Today on the Food Blogger Pro podcast, we’re turning up the heat (pun intended) as we talk about some tech-geek stuff with Dr. David Darmanin from HotJar.
On the last episode of the FBP podcast, we talked with Sally McKenney from the uber-popular and totally drool-worthy food blog Sally’s Baking Addiction. She described her transformation from finance associate to full-time food blogger and the road she took to get there. In a nutshell? It was a long, rough road – but so worth it. If you missed this episode, be sure to check it out here.
For this next episode, Bjork interviews the founder and CEO of HotJar, a revolutionary startup whose goal is to provide highly important website visitor information to web administrators (people like you and me). And the best part? It’s free.
Dr. David Darmanin: How Understanding Your Visitors Can Help You Build Traffic and Create an Income
If you haven’t implemented HotJar on your site yet, you most likely just haven’t heard of it yet. What Google Analytics can’t do for you (or does with way too many details), HotJar makes as simple and beautiful as you can imagine. Dr. David Darmanin, the founder and CEO of HotJar, worked for years as a professional conversion expert and as a user experience (UX) designer for websites. When you put those two skills together, you get a tool that is so easy to use your grandmother could do it, and that is so good at converting your visitors into customers or subscribers that you’ll wonder how you ever survived without it.
In this 57-minute episode, David reveals:
- The power of HotJar and what it can do for your website
- How understanding your visitors can get you more traffic and create more income from your blog
- What heat maps are and what you can learn from them (you’ll be amazed!)
- How funneling information can tell you where your visitors are dropping off before they convert
- What a feedback loop is and how you can use it to increase your conversion
- What a net promoter score is and what it means for your blog
This interview has so much important information that you’ll probably want to listen to it twice. The knowledge that Dr. David shares will definitely impact how you look at your website’s analytics.
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Bjork Ostrom: Welcome to episode number four of The Food Blogger Pro podcast.
Hello, hello my name is Bjork Ostrom. I’m really excited about today’s podcast because it focuses on the “pro” part of Food Blogger Pro. We’re going to be talking to David Darmanin, founder of Hotjar.com. In this podcast, David is going to be talking about how bloggers and website owners can use two things, feedback and analysis to quickly understand their visitors better.
We’re going to be talking about something called a feedback loop, and how important that is when you are growing your site, and how all of this information together can help you to build traffic and create an income from your blog. It’s going to be awesome. If you haven’t already, I’d encourage you to put your thinking hat on because the things we’re going to be talking about are really important concepts to understand.
I think we’re going to get a lot out of this interview. Without further ado, David, welcome to the podcast.
David Darmanin: Thanks for having me, Bjork. Great to be here.
Bjork: I’m really excited to be talking to you today, because we’re going to be focusing on something that I think that a lot of the people that are listening maybe haven’t thought about before. That’s really starting to understand their visitors, and I think a lot of us probably have some very generic form of analytics installed, but we maybe just look at it for page views, things like that. We’re going to be talking about a tool that you created called Hotjar, and how that can help us understand our visitors a little bit more.
First thing that I want to hear from you, there’s actually two things that we hear from bloggers a lot. The first is how can I get more traffic to my blog or website? The other thing that we often hear is how can I create more income from my blog? With the conversation that we’re having today, how can a tool like Hotjar that uses feedback and analysis help bloggers get more traffic, and create more income from their blog?
David: That’s a great question, because obviously the answer is the key to generating pretty much business and revenues. There’s no silver bullet answer to this as I’m sure you’re aware, but it’s still interesting to go into the principles of how to get there. I guess tools like Hotjar are great, because they allow you to understand your visitors. Like any other business, like blogging, the key of it is generating, building content that your visitors are interested in. That’s the key.
If I had to zoom out a little bit, and look at Hot Jar we have what we call a methodology. By methodology, what we mean here it’s a way of doing things. With Hotjar, our methodology is based on three key areas. We believe that in order for you to improve a site, you first need to get the big picture, understand what’s going on.
