Bringing your online business to a global audience can be daunting. Expanding into new markets opens your business up to a new customer base that might use your site differently. If you want to capitalize on these new website visitors and increase conversions, using website optimization tools like sessions is necessary to learn and adapt to what these new visitors are looking for. 

Quantitive data from sources like Google Analytics can do a great job of telling you what is happening on your website but won’t show why it's happening. That's where sessions come in; they can expose the more nuanced behavioral differences from one country to another and help you optimize for a global audience. 

Cultural norms and preferences are the driving force behind consumer behavior and vary based on regions and countries. For example, consumer preferences in the United States differ from what consumers expect in France. To adapt to France's taste preferences and social expectations, Mcdonald's carries macaron pastries. Adjusting menus and branding to align with cultural norms is a crucial globalization strategy.

Photo from Popsugar.com

This change in consumer behavior not only applies to the specific products for sale but also includes how consumers shop. 

China is emerging as a leader in e-commerce sales, with 45.3% of retail sales coming from online shopping. Compare that to Japan, where only 12.9% of total retail sales in 2022 were e-commerce sales, and it’s clear how much of a difference there can be in consumer behavior from one country to another.

Photo from Insiderintelligence.com 

You might be thinking; I already know different people have different preferences; how does this apply to my store? 

Understanding consumer behavior will inform your marketing and optimization strategy as you expand. If you do research,  you might place less emphasis on expanding into markets where e-commerce sales are less likely or cultural norms are unfavorable to your product. 

You wouldn’t explore a new place without a map. The same is true of exploring new markets. To maximize potential conversions and position your e-commerce business for a global market, it is vital to research the consumer behavior of the countries you’re expanding into.

How to start researching your new global audience.

Market research doesn’t have to be too comprehensive so long as you can gain a deeper understanding of your new audience. We recommend starting with a few quick Google searches to determine the demographics of your new market, shipping and currency options and what languages are spoken. Get a good feel for who you are targeting with your products and what logistical issues could get in your way. 

You could always stop there, but to set yourself up for success, going deeper could help you find ways to optimize your site even better. Performing competitive analysis and exploring their sites will help notice any similarities in design that might be based on customer behavior. It’s also worth looking into the cultural norms of your new target audience and understanding their attitudes towards online shopping, advertisements and media in general. 

You’ve done your research and expanded your business to a global market, you must finally be able to sit back and watch your business rake it in, right?

Wrong. 

You must ensure your website is optimized for this new audience to increase conversions. A CRO tool, like session recordings, will help your business grow and ensure that you aren’t missing any pain points driving these new website visitors away. 

What are session recordings?

Session recordings guide you through each visitor's experience on your site, allowing you to see each page they visit and how they choose to navigate. Essentially sessions are a view of that visitor's screen while on your site. You can see where their mouse goes, where they click, and what they see.  With Lucky Orange sessions, you can apply filters and segment your audience based on a specific page or source type to find the insights you're looking for. 

Depending on your website’s audience size, watching sessions can sometimes be unproductive. Sessions work best when an event or segment of users has already been identified—acting as a supporting function to an existing hypothesis. 

Spending hours reviewing sessions might not provide valuable insights, but watching sessions of users who bounce from a specific page could prove fruitful. 

How to use sessions to optimize for a global audience.

As mentioned above, it is reasonable to expect your website visitor’s behavior to vary depending on where they live. One of the easiest ways to see these differences is by filtering sessions by geographic location. Only watching sessions from users from a specific region or country will show you if your website is optimized for them or if you're missing out on potential conversions.

Using Lucky Orange, you can filter sessions by geographic location easily. Simply select what country you want to see, and you will be shown a list of visitors from that area. 

Photo from LuckyOrange.com

Where should you use sessions to optimize for a global audience in the checkout process?

Using session recordings for customer research can be overwhelming if you don’t know where to look. To start with, let's look at the most common areas you might witness problems for your website visitors.

