Web analytics tools:
5 user-centric ways to grow as used by 438k sites


The sheer volume of website data that companies can access today is mind-blowing. Large-scale web traffic and usage patterns, hundreds of quantitative data points—with web analytics, you’ve got it all at your fingertips.

Still, there is a limit to what you can achieve if you rely on traditional analytics tools alone. If you really want to improve your products, optimize the user experience, and keep your customers coming back, you need to add another set of tools to the mix—and join over 438k sites that are going beyond traditional analytics in 2019. 

What is web analytics?

what-is-web-analyticsWeb analytics is the collection, measurement, reporting, and analysis of website data to observe and understand large-scale activity on a website.

Web analytics allows businesses to review key website metrics such as total number of page views, traffic sources, click-through rates, and drop-off rates, to increase conversions and achieve other business-critical goals.

What can you do with web analytics?

When you install a web analytics tool (which you should do as soon as your website is live), it’s constantly recording data—every page view, bounce, drop-off, conversion is logged, along with every user’s traffic source, pages visited, country of origin, and more.

So, what can you do with this mountain of data?

Use case #1: map out your entire website’s ecosystem

Think of your website as a city, with roads (links) connecting your citizens (users) to different spots on the map (web pages).

Just as a city’s transportation director would study a traffic map to determine which roads are most and least used, you can use web analytics to see where users come from and how they flow through your website.

Use case #2: compare the behavior of different user segments


Digital analytics tools allow you to identify and compare segments based on a whole range of factors (e.g., country, unique visitors, paying customers, traffic source), so you can study how any segment interacts with your website.

A few examples of what you can do with this information:

- Compare conversion rate of traffic from paid ad, social media, and search engine traffic
- Determine which country/market has the highest conversion rate
- Discover which landing page has the best/worst conversion rate
- Find landing pages with the highest drop-off
- Determine which product purchases result in the most return business, in which market

Use case #3: identify top priorities to focus your resources on

05- Focus

Just as the transportation director from the example above would focus on the most congested roads to reduce traffic jams and accidents, web analytics helps you determine which pages have the biggest impact on your goals—for example, high-traffic pages where customers converge before either converting or leaving.

While it may be tempting to focus entirely on the problem spots (e.g. pages with the biggest drop-offs), it’s important not to neglect pages that work: web analytics helps you study them, figure out what works, and replicate it.

The problem with relying on web analytics only

One of the greatest strengths of a web analytics tool is the ability to keep an ultimate log of everything that’s happening on a website. But the picture it paints is incomplete, and might lead you to miss out on crucial insight for your growth.

Problem #1: you can (and will) get lost in the data

06-Lost In The Data

Yes, the possibilities for analysis are endless... and that can be a bad thing. With that much information available, you can easily lose yourself in the data and crunch numbers for months; worse, you may even start to make assumptions about the numbers and see correlations where there are none, instead of getting closer to really understanding your visitors and what they need.

Problem #2: web analytics alone can’t help you empathize with your customers

07-Window of darkness

Before the digital age, most transactions were live and face-to-face so businesses would organically come to empathize with their customers. If you had a small hardware store and your customers didn’t like your selection of tools, they’d complain and you’d make adjustments; you wouldn’t need to gather data on a larger scale until you expanded to multiple stores and could no longer interact with most of your customers first-hand.

With a digital business, the situation is reversed. You can start collecting data the moment you install an analytics tool, but numbers without human-sized context cannot help you empathize with customers: what are they doing on each page? What are they thinking? Do they have questions? Web analytics alone cannot shed light on that window of darkness. 

Problem #3: you can’t know for sure why customers do what they do

Let’s say your bounce rate is 90% on a page, meaning that 9 out of 10 of your visitors see that one page and then leave without going any further.

Is it bad? Is it good? It depends. They might have found the exact information they were looking for, which means the page did what it was supposed to do. Or maybe they took one glance at a confusing page, closed their laptop, and swore never to look at your website again.

In other words: analytics tools can tell you what’s happening on your website at scale, but they can't explain why it's happening–or even how.

