How building diverse purchase paths can increase conversions on your site

Part 3 of a series of 4 posts on how understanding the digital behavior of your customer – their attitudes, expectations, desires and needs - can help you improve their online shopping experience and the success of your digital business.

In the previous blog post in this 4-part series, we spoke about how men and women think, perceive, and remember information differently. Now, we turn our attention to how retailers can identify the intentions behind digital shopper behavior and differentiate between buyer types: goal-oriented buyers and casual browsers.

Identifying goal-oriented visitors and casual browsers to increase your sales

People process information via two distinct routes: central and peripheral. This is key to understanding shopper intent of goal-oriented visitors, who visit a website for a specific reason, and casual browsers, who are just passing time.

A central route is taken when a person is motivated to generate thoughts in response to substantive content, for example, a shopper who compares prices of similar products. The central route reflects rational thinking. This route is taken by goal-oriented visitors.

A peripheral route is taken when someone is unable or unwilling to execute a cognitive assignment. This route is controlled by emotional brain areas. This route is taken by casual browsers.

Clicktale analysis illustrates the distinctive patterns of behavior of these two groups: The first group - visitors who arrived intentionally at a sub-section of a site using the site’s primary navigation. The second group - visitors who arrived at that same sub-section after being automatically redirected there from a video on the homepage.


Goal-oriented visitors ignored featured page elements and went directly to navigational elements. Browsers leisurely examined featured articles and showed interest in colorful, captivating images.

The differences in online shopping behavior patterns is clear. Goal-oriented visitors who navigated to the page on purpose, ignored the page’s featured elements and went directly to navigational elements like Search and the Browse Alphabetically menu. For these visitors, the central route was clearly active.

Visitors who were automatically redirected to the page leisurely examined the featured articles and images, showing interest in colorful and captivating images. These visitors ignored informative text and demonstrated no interest in the Search box. For them, the peripheral route had taken control.

Clicktale analyzed the behavioral patterns of each group above, and uncovered significant differences including:

  • Casual browsers viewed an average of eight pages on the site while goal-oriented visitors viewed far fewer pages and spent much less time on the site
  • The next pages visited by goal-oriented visitors were determined by search results, while casual browsers mostly clicked through to featured content 

Optimizing your website for goal-oriented visitors: Provide navigational tools and search abilities that allow them to complete their tasks as quickly and easily as possible; Choose an item or items, fill the shopping cart and checkout

Optimizing your site for casual browsers: Keep the site colorful and attractive, with a limited amount of detail and a lot of imagery and video.

Without sufficient levels of stimulation, casual browsers will get bored and move on. Similarly, a sense of disorientation can lead your goal-oriented users to abandon your site permanently. So, it’s mission-critical to optimize your site for both types, making pages attractive to both experiential and goal-oriented visitors.

By understanding and adapting to the nuances of human intent, online retailers can optimize the shopping experience, maximize its ultimate outcome, and capitalize on consumer brand awareness.

I’ll be talking more about the psychology behind online behavior in my upcoming Webinar: Why we shouldn’t be talking about conversion on January 31st and February 1st. Click here to save your seat and hear how you can understand more about the experiences of users on your site to impact conversion.

To read more about this topic and to download all four white papers in this series, click here.

P.S: Interested in how Clicktale can help you improve the customer experience on your website, mobile site and apps, for all buyer personalities? Request a meeting.

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