CrazyEgg vs. Google Analytics

(All images in this post are cut off by WordPress.  Click to see the full versions.  I suggest opening them in a new window.)

I have been using CrazyEgg for the past week or so, trying to make some usability changes to increase the conversion of my website.  I was skeptical that it was going to provide better information than Google Analytics, because Google Analytics also has a site overlay feature, and because I had been using Analytics for months and presumably was getting all or nearly all I could out of it.  The test has showed me several places where my website was broken where I thought it was working perfectly, and as a result I’m going to dig out my credit card and sign up for CrazyEgg as soon as I get done writing this post.

Here’s a comparison of two views of my website over the same interval.  The first is Google Analytics, the second is CrazyEgg.  Focus your attention, like I do, on how well this page drives people to the free trial.

Front Page As Seen By Analytics

Here is what I see when I look at this image: the website appears to be functioning well.  The most popular link on the page is the blue Download Free Trial button, which is exactly what I want.  Screenshots also appear to be pretty popular.  One concern is that folks seem to be banging on the Information tab a lot, which will take them directly to this page, so its clear they don’t quite understand the highlighted tab metaphor (not suprising given my audience).  The three links in the first paragraph of text are performing moderately well and primarily directing people to the trial, which is exactly what I want (screenshots and free information are nice to the extent people download as a result of them).

It turns out that these conclusions are faulty.  Lets see this page again, in a CrazyEgg heatmap.

Purchasing Page in CrazyEgg

What do we learn here?  Well, first, no one is banging on Information — thats just a quirk of the Urchin (Analytics) script on some browsers when people double-click to open a link instead of single click.  The download a free trial link in the first paragraph went totally ignored (not one click out of two thousand visitors!) while the screenshots and free bingo cards got much more significant attention than you would have thought from looking at Analytics.  The bright blue Download a Free Trial button performs admirably.  The screenshot in the middle performs extraordinarily well — almost 33% of visitors to the page will at least click it to see what it looks like!  This was catastrophically bad news for me when I heard it, since I know that clicking a screenshot is the quickest way to bounce a prospect, since so many of my visitors have limited web-navigation-fu.

So, here’s what using CrazyEgg to enhance my borked understanding of the Analytics numbers let me do:

a)  I installed Lightbox, and watched my bounce rate drop considerably.  Not only does it look stylish, the “click anywhere to go back to what you were doing” mechanism works very well for technically unsophisticated customers.  (More evidence of this: take a look at how many people are banging on the New button in my screenshot.  Yeah.  Believe it or not, I’ve gotten emails about that before — “The New button doesn’t work.”.)

b)  I am going to redo the first paragraph of text to deemphasize “download” and emphasize that you can “create free bingo cards” using the trial download.  I may end up burying the free bingo card link in the free resources section, since its far too effective at siphoning people off where it is right now.

c)  You can’t see it from these two photos, but I also did tests of my purchasing page and download page.  Whoa doctor, are there some easy and obvious things to change.

Incidentally, if you’re wondering “Why does Crazyegg report different data than Analytics?”, the answer is that CrazyEgg tracks clicks on a per-coordinate basis and Analytics tracks them on a per-URL basis.  To override that, you have to go to considerable work when coding your webpage.  This means that Analytics treats that blue button and the first paragraph “download the free trial” link as the same place, so it munges their stats together when displaying them, which makes it not-obvious that the Big Blue Button is an awesome success and that the first paragraph text link is a crushing failure.  I had previously gone to a heck of a lot of work when I redid my purchasing page to make sure that every link was hooked up correctly, and I ended up having so much information flowing at me in the statistical summary I could not make heads or tails out of it.  The heatmap, on the other hand, tells the story in a really efficient manner: “Customers want to ‘Pay with their credit card’ and need to be guided on to what to click on to make that happen”.

CrazyEgg Heatmap of Purchasing Page

Given that CrazyEgg is dirt cheap ($9 a month), I’d be … crazy… if I didn’t sign up for it.  All I would need to do is decrease my bounce rates anywhere in the funnel by about 1-5% and it would pay for itself.  I think I’ve already accomplished that several times over.  I’m obviously not going to stop using Analytics, because I do need the big heaping helping of stats (especially referrers and search queries) and the view on how people move through the pages as opposed to what they do at each individual page, but CrazyEgg provides an easily understandable visualization of the things I need to focus on — what my customers are focusing on, naturally.

(Edit: it took some work to make the pictures fit.)

No Responses to “CrazyEgg vs. Google Analytics”

  1. Boris Yankov April 21, 2007 at 7:28 am #

    Quite a nice post, as usual.

    What I don’t like about these analytics products is that each require you to add its own java script to the page. Using 2-3 at the time does not sound like a good idea. Why don’t they provide you with an option to import log files?

    You don’t need to do too much work if you want each link to be treated differently. Just add a parameter like this:
    http://www.mydomain.com/download/?v=1
    http://www.mydomain.com/download/?v=2

    These will be treated the same, but your Google Analytics can treat them like different links (or like the same if you want to).

  2. Scott Meade April 21, 2007 at 7:36 am #

    Plus, there is just something about the visualization – the heatmap really makes you feel like you can understand what people are doing on your site. The other piece of useful information from CrazyEgg is to see if people are clicking places that you never intended to be clickable. You don’t get that from GA. And finally, if you have any outbound links, I don’t know that GA tracks those while CrazyEgg does.