Shipping

Consumers named “fast/reliable delivery” as the most essential feature of online shopping, according to a survey by PwC. If website visitors are unsure about your store’s shipping options, they are less likely to convert. 

This is especially true for global e-commerce, when shipping can be inconsistent. When shipping to other countries, more factors need to be considered, like shipping carrier, timing and customs. To optimize your store for global traffic, pay close attention to how visitors interact with your checkout page.

Imagine you’re shopping online, and you find a product you need to have. After reading the product description and reviews on the product page, you add it to the cart and are ready to finalize your purchase. If you know that item is shipping from a different country, global visitors' last step is to check the shipping information. If you couldn’t tell when that product you wanted would ship, it might give you second thoughts about purchasing.  

This scenario is also valid for domestic customers, but when you factor in those unique challenges of global e-commerce, this step is extra important. We recommend all global e-commerce stores use sessions to see if their shipping instructions are clear.

Segment your audience.

To pick the sessions you should study, segment your visitors by location and page visited. Choose a country you recently expanded your store to and look at customers who have spent time on your shipping page. 

Identify disruptions in your visitor's behavior.

You should look for visitors that are clicking on shipping information or are scrolling around to try and get more information. Commonly, if a visitor goes back and forth between pages, you know they aren’t finding what they’re looking for. Through sessions, you can see if a visitor is going back and forth between a product page and a shipping page. When that happens, they are likely looking for shipping info, check the shipping page, don’t see what they’re looking for, go back to the product page and eventually get frustrated and bounce. 

Watching these sessions will first tell you global customers aren’t finding the shipping info they need and, secondly, what they are looking for based on the section of the page they are reading or where they are clicking. 

Rage clicks are also a good indicator of missing information in your shipping section. Suppose visitors click on “expedited shipping” or “shipping restrictions vary.” In that case, it’s clear that consumers want to learn more about those terms and are expecting those phrases to link to another page with more details. 

Also, check visitors who read your shipping information are completing their transactions. If they bounce after reading your shipping information, you know that you need to either add more information, make the shipping options to their country clear, or even change how you ship. 

To go even further, you can add a survey to your shipping page, asking customers if they found what they were looking for. 

Payment page

Something else to look for when expanding your audience globally is how your visitors interact with your payment page. Once again, you can use sessions segmented by geographic location to see if you're missing out on conversions based on the payment options you offer. 

It’s a red flag if visitors make it through the conversion funnel just to bounce after viewing payment information.

Watch sessions to discover why the visitor didn’t complete their purchase. Were they looking for more information about payment options? That could mean you don’t allow for the one they typically use. 

Or maybe they saw the price of your product and were no longer interested. Then you know you have to include a better benefit proposition or appeal to these consumers differently. Separating these users by geographic location will help you see that maybe these consumers aren’t randomly bouncing but have a similar barrier getting in the way of conversions.

You should also use sessions to determine if your payment form is compatible with the countries you are expanding into.

You could unintentionally disrupt conversions if your payment/ shipping form doesn’t offer a drop-down menu for “country” that changes the zip code box. Something as insignificant as the zip code entry box could get in the way of global visitors who might not have one.

When it comes to sales, opening up your online store to a global audience can be game-changing. 

However, if you go in blind and aren’t actively studying the behavior of these new website visitors, you could see a decline in your conversion rate. Using session recordings to strategically zero in on the behavior of visitors in the checkout process will show you where to make improvements to meet the unique needs of your global audience head-on. 

Of course, focusing on the checkout sections of your website just scratches the surface when it comes to session recordings. When choosing where to look to discover pain points in your global visitors buying journey, think of the steps they take. How do visitors in different countries respond to your landing pages? Are they clicking on your product pages or looking for more information? 

Applying these global optimization strategies to other areas of your website will not only improve the experience of your visitors but will also increase your conversion rate. 

Start using Lucky Orange sessions here