Optimizing email design by creating your own click heatmaps

Eyetracking heatmap, created by Amit Agarwal

The heat maps from eyetracking studies can show how users scan through your pages, showing patterns like the golden triangle and other  trends that can help you to optimize your design and curate content. Click patterns can also be useful for seeing trends on your website or emails. As you can see from this screenshot from Google Analytics “In Page Analytics“, heatmaps show where people are clicking, allowing you to then to maximize usability / ROI by adjusting your design accordingly.

Website clickthrough heatmap created through Google Analytics

You can also do the same thing for emails. Even if your email software doesn’t have the ability to create click heatmaps showing where people click on links, you can still easily make them on your own. Here’s instructions on how to create your own:

  1. Download data from email client: Download your click counts for each URL in your email, along with total delivered emails.
  2. Set up data in Excel: Set up a table in Excel that shows the percentage of viewers who clicked on each link (aka Clickthrough Rate, or CTR). When there are several spots where someone can click through to a single URL, you may want to combine the clicks for each URL if you’re trying to see what kinds of content is most interesting to your readership. If you’re more focused on where on the page people are clicking, tracking each link separately is generally best.
  3. Color code data in Excel:Using Excel’s conditional formatting, color code your CTR counts, with the highest CTR in dark green, the lowest in dark red, and all CTRs in between varying shades of yellow.
  4. Photoshop click counts: Create a screenshot of your email, and open it in Photoshop. Copy and paste each cell next to the relevant link from your email.

Happy analyzing!

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