Talking User Insights with Hotjar

in SEO & Website Tips. Last Updated on February 26th, 2015

Updated June 2018.
3 years ago,  were lucky enough to catch David Darmanin, CEO of Hotjar, and ask him a few questions. At marketgoo we like Hotjar because it shares our vision of democratising a service that was previously only available to large companies with deep pockets that had employees with technical knowledge.
Keep reading for some interesting thoughts on how SMBs can integrate small and big data to help and complement their SEO and Website Marketing strategies, as well as a few insights Hotjar has gathered since its launch.
To really drive growth it's extremely important to understand your visitors' point of view
                   Driving Growth
marketgoo: A lot of our readers are small business owners which have recently launched websites. Can you tell us why it’s important for them to pay attention to insights on how visitors are using and experiencing their websites, even though they’re ‘new’ and focusing on absolute traffic numbers seems to be all that matters?  
David: Driving traffic to your site or product is obviously a critical objective for any site. However if you don’t truly understand (1) what is driving visitors to your site, (2) what is making them leave and (3) what will make them come back – then it will be far more difficult to drive more traffic to your site in the future.
To really drive growth it’s extremely important to understand your visitors’ point of view. This will allow you to quickly change your site to make it more relevant, clearer and easier to use for your visitors. Eliminating these barriers will make it cheaper to acquire traffic or leverage more referrals.
marketgoo: We also seek to educate users on what makes their website ‘successful’. If you are receiving a lot of traffic, and it keeps increasing, but the amount of business being generated does not increase with it, you are evidently doing some things right, but it is not enough. You need to focus on getting people to your website, keeping them there, making sure they return and that they refer others to it as well. We’ve made our tool focus on the technical optmisation aspects of sites to get found by potential customers, but we also make them focus on the content, layout and ‘ shareability’ of their sites.  
Analysis Paralysis
                      Analysis Paralysis
marketgoo: What are the typical problems you see that Small Businesses have with their websites? How can tools like Hotjar help solve these?
David: The most common problem we see is organisations that fail to see the users’ point of view. Instead, it’s very common to see data paralysis, i.e. a lot of numbers and graphs that are not really actionable. The best real-life example I can give is – imagine you owned a brick and mortar shop. How would you go about selling more? Would you analyse the number of times a person enters your shops, touches an item and how long they stay? Or would you observe how they act and approach them with questions / ask for feedback? It’s very common to see that just because we have ‘the numbers’ we forget about the people behind the numbers.
marketgoo: Something we also observe is that many Small Business owners are fearful that because they have little technical knowledge, they either hire someone to optimise their site, and gather user insights, or don’t do anything at all. Conversely, there is also the problem that because they don’t see immediate results, they conclude that their optimisation activities haven’t worked. It is important to treat the improvement of your website as a marathon, not a sprint
Make a habit out of improving your site.
      Make a habit out of improving your site.
marketgoo: SEO and web marketing are top of mind for our users and readers; how can they make insights and user feedback part of their web marketing and SEO plan?
David: I would take it a step further. Visitor/customer analysis and feedback need to become part of the culture. It’s a way of doing things. The most successful startups and organisations build this directly into their everyday routine. We’ve actually just finished a guide that helps organizations achieve this.
marketgoo: We totally agree! Making a habit out of activities such as requesting customer feedback, analysing your users’ behaviour and continually auditing your site for technical and content issues is a must. 


Now, about Hotjar..
marketgoo: What is the most interesting/surprising insight you’ve gotten from your own user research?
David: There are too many to mention! First off we quickly discovered that our idea of a ‘typical user’ was completely different from our actual user base. We discovered this by surveying our users very early on by asking the question ‘How would you describe yourself? e.g. I’m a 32-year-old designer that loves cars and soccer’. We also identified some interesting sources of traffic by asking the question ‘Where exactly did you first hear about us?’. This is extremely revealing and is far more actionable than just analysing source types such as ‘direct’, ‘referral’…
marketgoo: What’s the most common adoption barrier* you see for a service like Hotjar? How are you tackling this?
David: So far growth has been extremely fast so we don’t have big ‘adoption’ barriers yet (or it’s too early to see them!). Once users sign up the biggest barrier is for the user to actually install the tracking code. There are many reasons for this – internal bureaucracy, technical limitations etc. For this reason, we’re looking to focus more on integrating with platforms later this year.
Update: since this interview, Hotjar has developed integrations with Optimizely, HubSpot, Segment, and Omniconvert.
* reasons users or potential users fail to ‘adopt’ a service, tool, app, etc.. 
marketgoo: Do you have any success cases? We’d love to hear them!
David: We’ve actually just kicked off an area in our community forum where users share their success stories. PrestaShop just published a really interesting story about how they used Hotjar to release their cloud offering.
Update: now Hotjar has some super high-quality testimonials you can see here.
Many thanks to David, and we hope our readers are just as convinced as we are that optimising their website (not only for search engines, but for people!) and getting to know your users is as important as ever, and it is also within your reach, now more than ever.

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