Amazon boasts an average session duration of over 6 minutes.
For many stores, boosting session duration, aka average time on page, is critical to success.
Of course, we all would prefer that shoppers arrive at our store, buy immediately, don’t ask questions and come back over and over again.
However, we know full well that the longer a shopper lingers in our store, investing time and energy in the process, the more likely they are to ultimately buy, and buy more!
Consistently, it is no surprise that average session duration is the fourth-most-tracked Google Analytics metric.
Per Databox, only users, bounce rate, and sessions ranked higher.
Brands that want to reduce their bounce rate through conversion optimization often look to their session duration analytics to find ways to make improvements.
Anyone trying to invest in conversion rate optimization strategies will not find success without seriously reflecting on session duration analytics and how it impacts bounce rates, sales, and other factors.
In this article we detail how guided selling can be your secret weapon in the highly competitive session duration ecommerce war.
Guided selling is one of the most effective ways to increase the length of time that users stay on a site resulting in a serious boost in conversion rate.
Gobot has achieved a 500+% increase in session duration for well known brands such as Colorescience.
Before we dig in, let’s start with the basics.
What Is Session Duration?
Simply put, session duration is just how long a user spends on your store. Typically, the longer a shopper stays, the better!
A session begins as soon as a visitor arrives at your website and ends the moment when they exit or after a period of inactivity.
The session continues for as long as the visitor interacts with your site.
To determine session duration, most ecommerce stores utilize Google Analytics to track page visits.
If a user didn’t interact with the page last visited, the time spent on that page is excluded from the session.
The average session duration accumulates all sessions within a given period and calculates the average.
How Does Google Analytics Calculate Average Session Duration?
Google Analytics displays session duration in seconds.
To calculate the average, Google adds up the duration of all sessions within the given timeframe and then divides the total duration by the number of sessions.
Average session duration = total duration of all on-site sessions / number of sessions
1) Visitor A spent 20 seconds on your site.
2) Visitor B spent 200 seconds on your site.
3) Visitor C spent 180 seconds on your site.
4) Visitor D spent 400 seconds on your site.
This yields a total duration of 800 seconds.
Dividing this by four visitors, we arrive at an average spent of 200 seconds on your site.
What Is a Good Session Duration?
According to Databox, most digital marketers report an average session duration of 2-3 minutes. However, as with most things, context is key.
To truly gauge performance, it is useful to benchmark your digital performance against businesses pursuing similar goals.
For example, a content-heavy site with articles and videos can expect a longer session duration than a brand awareness site for a physical retail store.
An online survey in 2017 of 181 companies revealed that visitors to business-to-consumer (B2C) companies spend on average 42.3% more time on site than visitors to business-to-business (B2B) companies.
They also found that visitors spend on average 3:38 per session on healthcare and hospital sites.
Next are financial services with 2:18 and pharmaceuticals and medical devices with 2:16. All other major industries show an average lower than two minutes.
Here’s a look at the average visit duration per key industries, along with category leader, according to Similarweb data:
Here’s another survey by Brafton.com:
Like bounce rate, average session duration is a metric that’s hard to game. You can’t improve it by advertising, by stuffing more keywords onto your page, or by writing more click compelling headlines. There is a straightforward way to boost session duration, and it involves engaging your shoppers in a conversation. This is a natural instinct at your brick and mortar stores but until recently has been difficult to achieve online. Enter guided selling!
How do I leverage guided selling to boost session duration?
Guided selling in the online context is designed to engage your shoppers in a conversation, just as they do in your physical stores – this naturally boosts time on site.
Shoppers love attention because it helps them find what they need faster.
For a shopper, spending a couple of minutes engaging in a conversation with a store is a small investment if it helps filter through tons of complex information and a multitude of less than ideal options.
Sales assistants in brick and mortar stores exist for a reason!
By way of example, check out the guided selling experience leveraged by Colorescience here.
This guided selling page’s average session duration is around eight minutes but the completion rate is over 85%!
This means that shoppers don’t hesitate to go through this exercise to avoid an otherwise rather challenging and technically complex product selection process.
Why does boosting session duration via guided selling result in increased average order value and conversion rates?
The answer is simple. Humans have evolved to engage in conversation, not scan endless lists of products and read technical jargon.
For example, when shopping for a refrigerator would you know how many cubic square feet you need?
What about when shopping for a tv?
Do you know how many pixels you need or what processing speed or refresh rate you’ll want?
When shopping for a mattress do you know if more coils is better for your super sensitive lower back?
When shopping for cosmetics online do you know what shade matches your skin tone best?
I know I don’t and that’s the same for most shoppers.
Engaging a shopper in a guided selling conversation is usually well received and appreciated.
The time flies by because the conversation is enjoyable, engaging and often visually intriguing.
By the time a shopper has completed the interaction they have invested their valuable time on the site and want to leverage that time to complete their buying journey.
Coupling this experience with well curated product recommendations seals the deal!
The choice is pretty clear.
You either have shoppers bounce early on, because they don’t want to do the work or because they do not connect with your brand or message, OR you draw them into the shopping experience for long enough to get them hooked.
This is exactly what guided selling is designed to do.
Is guided selling just a short term boost to session duration?
Implementing a guided selling experience will immediately boost your store’s baseline average session duration resulting in a real improvement in conversions and average order value.
This baseline increase will persist in perpetuity.
However, above and beyond this baseline bump, the beauty of guided selling is that it enables you to continuously improve your session duration over time.
Leveraging a guided sales platform like Gobot provides visibility as to how your shoppers are engaging.
This enables for optimization over time, boosting session duration in a virtuous feedback cycle.
For example, if your chats reveal interest in a particular topic you can incrementally update your guided selling flow to include more engaging content on that topic.
You can also incorporate images and videos to further enhance the experience and expand on topics of most interest.
The visibility guided selling provides as to your shopper’s needs, wants and preferences is data gold.
And we haven’t even touched upon guided selling’s secret session duration weapon – returning visitors!
A key benefit of the guided selling experience is the data you collect for each shopper that engages with your experience.
The beauty of this data is that it not only allows you to personalize the shopping experience but, for those shoppers that leave before buying, it allows you to entice them back to your store with personalized recommendations based on the preferences they’ve expressed and zero-party data collected while engaging with your virtual assistant.
So, during the conversation you collect an email or telephone number and then enroll shoppers in highly curated email/text campaigns that have a higher conversion rate than abandoned cart emails!
Guided selling is the gift that keeps on giving.
The more you invest in the experience the more shoppers will engage with your store experience – boosting session duration, conversion rates, and average order value.
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