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What is Hotjar? Understand user behavior and create a user friendly website experience

What is Hotjar? The ultimate guide to understanding user behavior

Hotjar is an instant visual feedback collection tool for your website, in order to understand user behavior and provide a better customer experience. Using conversion rate hotjar can help you identify and fix conversion problems, and develop new solution for maximizing your conversion rate.

The concept of Hotjar website tracking

Hotjar Marketing Research Concept

At the beginning of my career, I was told that marketing is all about consumer behavior. Anyone who spoke authentic marketing science always started by recommending that you should place yourself in your customers shoes.

Understanding user behavior has been the core focus of most marketers, but i think we lost our way in the middle. Along the digital transformation of our field, marketers started to focus more on studying the technicalities of new tools and how to use them, and forgot all about the consumer’s way of thinking.

Remember the old times, when a store manager used to stand in the middle of the store and start to notice how people interact with the displayed products. They usually kept an eye on which products were being checked and then left and which got the highest purchases.

Store managers also controlled the products’ placement according to which products would grab a customer’s attention and which are the least likely to be bought.

Hotjar works the same way. See, I’ve learned that monitoring is the best way of marketing research and that’s what physical store managers are doing. Hotjar provides you the same capabilities through an online tracking tool.

I’ll just assume your next question; But, what is hotjar going to tell me that Google Analytics won’t? Qualitative Reports!

Google analytics vs Hotjar analytics

Hotjar Vs Google Analytics Reports

Some analytics services and tools like Google Analytics with the core idea of providing webmasters with quantitative reports. More like percentages or numbers of website events.

For example, Google analytics, might provide you with the drop-off percentage between two checkout steps. It won’t tell you what is the nature of the problem causing users to abandon your website at that step, though.

Learning that you have a 90% drop-off rate at the checkout step will acknowledge you of the exitsance of a problem, but will never tell you what’s happening. Hence, you will need some in-depth analytics tools, to identify the road blocks.

Hotjar can help you with that. I consider Hotjar the magnifying glass, that helps me observe the unerlying problems with my conversion funnel.

With the help of several tracking features, like Session recordings, heatmaps, feedback widgets, and surveys, you can recognize almost any issues blocking your users from completing a conversion.

Hotjar reports and how they can help you

Session Recordings

Hotjar Session Recordings

Imagine yourself sitting beside one of your website users and watching every step he takes on his visit to your site. This is exactly what session recordings do.

This type of tracking method helps you learn more about how users behave on your website. Session recordings let you inspect the whole journey of your website visitors, and gain insights based on the interaction of your own real time users.

One of the major objectives I use session recordings for, is to identify the usability of my landing pages for a specific target market.

For example, when crafting a new landing page for a hotel business, you can’t expect all the users from different coutnries to interact with it the same way.

Watching a lot of screen recordings, I learned that some countries focus on room features more, some on the recreational activities around, and some are more interested in the hotel’s F&B. Learning that, I started to create different landing pages, and target each market with the specific pages tailored for their interests.

I highly recommend taking notes while watching your recorded sessions in order to highlight behavioral loops, and any suspicious bugs on a given website page.


Hotjar Heatmaps

There are two types of maps, heatmaps and scroll maps.

Heatmaps tell you the most clicked areas of a given page, and hence you can identify for example which products are more appealing for your website users. You can also try pushing your most clicked products up in the home page of your ecommerce business and test your users feedback.

My personal advice in this part is to create a heatmap for each page along your convesion funnel, learn about the most clicked sections, and shuffle them to keep the most clicked elements at the top of your pages.

Scrollmaps are more helpful for blog and shop pages. learning how many of your users scroll down through your blogs or shop pages would be extremely helpful when structuring your page.

For example if only 30% of your readers reach the middle of your blog page, then you can learn to place your affiliate links higher in the page. You can also place a hook promising a pro tip at the end of your blog

Organizing your shop page based on which products are most clicked and placing them on top, would result in a more successful mid of funnel strategy. The more users who add products to their carts, the more sales you are going to generate.

Feedback widget

Hotjar feedback widget

The feedback widget is a side panel window that popsup once per user session or as many times as your wish for it to appear. Its core objective is to let users give your website a rating from 1 to 5.

Mostly, the feedback widget is not to identify problems or give more insights, but to learn about user feedback for the applied amends you have creaeted.

You can create a single feedback form for your whole website, or create a separate one for a specific page that you are working on. I recommend the latter.

When reviewing the results of your feedback polls, it appears as a trendline showing the average score provided by your website visitors. When the trendline is going up, you should understand that you are going in the right direction and vice versa.


Hotjar Survey form

I have personally found surveys to be the most helpful hotjar feature.

If you don’t know the answer to a specific mystery, why don’t you just ask?

That’a mini quote by the humble mind of mine! =)

I believe that when you don’t have the answer, you should go ask someone who has. And that is exacly the case with hotjar surveys.

Hotjar surveys offer you a logical test schema with diffent question types. You can create a multiple choice question, an open text question, or a

Let’s say you are on the checkout page and you see a drop-off ratio of 90+. There is definitely something wrong going on, isn’t it? Creating a survery with a logical test would help you identify the problem, or even hone in on it.

When I used to work at the cosmetics industry, one of the businesses I worked for had a high abandonment rate at the final checkout step and so we created the following survery

  1. Are you facing a problem

  2. Can you identify the nature of your problem

    1. Technical Problem/ Bug

    2. Promo code isn’t working

    3. Can’t fill up a checkout form section

    4. Shipping is taking too long

    5. Too much shipping fees

  3. If step 2 answer came “Technical Problem”, Can you describe it

  4. What would help us fix that problem

  5. Please leave your email or mobile number so we can help you complete your purchase

That survey alone helped us fix 3 problems with our checkout step and develop a better shipping process.

