Advanced Visitor Tracking Through Behavior Analysis

Advanced Visitor Tracking Through Behavior Analysis

Written by Dallas McLaughlin

Published: May 6, 2015

In most cases Google Analytics is able to measure enough valuable on-site metrics to give you plenty of information to optimize the conversion rates of your website and landing pages. But when it comes to really squeezing every last click out of a landing page, sometimes you just have to dig deeper into your toolbox!
One piece of software that I’ve been using lately is HotJar. Some of the major things it lets me do is build heat maps based on a visitor cursor movements, map all visitor clicks on the site, track visitor scroll depth (Tip: most people never see that call to action in your footer!), record actual visits in real time and play them back, record visitor form fills and see at which point they stopped filling in form details, and much more.
I’ve gone through one of my HotJar accounts and pulled out some screenshots to show some use cases of how I review the information and what changes I might make based on what I see.

Tracking Visitor Scroll Depth

Above you can see several examples of what scroll depth tracking looks like. Red indicates 100% of visitors to the site are seeing this information. The gradient fades down to blue towards the footer to indicate the smaller percentage of visitors who scroll all the way to the bottom of your site.
With this information you can make extremely important decisions about the positioning of your key conversion elements. Is your only call to action in your footer? What percentage of visitors are actually scrolling down to your footer?
You can see the ‘Average Fold’ line which will give you a pretty good indication as to what information is immediately visible to visitors of your site before they need to scroll to see more. Your most important elements should be above the fold including your key value propositions, conversion elements, highest ticket items, and calls to action.
If you review your scroll depth on a page-by-page basis you can begin to gauge just how engaging your internal content is, and where your visitors are losing interest. For example on long scrolling eCommerce pages, at what point do your shoppers decide they’ve seen enough and leave? Did they get a chance to see your highest selling, most profitable elements? What can be added or adjusted before they hit the bounce point to keep them engaged?

Tracking Visitor Cursor Movements

Layering in the ability to track visitor mouse movements via heat mapping provides you with invaluable insight into what items on your site are attracting the most visitor attention.
On these heat maps, red indicates highly moused over areas slowly fading down to blue which indicates elements that are being engaged with less frequently. Ideally, you want your key value propositions to be the most engaging elements on your site. If they aren’t, you’ll want to begin removing other distractions, maybe adjust the positioning of your call to action, or look at other design decisions to draw visitors to your conversion points.
Indirectly, I like to think of these maps as about as close as you can get to visitor eyeball tracking without really sophisticated technology and test groups. Seriously, go navigate any of your favorite sites. You’ll see that your eyes follow your mouse cursor very closely.

How to track visitor mouse movement
heatmap website visitor moves

Visitor Click Mapping

click tracking on my website
eCommerce visitor click tracking

Tracking visitor clicks is very similar to tracking visitor cursor movement. It’s tough to click something without moving your mouse there right?
However, you can still gain a ton of valuable insight having the actual click maps. For example, in the home page image I’ve provided there are a few things that jump out at me. The slideshow has calls to action embedded directly in the slide, yet not a single click is being registered. Do visitors not know these are clickable? Do they not care? Are they entirely blind to whole slideshow trend now?
You’ll notice on the second screenshot of the product category page that one of the most clicked items is the ‘Home’ menu link. Why? That means visitor flow in most cases is ‘Home > Women’s > Home’. That’s a problem that needs to addressed.
Using these maps I’ve found a number of usability problems. Meaning, how a site is intended to be used and how it’s actually used.
An example from an earlier version of the business I’m using as a case study in this blog would be that none of the product images, titles, or prices were clickable links that led to the more detailed product page. Instead there was an “Add to cart” button below each product which actually didn’t add the product to the cart, but brought the shopper to a more detailed view. The majority of clicks were occurring on the unlinked product shots (and nothing happened of course), and not the “Add to cart” button simply because people weren’t comfortable clicking that link before learning more about the product.
A verbiage change to “More Details” led to a lift in click-throughs, but it wasn’t until we removed the button all together and linked the entire product box that we saw a significant increase in visitors to individual product pages and overall conversions.
Without click mapping we wouldn’t have had the insight to make this decision.

Wrapping Up

Like I said, Google Analytics is amazing. I spend so much time in there that I’ve literally had dreams (nightmares) about it. There are a few similar features within GA to do some of these things, and hacks to do some others, but at the end of the day I like going with a company like HotJar who focuses strictly on behavior analysis rather than everything else.
Besides the things I’ve looked at in this post, software such as HotJar can literally make a recording of every visitor to your website which you can play back and see every page they visited, cursor movement, form fills – everything. It’s creepy really…
Having this type of insight into the behavior of website visitors has allowed me to make extremely educated changes and redesigns to eCommerce sites, landing pages, and general websites which has had an insane impact on overall conversions, leads and revenue.
Anything I’m missing? How could you use this type of information for your site? Let me know down in the comments or over on Twitter!

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- Dallas McLaughlin