With web analytics we're seeing a clean set of events, like someone visited the homepage, clicked on a button, visited a pricing page, and we get information such as how much time they spent on a page. The problem is: what happened in between those things? And what happened when they go there? 

Maybe the time on page is high because a lot of people are actually scrolling down, they’re lost, they can’t find something. Maybe they got to the page by mistake and now they’re stuck.

So looking at what happens between those events is where it becomes really interesting. That's where you get the juicy stuff.


David Darmanin, CEO and Founder, Hotjar


5 user-centric ways to grow your website (as used by 438k sites)

08-Empathise With Your Users

When you need to learn more about what the numbers don’t tell you (motivations behind user behavior, what people want from your website and your products, where they get confused, and where their attention goes) a behavior and feedback tool is the most powerful ally of traditional web analytics. 

Enter Hotjar, which helps you empathize with your website visitors and get closer to understanding them so you can deliver a user experience that keeps them coming back.

Here are five things you can achieve by combining Hotjar with your existing web analytics solutions.

Way #1: bring context to your visitors’ actions

📈Traditional web analytics tools let you
: see exactly which paths people take, which individual pages they visit, and how long they stay on each.

🔥Hotjar complements them by: helping you understand how visitors behave on each page and throughout the journey.

Session recordings let you watch how individual (anonymized) users browse, interact with, and move across several pages, so you get a better sense of their journey.  Heatmaps help you zoom into individual pages by showing the ‘hot’ spots where most users click or tap, hover their mouse, scroll, and interact with the page.

Practical example: Taskworld used Hotjar Heatmaps to boost conversions by 40%

Project management tool Taskworld used Hotjar’s Heatmaps to figure out why their signup page wasn’t converting:

The heat map shows where people click the most (in red) and the least (in blue); the team at Taskworld spotted three issues:

1. Users weren’t completing the form
2. The ‘Sign In’ button at the bottom pulled people away from the ‘Sign Up’ button, which is the real call-to-action (CTA)
3. Users weren’t using the ‘Time Zone’ selector

Taskworld reduced the number of fields to one, asking for an email address only, and removed the ‘Sign In’ button and the time zone selector.

The changes resulted in:

Conversion rate increase of 40%
- Drop-off reduction of 4.5%
- Failed submits decrease of 29.5%


Way #2: identify where website visitors get stuck, stumble, or drop off

10- Identify Where Users Get Stuck

📈Traditional web analytics tools let you: clearly identify barriers in your conversion funnel and determine your most problematic pages.

🔥Hotjar complements them by: allowing you to watch session recordings and follow (anonymized) users along their journey to see what makes them stumble and eventually leave the website.

Practical example: after a platform switch that impacted 10,000 users, the team at Intelliquip started getting support calls from users who were getting stuck. By watching users recordings, they started seeing exactly what issues people were experiencing—something they could never diagnose with analytics alone—and kept deploying fixes in real-time until the user flow went back to normal. 


Way #3: understand why people do what they do  
09-Bring Context To Your Visitors Actions

📈Traditional web analytics tools let you: identify important pages in your funnel where most of your users converge before either converting or leaving the website altogether.

🔥Hotjar complements them by: helping you to collect user feedback through Surveys and Polls and the Incoming Feedback widget, so you can hear in your users’ words why they make the choices they make—including not purchasing your product/service.

Practical example: Smallpdf, an online PDF conversion software, placed an on-page survey on their homepage and ran it for a few weeks until it received 1000 responses.

Having asked users about their job roles and why they needed to use the software, Smallpdf used the results to build simple users personas and launch more in-depth research about their ideal customers.

“Given the unique nature of the people who come directly to your site, it is extremely productive to understand them. It’s like watching a pride of lions and taking notes. What is unique about them? What do they like to eat: that is, what content do they like to consume? Why do they return to the same place?”

Avinash Kaushik 
Author, Web Analytics 2.0


Way #4: answer business-critical questions (regardless of your size)

12-Answer Business Questions

📈Traditional web analytics tools let you: observe aggregate patterns in user behavior, including which pages get the highest number of visits, which traffic sources are more likely to convert, and which page visits lead to the most conversions.

