Using Content to Drive Engagement

[Intermediate – 110] What is a Heat Map, How Can it Help My Site, and What Tools Can I Use?

A heat map can help contribute to your overall marketing strategy and content goals, including display advertising campaigns. If you’re a business marketer looking for meaningful data that will enhance your content marketing, you need to learn about heat maps.

What is a heat map?

A heat map is an online tool used for monitoring the behavior of website visitors.

There are four different types of heat map tools:

  • Click heat maps – what users click on
  • Scroll heatmaps – how far they invest in your content
  • Attention heat maps – areas most viewed
  • Mouse movement heat maps – paths most were taken

By displaying colors (heat) on certain elements or portions of a website/piece of content that receive the most focus.

Areas that are red mark the hottest, or the parts of the website that draw the most eye or mouse attraction. Yellow, green, or blue are the cooler spots of the heat map or the parts of the website that draw less user attention.

How Heat maps Can Help Correct Banner Blindness

Banner blindness is the unfortunate outcome of poor and unethical ad practices. Online readers have learned to avoid these common ad placements, which are typically placed among the top / right nav of a website.

Any content remotely reflecting similar techniques will more than likely go unnoticed or be ignored. Testing to see if your site visitors may be missing out on valuable content may lead to understanding why they might be failing to take the desired action.

A heat map study of your website can show you not only the parts of your website that your users are focusing on but also the parts that they’re inclined to ignore. When you know what type of text, image, or banner is being snubbed, you can make changes to the content to make it more visually appealing.

The More You Know About User Behavior, the Better

For businesses that are looking to improve their online marketing strategy, consumer data is key. As the old adage so wisely states, “the more you know, the better.”

When it comes to online marketing and website creation, the more you know about user behavior, the better your chances are of being able to design something that both you and the user benefit from.

Heat maps can provide that data.

Here are a few things that heat maps have taught us about online marketing:

The most relevant information should go at the top of a page. When creating an online page or blog that customers will read, the information that is most relevant to the customer’s need should go right up at the top of the page.

People hate scouring an article or page for information, and a user’s attention span is often short. Rather than forcing your audience to scroll through your site (which many of them won’t do anyway), put what they need to know right where they can see it, and definitely within the first half of content–they call this “above the fold.”

The left side of a page gets more attention than the right side. While the reason for this hasn’t been determined (perhaps because Americans read from right to left?), the left side of a page on a website receives 69% of viewing time and is almost always looked at first. Which means that if you have extremely pertinent information or banner ads you’ll be displaying, the left side is an ideal location.

Women and men seek different forms of information. If you are a business that is providing a service or product that’s gender-specific, the way you design your website for optimal effectiveness can differ dramatically.

A study from AnswerLab found that there is a very stark difference between men and women when looking at a website. Men tend to focus much more of their attention on images, whereas women tend to focus their attention on gathering information.

If your target audience is male, a website with plenty of graphics, photos, and videos will be able to better keep your user engaged and interested. For women, content that is relevant and informative might be the key.

Photos of real people attract attention. Photos are one of the easiest ways to engage readers and grab their attention, both male and female.

Research done by Nielsen Norman Group discovered that when the photos feature real people – rather than drawings or objects – users spent 10% more time viewing the photos. Be wary of stock photos, though, or those photos that feature generic people.

Photos featuring “real” people, like employees at a company, are much more successful at grabbing a user’s attention than stock photos.

How to Conduct Your Own Heat map Study

Conducting a heat map study for your website can be a valuable tool for a business, and there are a number of companies out there that can provide the heat map and tracking tools you need.

One of the most popular tracking and heatmap tool is the one provided by Crazy Egg. Their great reputation is based on the thoroughness of their data, as well as low price point, which starts at $9 a month for businesses (10,000 pageviews, 10 pages).

Click Heat is another highly regarded company, and because it’s open-source, it’s completely free to use. While the data provided by Click Heat isn’t nearly as comprehensive as Crazy Egg’s, it a great place for businesses who are just getting started with heat map testing.

Regardless of the tool you choose, using heat map tracking for your website can be extremely helpful to your overall online marketing needs.

Interested in a more advanced look at how you can leverage heat maps for better content engagement? Read our article on the blog about increasing your performance.


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