30 second summary:
- Heatmaps represent user intervention data on your website in graphical form.
- They were introduced by Cormac Kinney, the software maker, to help traders beat the market.
- Nowadays marketers use heat maps to visualize user behavior in relation to content and improve their content marketing accordingly.
If you're in the digital marketing scene, you've probably heard of heatmaps by now. They're a great tool for marketers to see how users interact with websites.
For those of you who are new to it, let's take a quick look at what a heat map is.
Heatmaps: Introduction and Types
A heat map can be explained as a tool for data visualization. It represents various values using colors to show users complex data sets.
- How well does a particular site work?
- Which of your content gets users' attention first?
- And when there is content that they do not understand or that they are not interested in.
Heatmaps use colors ranging from blue to red, with blue being the coolest (with little website involvement) and red being the warmest (with high engagement).
Take a look at the following example. The bright orange and red show the highest level of engagement from visitors, and the other areas are not viewed as often.
Source: Crazy Egg website
You can see that visitors focused mostly on the top of the page and scrolled all the way down a lot less.
There are different types of heatmaps to choose from depending on the type of information you want to get.
Here are three of the most popular types of heat maps:
- Overlay reports: These break down the clicks on your website as a percentage so you can see where people are clicking the most and where they're not.
- Scroll cards: This option shows you how far users will get on the page before they stop scrolling and reading.
- Confetti Report: This is a high resolution view of a traditional heat map. The difference is that you can see individual clicks on a confetti card. Each click is indicated by a colored point.
So now you know what a heat map is and what different types to choose from. Let's find out a few ways you can use heatmaps to improve your content strategy.
1. Find the missing pieces of the content puzzle
Once you've added content to your page, you want to know not only how many people are seeing that content but also how much is being read. Do you read two lines and then leave, or is your content interesting?
A scroll map shows how far your visitors go on the page so you can see how much of your content they are reading.
For example, let's say Tom writes a fascinating, in-depth website about growth hacking.
He explains documents, cases and customer activity and shows why many solutions are not useful.
Tom publishes and shares his results online. The traffic looks good. People visit and read his page.
Tom is happy with it but still wondering if they are really reading it or if they will look at it and leave. He decides to check his visitor reports.
Source: Crazy Egg website
As Tom (and you) can see from the scroll map, only about 1 in 15 or even 20 readers get to the bottom of his page. That said, most either don't read it or only read part of it.
In addition to this information, the scroll map offers further insights into the user behavior of the website.
It shows what content users spent time on, what filters and menu options are used the most, what sections are scrolled without reading, and how far into the page they click.
The data can be used to create more effective website content in the future.
With paid search data, you can uncover keyword opportunities for creating relevant content, social media posts, and ad copies. However, add in heatmaps and you'll have even more knowledge of what content your target audience wants.
Combine the use of heat maps with Google Analytics to determine how long users stay on your website before they bounce. You can see how far most of them get before they go and find out why.
Is something missing on this page? Is it hard to read? Is the content irrelevant?
The heat map shows you exactly which parts they are interested in and where they drop off, and you can use this knowledge to improve the content.
2. Smooth out the friction between the user and the CTA
Heatmaps are often used to help understand how website visitors interact with CTA buttons and other elements on the page.
Look at this picture. On the left you can see that users spent more time looking at the ad banner than actually buying anything at the website checkout.
Source: Convince & Convert website
On the right you can see that some small changes have been made to encourage users to take the marketer's preferred action.
3. Optimize images to grab attention
Another use of heat maps is to show you the best places to add images. More visitors than you probably think are trying to click on unlinked images.
For example, let's say a blog post has a high bounce rate. Visitors come but they don't stay and you want to know why.
A heat map is a good choice here.
A confetti click track report might show that your visitors are coming. Click multiple things that are not clickable, then fret and jump.
So they want to click through. They just don't know how.
Let's look at another example. These are two versions of an ecommerce landing page.
