What You Can Learn from a Website Heatmap

Having a functioning website is a major part of seeing success in higher education, but if you think things stop there then you are setting up for failure. Deciding to get information on a school is a long-lead process for most prospective students. Unless you understand the pros and cons of your website and how visitors interact with it, often across multiple visits, you will not be able to make the optimizations necessary for maximizing inquiries. This is where heatmapping comes in.

A heatmap uses recordings of visitors to your website to show where they clicked, how they moved the mouse around the page, and where they scrolled. When combined with Google Analytics data, heatmap tools can provide brand new insights into your visitors’ website interactions, uncovering behavior like why your site isn’t converting, why certain content is doing better than others, what you should use more of, and where links or images should be placed. Together, this information will help your school to better connect with potential students and nurture inquiries and starts across the student journey.

Statwax relies on website heatmaps to uncover flaws and develop new optimization strategies every day. It allows us to uncover granular education insights as we analyze every move of a set of visitors on any specific page and time range we choose. With Analytics, we are only able to see broad metrics such as time spent on pages, how users arrived, etc. Adding heatmaps to the mix has allowed the Statwax team to make website optimizations that consistently improve conversions, generate higher site engagement, and lead to better inquiry volume.

If it sounds like recording the actions of every visitor and mapping them on a single image is overwhelming, you’re right. This is some serious engagement data we’re looking at when heatmapping a website. But when you narrow things down and focus on specific elements of the website, heatmaps can help make some interesting determinations:

  • How are prospects responding to a “Request for Info” form? Heatmaps can help show how far through a form users get, or which elements are focused on. It has allowed us to make inquiry form optimizations to remove fields that create friction, or test different value propositions that push users to feel more comfortable submitting their information.
  • Which call-to-action buttons and links are working best? Heatmaps show what percentage of total clicks on the page occur on each link and button, using color coding to make it easy to analyze. A heatmap can reveal that “Inquiry Now” buttons in the header get more clicks than ones on the sidebar, or that a button that says “Request Information Today” does better than one that says “Find a Program for You.”
  • Is your page too long? It’s no secret that your most important content should go at the top of a page. If you aren’t putting key information points and conversion opportunities above the fold, let us help you with a new website design and then we’ll come back to heatmapping. But even if you’re good above the fold, a heatmap can tell you what’s going on down under. Not only do heatmaps provide link engagements, they also record how far down a page the users scroll. The top should be 100%, because everyone who visits sees that part. But if you notice sudden drop-off just below the fold, it could be an indicator that users aren’t finding a reason to stick around. You may need a more intuitive design that guides users down the page, or you more meaningful content to flesh out the below the fold portions.
  • What role does the page play in your student journey? If you’ve been following our advice, you should have established a conversion funnel by now. This helps evaluate the most likely steps a prospect will take before inquiring, helping to tailor ad campaigns and optimizations to push new users through that funnel in the most cost-efficient manner. Heatmapping is another helpful tool used to build and optimize for that funnel. It can establish whether certain pieces of information, like financial aid, are more powerful earlier on to push an inquiry.

We use heatmapping tools that actually record video of a user’s mouse movements around the page. We then watch, in real-time, how users navigate around the entire site before either converting or leaving. For example, if we notice a lot of users arriving, reading, then clicking to an “About Us” page, it could indicate pain points among prospects in terms of knowing or trusting the school’s brand. Or we may find that the average inquiry views three different program pages before requesting information, so we can analyze that page content and tailor information to shorten the conversion cycle and deliver better results.

Behavior tracking with website heatmaps provides a powerful look at how users, both new and returning, engage on your website. Few tools provide more data than Google Analytics, but only heatmapping gives you exact recordings of where everyone goes, how they move, and what they click.

If you’re content with your website sitting at the same number of inquiries it always gets, heatmapping isn’t for you. But if you want to identify gaps in user behavior on your site and reveal optimization opportunities that will send your lead volume to new levels, heatmaps are your new best friend.

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