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You’re running a Google Ads campaign and SEO campaign, simultaneously working hard to send as much traffic as possible to a single landing page. Google Analytics can tell you where the site viewers are coming from, how long they’re staying, and if they move on or click away. You notice that a lot of users– much more than you’d hope–are clicking away, but aren’t sure why.

You wonder– is it the video that drove them away? Was there not enough detail on the page? Too much? It’s hard to tell.

Enter heatmapping. Heatmapping can tell you an enormous amount about what’s driving users to take action on your site (or not take action) so that you can maximize everything from the site copy to the site’s layout and navigation to get users to do more of what you want them to.

What Is Heatmapping?

Heatmapping is a distinct type of analytics that shows you what site visitors spend the most time viewing and clicking based on where their mouse is and the interactions they take on the site.

hotjar screenshot

Image source: Hotjar

Sometimes this will look a little like a weather map, where storms coming through are indicated in red but only light showers showing up in yellow or green. Areas that are heavily viewed or clicked will show up with dense, dark reds while lightly-viewed or clicked areas will have more of a lighter, transparent color hovering over it.

Different Types of Heatmaps & What We Can Learn From Them

There are several different types of heatmaps, and each one can tell you something unique based on what exactly it’s measuring. Let’s take a quick look at each one using Crazy Egg’s heatmapping tools.

Hover Maps

Hover maps are perhaps one of the most valuable types of heatmapping, because they’re going to give you the information that 1) isn’t as obvious (IE scroll maps) and 2) can’t be tracked other ways (you can assess basic navigation through the site).

crazy egg heat map

Hover maps show you exactly where users mouses or track pads are hovering, and this is substantial because many users follow that tiny little arrow across the screen, even guiding it to where they’re looking. This will show you what they spend the most time reading and considering.

What We Can Learn

Hover maps are so, so important, people they’re showing you what people are putting the most focus on when viewing your page. You can tell if they’re paying the most attention to the content that you’ve written, or if they’re actually considering filling out that lead gen form (even if they don’t).

See what draws users attention. Are big, flashy CTAs and offers getting plenty of hovers? Are people spending a long time reviewing an infographic, or reading key passages in a case study? As a content marketer, I love seeing where people hover most in a blog post, because this is often the information that they were looking for when they made the search, and it can help me assess if I properly delivered on matching their search intent.

Look for reasons why the hover map is concentrated in certain areas, and use that knowledge to draw more attention to key information that can nurture users to the next step of the sales funnel.

Scroll Maps

Scroll maps will simply show you how much information people see, based on how much they’re scrolling. This can be particularly important if you’ve got longer pages with content and CTAs below the fold, and to assess how much of your mobile site is being seen.

scroll heat map

What We Can Learn

Your scroll maps will tell you two key things:

  1. If your audience is interested enough in what you’re saying to keep scrolling.
  2. If they’re seeing enough of your page to get to the good stuff.

I’ve never been a fan of burying the lede on-site copy; it’s never a good idea, and as Dwight Schrute likes to tell us, you put the money beets up front. Show people what they need to know and why they should care right away. This can help you get plenty of clicks on earlier CTAs (in which case it’s ok if people aren’t scrolling all the way down) and get them to continue to scroll.

When looking at your scroll map, make sure that users are seeing the key and most persuasive information. You should always aim to have at least one CTA above the fold, with navigation options clear so that users can move forward in the process as soon as they’re ready.

Click Maps

Click maps are exactly what they sound like; you can see a bunch of tiny dots that show you where users are clicking on your site. It’s no surprise that the navigation bars and prime CTAs or contact forms have spots so heavily concentrated it would rival a Monet painting (good old fashioned Pointillism puns, ammirite?).

click maps screenshot

What We Can Learn

Click maps are obviously valuable; they’re going to show you where users are so involved in the process or want to take the next steps, so they click.

You may find that more users are clicking to a site like an “About Us” before they’re clicking on your CTAs encouraging them to download a lead magnet or to get in touch. Tracking what users are clicking on from the homepage will show you what information is most important for them to see before they convert or take next steps, so take this seriously.

Seeing which CTAs people click on or which links in your blog posts that people click on is important, too. It can give you insight into what people find valuable, what they’re looking for, and at what stage they feel ready to move on.

Maybe one CTA is more visible, with a larger button and bright, contrasting colors even though it’s below the fold; duplicate this above the fold for more clicks, especially if your scroll map is showing a lot of people drop off before that.

Best Heatmapping Tools to Try

There are a ton of great heatmapping tools out there. Crazy Egg is my personal favorite, but HotJar, Optimizely, Mouseflow, Tableu, and so many more are all great, too.

Whatever tool you choose, make sure that it offers a variety of heatmaps and that it enables A/B testing so that you can test out different versions of key pages of your site to see what works best. This will be key to optimization.

Conclusion

Heatmapping is something that all brands and website owners should be using, but it’s one that many neglect, even if they’re otherwise on top of their analytics and optimization game. This is a shame, because heatmapping is undeniably valuable and can offer information that you couldn’t get any other way.

Being able to see how much of your landing pages users are actually viewing, which CTAs are getting clicked on most, and what seems to draw your users’ attention is so important to be able to optimize your site and improve performance moving forward.

Need some help optimizing your site for maximum performance? Get in touch with us and see how we can help!

What do you think? Do you use heatmapping for your sites? Which type of heatmap do you find most beneficial? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below!

Ana Gotter
Ana is a content marketer, copywriter, and ghostwriter specializing in business management and social media marketing, though she's written in a variety of other niches. She can be contacted at anagotter.com