Whatever your industry or business, if your customers are finding you online, heatmaps can help.
This relatively new and increasingly popular technology can give you all sorts of insights into how your customers use your website. If you’ve never heard of it before, or if you’d like to know more, we’ve got the full rundown on everything you need to know about heatmapping.
What Is a Heatmap?
A little history lesson to start us off. Heatmaps are by no means a new concept, though they’ve been adapted with technology for commercial use.
Heatmaps actually originated more than a century ago. They’ve been widely used by all kinds of researchers, statisticians, and businesses. Though this would have been in a more primitive format of a color-shaded matrix display.
Even more recently in use, heatmaps would have been manually created within spreadsheets. This would have been done by shading cells, rows, or columns of the spreadsheet so patterns could be easily observed.
If you’re thinking that sounds like an awful lot of work, you’re right.
Fortunately, heatmaps have come a long way since the days of doing them by hand. Website heat maps work in a similar way to their predecessors. They visualize the most popular and least popular elements of a web page, most often in shades of red to blue.
It sounds high-tech, but there’s plenty of digital analytics tools that offer heatmapping software. A great example is market-leading Decibel.com, where you can simply integrate your site with their platform and voila, heatmaps for your site!
Heatmaps can give you a bunch of different information about your site and how customers use it. This is through using different types of heatmaps on your site.
Different Types of Heatmaps
Heatmaps vary from the fairly basic to incredibly advanced. They’re all incredibly useful as they give you different insights into how people interact with a given page on your site.
Starting with the basics, the most common types of heatmaps you’ll see are scroll maps and click maps. Scroll maps show you how many people scrolled down to any given point on a page. Red areas show where the majority of users got to, while blue or green areas show fewer users saw it.
Click maps, or dot maps, show you where users clicked on their desktop devices. For mobile devices, these are sometimes known as touch heatmaps as they show you where a user tapped with their finger. Like the above, red areas will have been clicked the most.
More advanced heatmaps include behavioral, attribution, and aggregation maps.
Behavioral heatmaps give you more insight into how users are engaging with your content. The analytics available will vary from platform to platform. In general, they will include multi-clicks, cursor tracking, reading, and copying.
Attribution heatmaps let you analyze individual elements of dynamic content on a page. This could be things like dropdowns, carousels, or pop-ups. Analytics provided will generally be things like clicks, conversions, and hovers.
Aggregation maps are used to segment different users to compare and contrast how they interact with a page. So if you know a certain demographic is underperforming in conversions, you can focus on this segment to discover where they may be struggling.
It’s all well and good having all that data at your fingertips… but what’s it all for?
Heatmaps have a bunch of great benefits to them, all revolving around understanding how people interact with your website pages. In a broader sense, understanding how people interact with your site can help answer pressing business questions like ‘why aren’t users converting?’
Heatmaps can help you figure out if users are missing important content or unable to find it. They can show you how people navigate your website from initial entry through to conversion or show you where users may be having issues. These are just a couple of examples of the information available from heatmapping your site.
You can use this information to make decisions about your website, and ultimately your business.
Heatmaps are great to use in conjunction with A/B testing. They give you a more detailed insight as to why one page variant may be performing better than another. This means that you will eventually have a website that performs better for your customers’ wants and needs.
It can also help with re-designs and updates. It allows you to in a sense know what your customers’ thoughts on any changes are as their behavior onsite changes.
Because they’re data-led, heatmaps also make arguing for changes easier. They let you show team members, bosses, or stakeholders exactly what’s happening. This makes it much easier to convince the necessary cogs to start turning as there’s no guesswork involved.
Heat maps are great because they’re so easy to use. Reputable software providers will also have a whole host of tutorials, blogs, and vlogs for use with their platform. But regardless of the platform, you’re using, there are a few easy pointers that might help.
The best way to analyze your heatmaps is to go through the user experience or user journey. What we mean by this is to follow the same route your users would when carrying out a particular conversion or action. Then go through each page, asking yourself the following questions:
- Are customers finding the information they need?
- Are customers clicking through?
- Are customers getting distracted or confused?
- Are customers having issues with certain devices?
You’ll likely come up with more questions as you go through and analyze the data. This will help you come up with more ideas to research for A/B testing. It will also help you find quick wins for easy improvements to your site.
Give It a Try
We hope you found our analysis of heatmaps useful and that we’ve inspired you to try them on your own site. You can find loads more tips to improve your business’s digital presence on our blog.