Heat Map Tracking 101

Published: October 1, 2020

Category: Affiliate marketing guides

Every affiliate dreams about maximizing their site’’s performance. As audience interacts with a website, it gives the webmaster some truly valuable information on what works and doesn’t work. If you want to optimize your site and reduce bounce rate and raise conversions, heat map tracking may be a great tool to look into. Our performance marketing network is here to tell you everything you need to know about heat maps.

Heat map tracking – an introduction

To utilize heat map tracking, you need to understand what heat maps are, how they work, and how they can help you optimize your site.

Heat maps are a way to visually represent data. They show which parts of your website are most attractive to your audience. To put it simply – heat maps indicate those elements of any website that people are interacting with. This tool will show you multi-colored zones on the pages of your website. Different colors indicate the activity particular parts of the site are getting. Usually, grays, greens, and blues show low activity, while warm colors – yellows, oranges, and reds mean the part of that color gets a lot of attention. The three main types of heat maps include click maps, move or hover maps, and scroll maps.

Click maps show how much attention the audience gives a specific button or link. They rely on the percentage of total clicks on any given page to determine how popular certain buttons are.

Move or hover maps show where the audience moves their mouse (aka hover) most often. In other words, it shows you the most popular areas of your site.

Scroll maps show how far down users scroll down any page on your site.

A bird's eye view of an area around a river.
Cool tones are not cool!

User tracking tools

When considering most needed tools for publishers, user tracking tools are on the top of priority lists. This is true because every affiliate needs to understand the ways the audience interacts with their site.

These tools show which elements of a website are working at their full capacity, and which ones, in turn, need a bit of modification. They can even be used to protect your pages from competitors.

When an affiliate has this information, they can plan their course of action to maximize profit either by making changes to their content or the layout of their pages. Heat map tracking is a great and reliable tool if you choose to do the latter. Simply put – you will have a visual representation of most and least clickable spots on your site. This way you can arrange your layout so that the most profitable links and buttons take up prime real estate on your page, securing them more clicks. Of course, this isn’t a magical solution that guarantees better results, and you will have to do extensive A/B testing and redesigning. Especially so if you choose to rely on hover maps because the position of the cursor doesn’t necessarily equate the visitors’ eye movements.

How to use heat map tracking?

As we have previously stated, you can not expect heat maps to fix all of your problems. However, if you use them the right way, you will see improvements.

Click waste can reduce drastically if you locate an area of the site users are clicking a lot, that doesn’t have any ads or links. You’ll want to position links to these areas.

See how the audience interacts with your content. People’s attention tends to reduce when they read a long paragraph. See if your copy is understandable and engaging enough by the number of clicks it is getting.

Illustration of business men considering a content strategy.
Heat maps can help you on how to plan your further strategy.

Put your calls to action to the test. Some buttons will get more attention than others. Test to see what makes them work. Some elements you should consider include

  • Copy length
  • Copy content
  • Color
  • Shape
  • Position

Heatmap tools

There are a plethora of free and paid heat map tools out there. Here are some of our favorites.

Hotjar (Free basic option is available) supports click, hover, and scroll maps. All you need to do is copy and paste a tracking code on your website, and then allow it to collect data from your pages for a couple of days. Then, Hotjar will implement that data into a heat map, and give you a tangible insight into your page activity.

Heatmap.me (free option available) is a tool that will instantly give yo u real-time data from the moment you start using it. This service is a little more complicated, and you will need to add its JavaScript tag into an HTML doc to start working. Its other downside is a quite outdated design.

Think about what’s important for you.

Clicktale is one of the oldest heat map tracking tools available. Its age and the fact that it is as relevant as ever indicate the high quality of service. It also supports all heat map types and offers a variety of different tools to track your page’s performance. You can request a demo of their services here.

Smartlook (free plan available) delivers reports of user activity in video format. It will show you areas where the cursor moves as well as clicks happen on your page. The site can also create audience profiles based on location, activity, and other factors. These types of profiles can further help you improve your campaigns and plan further strategies with highly accurate targeting in mind.

To sum it up, heat map trackers can be a powerful tool if you use them in a clever way. They certainly can not solve every campaign problem, but they still are a great jumping-off point for other major improvements.

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