The Beginner’s Guide to Heatmaps

The Beginner’s Guide to Heatmaps

Customer behavior is an intricate phenomenon. It is impossible to “guess” what makes someone buy from you during their first visit or ticks them off as soon as they land on your website.

Wouldn’t it be helpful if you can take the guesswork out of the marketing game and find out the reasons behind certain behaviors accurately? Of course, it would be! After all you can save lots of time and efforts you’d otherwise have to spend in doing activities that would potentially yield no returns at all.

Enter website heatmaps.

What is a website heatmap?

A website heatmap explains how your website visitors access the webpages in a visual form. The visual representation makes it easy to understand user behavior (mouse movements, clicks and scrolling).

In this article, we will understand the basics of a website heatmap, when and why you should use heatmaps. We will also help you with creating your first heatmap for your website.

Let’s start!

What Is a Heatmap?

A heatmap is a data visualization tool that visually represents website data. Heatmaps show how visitors navigate through your website by using a color coding system to describe various levels of activity. For example, the color red might represent a website element that is most commonly accessed by the website visitors whereas blue might represent the element that mostly goes unnoticed.

Although heatmaps were initially introduced in the 1800s, it was Cormac Kinney, a software designer who copyrighted the term ‘heat map’ in 1991 to visually describe the financial market information.

Types of Heatmaps

There are primarily 3 types of heatmaps that are used to understand how visitors interact with webpages, viz. Scroll, click and movement heatmaps. Let’s look at each of them in brief:

1. Scroll Heatmaps

Scroll heatmaps depict how your visitors scroll your website. The redder the area, the more visibility the content is receiving. Scroll heatmaps help you with how your visitors consume the content. With this information, you can understand if a vital part of the content is getting ignored by the visitors, and if so, you can move it to a more prominent section of the website.

scroll heatmap

You would often be recommended to put the critical information and call-to-action buttons in the above the fold section, and there is a plausible reason behind this. According to a study by Nielsen Norman Group, 80% of the users spend time viewing above the fold content.

2. Click Heatmaps

A click heatmap provides you with the visualization of where your users click (or tap) on the webpage. Similar to scroll heatmaps, the intensity of colors is directly proportional to the number of clicks, i.e. the redder the area, the more clicks the element is receiving.

Click heatmap

Click heatmaps help us understand with whether users are actually clicking on the intended call-to-action buttons or are there any web elements that visitors are confusing with clickable content. With this data, you can optimize your website for conversions.

3. Mouse Movement Heatmaps

Mouse movement heatmaps track the cursor activity. This heatmap reports every cursor/mouse pointer movement and the longer the pointer stays in a particular area, the more intense in color it gets.

Mouse movement heatmap

The mouse movement heatmap is compatible exclusively with computers.

Why Should You Use Heatmaps?

Heatmaps track and report how your website visitors access various elements on a webpage. The visuals representation can help you enhance the UI/UX of your site that will cater to how the visitors behave on your website. Below are the 5 compelling reasons for using heatmaps:

  1. Understand which areas on the website get the most and the least attention
  2. Which webpage elements are attracting the most clicks
  3. Locate ideal areas on the website to place CTA buttons and advertisements
  4. Observe how site visitors use the navigation
  5. Check if there are any elements that serve no purpose and distract the visitor from clicking on the CTA button

When Should You Use Heatmaps?

Ideally, you should use heatmaps on all the important pages, but here are a few instances where you will derive the maximum benefits out of heatmaps:

1. A/B Testing

Heatmaps can be of immense help if you regularly perform A/B testing. Suppose you want to experiment with the position of the CTA button. Definitely, the stats can help you decide which variant was successful, but with the help of the heatmap, you will be able to track the difference in user behavior.

For example, with the help of the 3 heatmaps discussed above, you can quickly view how easy it was for the user to find the CTA. So, even though data will guide your decision, the visual representation can help you decide if you should replicate and scale this change on similar pages.

2. Website Redesign

A website redesign can be a daunting project as you invest a lot of time, money and effort in coming up with the finished product. And the uncertainty still persists with the reception of the website redesign. In such cases, you can use heatmaps during the testing phase to understand how easily the focus group is able to navigate through the website.

3. Homepage

The homepage along with other key entry pages of your website (for example, landing pages in some instances) are crucial for your brand as they decide if the visitor will stick around or not. Heatmaps here can help you understand how they access the homepage and navigate to other pages of the website.

4. Optimizing the Conversion Funnel

You might have created an amazing ebook in order to fuel lead generation efforts for your brand. You have also designed an enticing landing page to support it, but you are not seeing the expected number of conversions. Heatmaps, in this case, can give you a more in-depth look into what does a user do after they land on your page. Perhaps they have difficulty in understanding the offering, or the form is too long. Knowing the potential obstacles will allow you to address them on time and optimize the conversion funnel.

Create Your First Heatmap With HumCommerce

Setting up a heatmap with HumCommerce very simple. You can signup for a free account, add a tracking script and start using the tool.

Once you have set up your HumCommerce account, just follow the steps outlined in the video and you will be well on your way to creating your first heatmap.

Closing Words

A heatmap is a useful tool in a marketer’s analytical arsenal to evaluate how your visitors are behaving on your website. But be sure to track other relevant metrics as well so that you don’t get a skewed representation of your marketing efforts.

Do you have any questions about heatmaps? Let us know in the comments below!

Team HumCommerce

Just a bunch of nerdy geeks who love data!

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