What are these three areas? These three areas pretty much make up the big picture. The first one we call it “drivers”. What is actually driving, bringing visitors to actually come to your blog? Is it something that’s written, sorry, searched for? Is it someone has referred them to your site?
Number two, “barriers”. What is actually making them leave your site? Is it something maybe was confusing, perhaps they didn’t find what they were looking for? Three, “hooks.” If your main goal is to get a subscription or revenue, what actually made the visitors that gave you or fulfill that goal, what actually was the key factor in them doing that? We believe that when you have these three pieces kind of a puzzle, drivers, barriers and hooks, you then have the big picture.
Let’s take an example of a blog. Unless you truly understand what’s actually driving your visitor to consume the content, then it’s quiet difficult to improve it. We believe that the best way to do this is to actually reach out to your visitors and ask.
We’ve put together an action plan we use here at Hotjar. We’ve based this on our service working with clients over the years and having really amazing results with the staff. It’s basically suggestions of what you should do. You can use this with Hotjar or you can use this with any other tool. But I think there’s some great tips in there and one of them, if you going to look out asking questions and talking about drivers, is the fact that you would ask your visitors on your site directly with what we call feedback post or small box.
You just ask them directly like, “What’s missing on this page? Where exactly did you first hear about my blog? What’s the main content that you’re mainly interested in?” What’s great is that when you get this answers, you can refine upon them.
If your blog is in a particular niche and you ask questions and then you get replies, based on those replies you can kind of take it, like ask question relating to that first reply. Let’s say I have a food blog and I’m blogging about, I don’t know, in particular I’m mainly focused in the vegetarian side of things.
I would ask my visitors, “What mainly are you looking for in terms of content? Why are you interested in coming here to this blog?” Perhaps, I identify that the main reason is that, they actually want video recipes. They actually want to see someone, showing me how to do it. The key is then to drill down even more, to ask, “Why would you prefer to see a video, as opposed to something written?”
Let’s say, get again an answer to that. By drilling down more and more into the kind of these answers, you uncover what we call root cause. When you have root cause, that’s something very powerful to have. Because then potentially, when you go out and do PR, or on the site when you’re trying to position your blog, you can use the exact words your visitors have used, and you can target that specific need.
Bjork: Got it. That makes sense. Let’s see that example of the vegetarian blog. One of the questions that you might ask, when somebody comes, and if I’m understanding this right, it’s essentially just a little box in the bottom of the website. Is that right?
David: That’s right.
Bjork: It pops up, and there’s a little question that comes up. Our goal is to get feedback from people. What was the example of the question that you said, or good question that we could ask?
David: A good question we could ask is either, “What’s missing on this page or blog?” Because that obviously uncovers, but that’s mainly orientators understanding why they’ve left. I would start by asking, “What’s the main content they’re at? What are they mainly interested in?”
Bjork: We have this question that pops up on our vegetarian food blog. It says, “What are the things that you are most interested in?” From that, let’s say somebody gave us feedback and they said, “We would love to see more vegetarian recipes that I can make in 30 minutes, because I’m short on time.” That gives us a little bit of direction for what, at least, this individual visitor is looking for.
Can you explain a little bit more the process that we should take once we have that answer? Because what I heard you saying was, a lot of times, that answer isn’t the one we’re looking for. We’re looking to go a little bit deeper. Is that correct?
David: Yeah. There’s this theory of root cause, which is, ideally should ask someone the question, “Why five times?” That might be a little bit extreme. [laughs] It’s an interesting concept. Someone says, “I want to have recipes, which are not longer than 30 minutes.” “Why?” “It’s because I’m very busy.” “Why are you very busy?” “Because I’m a career person,” or “I have kids.” The more you identify the root cause, you can imagine, the more you can be make your blog really targeted at this interesting kind of niches, or the visitors that you already have.
