Evans Cycles is the UK's leading specialist bike shop.


How Evans Cycles Uses Hotjar to Help Them Understand (and Build For) Their Users

Evans Cycles is a multichannel bike retailer with over 60 stores in the UK and a website with millions of visitors - and they’re one of the best. So once we found out that they’re users and fans of Hotjar, we sat down with their Web Analytics Manager Daniel Lee to find out why.


The Interview...

Us: Just to get started, what would you say is the biggest success so far in terms of what you’ve recovered, basically, from using Hotjar? Let's just say, for example, before, you may have been losing X dollar amounts of sales and now?

Daniel:Hotjar offers a blanket of coverage that other tools and services don't offer. The very reason why Hotjar’s come around is because it looks at integrating a load of reports and services into one solution and Evans Cycles has found it really useful to be able to dip into each of these reports within one service. So whereas Google Analytics is an absolutely fantastic tool, we do sometimes struggle to visualize that data. With Google Analytics, you simply just don't get that.

For example, if you look at one of our Hotjar accounts, we went absolutely nuts on polls. We ran so many because we love getting the user's opinion on business questions.

Us: Well what kind of things did you use the polls for specifically?

Daniel:Just as an example, we wanted to know how customers would best like to see our web chat. There's an issue here with availability of agents being able to use web chat to speak with customers online, so we had to manage the customer expectation of when we could show web chat versus when we need to hide it.

Us: Interesting. So what’d you find out?

Daniel:With Hotjar, we asked, “If web chat wasn't available or if there wasn't an agent available to speak to you, would you rather not see the web chat button at all, or would you rather see it and have a busy status?" After getting a lot of responses, it was pretty clear that our users wanted us to show a busy web chat button even when we weren’t available.

Us: Why was that? What were their reasons?

Daniel:Well it frustrated quite a few users because these users knew that we offered it on our site, and they would be going from page to page trying to find it or trying to make it spin to life, because we used to just serve it as a popup, say, "Would you like to chat with a web agent?" If they didn't want to, they'd close it, and there was no way of getting it back up.

So with the new method we had, we always showed it. It was green for available or red for busy. That way, when customers came to our site, one glance at the side of the screen, they'd see that web chat is busy. Then they could continue with what they wanted to do, and wait for it to go to green.

So that's one example of how we use poll data to improve user experience, but we also use polls, as I said, for A/B tests, idea generation. Hotjar is really filling the gaps that we haven't had in the past. Personally I’ve used ClickTale, SessionCam, and Decibel Insight.

Hotjar is really easy to use. It's quite simple and effective. I know it's powerful, and there's a lot of stuff you can do with it, but if you need an answer, you'll dip into Hotjar, and you'll have it within five minutes. It's not hard to do.


 We’re always fascinated to find out what people use Hotjar for. That’s a great example of a super practical way to use website feedback and a great guide to survey questions to ask. So, what else? How is Hotjar making your life easier in other ways?

Daniel:We spent over a year and a half building our site. The funny thing was, we got to the very end of the project, and the directors…we got there and we got everything delivered. At the very end, we didn't actually know if staff liked the website though! That was crazy. It's a very simple question. "What does staff think of the site?"

The funny thing was not being able to answer that.

So we launched our new site only to colleagues that were in our stores so our staff could see it. We ran a Hotjar poll just to say, "What do you think of our new website? I like it. I don't like it." Ninety-one percent of people came back and they said, "I like it." We were able to go back to the board and say 91% of our colleagues like the site.

It's a very simple start, but it let them know that we were on the right path.

Us: With regards to that, then, what does success mean for you from the perspective of visitors to your site and customers? Apart from getting sales, what's the ultimate experience that you'd like to provide for your visitors through Hotjar?

Daniel: It's to improve user experience. The forms would be sorted out to see if you're having a particular high area of dropout, and being able to watch those recordings back, and looking at funnels for the same reasons.

We also conducted a heat map on our homepage and showed that one of the most common elements on the homepage that was receiving quite a lot of clicks was below the fold. It was great that Hotjar picked that up. I looked at the scroll map and how few visitors got to the bottom of the page. I think with those two metrics together, there's a very popular piece of content at the bottom of the page, but not many people are scrolling to the bottom of the page. That set off alarm bells in my mind. It's great that Hotjar has that kind of data that I can form that opinion.

Us: That’s great. Now that you've been able to see the experience of your visitors, what would you see, not just from the perspective of Evans Cycles, but e-commerce in general, what would you say is the biggest theme point or opportunity for improvement on your site and the industry overall?

Daniel: Companies get used to seeing their website in a certain way. I think what's interesting is being able to see your website through a customer's eyes. At Evans Cycles, we sell accessories and but we also sell bikes. That's what we're about. You're not buying a bike every week. Maybe some people get a bike once a year or once every two years, so what they're seeing is very new to them.

