How to Boost Your Website’s Conversion by Using Heat Maps
How to Boost Your Website’s Conversion by Using Heat Maps
From uncovering your visitors’ search intent to optimizing your pages, discover how to boost your website’s conversion rates using heat maps.
In the digital marketing world, heat maps are far from new. Indeed, this tool has existed for many years now and has arguably proven its worth in many regards. However, while it offers a wealth of insights for marketers to extract, it still often sees superficial use. Heat maps, I’d argue, have tremendous potential – enhancing Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), and so much more. They can even help you uncover whether you need to redesign your website. Thus, in this article, I’d like to delve into the latter in some depth. Specifically, I’ll explore some ways you may boost your website’s conversion rates using heat maps, in tandem with analytics tools.
What are heat maps?
First and foremost, let’s briefly define what heat maps are.
As the name suggests, heat maps are visual representations of data that resemble thermal imaging. In the context of website design, the data they visualize typically concerns user activity. That is, how far users scroll, where they click, and so forth, depending on the heat map’s type. Finally, the resemblance to thermal imaging comes from the typical choice of “colder” and “hotter” colors to visualize data volumes. Typically, lower volumes of traffic, interest, or engagement will be visualized in “colder” blue and green hues. Conversely, popular website elements will be visualized in “hotter” yellow, orange, and red hues.
For the sake of text economy, you may also refer to this video by Simple Biz Support on heat maps.
Types of Heat Maps
Now, to effectively boost your website’s conversion rates using heat maps, you will need to pick the optimal map type. What’s optimal will, of course, depend on your web design, your unique needs and how each type can accommodate them. That is, there is no one-size-fits-all heat map; each serves a distinct purpose.
In no particular order, the 4 main heat map types are the following.
1. Hover maps
Hover maps, or move maps, track visitors’ mouse movements across the page. Revealing areas of interest aside, this heat map type can help uncover which elements might distract visitors.
2. Click and Touch Maps
Similarly, click and touch maps visualize which areas of a page see clicks. This heat map type can also reveal areas of interest, as well as which elements visitors perceive as clickable. As the names imply, the former caters to desktop sites and the latter to mobile sites. Otherwise, the two function effectively identically, which is why many treat them as one type.
3. Scroll maps
Another popular heat map type, scroll maps offer a simple yet highly effective way to boost your website’s conversion rates. They do so by visualizing how far down visitors scroll before leaving a page. Understandably, this kind of data can inform both your CTA placement and your content itself.
4. Eye-tracking maps
Finally, eye-tracking heat maps are typically more expensive due to the technology they require. They are incredibly valuable, however, as they track where visitors look on a given page. Much like hover and click and touch maps, eye-tracking maps can inform a wealth of layout and content decisions.
Boosting your website’s conversion rates using heat maps
With the above in mind, there is a wealth of ways in which to employ heat maps. Thus, for the sake of text economy, I will delve into the 3 main ways they can facilitate conversions. In order, these are uncovering visitors’ search intent, optimizing layouts and CTAs, and optimizing content itself.
#1 Uncover your visitors’ search intent
Initially, and perhaps most importantly, conversions hinge on search intent. Surely, most marketers should agree; how can you sell to visitors whose intent you don’t satisfy?
Consider SEO, for example – a set of practices you likely already engage in, to some extent. Backlinko’s SEO ranking factors, even simplified from 200 to 13, still include search intent match, and rightfully so. That’s because, as they themselves note, Google continues to value this metric.
For that matter, consider the following video by Google’s Avinash Kaushik on the subject:
The video does date back to 2007, but it still rings true today. That’s because, frankly, user intent holds timeless value.
To address this aspect of conversions, heat maps offer troves of interaction and behavior data. Especially in conjunction with Google Analytics and similar tools, you may begin to uncover your visitors’ search intent.
