A heat map is a visual web analytics tool that is very useful for improving the conversion of your ecommerce site. While analytics tools that provide numerical data are essential, they fail to provide the same kind of insights that a visual representation does.
For example, having someone tell you that two people were prowling around in your backyard last night is useful to know, but viewing their tracks in the snow reveals so much more about what they were up to. In like manner being able to see what your visitors were clicking on and equally important, what they weren’t clicking on reveals a lot about the strengths and weaknesses of your ecommerce site design. Two very useful types of heat maps will be discussed next.
The Click Tracking Heat Map
Click heat maps indicate clicking activity on a web page through the use of color. Areas on the page that receive a lot of clicking activity show large reddish and orange colored blotches. Areas that see little clicking show smaller blotches of “cooler” colors such as green and blue. If your call to action link or button is doing its job, then it should be covered by a large red blotch. If you find it’s getting little or no clicking activity, you may have to change it by relocating it and or changing its design so that it gets the visitor’s attention.
Conversely, you may find lots of clicking activity on something such as an image that people are mistaking to be a link. It’s important to understand the “why” behind this activity. If it’s an image of a product, then you may want to make the image clickable so that these people are brought to the purchase page for this item.
Sometimes you may find that a sizeable number of people are clicking on external links that take them off-site or to less important pages such as your blog. If this is the case, eliminating the links from the page should improve conversions because the links only serve to distract the visitor.
The Scroll Heat Map
The “above the fold” section of a web page is the top portion of the page that a visitor can see without scrolling. This is the most important real estate of the page because people often don’t scroll below the fold unless they are engaged by what they see or are looking for something.
However, it is still useful to know how far down the page people are scrolling. This is what the scroll heat map is used for. If your call to action is not getting many clicks and your scroll heat map indicates that most people don’t scroll down far enough to reach it, then you know that it needs to be moved higher up and positioned well above the fold.
Heat maps aren’t meant to replace your other analytics tools, only to supplement them. They are however, extremely useful for optimizing your ecommerce site for conversions and can significantly shorten your testing efforts. For information on ecommerce sites and web hosting, please contact us.
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