What Do Your Customers See?

By CertifiedHosting 12/06/2013

Typically a person or company serious about building a website signs up early on for Google Analytics or a similar service. Heat map analytics, like that provided by Crazy Egg, provide additional and invaluable data about user behavior on your site.

When you use a service that provides heat mapping, there are two general benefits:

  1. find out where your customers are focused on each page of your site; and
  2. get a better visual representation of site activity so that you aren’t just crunching numbers.

Let’s look at why heat maps are utilized by so many web professionals and how you can use them to improve your site.

Heat map analytics – how it works

As search engine optimization consultant David Kauzlaric noted on YouMoz, setting up heat mapping capabilities on your site is a similar process to setting up Google Analytics. You place a piece of code on your site, and the code tracks user behavior – but focuses on different parameters than standard analytics programs. Heat maps focus specifically on the interaction between the mice of users and your site.

A heat map allows you to see “hotter” and “cooler” areas of the site – ones that receive more and less action. You can see the areas of greatest density for three types of mouse behavior:

  • where the cursor moves on the page;
  • where clicks occur on any links; and
  • where clicks occur on areas of the page that are not linked.

Additionally, you can sort user behavior by location, browser, and a number of other variables.

The visual that’s provided – essential to showing you how users are behaving on each page – can make heat map analytics both enjoyable and effective: you can better picture customer behavior. Rather than seeing tables of numbers, you see areas on your site that have varying degrees of brightness. The intensity of that color is also the intensity with which your visitors – on the whole – focus on that part of your site. The information you get allows you to change your site or at least conduct split tests, so that your site’s layout is better geared toward maintaining engagement and converting.

Kauzlaric, who is a proponent of Crazy Egg, notes that he had a client who had been hesitant to use the service. Once it was in place, conversions rose almost 90% over the course of the following month. Positive changes made to the site were based, in part, on 5000 clicks on unlinked graphics and empty areas of pages.

Using heat maps to improve conversions – example

Of course, looking at the data on the maps is just the first step to improving your conversion rate. DJ Kennedy of the web marketing company TechWyse mentioned that heat maps help organizations that have sites with otherwise great design that, for some reason, is not working to generate conversions.

Kennedy provided an example of a client site, a towing and wrecker service, that he was able to improve using a heat mapping program. After looking at the heat map for the site, he was able to determine the following problems:

  • A prominent starburst at the top of the page received a huge amount of attention – more than anywhere else – but was not linked and did not directly relate to conversion.
  • The mouse activity did not proceed in a structured manner, revealing that the organization of the site was not leading visitors in any particular direction.
  • A button intended as a call to action was almost completely ignored.
  • A contact form that was not receiving much attention was determined to be problematically below the fold.

Using the above issues with the site (discovered or underscored by the heat mapping software), TechWyse was able to develop a new design that cleaned up the homepage and better geared attention toward conversion-related components:

  • completely retooled layout, with more action-oriented items moved toward the top;
  • removal of the starburst that was too much a point of focus;
  • adjustment of an image at the top – changing it to blue from red so that it would be less distracting from the sales message;
  • adjustment of call to action text from blue to yellow; and
  • shifting of logos from the header to the footer so that they would no longer receive undue attention.

Prior to implementing a heat map tool, TechWyse and its client saw a homepage that should have been working but for some reason was not. Once data was collected from the heat map, it quickly became obvious that a number of design changes could greatly increase the success of the site.

Trying out Crazy Egg

If heat mapping sounds interesting to you, consider using Crazy Egg. It’s the industry leader, with clients including Yahoo, Amazon, and eBay. Certified Hosting customers even get a free trial of 45 days, plenty of time to see if it’s of value to your business.

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By Kacy Carlsen