Bjork: I’m going to go back to the example that I started out with, with the first kind of things that we hear back from people, where we hear from bloggers that we want to figure out how to get more traffic, and how to create more income from our blog. That’s where we stopped with it. For our research, we felt like, “OK. We have a good idea of what our members, or what the people that are listening to this podcast what they’re looking for.”
What you’re saying is, we need to go deeper with that. We need to ask, “Why do you want more traffic, and why are you interested in creating more income?” People would probably say, “Well, because I would really love to start to create an income from my blogs, so I don’t have to work as much.” Why? Then, we might hear from people, “I would love to start to create more income from my blog, because I want to work less, because I would love to spend more time with my family.”
We can continue to drill down until we get to what you would call that root cause. The purpose of that you’re saying is that, we are then able to speak to the people that are listening to us, in a way that really resonates with what they’re looking for. Is that correct?
David: Absolutely correct.
Bjork: Great. I love that. That’s so important, because when we think of feedback, we just think of that first step. We don’t think of really drilling down to what you call that root cause, which is really incredible to think about being able to uncover that, and how valuable that is for blog or business to be able to speak to their people, in a way that really connects with them. You talked about the methodology and the three things. Would that be considered the driver for the people that are visiting the site?
David: That’s correct. Drivers are very powerful. It’s basically the motivations, which make us act, which make us go and do a Google search, or visit a blog that we’ve been to before, to find a new recipe. These are the things, which are making us take that first step. They overlap a little bit with the hooks. The hooks are the reasons why we’ve actually taken action.
The difference between the two is that, the subset of people that actually do subscribe, buy or take the action that you want them to take might have done it for a different reason. That’s why we have it as a separate element, number three, hooks. The hooks are the things that actually persuaded your visitors to act.
Bjork: Those are the things that using the example of Food Blogger Pro, people that would come and actually sign up for a membership site, or for the membership. That would be an example of a hook. Somebody that came, they took action, and they moved forward on something. An example for a food blog maybe would be somebody that comes. They’re looking for a certain recipe, and then maybe, they sign up to be part of your email list. Would that process of signing up for an email list be considered a hook?
David: Yeah. It’s more of the outcome of it. It’s what led them to sign up. What was the key motivating or persuading factor? Was it the fact that they would receive monthly recipes going forwards? Was it the fact that they’re going to get access to special content, which is not available? These are hooks, and that’s why we gave it this name. It’s a hook, because it’s what at the end of the day, is that extra step, which made me act.
Bjork: Got it. A hook is something that motivates people to take the step, not the actual step itself or the outcome.
Bjork: An example would be on Pinch of Yum, my wife’s food blog. Lindsay has an eBook that she offers to people. It’s an e-Cookbook. It’s recipes that are similar to the recipes that are on the blog. It’s formatted really nice, and it’s a PDF that they can download. That would be the hook for people that would come to the site, to take the action, which we want them to take, which is signing up for the email list. Would that be an example of a hook?
David: Yeah. Absolutely.
Bjork: OK. Great.
David: Actually, the best ways to give you an example from real life, because these always make it much easier to understand. Let’s say, I have a shop, and I’m selling drills. [laughs] The drills are the tool that you drill, basically, into any surface. A driver, for someone coming into my shop to buy, a lot of people would think that driver is that, they want to buy a drill. In reality, what is probably driving me is I’m coming to the shop to buy a hole.
That’s the root cause, so understanding that is really important. If I’m a really good salesman and have an amazing shop, I’ll understand that the visitor is coming to my shop to buy a hole. The barrier could be the fact that for example, the way that the electrical outlet connection is not compatible with what they have at home, or perhaps that, it’s lacking some documentation that the person was looking for, or the fact that the shop was close, when they ran by.
