Digital marketing is a minefield, with countless tools, techniques, and strategies all promising to deliver amazing results.
You throw all the options in the air and hope that something sticks.
Among the strategies that take the guesswork out of finding the best possible option is heat mapping.
Heatmaps not only tell you where your visitors are spending their time, but also take the guesswork out of making design decisions.
No more guessing whether or not your visitors will respond to a particular element of the page — heatmaps show you in an instant.
In this article, we’ll review the basics of heat mapping and how you can use it to its full potential.
What’s a Heat Map?
A heatmap is a graphical representation (a 2D map) of data visualising user behaviour on a page.
It’s represented as a colour-coded overlay on your website, showing which areas receive the most clicks or hovers.
Heatmaps allow you to identify the hotspots for engagement and determine where people are clicking, scrolling, hovering, and taking action.
The colour variations within a heatmap represent high and low levels of activities.
The darker the shade, the higher the activity.
How Heatmaps Work
In our day-to-day life, we experience a lot of heatmaps and don’t even recognise them.
Think about the weather forecast — temperature or precipitation maps are presented in a heatmap format.
Weather forecasters use heat maps to show us where the hottest and coldest areas are.
Similarly, a digital heatmap displays data on web pages in a ‘heat’ format.
When you use a heat mapping tool, you track user activity on your website – how long people stay on each page, how far they scroll down, which links they click, and so on.
The data is then presented in a heatmap format, which allows you to see the ‘hot’ areas on your page with the most action.
The heatmap report also provides other insights, such as where visitors struggle or fail to take action, which elements they ignore, and how far they scroll down the page.
By analysing this data, you can adjust your web pages to improve user experience and lead to higher conversions.
What Heatmap Colours Represent
On a heatmap, the darker shades represent higher activity levels, and lighter shades represent lower levels. The exact colour used for each shade depends on the tool you’re using.
Generally, heatmaps would use red to indicate high activity and blue or yellow to indicate low activity.
For example, if you have a CTA button on your page and it’s shaded red, that would indicate high activity levels.
That means people click or hover on the CTA button more often than in other areas of the page.
If it’s shaded blue or yellow, it indicates that people are ignoring the CTA button, and you should adjust its position to make it more visible or attractive.
The 4 Types of Heatmaps
There are four main types of heatmaps – click, hover/movement, scroll, and attention.
Click heatmaps show you the exact spot on a page where your visitors are clicking.
This type of heatmap is ideal for understanding what people are interested in and how they interact with your website’s elements, such as buttons or images.
Hover heatmaps track mouse movements and show you where users spend their time hovering on the page.
You can use hover heatmaps to identify where visitors are getting stuck and make adjustments that improve user experience.
Confetti maps are like a click heatmap – but with an added layer of detail. They show the exact spot on each page where visitors click and record information, such as device type and referral source. They’re great for understanding how desktop and mobile users interact differently with your page.
Scroll heatmaps help you understand how far down the page visitors are scrolling. You can use this data to optimise user experience by relocating important elements, such as CTAs or key information, higher on the page.
Eye-tracking heatmaps use eye-tracking technology to track where people look on a page. This type of heatmap is especially useful if you want to understand how users focus on different elements and optimise your website design accordingly.
Benefits of Heatmaps
Heatmaps provide invaluable insights into user behaviour. Analyzing heatmap data can help you identify the problems preventing visitors from converting.
It allows you to see the post-click landing page through your visitors’ eyes — and make adjustments to the elements on your page that are not performing well.
That leads to improved user experience and higher conversions.
You can also use heatmaps to identify which parts of your website get the most attention so that you can focus more of your energy there.
Heatmaps are a great way to optimise user journeys, improve website designs, and increase conversions.
Here’s a simple breakdown of some of the benefits of heatmaps:
- Identify user behaviour and preferences
- Pinpoint opportunities for improvement
- Improve website design
- Make informed decisions about website changes
- Increase visitor engagement and conversions
Heatmaps are an invaluable resource that can help you gain valuable insights into how visitors interact with your website. You can identify problems, optimise user experience, and increase conversions by analysing heatmap data.
Here are some of the questions heatmap data can help you answer about user behaviour:
- How are visitors interacting with your landing page post-click?
- How are they navigating the page post-click?
- What catches their attention the most? And where Are they clicking the most?
- Which page elements are they ignoring?
- What parts of the page are they engaging with?
- How engaging is your web copy?
- Are they clicking the CTA button?
- What’s the best place for the CTA button?
These are some of the questions that heatmap data can help you answer.
By understanding user behaviour on your website, you can identify weaknesses in design and content, adjust accordingly, and improve conversion potential.
Heat Map Case Studies
Let’s examine a few case studies that demonstrate how heatmaps can help boost conversions.
