A simple guide to heat maps

Heat Maps: A Simple Guide to a Powerful Data Visualization Tool

Heat maps are one of the most popular and effective data visualization tool used today. With their color-coded designs, heat maps allow us to see complex data sets in an easy-to-understand visual format.

For marketers, heat maps provide valuable insight into customer behaviour on websites and apps. They highlight the most popular and least-used site elements, helping us optimize page design and content.

This article will explain what heat maps are, how they work, their key benefits, different types, and how to use them for better marketing results. Let’s get started!

What Are Heat Maps?

A heat map data visualization tool shows information with colours. It provides an instant visual summary of information by using a colour spectrum to indicate values.

Red and orange shades represent high values, while greens and blues indicate lower values. The various colours help us see patterns in big sets of information very easily.

Areas coloured red or orange instantly draw the eye on a heat map. These hot spots flag up important activity and engagement happening on a page.

Conversely, blue areas highlight a lack of interest or clicks. This quickly shows where improvement is needed in page design or content.

How Do Heat Maps Work?

Heat maps are generated by collecting user behaviour metrics from your website or mobile app.

The three main types of data used are:

i. Clicks – tracking where users click most frequently. This highlights the most popular content.

ii. Scrolls – detecting which sections users scroll past without engaging. This reveals content that needs improvement.

iii. Mouse movements – recording mouse hovers and tracking movement across a page. Showing user attention and interest areas.

Heat map data visualization tool takes all the actions users do and shows them as colourful spots on a map. Red spots mean lots of activity, while blue spots mean less activity. When many spots gather in one place, it makes a hot spot that stands out on the map.

Benefits of Heat Maps for Marketers

There are several key ways heat maps data visualization tool can improve marketing results:

i. Pinpoint engagement – Instantly see your page’s hot spots that attract attention and interaction. Identify areas that need improvement.

ii. Optimize layout – Spot areas with low engagement and adjust page elements like navigation, content, CTAs, and images accordingly.

iii. Improve conversions – Shorten and optimize conversion funnels by seeing where people drop off.

iv. Enhance user experience – Find problems and fix areas that make customers unhappy.

Compare designs – Test layout changes and quantify which design performs better.

vi. Track behaviour over time – Monitor engagement over different time periods to guide ongoing optimization.

Overall, heat maps enable data-driven design and optimization based on real user behaviour – leading to higher conversion rates and ROI.

Different Types of Heat Maps

Heat maps come in different types and track different user actions. Common heat map varieties include:

1. Click Heat Maps

Click heat maps show the highest density of clicks on a page. They identify the hot spots where visitors are clicking most. Use click heat maps to pinpoint effective calls to action and opportunities to add new ones.

2. Scroll Heat Maps

Scroll heat maps show how much people scroll down on pages. They help us see if people read all the content or lose interest. We can use this information to organize content better and create headlines that make people want to keep reading.

3. Cursor Heat Maps

Cursor heat maps follow where the mouse goes on a webpage. They show where people stop to read or think about clicking. We can use this to find what content interests people the most.

4. Tap Heat Maps

Tap heat maps show where people tap the most on mobile phones. They help make mobile websites better for big fingers and small screens.

Gaze Heat Maps

Gaze heat maps track where people’s eyes go using special technology. They show us where users look on a page as it happens. This helps us find content that catches their eye.

6. Teardown Heat Maps

Teardown heat maps combine click, scroll, hover, and gaze data together for a complete view of engagement. Teardown heat maps give fully optimized insights.

The type used depends on your objectives and the user behaviour you want to understand better. Many heat map tools allow selecting the interactions tracked.

How to Use Heat Maps for Better Marketing

Here is a simple process to use heat maps effectively:

i. Identify goals – Clarify your objectives first. What do you want to understand better? Keep a goal in mind for the heat map analysis.

ii. Select page(s) – Choose the most important landing pages, product pages, blog posts, etc. Limit heat mapping to 1-3 critical pages for detailed insights.

iii. Install tracking code – add the heat map tracking code or image tags provided by the tool to the site pages you want to track.

iv. Let data collect – Allow at least 100 visits to each page you are tracking to collect enough interaction data. The more visits, the more accurate the heat map.

v. Analyze heat map results – Once sufficient data is captured, log into the heat map tool to visualize results. Look for hot and cold spots.

vi. Interpret the insights – Dig into the results to understand why certain areas are hot or cold spots. What does user behaviour tell you?

vii. Optimize pages – Apply the learnings to optimize page layout, content, headlines, CTAs, etc. Experiment with changes.

viii. Retest with new heat map – Create a new heat map on the optimized pages to confirm improvements. Repeat the process regularly.

The process takes little effort but offers valuable insights each time. Heat maps should be an ongoing activity fueling continual optimization.

Best Free Heatmap Tools For Websites

Heat map software ranges from free to enterprise-level tools. Here are the best free heat map options:

1. Hotjar – The most full-featured free tool with heat maps, visitor recordings, funnel analysis, surveys, and more.

2. Inspectlet – Free for 2 heat maps with 100 interactions each. Offers gaze heat maps, session replays, and form analytics.

3. Crazy Egg – The free version has click heat maps, scroll maps, and confetti click tracking. Paid plans add overlays.

4. Clicktale – Free trial offers heat maps, gaze maps, and session recordings. Great AI powerups for analysis.

5. Mouseflow – The basic free plan has unlimited heatmaps and scroll maps. Paid tiers add session recordings and form analytics.

6. Lucky Orange – The free tier offers live heatmaps, scroll maps, visitor recordings, and form analytics.

The free versions of heat map tools offer enough functionality for most business needs. Start with a free tool to assess whether heat maps provide meaningful data for your site and goals. Advanced paid versions add functionality like session recordings, custom metrics, heat map API access, funnels, form/survey analytics, personalization, and more.

In Summary, Heat maps offer an invaluable visualization of visitor behavior on websites. With heat maps, you can “see” exactly how customers interact with your pages. Hot and cold spots quickly reveal opportunities to improve user experience.

If you want to learn more about making your website better and improving your marketing, feel free to reach out to us for personalized one-on-one digital marketing mentoring and consulting services.