How to Optimize an E-Commerce Website with Heatmaps and Session Replays

By James Tredwell on August 15, 2020

Website analytics have been around for quite some time. They provide numbers, charts, and statistics about websites and applications. The problem is that the massive amount of raw data can be overwhelming. When there are pages of statistics, finding the relevant connections is like a needle in a haystack. The need for more visualized tools is obvious. You can spare time, effort, and money if you use the best methods for analytics. Web analytics tools like heatmaps and session replay can provide you with a great chance of development. Get to know them, use them correctly and your business will grow.

What is a website heatmap?

A heatmap is a visualized representation of data, where statistics and values are delineated as colors. Data sometimes can be hard to understand in its natural complexity.

Website heatmaps let you apprehend the information by giving you a visualized view. It is not only a comfortable option of understanding features and numbers. Using heatmaps can boost your conversion rate on a large scale.

How to understand customer behavior with heatmaps?

There are numerous studies based on heatmap testing that gives us some insight into customer behavior. According to these studies:

  • visitors spend 80% of their time above the fold,
  • people spend more time looking at the left side of the screen,
  • visitors read content in an F-shaped pattern,
  • the color contrast makes guiding visitors a lot easier,
  • photos of people and products attract attention,
  • using the original price next to the discounted one makes people more satisfied.

Some of these facts might sound obvious, but keeping them in mind when creating and developing your website will get you the numbers. Using heatmaps allows you to check on user behavior and shape your website accordingly.

What is the difference between various types of heatmaps?

Heatmaps in general show user activity and behavior on a website. They have the same purpose, though they are not all the same.

Click heatmap

Clicks are user decisions. Using click heatmaps, you can identify the motive of your visitors and measure the effectiveness of your CTAs (Call-To-Action). For instance, you have a great promotion video in the middle of your page. You put a great effort (or amount of money) in it, and it turns out that nobody watched it. A click heatmap will indicate these issues so you can consider some changes.

Scroll heatmap

Visitors tend to scroll over useful or significant information on a website. Scroll heatmaps will show you how far your visitors scroll down. With the help of this report, you can optimize the position of your elements and eventually, increase your conversion rate.

Segment heatmap

In case you want to filter the visitors of your website based on traffic source, this is your tool. With this type of heatmap, you can compare different segments to see how they behave. Traffic sources can be browsers, operating systems, physical devices, or websites.

How can a heatmap improve your product page?

We can all agree that a picture tells more than just raw data. You can get a load of information using analytics, but processing them is where teams get lost. Having numbers and statistics will not define how to develop your page. A heatmap, however, will give some answers to your why-s. Combining analytics and heatmaps you can investigate even further to see the root cause of some metrics.

Heatmaps can show you much more than charts and analysis. They can tell you basically everything your visitors do while visiting your page. Every action such as clicking or scrolling is recorded. Heatmaps will tell you how well your CTA-s are placed and how your visitors react to your website layout.

It is quite important to use heatmaps when checking how your visitors engage with your site. It provides easy-to-view statistics without confusing you with unnecessary numbers. The only disadvantage is that you cannot see the user action individually. For that, session replay is your tool.

What is a session replay?

Session replays are a web analytics tool that allows you to see the specific mouse movements of your visitors on the website.

In essence, they are a form of a playback video where you are able to see exactly what mouse movements the user makes on the website. From the clicks to the specific mouse movements, you’ll be able to see the customer mouse movement on the website in real-time.

That will give you valuable insights as to what your visitors are doing specifically on your website. But it’s also an incredibly valuable tool for seeing where the user experience on the website needs improving. You might think that your site is already great, but you will learn that with session replays, you’ll uncover some unpleasant truths about the website, and you’ll probably find many more ways for how it can be improved.

What can session replays tell you about your e-commerce website?

Conversion and abandonment

Discovering how your visitors react to your website helps a lot. Whether they eventually become customers or abandon your page, the key is in the details. Watching session replays will notify you where the potential weak spots are on your site. Updating your page according to your users’ preferences will also get that CRO (conversion rate optimization) up.

Customer journey

The best way to follow and understand your customers’ way through your site is to watch it all. Mapping customer journeys will tell you a lot about your users. Their intentions, their behavior, how they engage with your website, and more. Getting your hands on this information can be a winning card. It can be a base of your next e-commerce web design or even your new marketing campaign.


Page load and interaction quality are advantages against your competitors. Maintaining it is harder than before, though. There are more platforms and devices almost every day, and that means new layouts and appearance. If your website looks slightly different in Safari than in Chrome, so be it. But, if it starts crashing, being unresponsive, or completely distinctive, then you have a problem. You can avoid these troubles with session replay. Following and comparing user journeys from different devices will reveal every difference and glitch. This can be the next step to successful website optimization.

How to Optimize an E-Commerce Website with Heatmaps and Session replays

Bugs and glitches

When you have a site, there is always a chance of something going wrong. Having bugs is uncomfortable but at the same time normal. Using different browsers, operating systems and devices can make the optimization difficult.

When a user reports a bug or error, sometimes it is hard to deduce the root cause. If the provided data is deficient, resolving the bug takes much more time. Here comes the session replay. With the user experience recorded, the developers don’t need to reproduce the bug to see how it happens. They watch the replay andcan immediately determine the issue.

Customer support

When your customer-facing team receives a query related to your page, there are often additional steps needed to identify the problem. For example, a more detailed description or a screenshot is required from the user. Usually, this is not a big deal but it takes time, and we all know: time is precious.

Using session replay, no screenshot or further explanation is needed. The team simply goes through the recording and sees what’s going on.

Lost revenue

Losing money is always painful. Losing money to no end is even worse. Revenue decrease happens often due to latent causes. By seeing all clicks (or lack of those) and other actions you can identify the hidden root of your lacking revenue.

Understanding customer experience

In the digital world, it is not easy to observe your customers. You don’t meet them when they buy your products or services, and you don’t meet them when they report a complaint or provide useful feedback. Heatmaps and session replay take you as close to your customers as possible. You see exactly what your customers see, and that advances you to understand how they engage and react.

Comparing site performance

Page load and responsivity can be defining when rating a site. Tools like session replay allow you to spot the performance differences between browsers, devices, and operating systems. Maintaining quick loading time and well-built responsivity on all platforms can boost the overall user experience.

Suspicious activities

Cybersecurity is a major topic nowadays. Everything is digital, everyone is online, and it is more significant to be on the safe side than ever. It matters, even more, when you have a website. You need to care about the security of your business and your customers. Constantly checking user activity with the help of heatmaps and session replays, you can notice security gaps, errors, and suspicious actions happening on your site. Providing safety for your users will make them more loyal, and that will make your business more stable.

Wrap up

Not every business uses tools like heatmaps and session recording. Some online companies don’t even use web analytics. They are not mandatory, but if you want to be up to date, observing user activity and following your website’s performance is a must. If you don’t know what your customers want, what they miss from your site, how they react, you are already losing the competition.

Key information like conversion rate, the effectiveness of your CTA-s, or page abandonment is always significant in online business. It doesn’t matter how perfect your product is if your potential customers are dissatisfied with your online appearance. They can always look for another site.

Knowing the factors of dissatisfaction and the faults of your site means you have an insight into your users’ online experience. Using session replay and heatmaps provides this knowledge so you can provide the best experience to your customers, and to your business as well.

Author Bio. :- Evelin Rácz is the Content Marketing Manager of Capturly, a full-scale online analytics tool which can provide online businesses with first-hand feedback and real business insights.


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