Source: VWO website
In the first picture, the baby is looking directly at the viewer, which makes it the most attention-grabbing object on the page.
But look at the second picture. Here the baby is looking at the text. This helps subconsciously draw users' attention to the web copy and the message it contains.
Source: VWO website
4. Discover the “why” behind getting out of the car
Another great use of heatmaps is for testing UX and usability.
For example, an online retailer finds that many people shop at their online store and add items to their shopping cart, but instead of buying the items, leave the shopping cart.
Some UX tests can show the merchant why this might be the case.
Overlays and heatmaps show where people click and where they don't.
The check out button may not be easy to see or it may be too low on the page.
It could be that buyers are distracted by a colorful navigation bar or that annoying ads or popups are driving them away.
They may try to click the non-clickable items and get frustrated.
Once those distractions or issues are resolved, A / B test that page to see which page is converting on.
5. Increase your conversion funnel
Testing how effective your content marketing is, as well as UX and usability, will help you move potential buyers down the conversion funnel.
For example, if some visitors read an entire piece of content and all of them sign up for your free guide, you will improve your sales team's leads and your content will be successful.
But what about the fact that there are lots of visitors coming to your landing page but no one is interested in receiving your free travel guide or joining your email list?
Just check the heat map and find out where they click and if they click at all.
They may be trying to click, but they are clicking the wrong item or it is not clear where to click. Or maybe something is broken on the page.
Do you see a high number of drop-offs on a particular page?
Do people float on some strange part of the page for a long time?
Make a note of the weaknesses on the various pages, improve them and see if you can get fewer bounces and better conversions.
The main thing is to look for any issues that might be preventing your visitors from converting, whether it is images that look like clickable buttons, bad web copy, or a confusing checkout experience.
6. Strengthen your internal links
The anchor text that is used to link to different pages on your website provides more context for what that page is about, or at least that's how the search engines see it.
Internal links allow you to create a hierarchy of content in which the most important pages are considered the most valuable and distribute link fairness across different pages.
If you rely on content to grow your website, internal linking is a great strategy for building your authority on key topics. The content can be grouped into "pillars" or "cornerstones" in pages and subtopics.
What does this have to do with heatmaps?
As you know, heat maps provide detailed information about where visitors click. This is a great way to measure internal link performance. The insights gained can be used to drive more traffic to pages by optimizing the placement of your links.
7. Improve outbound links too
Offering enticing outbound links may seem like driving users off your website, but it's not as intuitive as it sounds.
Including outbound links in your content is good SEO practice.
Linking to reputable sources will indicate to both readers and Google that you want to provide useful information. According to research from Stanford University, the links you choose can tell readers and search engines a lot about the quality of your content.
For example, if you link to a spam site, your credibility will be compromised.
How do you use heat maps to support good outbound links?
A click map can show you which of your outbound links are clicked the most and which are the least clicked. This gives you a glimpse of what interests your audience most.
Which of your outbound looks do visitors want to click on? What do you find most interesting or believable?
A scroll map is also useful for improving outbound links. Perhaps readers find one of your links irrelevant or spammy, and many fall off at that point.
If so, it might be time to find a better website to link to or to remove the link entirely.
Otherwise, the content of the page may not meet the requirements and some rework may be required.
Knowing how users interact with the structure of your website, as well as its content and other elements, can help you develop a content strategy to keep visitors reading more of your content and converting more.
Heatmaps can help you stand out from the competition by identifying friction-related issues and finding new ways to attract visitors and increase conversions.
Heatmaps are useful for marketers in a number of ways, but are best combined with other research tools.
Learning how buyers perceive and experience your website is important information and can really contribute to the success of your website.
Lyuthar Jacob works as an editorial assistant at a digital marketing agency – Clickmatix.com.au. He's the type of geek who loves exploring topics that range from marketing to lifestyle to saving money. And share its evolution through its records.