Heat Maps - How Heat Maps can help with Website Conversion Optimization

If you have spent some dollars and time in launching a brand new website with all the gorgeous content, graphics, and all information for your website visitors, and managed to get some traffic to your website, your next immediate goal is to ensure conversions on your website. The website visitors should end up converting to your customers by doing the actions you expect from them - may be buying your products/services, subscribe to your newsletter, add to cart and checkout or whatever. That takes us to the term ‘website Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)’ - which stands for improving the performance of your website by figuring out what users are looking for and optimizing points of conversion by persuading the users to take action.

I would say website conversion optimization is one of the biggest and difficult tasks in marketing. Simply because there are no magic rules for conversion optimization. You just have to keep figuring out what works with your users and what does not, which is quite tricky and intricate.

Well, in good old days, the only solution to understand user behavior was user testing where you had to depend on focus groups of people sitting in a room and watch them click through your website and come to conclusions on what works and what does not. Luckily, today the technology enables you to track how users engage with your website, monitor what they do on your website, etc using different tools. A heat map is one such tool that can really help understand your user experience and optimize website content based on user behaviors. It just makes it much easier to see what people are doing on your website. In this blog, we will be exploring what a heat map is all about and how can you use it for website conversion optimization.

What is a Heat Map and how it works?

Before answering the ‘How heat map can help increase conversions’, we would always have to know the ‘What’, right? So, just for anybody who may be wondering what a heat map is and how it works. A Heatmap is nothing but a visual representation of how visitors interact with the content and elements on your webpage. While analytics tools like Google Analytics give you numbers that can give you an idea of which pages are underperforming, heat maps give you a whole picture of how specific areas or elements on every page performs.

Heatmaps give you a two-dimensional color-coded visual of how users interact with the elements on your page. It can give you details like which areas visitors interact most or which elements prevent them from following the conversion path. This data can give you insights into how the layout and user experience design impacts the user’s actions and can take measures to improve or optimize them.

Wondering how heat maps are generated for a web page? Well, mostly, heat maps are generated by using click tracking software which translates the users’ cursor movements and clicks into a two-dimensional color-coded visual. For most of the heat map tools today, you would just have to integrate a

In fact, heat map is a general term and there can be different types of heat maps based on what type of interactions they can track. Here is a list of the different types of heat maps:

  • Mouse movement maps: It shows the pattern of how users read or navigate through a webpage by keeping track of where users move and pause the mouse while navigating a page. The move maps give you an idea of the areas on your page that get the most attention.

Move maps is based on an assumption that people will be reading or looking at areas where they move their mouse over. Somebody can still read from the left side of the page with the mouse on the right side of the page. That makes move maps less popular.

  • Click maps: This is the most widely used heat map. Click maps simply shows where the user clicks the mouse on the desktop or tap on mobile devices. The maps are color-coded as green, yellow, orange and red from least to most clicked or tapped elements or areas on the webpage.
  • Scroll maps: Scroll maps as the name suggests show the point at which visitors leave the page as they scroll down the page. Scroll maps give you insights to optimize your content length or place critical elements like call to actions in a more notable position.
  • Attention maps: Attention maps tells you how much time users are spending on your website. It shows which parts of the page get more attention from the users and are most/least engaged by using a color code.
  • Eye-tracking heat map: Eye-tracking heat map shows exactly what users as looking at on your website by tracking eye positions and eye movements of the real user. It is done more like user testing using focus groups. However, the eye-tracking heat maps set up is very complex as well as expensive due to the technology and software involved.

How Heat maps can be used to increase website conversions?

Skyrocketing your conversions is the ultimate aim of any website owner. Using analytics tools to uncover user behaviors on your website is a great way to get more closer to them and provide them what they are looking for resulting in increased conversions. Heat maps can provide you a wealth of information regarding your user’s browsing actions on your website like:

  • Where should key information of the website be placed on a page?
  • Is the visitor identifying the CTAs?
  • Are the instructions clear enough to lead users to take the intended action?
  • Which elements of the page are distracting the users from following the conversion path?
  • Which elements of the page should be made clickable?

These are just a few things that you could know using heat maps. There can be even more use cases that would help you know your user better. Essentially, a heat map eliminates the need for you to speculate on how your design or content is received by users and lets you know how the entire user experience of your design is by giving a detailed map of how each element or area performs.

Now that we have seen what a heat map is all about, let’s take a look at the ways on how you can use heat maps to increase conversions of your website conversion.