Then, you may begin to provide intent-appropriate remedies; say, you may find new visitors seeking information bounce from your site. For them, you can explore heat map data and provide solutions. Did they bounce immediately? You may need to improve your site’s overall loading speed. Did they bounce from specific pages? You may analyze hover maps to deduce where your content lacked. Did they bounce too quickly before scrolling to your CTAs? You may find the exact point through scroll maps and refine your content.
#2 Optimize your page layout and CTAs
Having mentioned that, we can argue for the absolutely crucial role of web design, specifically page layouts and CTAs themselves. After all, having deciphered and matched your visitors’ search intent, you still need to convert them. And refining these two aspects are among the best ways to boost your website’s conversion rates using heat maps. This year, there have been some changes to best practices for website design, so make sure to follow trends and stay on top of the game.
Initially, as regards page layout, you may analyze heat maps’ data to answer such questions as:
- Do visitors scroll down to CTAs? If scroll maps say they do not, you may consider relocating your CTAs higher up.
- Does your page layout pronounce your CTAs? Consider background colors, white space, and other factors that might be inhibiting your CTAs. Such color choices do hold immense value.
- Are CTAs immediately visible over other elements? Hover maps may reveal they are not if visitors don’t navigate to them. In this case, you may need to refine your layout to remove distracting secondary elements that attract attention instead.
Then, on that matter, you may refine your CTAs themselves in relation to your pages. Here, you may consider such questions as:
- Do CTAs look clickable? Click and touch maps may reveal that visitors are attempting to interact with seemingly clickable or touchable elements. In that case, you may need to both refine your layout, giving CTAs room to breathe, and your CTAs themselves.
- Are pages offering too many CTAs? Heat maps may reveal that multiple CTAs cause decision fatigue – a very common outcome of concentrated CTAs. In this case, you may need to dedicate each page to one specific CTA to better encourage conversions.
- Are CTAs getting clicks? While Google Analytics and other tools can also reveal this, heat maps offer additional behavioral context. Thus, where these tools reveal “what”, heat maps may help reveal “why”.
#3 Improve your content itself
Finally, having touched on-page improvements, I’d conclude with content improvements. Having matched their intent and provided clear, pristine layouts and CTAs, what will ultimately convert visitors? Content. Bill Gates famously asserted in 1996 that “content is king”, and content remains king today. And, frankly, refining your content might offer the best way to boost your website’s conversion rates using heat maps.
Here, consider the wealth of insights heat maps can offer in this regard through 3 key examples:
- Content length. Do your visitors scroll down to the end of your content? If they don’t, you may need to evaluate your tone and examine your content quality. Review your content length and structure; is long content not scannable enough? In that case, you may need more accurate or plentiful headings and subheadings, or simply more white space.
- Visual media. Do images and videos help or hinder your visitors’ journey to your CTAs? Heat maps of all types may reveal the answer. Do visitors interact with them, or do they needlessly take up space within the text body? In the latter case, you may need to evaluate your visual media choices.
- Links, internal and external alike, can offer undeniable value. They can also, however, distract and discourage visitors. Do internal links incite interest to fuel customer journeys? Do external links actually provide contextual value to readers? Perhaps specific links or link placements have adverse effects, which heat maps may reveal for you.
Of course, any and all such changes need to follow extensive A/B testing before you commit to them. CRO rightfully holds that you should examine, evaluate, and A/B test a specific page element at a time. The same applies to content itself, as SO practitioners will often say.
Therefore, heat map data should likely inform your course gradually, not radically. Abrupt, indiscriminate, or large-scale changes may impact your SEO and conversions alike, so prudent approaches often work best.
In conclusion, there are as many ways to boost your website’s conversion rates using heat maps as there are marketers. From matching your visitors’ search intent to optimizing your layout, CTAs, and content, options abound. Of course, heat maps don’t say everything; they don’t explain why what they visualize occurs. However, in conjunction with Google Analytics and similar tools they might, revealing shortcomings and oversights for you to rectify. Finally, teaming up with experienced web designers can help you achieve your conversion goals.