The exporting experience: one year on

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At the end of March this year, my colleague Katie wrote a post about some work she had been involved with to improve the exporting user journey on scottish-enterprise.com.

She included some analytics data that seemed to indicate some significant improvements. But she only had 3 months’ worth of data, which makes it hard to draw any firm conclusions.

So we thought now, with a year’s worth of data, would be a good time to look back on what’s changed, what worked, and any opportunities for further improvement.

Our goals

Before we start, it’s worth reminding ourselves of what Katie and the team set out to achieve:

  • Raise awareness of our exporting expertise and support
  • Create content that is relevant and useful to exporters and potential exporters
  • Get more enquiries for exporting services and events
  • Help users self-serve
  • Get more users taking advantage of market opportunities

To assess whether or not we achieved these goals, my colleague Tricia put together a detailed report. What follows is based on her excellent work. I’m just telling the story.

Objective: Raise awareness of our exporting expertise and support

Visits to exporting content are up 59% on 2020. 10,813 users visited exporting content in 2021 compared to 6,819 in 2020. And over a third of all entrances were from organic search.

Graph showing users visiting exporting content and users landing on exporting content from organic search
Both users and organic search rose compared to the previous year

Target keywords have improved rankings on Google UK by an average of 8 places. ‘International market research’, ‘how to start exporting’ and ‘international ecommerce’ have all taken huge leaps to enter the top ten.

However, we’ve also seen some significant changes in users’ behaviour. The top queries used on Google UK leading to exporting content are now dominated by events. And there has been an increase in users coming from social channels and email to exporting content.

Social visits concentrated on sector and market opportunities. But visits from email mostly related to overseas missions and events, and sector and market opportunities.

Graph showing visits to exporting content and key events such as marketing efforts
Visits to exporting content from 7 Dec 2020 to 3 Oct 2021

As the graph illustrates, having the right content in place on its own is not enough. Having a solid marketing and promotion effort is vital.

Objective: Create content that is relevant and useful to exporters and potential exporters

No one area of content stands out above others. Users seem to be interested in events, opportunities and helpful information in equal measure.

There is a trend that users visiting events, market opportunities and export plan information enter the site directly at those pages (via Google searches or email links for example). But users visiting information on our exporting programmes and market research service tend to have navigated through the site to get there.

This might indicate that our SEO is working well for the first group, but less so for the second. Or perhaps that people who delve into our programmes and research service are initially a little less precise about exactly what they need. We’d need more research to understand this better.

The bounce rate for our exporting content has barely changed, showing a slight fall from 46% to 45%.

As always with quantitive data, this is open to interpretation. Maybe our content just isn’t hitting the mark with a lot of users. Or, could be people are finding exactly what they want through search, reading it, and leaving happy.

Again, we’d need more research to confirm.

Objective: Get more enquiries for exporting services and events

There have been 343 exporting enquiries in the past year. This is up 7.2% on last year.

71% of those enquiries were for the international market research service.

Pie chart showing that over 70% of enquiries were about our market research service. Events accounted for 11.4% and market opportunities 9%
Export related enquiries

There is a large drop in traditional service enquiries, especially Export Champions, which is in line with a move to self service. There has been a move towards enquiries around events (38) and market opportunities (30)

Objective: Help users self-serve

There is a strong interest amongst users in trade events and overseas missions.

The GlobalScots website is the most visited link from exporting content, with 77 clicks through to the website.

This has resulted in 7 GlobalScot registrations and 6 business member registrations. In 2020, there were none.

In total there have been 103 visits to the GlobalScots website from SE. This is over 5 times more than last year, when there were only 18.

Graph comparing clicks on signposting links with 12 months earlier. Every month from Dec 2020 to Nov 21 shows an increase
Links to external websites from exporting content

General enquiries from users visiting exporting content are down 13% on last year (33 vs 38). This could be a good or a bad thing. If we’re giving people the information they need, so that they don’t need to contact us, that’s good. If we’re boring them, that’s bad.

Another area for a bit more research then.

Objective: Get more users taking advantage of market opportunities

Overall, pageviews of export-related business guides are up by around 60% when compared with the same date range in 2020.

This is partly explained by the fact that there are more of them. But other metrics are also favourable. Time on page has increased, though by a more moderate 7%. And entrances have more than doubled.

Almost half of all market opportunity enquiries (47%) came from email marketing. And a large number of people enter the site at these pages, rather than clicking through the site.

This seems to indicate a highly engaged audience who are actively seeking this content. Which makes sense – Hydrogen and renewables opportunities in Germany, or Offshore wind opportunities on the USA’s Atlantic Coast are, understandably, quite niche markets. You don’t come across this stuff by chance.

So the overall picture seems to be of a small but dedicated audience who are actively looking for very specific content, and finding it. Job done.

Pie chart showing that 61% of referrals to marketplace guides came from Google, 23.7% were direct and 6.1% from advertising
Traffic sources for users visiting marketplace guides

Conclusions

It seems that the team have achieved most of their objectives. And where they haven’t, increased numbers of users is a factor. For example, the team wanted to attract >30% returning visitors. They actually saw 24.4%. But the fall in percentage terms masks a rise in absolute numbers. The number of returning visitors actually went up.

So, be careful what you measure.

Our international trade team have also reported a rise in the quality of the enquiries they have received. Customers are better informed and more specific.

In summary:

  • Choose a small, multi-disciplinary team
  • Make sure they have all the skills they will need between them
  • Give them a problem to solve or an objective to achieve. Don’t tell them what to do
  • Give them time and permission to really understand the problem, the users, and their needs
  • Let them test, learn and iterate towards the solution
  • Watch out for objectives that may compete with each other. It’s best to avoid mixing relative and absolute numbers

One Reply to “The exporting experience: one year on”

  1. What a great blog David. Shows the power of understanding your users, the multiple journeys they are taking and as always to thoroughly understand the metrics you measure. And where its unclear….do more research !

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