Soft media used heatmaps to identify where visitors were getting stuck on their website and optimise it for a better user experience.
They collected over 10,000-page views data via heatmaps and identified the distractions preventing visitors from completing their desired actions.
Instead of clicking the call to action, visitors were getting distracted by the “do not click here” link. Soft media removed the link and managed to increase their conversion rate by 51%.
Couple (Formerly Pair)
Couple (formerly Pair) used heat maps to identify the distractions on their landing page. As it turns out, their site’s visitors were distracted by the navigation bar and not clicking the CTA button.
The original landing page looked something like this:
Here’s what their click maps looked like:
After analysing the heatmap data, they removed the navigation bar and rearranged the elements on their landing page. As a result, their call to action button successfully gained 12% more clicks than before.
August Ash used heatmaps to identify the weak spots in their website design and make informed decisions about where they should place their CTA button.
By analysing the scroll maps and click maps, they found that visitors were not clicking their CTA button, despite being made in contrasting red colour and having an actionable copy.
Through heatmaps, August Ash identified that visitors only scrolled down the page until a certain point.
So, they decided to move their CTA button higher up on the page and saw a significant improvement in conversion rate.
Bluewire Media used heat mapping to see where their website’s visitors click the most.
The scroll maps showed visitors were reaching the footer, but no activity was happening on the lead capture form.
Bluewire Media identified that the lead capture form was too long and tedious. They shortened the form, making it easier for visitors to fill out. As a result, they saw a significant increase in lead capture.
How to Use Heatmaps to Boost Your Website’s Conversion Potential
Heatmaps can identify problems in your website’s design and content, optimise user experience, and increase conversions.
It can help you answer user behaviour questions such as where visitors click the most, which page elements they ignore, etc. Heatmap case studies show how heat mapping can be used to make data-driven decisions and improve conversion rates.
That said, here are ten creative ways to use heatmaps to boost your website’s conversion potential:
#1. Using Heatmaps to Reduce Cart Abandonment
Is your checkout page converting as expected? If not, use heatmaps data to identify where your visitors are clicking and adjust accordingly.
Users might be moving the mouse around the page without clicking the “Add to Cart” button. Heatmaps can help you identify this behaviour and adjust your design.
You can also use heatmaps data to understand what’s causing users to abandon their carts.
It could be that they’re distracted by other elements on the page or have difficulty completing their purchase.
By identifying the distractions and optimising your checkout form, you can reduce cart abandonment and increase conversions.
The North Face website used a heatmap to analyse their data and found that visitors were not clicking on the “Add to Cart” button. They were getting distracted by the promotional banner on the checkout page.
Much of their visitors’ time was going to the promotional banner, which invited them to become reward members, that they didn’t pay any attention to the checkout page.
The North Face took immediate action and removed the banner. Their conversion rate leapt, and they saw a significant improvement in their sales.
#2. Using Heatmaps to Optimise Form Length
Forms are an integral part of any website. If your forms are too long, visitors will abandon them midway, and you might lose potential customers.
Heatmaps can help you identify the elements on your form, causing visitors to abandon them.
You can use the data to shorten your forms and make them easier for users to fill in. For example, if you require only a few pieces of information, don’t ask for too many details. You can also add progress bars that show visitors where they are in the process, so they know what to expect next.
You can increase conversions by optimising the length of your forms and making them easier for visitors to fill in.
Bluewire Media used heatmap data to identify that their contact form was too long and tedious. They shortened it and saw a significant increase in lead capture rate.
#3 Using Heatmap to Optimise Your CTA
I like to think of the call-to-action buttons as your website’s “make or break” elements. If your visitors don’t know where to go and what to do, they’ll abandon your site.
Heatmaps can help you identify which CTA buttons are working and which ones need to be optimised.
Heatmaps will also show where your users are clicking and which buttons receive the most attention. You can then use this data to fine-tune your CTAs, making them more noticeable and easier for visitors to click on.
A heatmap also tracks eye movement, which can help you determine if your visitors even notice the CTA buttons.
By optimising your CTAs, you can make it easier for visitors to take action and increase conversions.
#4. Use Heatmaps to Identify Dead Elements
Heatmaps can help you identify which elements of your website are dead or redundant. Which features do your visitors ignore or overlook?
You can use the heatmap data to eliminate these elements and improve user experience. For example, if your visitors ignore a particular widget, you might want to consider removing it or replacing it with something more relevant.
You can also use heatmap data to identify confusing elements. For example, if your visitors are spending a lot of time on a particular page but not taking action, it could be because the layout or design confuses them.
Removing these dead elements and decluttering your website can significantly improve your user experience and boost conversions.
#5. Use Heatmaps to Make UX Decisions
Are you torn between two design options? Use heatmap data to find out which one works better.
