The Intel Analysis: Of the several different types of heat maps available for digital marketers, mouse-click and eye-tracking heat maps might well provide the best working data on everything from user intent to actual user experience. Each neatly covers for its partner’s shortcomings, while providing substantial intelligence through differences which are at once subtle and significant. We use a third form “scroll heat maps” to aggregate data across the all platforms which an audience may use to experience a site and which allows us to understand visual space through the lens of all of our users’ devices. For our purposes today, we will focus on the click and eye-tracking kind.
What is a Heat Map?
First, you may ask: what IS a Heat map? When you first login, you’ll see a heat map is a visual display through which a webpage is viewed with a filtered overlay of activity undertaken by its users. This overlay produces “hot spots” of user activity to be observed in accordance which take place in a given area or spot. The appearance resembles the display of an infrared image, hence the name – with areas of a page that receive a lot of user interaction showing up as red and fading to yellow, while “colder” zones with fewer user interactions appear blue. A click heat map tracks all users’ individual clicks on the page, where an eye-tracking heat map tracks the entire subset of users’ movements – actually tracking the cursor’s movement (thus “tracking” the eyes indirectly). This data is stored in both user sessions and as data-points and can be displayed through aggregated points over time – typically day, week, month or custom date range.
One day split screen view of a “Click” heat map (left) with an “Eye-tracking” heat map (right)
The “Click” Heat Map:
Heat maps show what areas of a webpage are, well, interesting. What sections or options are interacted with the most heavily. It highlights areas of particular interest to your visitors and call out areas which receive little to no interest. Some sites find areas which result in a lot of incidental clicks – perhaps resulting from confusion. Often when we proudly launch a new site, page or offering, we believe a certain section or link will be very popular – or an article will be interesting and carry the user deeper into the experience. Analytics tells us that length of stay corroborates that theory, but when we review user sessions and heat maps we realize find out that the information registered in analytics was the result of confusion- not interest. That we may have used confusing color set which resembled clickable links or may have forgotten to properly code a certain aspect of the site. Or worse yet: this is the first time we’ve actually realized where users are clicking on any particular page!
The “Eye-tracking” Heat Map:
Eye-tracking heat maps reveal some additional data; they can trace the paths that visitors take across the various information presented on your website’s inner pages. With an eye-tracking heat map, you can not only see how many users interact with specific elements of your pages’ design, but also for how long each element holds their attention. By tracking movements, and not just points of interaction, eye-tracking heat maps provide a wealth of additional information; if a significant minority of your visitors interact with a particular point below the fold, but the majority of their time studying your page in detail is focused above the fold, an eye-tracker will catch this behavior. The drawback of an eye-tracking heat map (and the reason why both types of heat maps are useful) is the fact that with an eye-tracking heat map you receive a great deal more information per user, at the cost of a more narrowed focus representation.
At the core of digital marketing is the enhancement of your customers’ user-experience. Our challenge is no longer to simply inform: it is to provide value (and if you entertain and capture interest and imagination along the way, you’re well on your way!). But the first step is finding tools which help you glean valuable user information and to actively tune the user-experience to reward their interest in your site with a continuously improved user-experience. Heat map data allows us to reorganize everything from information architecture to the speed of customer transactions, assisting the experienced digital marketer in deciding how to improve your customers’ overall experience.
Where to find:
Various providers offer this service, including Domo, Crazy Egg, and (ahem), Arcalea (to name a few). While each has a unique point of difference, but the concept is you install a snippet of code into either the header or footer of the site, and wait for the traffic. With pricing ranging in the hundreds to thousands/year, some technical assistance is typically needed to install. But not every brand or company is utilizing the technology today. As a matter of fact, one estimate states that the technology is being employed in less than 14% of websites today. This creates a competitive advantage for those who do.
Free Heat Map offer:
Arcalea offers this as part of our Business Intelligence Suite (BIS) and we can help install and setup the code. If we’re working with you on any project, we provide it naturally as part of our evaluation and an invaluable tool for continuous improvement. And we offer the full heat-mapping code for free if you’re interested in a test-drive. Find out more by calling us anytime or filling out this inquiry form:
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Thanks - Team Arcalea