Shopper-Tracking Tools: Your Website’s Eyes and Ears | Transform Agency

Effective eCommerce and Design

Shopper-Tracking Tools: Your Website’s Eyes and Ears


Everyone has an opinion. Everyone is an expert. After you've made large and small improvements to your site design, conversion funnel, marketing messaging, and have streamlined your usability, how can you test which of these changes made a difference? Could they have made your conversion rate worse?

To convert more visitors into paying customers, opinions play a limited role. The first step is to understand why and from where potential customers are leaving. They won't tell you. But they do leave footprints in the snow, so to speak. We call these footprints, site metrics. Here are several effective tools that will help you track your visitors behavior and help you understand where and how your site needs improvement:

Tools to Gather Site Metrics Data

To get started, you’ll need to collect data on your site’s visitors.  There are two tools available to you for free: Google Analytics and AW Stats.  Both of these can be installed quickly, they gather site metrics data in different ways, and they analyze data from different sources. Google Analytics uses click and browsing data it collects while visitors surf the web and browse your website.  

AW Stats uses data buried in log files continually gathered and produced by your web server. Here’s a quick chart giving you an idea of how the two can give you different but equally important metrics.



Google Analytics

AW Stats 

Track Users Across Sites



Where Users Came From

Hits Per Page

Hits Per Section of a Page


Number of Visitors

Bounce Rate

Analyze Web Server Logs 


Analyze Email Logs 


Analyze FTP Logs 


Browser Detection

Visitor Demographics


Geographic Location



Services Integration/API 




Data Availability

Moderate Delay


Data Visualization


Ease of Using Basic Features



Ease of Using All Features



Community Support

Great Community

Great Community


Code Provided

Manual Install*

* You can install at any time.  There are also a lot of tutorials on how to install AW Stats. 



Track where your visitors came from, and which links they clicked on, using Google Analytics.

Google Analytics software is the first step in beginning to understand your visitors.  Analytics allows you collect vital site metric data about your visitors. You can use this data to quickly identify site usability/navigation bottlenecks, poorly performing pages, top performing pages, visitor session length, typical browsing paths, visitor demographics, and referring links. 

Recommended Resources: Here's an excellent and entertaining blog to help you understand Google Analytics. 






Heat Maps: Of course, the design and layout of your website play a huge role in your site's conversion rate, session time, page views, and other critical site metrics. Google Analytics provides data on which links were clicked, but it won’t tell you where users moved their mouse, didn't click but looked, didn't look, hovered, and scrolled. That's the value of heat maps.

Heat maps give you information about where visitors actually look, mouse, and scroll. Incredible, but true. Heat maps can reveal which sections of each page visitors spend the most time on and what actions are taken, or not taken on a page. This include actions like clicking a button, or merely hovering over it, but not clicking. 

A Heat Map is similar to a weather map. it's an overlay of different colors representing "temperatures." Warmer colors represent where visitors looked, spent time, interacted, moused, and scrolled. Cooler colors mean less activity. You can literally see how far visitors scrolled down a long page. And you can see the percent of visitors who CONSIDERED clicking an important call to action, but did not. It's amazing the first time you try it out.

By viewing the colors superimposed over your site pages, you can see at a glance which pages and areas are generating the most and least interest and act on this information. In short, what's hot and what's not.

Recommendation: Install Crazy Egg on your most important pages and on any pages that Analytics indicate are underperforming and not selling.  Find out where shoppers are looking on those pages and use that as a basis for small tweaks that could have a major impart (rearrange calls to action, make "hot spots" more accessible, consider removing or relocating "cold temperature" content to streamline the overall page. Are your headlines working? Is your slideshow getting attention? Heat maps can reveal these answers. 


Criticue is a communal website review service that takes a minimal, simple, yet effective approach to live user feedback and reviews that you can depend on. The power of having feedback from a third party with no vested interest in your site is that they are naturally, by definition, “Out of the Box.”  They can catch things that you never saw or suspected was impacting visitor conversion.  It can be a color, slight layout tweeks, or that your site is unusable on Internet Explorer 8 (which has a 5.3% market share in browsers as of May 2014). 

Community Reviewing Process: Their process is very user friendly and you can start using Criticue while waiting to collect metrics data.  You start by simply submitting a URL on the Criticue homepage.  Bonus points if you have Crazy Egg and Analytics installed and ready on the pages you submit! After submitting your page, you will then be prompted to review someone else’s design.  For every website you review for another person, you will receive a review for yours.  This feature makes the entire concept of Criticue extremely fun, enticing you to help out others so that you may, in turn, be helped yourself. 

They’ve done quite a bit of work to make the reviewing process as simple as it can be.  Websites for review are presented within Criticue’s website and a bar across the top and a comment box for you to leave feedback. Basic Guidelines to follow are also strictly enforced to encourage thorough and constructive criticism, which helps to make Criticue a great resource for testing out ideas to fix problems negatively impacting your store. 



Use LivechatInc.com to let your visitors tell you what’s missing from the page!

One last tool that should be in your Shopper Tracking tookbox is LiveChat.  There are insights and feedback that you can only get directly from a customer.  This is easy for a traditional store, but with an online store, accomplishing this is much more difficult. 

Use Livechat to view visitors journey through your website in real time. This is a completely different experience from viewing a bunch of charts and graphs. You can get a real feel for which pages users are most interested in, and which they skip over. You can instatly see their geographical location, whether they've visited before, and how long they spend looking at each page.

Spend a few hours or a day "shopping in tandem" with your site visitors can help you to experience what your shoppers are experiencing in a tangible way. At any time during their session, you can announce your presence and offer assistance. And just using live chat during business hours can have a dramatically positive effect on your site's overall conversion rate. 

Summary: With Google Analytics and AW Stats collecting data for you, Crazy Egg telling you what parts of your page are the most valuable and interesting, Criticue providing you with unbiased feedback on your pages, and wrapping it all up with LiveChat to get real-time, interactive customer feedback, you should have more than enough data to stop opining about successful conversion strategies and start applying hard data to improving the effectiveness of your conversion funnel. 

Posted in Conversion Rate Improvement, Ecommerce, Usability

Back to Top