Instead of making assumptions or relying on guesswork, you can use heatmap data to make informed design decisions. Heatmaps can help you identify which design elements are working and which ones need to be tweaked.
Test your ideas in small batches and use the heatmap data to track their performance. See which design option gets the most attention and focus on optimising that one.
How to Get Started with Heatmaps
Now that you know how heatmaps can help you boost conversions, let’s look at how to get started with the whole thing.
There are several heatmap tools available on the market, from free to paid versions. Here are some of the most popular ones:
Hotjar isn’t just a heatmap tool. It’s an all-in-one analytics and feedback service. It offers visual and clicks heatmaps to help you understand how visitors interact with your website.
You can use the tool to create move heat maps, click heat maps, scroll heatmaps, and more.
Crazy Egg is a popular heatmap tool that lets you create visual heat maps of your website. It also tracks clicks, taps, and mouse moves so you can identify where visitors are spending the most time.
You can create just about any type of heatmap, from scroll maps to overlay to confetti reports and more.
Mouseflow is an all-in-one analytics and feedback service that helps you optimise your website for conversions. Its heatmaps feature shows how visitors interact with individual elements on your website.
It also offers detailed reports and A/B testing capabilities that you can use to refine your website design further.
Smartlook offers powerful heat mapping capabilities to help you optimise your website for conversions. It tracks visitor behaviour, helping you understand why visitors are leaving your site or not taking action.
You can also use its Heatmap Reports to identify which elements on your site are receiving the most attention and tweak them accordingly.
Instapage allows you to create heat maps on a post-click landing page and combine the information you collect with analytics metrics. Their heat map functionality gives you ultra-specific insights into how your visitors interact with different elements of your page.
Their 3-in-1 tracking functionality — mouse, clicks, and movement tracking — allows you to track individual visitor behaviour and optimize your pages accordingly.
You should be able to tell which elements they clicked on, how far they scrolled, and how long they stayed on each page.
Best Practices When Using Heatmaps
Now that you know how to use heatmaps, let’s look at some best practices for using them:
Only Track the Most Important Page
You don’t have to track every page of your website. Focus on the most important ones, such as the homepage, product, and checkout page.
Implement Heatmaps in Stages
Start with a few key pages to understand how visitors interact with them. Once you’ve identified the best-performing pages, roll out heatmaps across the entire website.
Take Action on the Results
Don’t just use the heatmap data for insight and then move on. Take action based on the results. Test different design elements, track which ones perform best, and optimize the rest to increase conversions.
Re-Test Design Changes
Once you’ve made design changes, it’s important to re-test them and track the performance of each element. Use the heatmap data to see how visitors interact with your new design and optimize it accordingly.
Which Pages Should You Track with Heatmaps?
Heatmaps can be used to track a wide range of web pages, from product pages to checkout pages. Here are some of the most important pages to track with heatmaps:
The homepage is like the “face” of your website. It’s the first page visitors will see on your website.
It’s also the first point of contact with a potential customer. You can’t afford to get it wrong.
So, how can a heat map help? It can tell you how visitors are navigating and interacting with your homepage.
It will also reveal the best place to place the CTA, which images work, and what visitors look for most.
For example, the areas indicated as hot can be prime real estate for a CTA or special offer.
Not just that, the heatmap data will also reveal confusing elements on your page. Say, if visitors keep clicking on an image that’s not clickable, you know what to do.
Product pages are the main source of conversions. Getting them right is as important as ensuring visitors don’t abandon their carts.
Imagine you’ve just launched a new product page and want to see how people interact with it.
That’s where heatmaps come in handy. They will reveal how visitors interact with your product page, what elements they’re clicking on, and which parts of the page they’re paying attention to.
When people visit your product page, that’s the closest they’re to converting, and heatmaps will tell you how to make it easier for them.
The checkout page is where the real conversions happen. It’s the last hurdle that stands between you and your potential customers.
Heatmaps will allow you to track how users are interacting with the checkout page and which elements they are clicking on.
From there, you can identify areas that need improvement and optimize your checkout process according to user feedback.
Blog pages are great for increasing engagement and generating more conversions.
They’re responsible for bringing traffic to your website and encouraging visitors to explore more pages.
It’s also where you add value to your website and establish a connection with your audience. In other words, it’s a great way to build relationships and establish yourself as a thought leader in your niche.
Heatmaps will reveal whether readers are digesting the full post or skimming it. You’ll also be able to track what parts of the page they’re spending the most time on and whether they’re clicking through to other pages.
You can use this data to determine what content length works best, what topics to focus on, and how to improve user experience.
Some Final Words
Heatmaps are the tools you use to understand user behaviour on your site. It’s like looking through a window and seeing what your visitors are doing.
You just have to know how to interpret and use the data to your advantage. Track which elements perform best and optimize the rest to increase conversions.