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How Totally Promotional uses Hotjar to improve conversions without compromising great UX

Hotjar is a dream come true. It’s the answer to exactly what we were looking for. Now, we don’t have to guess; we can understand how users interact with our site. It’s like reading their minds.

EcommerceHow to improve customer experienceHow to improve your productDigital marketer

Last updated

24 Mar 2023

Reading time

4 min

Features used



How do you explain user behavior on your site? A lot of product, marketing, and UX professionals will start their research by looking at the hard numbers in traditional web analytics tools like Google Analytics.

This will show you where your traffic is coming from, which pages users visit and where they drop off. But as valuable as this information is, you’re working at too high a level with these numbers to really make an impact on moving the needle when it comes to increasing conversions.

To truly empathize with your users and make their experience better on your site, you need to go beyond the numbers. That’s what Totally Promotional did by using Hotjar to understand their user behavior and improve site experience,


How Totally Promotional improves conversions without compromising a great user experience 

Totally Promotional is a leading promotional products manufacturer and online retailer based out of Ohio in the USA. For the past 25 years, they have helped individuals and organizations promote their brands with fully-customized promotional products.

In 2016, Rachel Stephens, the SEO and Customer Behavior Analyst at Totally Promotional, needed a tool that would help her analyze on-site user behavior. She wanted to more effectively improve the user experience, and knew that more accurate user data - in the form of heatmapping software - would help. She understood that small details can have a huge impact on e-commerce conversions—especially if they affect ease of use. And she knew that seeing exactly how users were interacting with the site would help her improve user experience.

We had been making improvements based on best guesses. We needed to know concretely if users were responding to our calls to action.
Rachel Stevens
SEO & Customer Behavior Analyst, Totally Promotional

Will Hotjar impact site performance?

At first, Rachel was hesitant to use Hotjar. She worried that adding new code would hurt website performance, impact speed, or increase friction. She also absolutely wouldn’t install anything that would compromise user privacy.

Fortunately, the in-house development team gave her a green light: “Oh this isn’t a problem at all!”, they said, and put Hotjar on the site on her behalf. 

Adding the tracking code to our website was easy. And knowing that I could watch what users were doing on the site and follow their path anonymously—that was super important.
Rachel Stephens
SEO & Customer Behavior Analyst, Totally Promotional

Seeing Hotjar in action alleviated Rachel’s concerns. She knew that upgrading to the Business Plan would give her even more valuable insights into customer behavior. Having used the free Basic version of Hotjar for a while the value was evident. Weighing the cost of investment against the benefit it provided, “upgrading to a Business plan was an easy decision,” Rachel says.

Challenge #1: better meeting user needs

By keeping an eye on both Google Analytics and internal sales data, Rachel knows when pages are underperforming. If numbers are down or there’s a drop off in conversions, she goes to check Heatmaps and watch Recordings, which gives her and her team major clues as to what needs fixing: Are forms loading properly? Can users find our CTA buttons? Is it an issue caused by different browsers or screen sizes? This is where Hotjar has been key for them.

One specific use case from 2017 especially stands out. “A few months after we launched our line of custom pens, we noticed that sales were less than desirable,” Rachel explains. “We reviewed Hotjar Recordings to see where users were struggling or if something was causing them to leave our site.”

User Recordings made it clear that users did not understand the order process we had in place. So, we changed the format of the order form and added additional information to clear up any possible confusion. The insights Hotjar revealed helped us better meet user expectations.
Rachel Stephens
SEO & Customer Behavior Analyst, Totally Promotional

Hotjar gave Rachel all the information she needed to prove what the problem was to the designers and to develop a strategy to fix the issue. “I was excited to share the results with our team and say, ‘Hey, these aren’t guesses. This is how users are really responding to our website.’”


Challenge #2: improving web design

Since changing the order process for the custom pens page, pen purchases have more than tripled. Now they are one of Totally Promotional’s top-performing product lines.

According to Rachel, this isn’t the only area where Hotjar has had a significant effect on Totally Promotional’s processes.

Hotjar has also had a big impact on their design phase. At first, Rachel and her team were only using Hotjar to point out ways to fix pages that were already up. “Now we’re talking about user experience as we plan out and design new pages.”

Rachel knows that if she ever needs new insights, she has access to them in a matter of minutes, with immediate access to all the information she needs. Better yet, Hotjar has made her day-to-day much easier, by helping take the guesswork out of whether or not a design change will improve conversions. “It’s so gratifying to make an improvement to our website and know that it’s better—it’s proven.”

Now, Rachel can use heatmaps, recorded user sessions, and other behavioral insights to make strategic site improvements and meaningful changes. “I recommend Hotjar for businesses and websites of all sizes. It’s a quality way to understand user behavior and test on-site solutions at an affordable price,” she adds.

Hotjar is a dream come true. It’s the answer to exactly what we were looking for. Now, we don’t have to guess; we can understand how users interact with our site. It’s like reading their minds.
Rachel Stephens
SEO & Customer Behavior Analyst, Totally Promotional

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