I think what Hotjar does really well is it removes the bias that colleagues have when they're looking at their site, and it often very well highlights performance issues and things that aren't easy for visitors to understand when they're navigating around the site. I think that the biggest return that Hotjar provides is the fact that you can watch people using your site who aren't trained to use your site, and it's almost like user testing, which I realize you offer via your 'Recruiters' report.

Hotjar enables us to more readily keep our ears to the ground and understand what's going on. It's a finger on the pulse. Often, the higher up you get in companies, the harder that is to do sometimes, because you're relying on reports that have been circulated around the company, which maybe aren't so user-centric as services such as Hotjar.

Daniel Lee
Web Analytics Manager

Us: So have your expectations and theories been debunked or have you been commonly supported by what you actually get from analytics?

Daniel:Well, Evans Cycles is quite data-driven. We've done a lot of A/B tests, and I'm very active personally with web analytics. When we designed our product page, we saw feedback from Hotjar and the A/B tests, and got a compelling result back that meant that we went to the product page and changed our design whilst we were building it. We valued the feedback that we got from our analytics source, and Hotjar was an integral part of that.

Us: That's really interesting. It's about trying to be aware of what's working in the grand scheme of things, rather than just trying to focus on the new.

Daniel:I would agree with that. Hotjar enables us to more readily keep our ears to the ground and understand what's going on. It's a finger on the pulse. Often, the higher up you get in companies, the harder that is to do sometimes, because you're relying on reports that have been circulated around the company, which maybe aren't so user-centric as services such as Hotjar and other web analytics source.

With Hotjar, we love to get proved wrong.

Us: That happens. So from the perspective of testing, what's a sane number of tests to run and how often?

Daniel:I couldn't give you a precise number, but my advice to other companies is that the mentality should shift away from how many tests that you're doing to prioritization of tests.

For example, in my first year at Evans Cycles, we conducted about 75 A/B tests. That's a huge number. I'm the one man on the team here. That was me using the analytics data that we had, and running as many A/B tests as possible.

In year two, it's funny. We're actually running fewer A/B tests, and I'm happy with that.

The reason I'm happy with that is because we're spending more time on the process of A/B testing, getting the company bought into the process, and also more emphasis has gone towards the prioritization of A/B tests and working out which tests are most likely to yield the highest reward. My advice would probably be to start testing things that appeal to you. Get the A/B testing bug. Integrate Hotjar with your A/B testing tool, because it provides some brilliant insights into how visitors are interacting with your variation.

Us: How do you go about creating an A/B testing roadmap?

Daniel:I spoke at Optimizely's event in London recently, and my presentation was all about when I joined Evans Cycles, we were using Google Analytics, but in terms of web analytics, we weren't doing anything more than that. My presentation was about how to digitally transform your business so that you produced a lot more insight. We brought on a range of tools, Hotjar being one of them.

If you create an optimization roadmap in terms of A/B testing, it allows you to run as many tests as possible, and it gives the business a lot of visibility in terms of what's going to happen and when. It's quite simple, really. I use Google Sheets, which is accessible anywhere on any device and very collaborative with your colleagues. I used Google Sheets. In the columns, I put different areas of our site, so that would be the Contact Us page, the checkout funnel, product pages, all the different areas of our site in the columns.

Going to the right, in the rows, I would have weeks, so week one, week two, week three. I would simply block out areas on that report of when I was running an A/B test on which area of the site and at what week, so that way, I could visually get an example to people of what tests I'm running and when. I'd insert a note on each of those blocks to say what the test was. So it was a very visual, collaborative document, and that quickly became our roadmap.

The biggest advantage of that roadmap wasn't just getting the business bought into A/B testing and using tools like Hotjar to get as much insight as possible, but it was also that you could quite quickly look at that document and see where the gaps are, the areas that you haven't A/B tested much, and fill that in with an A/B test. So that way, you're not just prioritizing your biggest wins. You're also testing on areas of the site that haven't received love for it at all.

Us: You mentioned polls, heat maps recordings. Have you had any experience using the funnel report?

Daniel:Yep, I've used heat maps recordings, funnels forms, and polls. I've not used Surveys and Recruiters so much. I've got quite a bit of experience with Hotjar. Also, apparently, I was Hotjar's most active beta tester. I provided quite a lot of feedback during the beta testing phase. So I've used a lot of the reports quite a lot.

I think there's definitely more value that we can get from Hotjar. It's the tip of the iceberg. We use it quite well, I think, but I'd say that you've got excellent things coming on your roadmap, and we're looking forward to working with Hotjar in the future.

Us: I'm so grateful for the opportunity to have this conversation. It's been extremely insightful, lots of stuff that even us at Hotjar can definitely benefit from, in terms of how we approach our own testing and the whole motivation towards getting things done and finding our own success.

Daniel:It's been great speaking with you. Hotjar is brilliant, keep it up.

Us: Thanks for taking the time to have this with us. We really appreciate it.

Daniel:It's been a pleasure.

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