  1. Optimize Call To Actions (CTAs)

I would say optimizing your Call to action is one of the key factors to improving your conversions. Of course, it is the call to action that prompts your visitors to get converted. The CTA copy, placement, design everything matters. The more clicks you get for CTA means more effective your CTA is. A heat map thus gives you a straight forward answer on how effective is your CTA.

Heat maps show exactly where users click and you could see if the users are following your CTA path. Further, move maps or scroll maps gives you areas of interest to your readers and thus can help you with placing CTAs in the area which gets user’s attention.

2. Optimizing content length and readability.

Scroll maps are a great way to identify how effective is your content and how your users respond to it- do they really bother to read through it or just ignore it. It shows up to which point of the pages user scrolls before leaving. So you can place all your important data and CTAs based on till where the users generall scroll on your website.

Based on research and studies, it is believed that people read through web pages in an ‘F’ pattern. This indicates top areas and left side gets more attention. This indicates that your important content and CTAs should be placed on the left side of the page and above the fold of webpages. This is a good rule to follow and effective most of the time. However, I am personally of the opinion that if you have really good content that keeps your users hooked to your webpage, no matter if it is above the fold or below they will look for it. And if the users do not scroll till the bottom of your page, it is time to consider changing your content, make it short and more readable.

3. Placement of images/graphics/video and using them effectively.

Including images and videos on a webpage are a great way to attract users. Did you know that images and videos can impact user behavior in engaging with other content on the page as well? For example, content placed near an image might get more attention from users and sometimes it might do just the opposite- divert user attention from the content. Heat maps just solve this uncertainty by giving you information on what works best. Sometimes just a different image or video might work to get attention. You just don’t want your users watching the image or video the whole time and leave the webpage anyways, but want them to focus on your content or CTA to increase conversion.

Sometimes you could use images that get enough attention to increase conversion by making them clickable and directing users to your conversion path.

4. Identify rage clicks.

Rage clicks may become frustrating to users. Rage click or frustration clicks occurs when a user repeatedly clicks an element as it is not responding as per his expectation. It may be an unresponsive button or a really slow response with an unclear message. Users click the button and nothing happens. No immediate response or not even a loading message which results in users clicking the button repeatedly. Sometimes, users click some elements expecting them to be links as it may seem clickable, may be an image, heading or some text within a box.

It is important to identify and fix these problem clicks to avoid frustration in users.

A heat map can identify these rage clicks from your users and show you common click patterns across the audience. By looking at heat maps you can spot rage click areas and fix the bugs, modify the design to make the element look less clickable or even conver potential elements to clickable links to increase your conversions.

5. Streamlining page design by identifying and replacing dead elements.

You always want your webpage to look stunning and add all fancy features to attract

the audience. But a lot of web elements is no good apart from lowering your website performance in terms of page load speeds. So it is better to remove all those elements that your audience is least bothered of and are no good in improving your user experience or conversion rates anyway. Heat maps can show you all those “dead elements” which receive no attention. You can remove the elements and consider replacing them with something else that could be of more value for better user experience and observe results to optimize the webpage design.

6. Remove distractions that lead to abandoning the CTA.

Sometimes, you may find that even though you get immense traffic to your website, you don’t get enough clicks for your CTA. Heat maps can help identify what your users are clicking. For example, a website team used heatmaps to discover that visitors were being distracted by a promotional banner on their webpage which was placed above their primary CTA button. Visitors were attracted to the offer which invited them to become a rewards member and diverted them even before noticing the primary ‘CTA’. When they adjusted the position of the primary CTA to above the banner, they could see an improvement in the conversions.

Heat maps can also tell you if your CTA is easy to locate. Say, in case of a shopping cart, if the checkout button is difficult to find, it could lead a potential buyer to just abandon the cart. In this case move maps would show you, users, moving the mouse all around the page trying to locate the button indicating it is not apparent where the button is.

Wrapping up

Well, that was a few ways on how you could use heat maps in understanding your user experience, get insights from the data and hence increase your website conversions. Heat maps data definitely looks impressive and give you plenty of information on user experience on its own. But you can get more out of it by combining heatmap tools with other analytics tools like Google Analytics, A/B testing tools like Optimizely, and Session replay tools like Browsee.

Have you used heat maps and have success stories to share on how things worked for you? Leave a comment to let us know your experience with heat maps or if you have any queries on heat maps.
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