I didn’t find what’s blocking them from actually following up with that product. The hook could be a discount that I gave them, in order to close the deal. Perhaps, it was the fact that I went out of my way to be nice, and demo it to them, or maybe the fact that I gave them a free trial, or allow them to use it. It’s like, what actually close the deal at the end.
Bjork: If I were to rename each of these, or talk about them in my own understanding, the driver would be really uncovering why people are wanting to get somewhere. The barrier is uncovering what’s making it hard to achieve that, and then the hook is from your perspective as a blog or business owner, what are you doing to motivate people to take that next step towards the direction you want to move them?
That’s something that it’s a complicated concept, because we’re not used to thinking about building a blog or website with those ideas in mind. Especially for a food blog, a lot of times we’ll think, “We want to put together a recipe, something that we like.” Maybe it’s a cookie recipe that we think people will really enjoy.
What’s important is we need to go back, and we need to think through for our audience, why are people coming there? What are the things that are keeping them from achieving that thing that they’re looking to get, and then how can we use a hook to help motivate people to take a certain direction? Is there a place where you outline this information that we could include for people that’ll be available on your blog?
David: Yeah. I was just about to say that this methodology’s explained and translated into an action plan. We thought it would be much easier to say, rather than just talk about this methodology and these three steps. Rather, present nine simple steps of how you can uncover these three areas. We call it the Hotjar Action Plan. Anyone who wants this, this is available publicly for free. You just need to Google Hotjar Action Plan, basically, and you get the guide.
Bjork: Great. We’ll include that in the show note as well. We’ve talked about some pretty heady stuff to start out. What I want to do right now is, I want to take a step back, and we’re going to build the backup to that stage. We talked about really what we can do using feedback and analysis, to help improve our traffic, and help create more income from our blog. What I want to do right now, is step back a little bit. I’m going to say this. We’re out. It’s a Saturday night.
I’m at a bar with some friends, and I ran into you, and I say, “David, hey.” Maybe you have a nametag on. I don’t know how would I know your name. We’re interacting for the first time you say, “What do you do?” I say, “Well, we have a food blog.” I say, “What do you do?” You say, “I started this company called Hotjar.” Can you explain to me, knowing that I’m a beginning blogger, what Hotjar does, and why it’s important for me to use that?
David: Sure. I probably say that Hotjar pretty much allows you to see how your visitors are using your site. That’s valuable to you, because you’re probably going to be surprised about what the patterns are, and which content is engaging, and what parts are not.
Bjork: The example here that I’m going to pull up right away that I think is so cool is a heat map. We have Hotjar installed, and we’re using it with Food Blogger Pro. I’m looking right now at the “Sign Up” page for Food Blogger Pro. I’m going to view the heat map. When I look at that, I’m looking through the different places, where people are clicking. Is that right? It’s not just a mouse hover. Is it a click, or a mouse hover?
David: We offer both. Heat maps are just an aggregate of activity, so you can see 2,000 people, how they used in this case. For example, your home page. That obviously gives you a very quick instant idea of what’s actually engaging, what’s working and what’s not.
Bjork: When I’m looking at this, one of the things that surprise me right away was, we have this sentence that says, “Get full access to the video library, community form and nutrition label generator for less than a dollar a day.” There’s a really hotspots, so you can imagine like a weather map of people that are hovering over, or clicking on the words “Video.”
For us, that was really insightful, and that people are interested in learning a little bit more about the video library that we had, which is really insightful. There’s no way that I would have known that before. That’s an example of the…and one of the analysis tools in Hotjar. Is that right?
David: That’s correct.
Bjork: Can you talk a little bit more about the other analysis tools that are there?
David: Sure. There’s pretty much for main tools on the analytic side. We talked about heat maps. Heat maps, as we said, aggregates. That’s why we call them heat maps, because you pretty much can see which parts of the page are hot or not. Where the mouse is being moved, or where there’s clicks, or to where they actually scroll down.
