No website manager can ever afford to rest on their laurels. You might be doing well, getting plenty of traffic and making good sales, but could you do better? Of course you could. Things change. Technology advances, fashion changes, and people’s behavioral patterns change too. Think about how you made online purchases just five years ago to how you do now. The e-commerce world has changed dramatically within that relatively short space of time in everything from website designs, competition, mobile apps, recommended buying, to checkouts. The online world is changing and if your business wants to remain competitive, you need to change as well. For example, evolving from relying on heat map web analytics to utilizing click maps can provide a better analysis of how your website’s elements are performing, clearly track visitor journeys, and help strengthen your web strategy with actionable insights.
In the past, the development of heat map web analytics was an exciting trend for online businesses, serving as a way to optimize websites in general and forms within websites in particular. At a basic level, dynamic heat map software is a visual representation of data that illustrates how potential customers browse a website. Developed by Cormac Kinney in the mid 1990s for the financial markets, heat map visualization software is used to record and map what visitors do while using your website.
Heat map website software has now been available for a number of years, but cannot provide a detailed record of a digital customer journey. Legacy heat map visualization software involves the correlation between mouse tracking and eye tracking, which leaves much to be desired when evaluating website heat map analytics. Understanding how to read a heat map and how to use those insights was once considered to be cutting-edge but now new and improved tools exist for online businesses.
Click analytics provides superior insights through on-site analytics to determine the performance of a website, to track mouse movement with regards to where the visitors are clicking, and can be used to track mobile-generated clicks as well. These advancements in technology have greatly improved business insights compared to outdated heat map software and traditional heat map tools. Instead of relying on ineffective heat map visualization software, innovative click map analytics can be used to improve the accuracy and efficacy of your web analytics.
How Heat Map Tools Fall Short
Even today, far too many websites are built and improved upon based on hunches and guesswork. However, instead of guessing what motivates users’ behavior, knowing how to read a heat map was intended to provide insights into which sections of a website are popular with users, where they click, how far they scroll, and what they completely ignore.
However, heat map analytics fail to offer a precise snapshot of user activity. Dynamic heat map mouse tracking is modelled off the traditional usability testing method of eye tracking. And while it is beneficial to know how users navigate a website, heat map mouse tracking, which is used to track mouse movement, has been found to come up short in advanced heat map website analysis due to some stretched inferences.
The accuracy of heat map web analytics is always going to be questionable. Visitors to your site may be looking at areas that they don’t necessarily hover over or they may also hover over areas that are of little significance to them or to which they’re paying little attention.
Plus, mobile device and app users don’t use a mouse to hover over text, so they navigate content differently. Legacy heat map software functionality will always leave a gap when it comes to mobile, because there is no way to track mouse movement so the heat map UX cannot guarantee accuracy.
So you may be wondering how to read a heat map that relies on this type of incomplete heat map web analytics. How do you know if your legacy tool provides accurate heat map web analytics? The answer is, you don’t.
Why Click Maps are Better Than Heat Maps
By offering detailed click maps instead of heat maps, Glassbox has taken website analytics to a whole new level of accuracy and in-depth analysis, providing the most comprehensive understanding of the digital customer journey. By using cutting edge click tracking technology, you add a new dimension of recording and analyzing visitor activity that cannot be matched by dynamic heat map web analytics. Instead of using a heat map, click tracking takes business insights to new heights.
As well as establishing a clearer understanding of the customer’s behavior, click tracking also provides an understanding as to the experience on the website itself, including how visitors respond to and engage with each web page, where they click, tap, move and scroll, all of which is captured in real-time. Click maps are also effective on mobile devices, providing you the same picture of consumer engagement regardless of how they access your site.
With the website session replay feature as part of Glassbox’s click mapping software, it is as if you are watching the screen over the visitors’ shoulders. You can see exactly what is turning them off on your site and causing abandonment. With click tracking you get a clear visualization of the customer’s digital journey, and you can make the changes to your website and user experience that will improve that path in the future, by making it more direct and relevant to the user.
Click maps provide a comprehensive visual representation of your visitors’ digital journeys at any given moment in time, no matter what device they use. Utilizing click map software creates a customer experience analytics record that enables you to analyze exactly why conversions are underperforming, allowing you get directly to the heart of areas of concern for visitors.
How does a heat map compare to a click map? The difference is clear. A click map shows you far more information than a mouse tracking heat map or heat map analysis, and it’s the right alternative if your business is considering whether or not to add heat map software to the website. It provides real-time data on how many times a specific icon or element of your site is being clicked on, whether any changes are being made to populated fields, and how much time is being spent on any element, within any given time. This data can then be used to know if the behavior of an individual visitor is representative of everyone’s behavior and if what you are seeing within a specific session is part of a much wider problem experienced by other visitors.
Overall, Glassbox’s range of features gives you solid proof about your users’ behavior, something which a conventional mouse tracking heat map fails to achieve. If you are still asking yourself how to read a heat map, the answer is that your current heat map UX is simply not enough to give you proper analytics. When using Glassbox to add click map analytics to websites instead, you can say goodbye to guesswork or unreliable, outdated heat map website tools. Take click analytics to the next level so you can understand your visitors’ behavior and optimize your website like never before.
Learn more about click maps and other ways to measure your customer journey on your website with our white paper, When Digital Analytics Met Machine Learning.
Originally published November 2017. Updated May 11 2020.