10 Good Reasons to Conduct an Eye Tracking Study
The first time you heard about it, eye tracking probably sounded more like science fiction than fact. The idea that you could literally see your Web site through the eyes of a typical visitor -- where their eyes go first, next and for how long -- sounded too good to be true. After all, if you really knew that, you could easily place your most important messages where they'd best be seen and acted on.
Early attempts at eye tracking had some inherent drawbacks. Special headgear was required to trace eye and head movement. Testers often inadvertently influenced the behavior of test subjects through suggestion, or by their simple presence. And generally, people want to please. They tend to behave as they think would be most appreciated -- especially when they're being paid.
Today, the latest eye tracking technology, in the hands of an experienced testing organization, can deliver once dreamed about insights into user behavior. With cameras built into the testing monitor, the cumbersome headgear is gone. Monitoring the test can be done remotely; test subjects are alone to explore a site as they normally would. Meanwhile, testing analytics now can provide near-instantaneous hard data and reports that can direct an effective redesign process.
Clearly, the technology has arrived. But when is it a good time to use it? Here are 10 applications where eye tracking can and will generate tangible results.
1. If you're considering a site redesign. You want to test your existing design, content elements and proposed new layouts prior to launch. Your new design should reflect the viewing behavior of your audience. With eye tracking you have a road map.
2. You need better site navigation. Eye tracking will tell you what visitors are seeing and clicking on during navigation. Are they going where you want them to go, doing what you want them to do? Or are they confused? Overall, eye tracking will help you identify and overcome the bottlenecks.
3. Your clickthrough rates vary greatly by the topic and/or location on your site. Marketers might get the wrong impression that their visitors are more interested in one product or topic than another, when they're not. Or that online buying behavior is greatly different than offline. It might simply be the impact of where those products or topics are positioned on the screen. Eye tracking will clarify this picture.
4. You have a new ad design and want to test the placement and inclusion of graphic and copy elements. Eye tracking will help you develop ads that perform better.
5. You have new landing pages that you want to test to discover the most effective layout, copy and call to action. Will it increase your conversion rate or will people leave and never make it to your Web site? Eye tracking can eliminate the guesswork.
6. You want to improve an e-mail campaign that is not giving you the response you want. Or you might want to test to find the best layout and presentation prior to launch. Eye tracking will deliver answers.
7. Bounce rates on certain pages are high, meaning people are reaching your Web site and going no further than the first page. Eye tracking will help you see what your visitors might be missing.
8. Shopping cart abandonment is high. It might be that visitors are not seeing the information they need to complete the sale. Eye tracking can tell you.
9. There's an overall need to increase conversions. When the user is focusing on an effective message, conversions go up.
10. You're considering a usability audit. Eye tracking can fill in some essential missing pieces.
For those who want to see more from their online marketing investment, this is only a starting place. There are many other applications for eye tracking. It can, for example, test video segments to see what the eye is and is not focusing on. Also, search engine page results -- even offline ads -- can be tested using eye tracking.
Oneupweb recently introduced a free Eye Tracking Survival Guide.
Lisa Wehr is president and CEO of Oneupweb, a Traverse City, Mich.-based integrated online marketing firm. Contact Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org.