Measuring website visitor behavior has become an increasingly popular topic of conversation in the digital marketing industry. Knowing exactly how a visitor interacts with website experiences can provide a digital gold mine of commercial intelligence for digital marketers. The power to access this data can dramatically enhance overall website strategy and optimization. While there are a plethora of benefits that can come from heat mapping, you should pay especial attention to how it enables marketers to:
Measure website visitor behavior
Discover actionable consumer insights
Inspire tests for web optimization
Any website with a goal of encouraging visitors to complete a specific objective or set of objectives can benefit from heat mapping analysis. Heat maps are a tremendously powerful tool that have the ability to granularly track how visitors engage with elements across a website. Heat maps can track where a visitor clicks, scrolls, or even hovers their curser. The areas of a site which receive the highest amount of engagement will appear “hotter” than parts of the site which are more frequently ignored.
This information provides a very unique view of data that is hard to achieve with typical website tracking strategies. It enables marketers to see the big picture through the visual representation of data rather than with grids or tables. The findings observed through the use of heat mapping can then be effectively leveraged during the discovery phase of website test creation and utilized to more fully develop specific hypotheses for future A/B and multivariate tests. After an A/B or multivariate test has concluded, heat maps can also be utilized to informatively differentiate how visitors interacted with multiple site variations to measure a test’s impact, such as in the picture below:
Every test idea should begin with two elements: a hypothesis and an objective. In the beginning phases of test creation, heat maps can be utilized to both inspire new hypotheses relating to test creation or to provide preliminary data to support an existing hypothesis prior to testing. In the example below, we will analyze how a fictitious necktie e-commerce site might use heat maps to optimize their home page.
If you don’t yet have a specific hypothesis in mind or know the exact pages you would like to test, I recommend beginning with your most high value pages. Testing on pages that have the greatest impact on your site performance should provide you with the most impactful results to optimize your website experience and better serve your site visitors. Landing pages, home pages and key product pages are usually great places to test.
In the example below, a digital marketing team launched a heat map on their home page to measure user interaction with the elements across the page. By tracking the interactions of visitors across the site, they can measure the effectiveness of specific site elements. The image below illustrates how heat maps are laid over the existing page to provide a unique visual solution that communicates visitor behavior without the need for extensive quantitative analysis.
In this example, a digital marketing team would be able to quickly differentiate between the most effective areas of the page and the largest pain points of the page. It is very apparent which necktie SKUs are receiving the highest amount of engagement and which ties should be considered for replacement. It is also evident that the search bar is receiving almost no interaction. Insights such as these, extrapolated from the data that heat maps provide, can then be acted on to spark A/B or multivariate testing campaigns with more data-driven hypotheses.
The results of heat map analysis can then be utilized to launch tests rooted in data rather than general prediction. In the above scenario, this necktie retailer would be able to quickly realize that visitors were not interacting with the search bar to aid in their site navigation. As a result, the retailer might then be inspired to test new variations of the search bar (page location, functionality, design, copy, etc.) to see if it’s possible to boost the engagement on that site element. Heat maps can also provide excellent insights into whether visitors are clicking on unexpected areas of the site, such as areas without links, to determine whether your page layout is contributing to confusion during the user journey. By uncovering these insights, heat maps will enable you to discover missed opportunities for website optimization, which will have the potential to drive major lifts in incremental revenue.
The final step in this process is to analyze the results of your campaign. Was your hypothesis correct? Can you now act on your objective with near certainty of the result? Should your tested experience become your new default? Once a test is complete, it is crucial to dive deep into the results to uncover key insights and measure the impact of your campaign. Heat maps can also be utilized in post-test analysis to view the results of multiple page variants side-by-side to compare visitor engagement.
Website optimization is an ongoing process which if properly implemented, will effectively leverage data to support all decisions. Insights extrapolated from this rich data can also be the inspiration for future personalization campaigns by providing the necessary knowledge to achieve the golden objective of modern digital marketers: data-driven personalization. The robust insights generated from heat mapping functionality enables modern marketers to consistently display the right website experience to the right visitors at precisely the right time.
The Oracle Maxymiser Consulting team is made up of passionate strategists, designers, developers, quality assurance professionals, trainers, analysts and platform experts. We’re excited to understand your business needs and work with you to drive ROI.
Christopher Santini is a Senior Consultant for the Oracle Maxymiser Professional Services team with experience working closely with large global brands in the Financial Services and Insurance industries. Christopher spearheads optimization strategy which drives digital transformation by implementing industry best practices and leveraging Oracle Maxymiser’s best-in-class platform and professional services.