  3. baz April 21, 2007 at 8:15 am #

    We once had a help page on our site stating “under these circumstances you may see a dialogue box like this {screenshot} – this is because of X and all you need to do click ‘OK” A day later we had a call from a customer saying “I have been clicking OK for 5 minutes and it’s not going away” – turns out he was clicking the screenshot …

  4. Patrick April 21, 2007 at 3:29 pm #

    You can get GA to track clicks on outbound links but you have to tag them all with a virtual URL in the onClick method of the link. This is what I used to do to work on the purchasing page, which had many outbound links to e-junkie (prior to switching to the Fat Free Cart, anyhow).

  5. Scott Meade April 21, 2007 at 3:40 pm #

    Thanks for the virtual link tip. I was sending to a url that simply re-directed to the intended outbound link and then tracking how many hit that url. Duh. It seems like GA would develop their own click tracking feature?

  6. Patrick April 21, 2007 at 3:53 pm #

    You can find the syntax on my purchasing page. (http://www.bingocardcreator.com/purchasing.htm) As I recall the method is called urchinTracker(“insertVirtualULRHere”) but don’t quote me on that.

  7. Siddharta April 21, 2007 at 4:23 pm #

    Measuring the actual clicks of the user seems to be the hot new thing. I recently came across RobotReplay which goes a step further and records mouse movements, clicks, scrolls and keypresses and then allows you to play back what the user did. Been wondering if I should try this out. It would be great for improving the usability, but I’m worried about the privacy implications.

    Seems like ClickTale and TeaLeaf also do the same thing. Hmm, to do or not to do! Choices, choices

  8. Patrick April 22, 2007 at 4:14 am #

    RobotReplay doesn’t strike me as a privacy invasion unless you have a website with sensitive content, such as a web application. Otherwise just disclose it in the privacy policy and go right ahead — your way of wandering around a website is just as public to the site owner as your way of wandering around a store is to the store owner. Plus for the site you are an anonymous datapoint rather than a face.

  9. Trevor April 22, 2007 at 2:04 pm #

    Both Google Analytics and CrazyEgg have their strengths and weaknesses.

    Google Analytics is actually more accurate at tracking how a user moves through a site, because they are tracking actual URLs. This means you can compare statistics across page redesigns and it works even with dyanmic web pages. It falls short, as you noted, when you are trying to easily determine which link on a given page to a specific URL was clicked.

    CrazyEgg has a more serious problem however. It relies on the coordinates of the click to determine where users are clicking. This only works a) if the page is completely static and b) the page renders the same across all browsers and all resolutions. If you use a fluid web design rather than a fixed width design, if the user is on a high resolution and has Large Fonts turned on, if you get people from a lot of different browsers/platforms visiting your site so the locations of links are no longer the same, if the user has adjusted the default font size, then CrazyEgg’s results will be incorrect.

    In the above examples you can see a potential problem with this in that the first paragraph in your Google Analytics screenshot has four lines, but only three lines in the CrazyEgg rendering.

    If CrazyEgg worked to enhance your web site, great. But be aware of the limitations. And, as you noted, Google Analytics has it’s own limitations and weird inconsistencies. Personally, I would use the CrazyEgg or Google Analytics overlay to identify potential problem spots, but then verify it by looking at the actual tabular statistics generated by Google Analytics, which are going to be the highest accuracy.

  10. Andy Brice April 23, 2007 at 7:53 am #

    Looks very cool – I’ll have try it. Thanks for bringing it to our attention Patrick.

  11. tijmoe April 27, 2007 at 5:08 pm #

    Patrick, it seems that the width of this post cause your right menu to be moved at the bottom of your page under IE6.

    It wil be be damage to lost sell of BCC due to that…

  12. Thomas Aylott April 27, 2007 at 9:00 pm #

    Trevor: Frankly, you’re wrong.

    I’m one of the two developers of CrazyEgg. While what you say is extremely true and pathetic of OTHER heatmap-esque apps, CrazyEgg tracks clicks very differently.

    CrazyEgg is completely immune from browser sizes, dynamic data, liquid layouts, etc…

    Test it for yourself. When you’re viewing your crazyegg reports you can resize your text and even interact with you page in the background. CrazyEgg will notice where everything moved and then redraw the heatmap. (you might have to resize your browser window a few pixels to make it register the change in forefox)

  13. Patrick April 27, 2007 at 10:00 pm #

    Thanks for the report, tijmoe. I’ll look into seeing how it can be fixed. Worse comes to worse this will scroll off the front page in the next few days.

  14. pascal July 25, 2007 at 11:28 pm #

    For the clicks heatmap you can also test the latest version of the open source web analytics software phpmyvisites http://www.phpmyvisites.us/

    It works very well for the heatmap (demo on http://www.phpmyvisites.us/phpmv2/index.php?lang=en-utf-8.php&mod=clickheat.view_clickheat&site=1&adminsite=1&date=2007-07-25&period=1&action= )

    and with this free app you control and own your data :)

  15. Zac October 30, 2007 at 4:01 am #

    I tried out RobotReplay just now and it threw a javascript error (unrecognised character). Not good.

    Pascal: The heatmap demo in PhpMyVisites is throwing a PHP error when I checked it out just now. Also not good.

    Thomas: Thanks for the clarification on CrazyEgg. Indeed, the heatmap makes sense, even when the page dimensions and font sizes are changed. It’s an impressive piece of work. (and no errors reported :-)

  16. Dan Dascalescu July 9, 2008 at 7:24 am #

    Very interesting post! I just noticed that the links to the Crazy Egg images are broken. Can you check please?

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