This article isn't intended to dig into optimising your conversion rate (just yet!) but rather to bring you up to speed with the user data you'll need to be tracking and the 3 Free Analytics tools you'll need to do this.
This article isn’t intended to dig into optimising your conversion rate (just yet!) but rather to bring you up to speed with the user data you’ll need to be tracking and the 3 Free Analytics tools you’ll need to do this.

All our websites have a goal – a reason for them to exist but to determine whether our sites are actually achieving their goals we can use a combination of free analytics tools to track user’s experience and behaviour.

  • Whether we’re an eCommerce website that wants visitors to buy a product.
  • A SaaS web app that wants to sign up visitors for a free trial and then convert them into paid users down the line
  • Or a news and media websites that wants visitors to click on ads or sign up for paid subscriptions.

We all want visitors and we all want them to convert from visitors into users along the way.

What is Conversion Rate Optimisation?

Depending on what your goals are, a conversion is achieved when a visitor to your website takes an action that you want them to take on page.

This could be:

  • Signing up for a newsletter
  • Creating an account with a login and password
  • Making a purchase, downloading your app etc.

Your conversion rate is represented as a percentage of the people that took action out of your total number of visitors. So if you get 1000 visitors and 100 conversions you would have a conversion rate of 10%.

The rate at which you’re able to optimise this is known as your ‘conversion rate optimisation'(CRO).

CRO involves finding why visitors aren’t converting and fixing it. But before you can optimise, you need to identify where your users are falling off and come up with a hypothesis on why this is.

This means you’ll need to study your website data, observe user behaviour and identify the problem areas in your conversion funnel.


Our Free Analytics tools

Anyway, back to collecting user data, we’re going to use 3 Free Tools that track our user experience and behaviour.

Note: There are hundreds of free/paid analytics tools online for you to choose from. Therefore choosing the “right” tool depends on your budget, your level of knowledge and the KPIs you’re tracking.

We’re going to assume that anyone reading this is a bootstrapped startup, so we’ve tried to include great value free/freemium products that will offer a wide range of functionality and tracking under a certain amount of site traffic.

The 3 tools you’re going to need are Google Analytics, Heap and Hotjar.

These all need to be used in combination to fully understand our user experience. Individually they track:

  • Google Analytics – general traffic analysis
  • Heap Analytics – behavioral analysis
  • Hotjar – in-page behavioral analysis


Tool #1 – Google Analytics

So lets get started by installing Google Analytics!

The first of our 3 free analytics tools is Google Analytics. Ideally, Google Analytics will be the first tool any new business implements to collect visitor data.

Because it’s in Googles best interests that we all understand where our website traffic comes from when it comes to running Adword campaigns, you’ll find Analytics is free, unlimited and more powerful than you would think.

However, its strengths lie in its general traffic and behaviour overview. Although Google analytics is a great general tool and it has the same functionality as other tools, such as Heap, it can be take some getting used to.

If you really want to master Analytics we suggest taking their free Analytics Academy course online.


Tool #2 – Heap

Next up is Heap.

The second of our 3 free analytics tools is HeapHeap is an ‘events’ based analytics tool, that allows us to track user events at all times.

This means Heap automatically captures every user action in our web or iOS app and lets us analyze it all retroactively.

‘Events’ are custom user interactions with content such as downloads, mobile ad clicks, add to baskets, entering emails etc.

Heaps strengths come from its intuitive design, which uses a visualiser, rather then needing to code custom events into your website. This should make Heap your event tracking tool of choice, especially if you’re only learning, due to its non-coding design and super fast setup.

Heaps Event visualiser makes it easy to define and track user events. The red box will appear over areas where an action will be deemed an event.

We could also use Google Analytics for event tracking but the process to track events is a little bit more difficult and Heap will do the job just as well.





Tool #3 – Hotjar

And finally, the most addictive analytics tool of the bunch, Hotjar

Our third free analytics tool is hotjar. WARNING: You WILL find yourself up late huddled over your computer going through Hotjars screen recordings.

It contains that perfect mix of voyeurism and user analytics.

Hotjar is an in-page user behaviour tracker which records users sessions and creates heat maps of where the majority of users page action is concentrated.

Now on its own, this data is fun to look at (breaking out Hotjar is one of my favourite analytic party tricks), but Hotjar is only valuable when its used in conjunction with Analytics & Heap.

For instance, if you want to find out where the highest number of your users fall off your funnel, you could use Heap to track the change in conversion rates, isolate the drop that worries you and then use Hotjar analytics on that specific page to get insights on user behaviour.


Installing these Free Analytics Tools & Your Next Steps

Installing these free analytics tools is fairly intuitive, you will need to have access to your sites code (or get your developer to do it) but then its just a case of copying the code into every web page you want to track before the </head>.

Once your tools are installed you’ll need to wait a week or so, so you can get some traffic and collect some data/users behaviour. After that you should be able to pinpoint the problem areas where users are dropping off in your funnel.

Your next step should be to begin tracking the metrics that are important to you, forming your hypotheses to test and eventually optimise…


Note: All these free analytics tools providers will guide you through the process of installing the tracking code on your site.

Using these tools in combination

Here’s just a quick example from our own experience to give you an idea of how these free tools would work in combination.

Aeona is a co-working space so our funnel includes an Adwords campaign, to landing page, where they could request a phone call or submit an expression of interest (EOI) in booking a tour or applying for membership (because we are usually full users can only make an EOI, then they will join a waiting list that we then work through when space opens up).

Our Heap event tracking showed us that of the total number of visitors who arrived via our Adwords campaigns to our coworking landing page, only 15% of those made an EOI (Expression of Interest) by clicking the “Apply Now” on our co-working page. Of that 15%, only around a third followed through by clicking submit and being redirected to our ‘Thank You’ page.

So thanks to Heap we know we lost around two-thirds (approx. 60%) of our EOI’s, which is a crazy amount to drop off from a simple form submission step.

Why did this happen?

This is where Hotjar comes in. We just copy and paste the code snippet into the <head> tag on the EOI form submission page and Hotjar collected feedback and recordings.

The recordings and density of the heat maps showed us that our users would fill in their information until we asked them how to contact them at which point they would bounce out.

We realised that in our forms we were only offering to contact them via mobile, rather than offering email as an alternative. Leads had already been offered the option of a phone call back on the landing page and had instead opted for an EOI so our hypothesis was that they were feeling pressured by the possibility of a phone call and therefore abandoned their EOI.

So far we had used Google Analytics to see who was coming to our page via our Adwords campaigns, then tracked where those leads dropped out of our funnel using Heap, then used Hotjar to track their in-page behaviour and form a hypothesis on why this happened.

We performed an A/B split test using Google Optimise, sending 50% of traffic to a form submission with the email field option and 50% of traffic to the original over 2 weeks. Unsurprisingly the EOI page with the email form field converted at a much higher rate (around 50%) than the original so we kept it.



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