Besides being really cool to look at, [laughs] they’re extremely insightful, because as we said, you can quickly determine if your content is engaging or not, or whether your visitors are confused. We’ve actually analyzed with our users, like a hundreds of heat maps. We’ve actually identified eight common issues that you can see in heat maps, and we’ve made those public again.
Once you do create a heat map in Hotjar, then that’s right with you, and you can compare your heat map against these eight kinds of issues and tests. That’s extremely interesting and useful, but then, we have the non-aggregate version, which is recordings. Rather than seeing all that activity in one view, you can also see how each individual visitor is using your site. This is the wild factor, when you use it, like a…
Bjork: Yeah. This would be one, like if you had a party, you could bring people around you, and say, “Watch this.” They’d go, “Wow.” [laughs]
David: [laughs] Probably, if we were out, and you ask me, “What does Hotjar do?” I just whip out why my Smartphone or iPad, and show that to you, because that’s really the impressive part. In a way it’s impressive, not just again to see, but it’s quite insightful to actually, suddenly empathize. You put yourselves literally into your visitor’s shoes, and see how they’re actually using the site.
From our end, we found this is the most useful for two things. One, to identify you act issues, usability issues, like buttons, which are stuck or steps, which are taking to load, too long to load. That’s quite powerful stuff. One kind of nice way of using this is to actually replay visitors that are taking that goal we talked about before, of what you want them to do.
If it’s a sign up or what not, because you get an idea of what the people that are doing the step you want them to do, with what they’re engaging, with what they’re doing, and then, you can improve your site to make those steps more visible, or that content more obvious.
Bjork: One of the things that I love about recordings is that, as website owners, the people that see our site every day, we use it in a certain way, or we can start to think that everybody else uses it the same way. Even if it’s something as simple as somebody searching for a recipe, instead of going to the recipe index, we can see, “Oh, that’s right.” People use search on the site, instead of just going to the index. Little things like that can help us help shape how we think about our site. The user recordings are really valuable.
Bjork: One of the questions that I had with user recordings, so obviously, this has been my experience when I tell people about user recordings, or show them. First, it’s like wow and amazement. Like, “Oh, my gosh.” You feel like the coolest guy in the room. The second thing is like, “That’s kind of crazy that you can do that.” Like, almost like a, “Is that legal question?”
What we’ve done is that, we’ve modeled our own policy, in a way that it makes it very easy for our users to actually…I wouldn’t use the word copy, but pretty much modulate on top of that, so that was bent on that, for that purpose.
David: Exactly. The main thing that you want to be doing there is just make it clear that you are using Hotjar, and explaining what Hotjar does. In reality, the main thing that’s happening in the technology is that, we’re replaying the HTML itself. We’re not recording the browser screen or anything. In a way, essentially, what you’re doing is restructuring, recompiling the session, how the visitor use the page.
Bjork: Got it.
David: There’s nothing illegal going on in any way.
Bjork: It’s replaying essentially with the mouse as a visual, the steps that people took as they’re going through. They’re interacting with the page.
David: Exactly. Then, we also allow you to even see what they’re typing as well. Obviously, that can have some privacy consequences. For the reason, there’s a very simple, like switch, where you can say, “I want to record it or not,” or you can block out certain fields. By default, we block out passwords, credit cards and what not. It makes very easy to see, if any fields are confusing, without collecting any kind of private data.
Bjork: For Food Blogger Pro, we have Hotjar setup and heat maps. We don’t have recordings yet. One of the reasons was, because we have both the user-facing side, where anybody can come and look at it, but we have the member side, and we don’t want to be recording any of that, so we have that turned off.
If we ever do decide to turn it on, it’s good to know that we can have anything that people fill out will be turned off, in terms of fields. It’s great. We have heat maps. We have recordings. All of these things are considered analysis, and then we have funnels. Can you talk a little bit about what a funnel is, and why it’s important?
