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The Art of Understanding Visitors’ Behavior with Heatmaps


Today we have access to a myriad of tools marketers of previous generations would have loved. Tools we can use to make solid, steady improvements to our online, and offline, marketing results. These tools can be used to help small businesses level the online marketing playing field against the larger competitors they face – they are free or available at very low cost.

One of the tools we hear a lot about is heatmapping software. It’s easy to get overwhelmed thinking you need to try everything. You don’t. Not every new tool is right for every online marketer’s needs. But I’m confident that heatmapping software is. Keep reading to find out more…

What is Heatmapping?

The user experience you provide visitors to your website is critical to your ultimate online marketing success. Consistently giving users a poor experience will kill your site’s conversion rate. If your site is designed in such a way that users wind up distracted, frustrated and confused, it will cost you.

People search for and visit B2B and e-commerce websites because they are looking for a solution to a specific problem. While on the web looking for that solution, they aren’t patient. If they don’t quickly find what they’re looking for, they will ditch your site and go to one of your competitors’ sites instead.

So how do you find out what quality of user experience you are giving website visitors? How do you determine the ways in which they are interacting with your site? How do you gauge what parts of your webpages they are gravitating to and what parts they are ignoring?

Heatmapping softwares will let you answer all of those questions.

They track users’ eye and mouse movements and shows you a graphical representation of the actions users are taking and the areas of your webpages they are paying the most attention to.They also show you the areas that visitors are ignoring.

You can analyze user interaction with your website to find out what’s catching and holding their attention, what they are responding to and what they are not noticing, or deliberately ignoring.

It’s All About Conversion Rates

You can take the information you gain and harness it to make changes and work towards optimizing your website for a greater conversion rate.

Don’t just use heatmaps to observe and gather data, but to improve your website’s conversion results. There are plenty of heatmapping softwares to choose from. Test them, pick the one that you like the most, and start using insights that you gain.

Learning from Other Marketers

Although every site is different, it’s good to learn from each other experiences. Here are a few things that you should know before you even start using heatmaps.

Lesson #1

Website users spend 80% of their time on a page looking at information “above the fold” – that is, page elements, including design, content and images they can see without scrolling down. People do scroll, but the further they go down the page, the more their attention tends to wander.

So what’s the lesson here? Put the content most likely to capture and focus your reader’s attention above the fold, if possible.

There will be exceptions. There are times, primarily in the e-commerce world, where you want to use long-form copy and will have to put much of it below the fold. In these cases, be sure to employ what copywriters call the “slippery slope”. Make your content so compelling and enticing to the reader that he wants to continue reading and stays focused even though he has to scroll.

When you use long-form copy that requires the reader to scroll, be sure to include what legendary copywriter and marketing expert Bill Glazer calls the “double readership path”. This means you include elements such as white space, numerous sub-headlines, key sentences in bold, italicized text, major benefits in bulleted lists, etc.

The goal here is to give “skimmers”, those who won’t read your entire letter, a solid understanding of your sales message and offer even though they didn’t read everything.

Lesson #2

Your site visitors spend most of their time looking at the left side of the page. It has been demonstrated that they spend more than twice as much time looking at the left side than the right. So put the items you want them to quickly notice on the left side of the page.

This includes your navigation bar and the starting point of your content. Put any secondary element, including secondary content, on the right side of the page.

Lesson #3

Heatmap studies show that website visitors tend to scan in an F-shaped pattern. So arrange your most important content elements in this layout. For example, put your title or headline at the top of the page. Put your call to action and signup form on either the lower part of the F’s vertical line or the bottom crossbar.

Speaking of headlines, and in keeping with the tendency for page viewers to scan in an F-shaped pattern, headlines are the first-noticed homepage element and also the one viewed most often. Headlines are very important to your content marketing and copywriting success. This article agrees with my claim.

Lesson #4

Some time ago I’ve written about the importance of emotion-generating, compelling, relevant images on your landing pages. Our eyes gravitate toward such images. Naturally, we then read the image caption.

Heatmap studies show that image captions are among the most often read pieces of content. Use this to your advantage; leverage your best copywriting skills and write powerful image captions that will help you convert more page visitors into buyers.

I could write many books and still not come close to telling you all of the valuable website optimization tips that have been learned from heatmap studies. The beauty of heatmapping software is that it provides you a proven tool for learning about user behavior on your website. It gives you great feedback you can use to optimize your webpages accordingly.

We Convert Or Else!

And why do we do all of this optimization? Because we want higher conversion rates. Legendary direct response advertiser David Ogilvy was quoted as saying “we sell or else”.  In today’s world of online marketing, that mandate hasn’t changed. We have to sell. We have to convert website visitors into buyers.

And no tool is more useful or necessary for a high conversion rate than a properly set-up landing page. With superb copywriting and content, design and images, as well as a strong offer, a landing page engineered to help you enjoy a high conversion rate can give your online marketing efforts a major boost.