Traditional analytics reveal what’s happening. But they don’t tell you why. Why don’t people convert? What makes them explore your services before getting in touch? How come they land on your homepage and then don’t explore the rest of your site? They’re all essential insights, helping you make real improvements to a landing page, sales page, product page or any other kind of online content. That’s where heatmaps come in.

Heatmaps are visual tools that generate insight using website data. The resulting maps let you see exactly how visitors behave and why they behave that way. An increasing number of marketers are using heatmaps to reveal patterns of behaviour and drill down into the real reasons why visitors do what they do. It makes a whole lot more sense than guesswork, it’s easier to grasp than traditional analytics and the insight you get from AB testing is worth a lot more. So what are heatmaps, what are their main marketing benefits and what have marketers learned from them over the past few years?

About heatmaps – Three kinds of heatmap to choose from

Heatmaps provide visual in-page analysis of visitor behaviour, focusing on the users’ on-page movements.

  1. Click heat maps reveal the actions taken by visitors via mouse clicks
  2. Eye-tracking heat maps track cursor movements, providing a graphical representation of people’s eye movements
  3. Scroll-tracking heat maps show you how much time people spend above and below the ‘fold’. Above the fold content is visible without a visitor having to scroll down, below the fold is the content that’s only accessible by scrolling down

The marketing benefits of heatmaps

How will your business benefit from heatmaps?

  • Heatmap studies are simple to analyse, much easier than chunks of data or lists of numbers and easier to ‘get’ than a graph
  • Because every element on a website has its own unique purpose, it’s important they all do a good job. Heatmaps help you identify where improvements can be made, and also quickly reveal how well (or not) your improvements are performing
  • Learning where people click reveals how strong your calls to action are
  • Most heatmap tools show you the most popular areas of a page, so you can see at a glance what your visitors actually care about
  • By looking at where a visitor’s cursor stopped, you can figure out which bits of a page they spent the most time on, therefore found the most interesting – most heatmap tools come with a handy hover-map feature
  • Some people prefer to use their mouse’s scroll wheel or the bar to browse. Heatmaps capture the data for a rounded picture of what’s happening
  • The best heatmap tools let you see how far down a page people scroll, via a scroll map. If people are missing out on vital information because it’s too far below the fold, it’ll tell you how far down users actually browse. Which means you can move vital content up the page and see if that improves conversion
  • Heatmaps can be filtered based on date and traffic source. If one traffic source works a lot better than another, for example, you’ll be able to clearly see the difference and plan accordingly
  • You can weave numbers into the analysis, deriving essential stats from people’s clicks and movements, for example how many clicks were placed per view. Lots may mean great engagement, but they might also reveal visitors struggling with the page’s navigation or layout
  • You should be able to filter the data by clicks per view, to analyse people’s behaviour by segment. If you’re seeing loads of clicks landing on static areas of a page, for example, it’s a sure sign the interaction side of things isn’t working as well as it could
  • Heatmaps help with A/B testing. It’s an instant way to see if the changes you’ve made have improved conversion, whether ‘conversion’ in your context means handing over contact data, buying something, filling in a form, applying for something or whatever

Heatmap takeaways to help you improve conversion

Heatmaps have been around for a long time, and a few rock solid bits of marketing wisdom have become clear. Here they are.

  • People tend to spend more time looking at the left hand side of a page. So it makes sense to put vital information on the left. This might, however, be different for languages where you read right to left rather than left to right
  • The upper left is the most looked-at area of a page – people tend to spend more time there than anywhere else
  • The farther you make people scroll down, the less interested and engaged they get. One study revealed an impressive 80% of visitor attention takes place above the fold
  • Having said that, the same study discovered a spike in engagement at the bottom of a page, which tells you that a PS or call to action right at the foot of a page might be a particularly powerful marketing tool
  • A piece of research by team at Caltech study found that visual impact affects buying decisions more than consumer preference. This means excellent images are a potent conversion tool
  • Heatmap analysis has revealed carousels don’t help with conversion. They’re colourful, interesting and fun, but don’t expect a carousel to play much of a role in driving actual action
  • Nielsen have found 80% of user attention is focused above the fold, vital for prioritising content when your web page goes on and on… and on

Want to delve into the magic of heatmaps?

We’re great believers in heatmaps. They deliver instant insight, help site owners make good web design and development decisions, focus visitor attention exactly where it needs to be, drive content marketing excellence and support effective AB testing. If you’d like to benefit from a monthly heatmap analysis, we’ll be delighted to oblige. Let’s talk.