behaviours are just as subtle as a customer’s stifled yawn or deep inhalation would be offline, but just as important to observe and understand.

Reading real-time cues

So, what kind of real-time digital body language should you be looking out for? If a website visitor is clicking quickly multiple times, for example, it suggests frustration or confusion. It shows that they expect the area they’re clicking to be interactive, or that they can’t find the information they’re looking for. These clicks are the digital equivalent of a furrowed brow, or an exasperated eye sweep.

Meanwhile, visitors that are following text with their cursor as they read demonstrate engagement with your content. If your visitors are spending a long time browsing your pages, they may be browsing your products leisurely (showing a lack of stress or urgency) or interested in your offering. Likewise, slow scrolling indicates a relaxed, invested visitor. For these kind of online behaviours, think an in-store shopper strolling through the aisles, taking their time to look around.

Rapid scrolling up and down, on the other hand, shows a user that’s confused or searching for something. If they’re hastily navigating from page to page, they may be in more of a rush, or searching for something specific. In-store, this kind of behaviour would be represented by a shopper pacing impatiently, or with eyes darting from sign to sign.

The point is: the kind of body language that you could read and react to offline also has its own online equivalent. Unfortunately, few brands respond to digital body language in real-time.

Real-time response

Reading digital body language is only the start. Real-time response is the next step, enabling smooth, emotionally intelligent customer experiences.

Real-time responses can include digital elements such as pop-ups, adjusted call to action buttons, banners, and recommended content. To truly replicate the in-store experience, however, a real-time support channel such as live chat software is needed.

Chat is a great tool for responding to digital body language triggers and emotional customers. By understanding the digital body language of your website visitors, you can identify the mood and mindset of the customers and adjust your real-time service accordingly.

For example, when online visitors display confusion or frustration, it’s a good time to trigger a proactive live chat invitation, offering help to find items or answer queries. Or, if a visitor is demonstrating hesitancy by hovering over a button, you can use a chatbot to deliver an offer or deal to incentivise the tentative buyer.

Read your customers like a digital book

The digitalisation of our world isn’t slowing, and business isn’t the only area going online. Our human behaviour, emotions and yes, body language, are all being increasingly digitalised.

So, just because your visitors are online rather than in store, there’s no reason that you can’t offer real-time, emotionally intelligent support. All you need is a real-time support channel, and an understanding of your customers’ digital body language.

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