We found out that the mobile number field didn’t accept arabic numbers. We also discovered that user hated the high shipping fees. When a user entered a promo code along with other product discounts, the system got confused and didn’t apply the right discount.

All the above problems, when fixed helped increase the conversion rate by almost 10%


Hotjar Engage Interviews

With Hotjar interviews you can approach a specific target segment of your users and invite them for in-depth user interviews to get a much more detailed feedback over a specific feature or the whole website experience.

That can be easily achieved using the engage plan of hotjar.

How to implement Hotjar tracking code through Google Tag Manager?

There are two methods to integrate hotjar tracking code on your website; manually or through Google Tag Manager integration service.

The GTM integration method is easier and much more trusted, however. All you need to do is copy your tracking ID from your Hotjar account. Then, move to your Google Tag Manager container and create a new tag.

Choose hotjar tag from the option menu that appeared on the right and then set it to fire on all pageview events.

Now return to your hotjar account and click review installation, it will keep loading for a while and then show you a confirmation message.

How to create a suitable hotjar plan for small businesses?

Hotjar pricing plans

Hotjar pricing plans are distributed among 3 products:

  1. Observe

    1. Screen Recordings

    2. Heatmaps

  2. Ask

    1. Feedback widgets

    2. Surveys

  3. Engage

    1. Interviews

Creating a suitable plan for your startup doesn’t require you to get the basic plan for each section. I would recommend getting a paid plan in both Observe and Ask products.

This will secure for you a good level of traffic coverage and then you can use hotjar filters to choose specific segments based on Geographic location, devices used, landing page, etc.

When your website traffic starts to grow, upgrade your plan accordingly, but try to achieve a coverage rate of 50% from your website’s daily traffic.

Engage is an advanced practice that I won’t recommend you get it unless you are a huge website and need more indepth insights that you won’t be able to capture through the other survey method.

A basic plan like the one I mentioned above shall cost you a total of 178$ if paid monthly and 144$/month if paid annualy.

Is Hotjar Legal?

Like all third party tracking tools, Hotjar is aimed at giving you insights about user behavior on your website without telling you which user that session belongs to.

If you didn’t get a user’s consent before firing a hotjar tag, than you are not doing this properly and are breaking certain legal rules like the GDPR and CPRA.

That’s why implementing Hotjar tracking through GTM is recommended, so you can fire the tag only when a consent is received.

Does Hotjar offer a free plan?

Of course hotjar offers a free plan, that you can benefit from if you are a low traffic website. However, for medium to high traffic websites, you will find that the free plan comes with a lot of limitations in terms of filters, number of heatmaps to analyze and surveys you can create.

In addition you won’t be able to remove the hotjar branding and customize the theme of your feeback or surveys unless you choose a business plan.

Can I export Hotjar reports?

You can export hotjar reports when it comes to feedback polls, surveys and in an excel format. You can download heatmaps results as a JPG image or a CSV file.

Screen recordings can be shared as link for video sessions.

Can I create a separate heatmap for mobile version?

When you create a new heatmap, the results are segmented by mobile device and per heatmap type (Scroll, move, or click)

How to effectively use hotjar?

To get the most of your hotjar plan, you shall do the following initial setup steps and then proceed to dedicate some time for analysis.

1 Create a heatmap for each of your most important individual pages

Let’s say you are an ecommerce online business, and you want to understand how to organize your homepage. You keep asking yourself whether you should place the bundles or the special offers below the hero slider.

By using hotjar to create a heatmap for the homepage, you can realize which section is more attractive and bring it to the top.

When it comes to the categories pages, you can get a hint as to how deep does your website traffic scroll down, and learn to palce your most profitable items within that scroll depth.

2 Create a survey form to uncover any underlying problems in the checkout step

I might have mentioned this point above, but I haven’t insisted on its importance enough. Creating a survey to shed the light on uncovered problems can result in duplicating the amount of completed checkouts.

Those problems are costing you money the more you leave them unsolved.

3 Create a feedback poll for each language of your website

Feedback polls shall tell you the score of your website’s friendliness specifally after applying a certain amend. The higher the score the better your website performs.

When you have a specific feedback form for each language, you will be sure receive invoming feedback from non-English speakers.

4 Filter sessions by landing page and geographical location

When reviewing hotjar screen recordings, I recommend that you filter the sessions based on landing page that you wish to review. That way you can track sessions coming from a specific campaign that you established.

If you suspect users behavior having a trouble with a certain device’s experience, then filter with sessions using that device type.

When targeting clients in multiple georgaphical locations with your marketing effots, start filtering by each market and study how the different nationalities interact with your site.

The idea here is, watching recordings randomly would be too generic and too vague, and would cost you a lot of time to realize any scheme of events or problem.

What about you, have you tried hotjar yet? What do you think of the tool and how did you use it for your benefit? Share with me in the comments your opinions or inquiries and let’s think them over together.


Rafik Adel

Rafik Adel is a Digital Marketing expert who worked in several industries from Cosmetics, Mall Management all the way to Hospitality Marketing. He spent 4 years working as a Head of Digital Marketing for some of the top hotel brands including Steigenberger, Rixos, Savoy, & Pickalbatros. Rafik's extensive knowledge of Marketing strategies and Digital Analytics has brought him ahead in terms of planning and execution.

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