🔥Hotjar complements them by: allowing you to survey your users and ask for feedback that will help you uncover:

- How you can provide a better experience
- Whether people are recommending your product or services (and if not, why)
- What would make users use your product/experience more often
- If people using a given product, page, or tool (and if not, why)
- What products or services are missing

Practical example: to understand if our customers are likely to recommend us to others, we use an on-page Hotjar Net Promoter Score survey where people can submit their score and any additional information that can help us grow and improve.  



Way #5: test assumptions and proceed with confidence

📈Traditional web analytics tools let you: find trouble spots by observing website activities at scale and come up with hypotheses about what’s happening.

🔥Hotjar complements them by: helping you test whether your hypotheses are true via an on-page survey to ask users why they behave the way they do, and letting you observe their individual customer behavior (with session recordings) and aggregate activity (with heat maps).

Practical example: say Google Analytics shows a high drop-off rate on your product description page and your boss/client is convinced that the page needs to be simplified and people are leaving because the content is too long.

If you test this assumption with Hotjar surveys (asking visitors what they think) and heatmaps (to see how far they read on the page), you could well discover that your users want more information rather than less. You can now make a business case to revise the content and provide fuller descriptions. Then, hopefully, you’d get the green light to test the new descriptions and see what effect they have on the drop-off rate.

🏆Pro tip: in a separate post about how to increase your conversion rate, we provide a Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) action plan. It’s a cheat sheet that helps you get inside your user’s heads and remove barriers-to-purchase and boost conversion rates by employing analysis tools such as Heatmaps, Surveys, and Session Recordings together.

Go beyond analytics with Hotjar  

Join 438k sites that already use web analytics with Hotjar to improve their user experience.  

Free forever. Get started!


Action plan: how to use website analytics with Hotjar

13-Use Web Analytics With Hot jar

Step 1 - identify your biggest problem + your biggest opportunity

Use a website analytics tool, such as Google Analytics, to find the page that gets the most traffic (i.e., highest pageviews). Then identify the page with the highest drop-off (what Google calls ‘exit rate’).

These are the pages you’ll want to study first, and you can learn how to access this information here.

Step 2 - understand what’s happening

Use the following Hotjar tools to learn about user behavior on the pages you want to study:

Heatmaps  get an at-a-glance understanding of how people interact with an individual website page by looking at 'hot' and 'cold' interaction spots, which in turn help you notice trends and optimization opportunities to drive more engagement.

Polls → 
on-page surveys (which we call ‘Polls’) help you collect feedback from your visitors and discover what they think about your products, brand, and website experience.

Incoming Feedback → our feedback widget can be installed on any page, giving users the chance to leave comments without being prompted.

Session Recordings  help you observe how individual users move across your website. Recordings may be tied to feedback responses, so if someone leaves feedback mentioning a problem you can observe their entire journey (but we have privacy safeguards in place for those who don’t want their feedback and journey to be tied to one another).

Step 3 - figure out why it’s happening

Analyze the data to determine where users are getting stuck on your highest drop-off page and what’s working on your most successful page.
If you used an on-page survey to collect data, this guide to analyzing open-ended questions might come in handy.

Step 4 (optional) - give your boss/colleagues the full picture

If you need buy-in before testing or applying your proposed changes, use the worksheet in our CRO action plan to make your case in a visual and concise way.

Step 5 - make changes + check to see if they worked

Test to see whether the changes made a difference (i.e. if you managed to reduce the drop-off rate and/or increase website traffic and conversions). If the changes work, keep them. If not, do more research and start A/B testing new ideas.

Step 6 - return to step 1

Go back to step 1 and start over again. There is always more to improve!

Stay curious, dig deeper, and cultivate empathy for your users

Combining Hotjar with web analytics tools will help you understand and empathize with your clients on a much deeper level, and a company that understands its users can deliver a superior experience—which in turn means more promoters, more conversions, and a thriving business.


Frequently asked questions about web analytics 

Go beyond analytics with Hotjar  

Join 438k sites that already use web analytics with Hotjar to improve their user experience.  

Free forever. Get started!