Crank up Your Holiday Sales with Heat Maps

You’re running a bit behind your e-commerce goals this year, and everything depends on the upcoming holiday season. In the pit of your stomach, you feel a sense of dread. If your conversion rate doesn’t increase significantly by the time holiday traffic starts hitting your site, you might get a bundle of coal in your stocking instead of a big fat bonus.

Everything you’ve tried so far has flopped. You have a beautiful (in your own humble opinion) website that follows all the latest UI trends and marketing theories. You’ve spent hours poring over what keywords are being  Googled to find your site, your most popular web pages, the volume of visitors you’re receiving, and what links they’re clicking on. You’ve been getting a huge amount of visitor traffic to your website, but your conversion rates are, quite frankly– pathetic. Somehow your website is attracting visitors who refuse to pull the trigger. It might not be that the visitors aren’t interested in your offerings. It could simply be that something’s fundamentally wrong with the design of your website. But how do you acquire the data to figure out how your site is failing to direct the visitors to actually buy your goods and services?

Why Eye Tracking Is Not the Answer

Eye tracking might seem like the answer, but it can be quite expensive and tends to draw conclusions based on a statistically small group of people. It’s essential to pair eye tracking with a strong analytics program. Think of eye tracking as dessert, and a robust analytics program with extensive analysis as the main course. Similar to focus groups, a company has to pay for a group of people to be organized and placed in a controlled environment for testing every single time new user experience data is needed. Additionally, eye tracking is incompatible with people with poor vision, the elderly, and most people of Asian descent. While the data can provide valuable insights, it can be expensive and statistically insignificant.

Why Heat Maps Are So Cool

We prefer a handy little technology called heat map software. Heat map software provides similar results to eye tracking, but it gathers that data in a very different way. Heat map software monitors visitor mouse movements, and then combines data from all visits to create a color-coded map displaying the web page’s levels of activity. Unlike eye tracking, heat map technology runs on a bit of code installed on your website and gathers data based on actual visitors to your website without requiring any human intervention. We recommend heat maps as a sidekick to your primary analytics package. Some companies even use it as their only analytics tool (bad idea, but certainly possible). Since heat map solutions often integrate into your website with a simple bit of JavaScript code, there is no need to organize groups of people for eye tracking every time your company wants to measure user reaction to a design change.

Tips for Success

  1. One of the biggest complaints about heat maps is that the JavaScript code increases page load time. To avoid this problem, simply ask your programmers to insert the code just before the body tag in your web code HTML, and it will load after the page contents have already rendered. Using this trick, heat map data tracking will not affect visitor experience. In fact, the anonymous data monitoring process will be completely invisible to visitors.
  2. Be aware of these downsides before you buy:
  3. Heat maps are not a good fit for every website. Websites with dynamic web content will not be able to gather reliable data.
  4. Additionally, in some programs the admin panel that displays data reports can be painfully slow. In some cases it can take up to a hour to load a single page. This doesn’t affect the live webpage for the end user, but it could give your analytics team a good excuse to whip out their iPads for a round of Angry Birds.

If you’re ready to give your standard analytics a strong sidekick or you need a simple tool to communicate user experience to your boss (or client), consider heat maps. You’ll gain a constant stream of real-world data in a simple, visual format to get your whole team behind web design improvements.

Let us know how you use heat maps for your website. How did heat maps affect your conversion rate?

Philly Marketing Labs

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