Heatmap: what is it and how can i use it to improve my website?

  • Beatrix Schneider

    Beatrix Schneider

  • January 3, 2018
  • 8 min. Reading Time

Anyone who runs a website and wants to make a profit knows that the crux of the matter is not losing the attention of visitors on the way to conversion. Today we would like to take a closer look at how a heatmap can help you to do this.

Still, there are a lot of websites where experimenting rather indiscriminately with the means of website optimization. An example: the marketing team notices that nothing has changed on the website in two years. Already, a few tips you read about in an online article are being applied to your own site, and you feel equipped to take on the next two years.

This is not how it should work! Unthinking changes to your site is the best way to go:

  • to lower the conversion rate
  • To lose sales
  • discourage visitors

Because one thing is certain: every website is different. What works well for Mark and Peter doesn’t necessarily work for you.

Your goal: your users tell you themselves what should change on your website.
And that’s exactly what heat maps are for.

What is a heatmap?

Heatmaps are a Visual representation of attention, engagement and interaction of your visitors. They are created by your users navigating your site.

You can create a kind of heat map of your website thanks to this analysis, highlighting the areas that get the most attention or generate the most engagement.

This is what a heat map might look like:

Warm colors show the places where attention is greatest and cool colors point to the areas of your website that are overlooked by your visitors.

Now you can analyze how your visitors behave on your own website and make targeted changes to increase conversion. A great solution or not?

Let your users show you the areas that can still be improved. Just make the appropriate changes and measure how well they affect your sales – for example, with A/B testing.

When should you create a heatmap for your website?

Heat maps are extremely helpful. You measure attention, engagement and even the number of clicks on your website.

To give you some concrete examples – here are some reasons why you should use heatmaps:

  • Measuring commitment. If you z. B. Write online articles and want to know up to which point your audience actually reads – use a heatmap. This can show you the scrolling behavior of your readers, and also where they interact. For example, if you notice that only a small percentage are scrolling to your call-to-action, it’s time to make some changes.
  • Measure interaction. Where do my visitors click? Click on the right fields? Use heat maps to find out if your visitors are taking the actions you want them to take, or if they are getting stuck in a particular place.
  • Measure attention. Which headlines or which images get the most attention? What elements are distracting from the more important content on your website? Do your visitors see the contact form? Once you have found answers to your questions, you can already make the changes that will increase your conversion rate.

Finding answers to the above questions can also help you answer even more probing questions:

  • Where you should place your most important content?
  • What is the best way to include images and videos?
  • Where are my visitors distracted?
  • Where should I talk about my product or. talk to my service?

Now that you know quite a bit about heatmaps, you may be wondering if there are multiple forms of heatmaps. That’s right – they exist.

Which heatmaps should you use?

Most heatmap tools give you a representation of user interaction from different angles.

Refer to all available representations to best identify your visitors’ behavior.

Heatmap or Click Heatmap

This form of heatmap allows you to measure actions on your website numerically. It’s a visual representation of all the clicks users make on your site. This image provides you with very valuable data, as you can see exactly where people are interacting on your website.

Every time a click occurs, the heat map marks that exact spot with a white dot. If you see large white areas, this is where the majority of your visitors are clicking.

Since you can identify the "hot spots" very quickly and clearly, analysis is also easy: click your visitors where you want them to click?

For example, in the image above from Sumo, we can quickly see that "SHARE" and "IMAGE SHARER" are the least popular areas.

The scroll map or "content analysis

The scrollmap shows you how far your website visitors scroll down. Also, which elements attract the most attention and where your visitors linger.

A scroll map helps you determine if your users are seeing the right areas of your site or if they are being distracted by unimportant elements.

Let’s take a look at z. B. view this screenshot of an SEO article. We see that the image and the two lines below it are the most popular: ca. 85% of visitors have seen this element.

The "Percentage of Clicks" Heatmap

The "Percentage of Clicks" heatmap complements the classic heat map. It allows you to track how many clicks were generated from each image or element. Being able to quantify clicks per element is extremely important.

It helps you to do this:

Percentage of click heatmap

  • To understand how important individual elements are to users.
  • To avoid users clicking on images without links.

The "Confetti" Heatmap

The Confetti heatmap is similar to the classic heat map, but one difference is that you can see every single click, not just a density of clicks. This way you can see exactly if someone has tried to click on non-clickable areas – if so, you can now solve the problem.

You have already learned a lot about heatmaps. But there is another way to analyze user behavior: Eye tracking.

The difference between heat maps and eye tracking

While heatmaps mainly record users’ mouse movement and clicks, eye tracking analyzes their gazes.

The advantage of eye tracking is that you can actually track how visitors look at your page to analyze the most attention-grabbing areas of your website.

While in heatmapping the warm colors only show the area that gets the most attention.

As helpful as eye tracking can be, it relies on technology that is much more complex than heat maps. This requires special equipment that only a few agencies have.

If you are interested in eye tracking: There are algorithm-based solutions like Feng-Gui Feng-Gui or EyeQuant, which allow you to simulate eye tracking through algorithms.

The most important heatmap features

If you are looking for a heatmap tool, consider the following points:

  • Segmentation by behavior: The heatmap tool should allow you to create heatmaps for specific groups of visitors. You should be able to determine these yourself according to certain target group and segment criteria (z. B. New visitors, visitors who are already customers, visitors who come to your site through campaign links …).
  • Heatmap comparison: The results of different heat maps (z. B. Of different segments) should be easy to compare with each other.
  • Organize page templates: Creating a single heatmap for each subpage can get quite involved if you want to analyze product pages – you often have hundreds or even thousands of them. So you should be able to summarize the heatmap results of pages of a certain type.
  • Responsive Heatmaps: The heatmap tool should also work on pages accessed via a mobile device. Activity on mobile devices such as touch, scrolling or swiping must also be able to be recorded. In your analysis, you should also be able to distinguish the results of your users’ behavior and navigation from mobile and desktop devices in order to interpret the data correctly.
  • Export heatmap: Thanks to such a feature, you can easily share the results with your colleagues.
  • Dynamic heatmaps: You should also be able to see clicks on dynamic elements of your site: Dropdown menu, slider, carousel, using AJAX or JavaScrip framework like React.js or Angular.js. loaded content.
  • Retrospective Heatmaps: Has your website design changed since the last heat map? A heatmap solution should show the previous results for the then current website and not simply remodel to the new design – the results would otherwise be skewed.

Increase your conversion rate: combine heatmaps and AB testing

Let’s imagine you used a heatmap to better understand how your website visitors engage with your brand. You have identified strong and weak spots on your site and now you want to make the appropriate changes.

Question: How can you measure how effective these changes are in the end?? There is only one solution for this: AB test your changes.

The idea behind this is to have different versions of your website, ads, landing pages, etc. To create heatmaps to compare their respective performance.

By combining heat mapping and A/B testing, you are working with a 3-step method:

  • Identify problems using heatmaps
  • Check potential solutions with A/B testing
  • Implement the most effective solution

Finally, here’s an example: on this home repair website, it’s easy to see that users’ attention is torn between too many elements.

Insight: attention is scattered and conversion is low.

With the help of AB Testing, the company was able to make some targeted changes to refocus visitors on the call-to-action.

After the changes, a second heat map was created.

Insight: Attention could be refocused on the phone number and the most important CTA, thus achieving the goal of increasing conversion.

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