David: Sure. Funnel, let’s go back to the point we made before about having a goal, and how visitors are reaching that goal. A funnel is basically a visualization of…as your visitation move closer to that goal, where are they dropping off? Let’s say that your ultimate goal is subscriptions. You noticed that on the page, just before they enter their email address, that’s where they’re dropping off the most.
This is valuable, because when it comes to funnels, you really want to be focusing and working on that biggest point of drop-off, before anywhere else. We know that it’s so important, not just what you do, but where you start, because you don’t want to be trying to make too many changes at one goal. Funnels are great, let’s say in the process of prioritization.
Then, the fourth tool is forms, which is the similar thing, but it’s focused specifically on forms, especially if you’re collecting a few fields of data. You can see if any of those particular fields are difficult to fill out or confusing, because Hotjar will tell you how much time the visitor spent on each field, whether they refilled it, and how often they refilled it, and then how many visitors are dropping off between fields. That’s quite a powerful thing to have, if you’re collecting quite a lot of information.
Bjork: A really basic example would be, if you had an email sign up, and you had first name, last name. Let’s say you included phone number, and then you had the email address. The forms would allow you to see. Like, maybe people would come in, and 90 percent of people would put their first name in, and then it would show you as they drop off, and then 80 percent did last name.
Maybe the phone number would be one of our people would really have a lot of issues with that, so then they wouldn’t fill that out, or maybe they’d fill it out incorrectly. The forms would show you, where people are either struggling, or dropping off in the form process.
Bjork: I’m going to go back up to the top of these four tools. We have heat maps, recordings, funnels and forms. Can you give an example of somebody that has used, maybe a real-life example, if you have one? Somebody that’s used a heat map, and have that they’ve learned something, and then changed something, because of what they’ve seen in a heat map.
David: Yeah. I can give an example directly from Hotjar ourselves. We were using the heat map functionality on our actual site. We noticed that a lot of our visitors were not scrolling a lot down on the page. We were a little bit confused, why they went accessing. Like, why they went looking at content much lower down. Basically, we analyzed the page again, and then we were looking at the heat map.
Then, we suddenly realized that there was one, big problem, which is, we were creating what’s called a false bottom. In a way, our visitors, they didn’t realize that there was actually more content they would scroll down to. False bottoms typically happen, when you have like a horizontal line, or a big area of white space close to what’s called the fold.
The fold is basically, the…this is a difficult one to explain in simple words. When you open a page, the browser, depending on the device you’re using, you obviously see a part of the page. The end of the browser window will show you only up to a part of that page. The fold is typically the average point, where the visitor is up to where they can see without scrolling.
What we noticed was the fold point, because harder it gives you an average fold point, was just about in this area, where we had the line and an area of white space. We redesigned the page, and then with that in place, we saw that visitors were scrolling much more down. Then, we also added a small picture on the right with an arrow down. It’s super obvious that you can scroll down.
Bjork: To encourage people to keep scrolling, and to redo the content. One of the things that I love, [laughs] that was an obvious realization for me, but I’ll surprised that and think of it earlier. The idea that the fold is, it comes from like old media, in the sense that you’ve had a newspaper that was folded over. The only thing that you could see is the part that was facing up. Like many things, we don’t know what to call stuff on the Internet, so we just…
David: We copied it. [laughs]
Bjork: We copy the idea of…like, the screen doesn’t fold anywhere, but newspaper used to. It was an old term, where if an ad in a newspaper was above the fold, it was going to be so much more valuable, because so many more people would see it. In a similar way, the things that are above the fold, I say that with quotes, “the fold” online are generally more valuable because more people are going to see those.
You can see that with a heat map, where if you install a heat map on a certain page, it’s amazing depending on how the page is designed, obviously. A lot of times, how many people dropped off, and how quickly that happens with websites. A lot of people don’t scroll down, especially, like you were saying, if they think that there’s this false…did you call that a false ending, or what was the phrase that you’ve used?
David: A false bottom.
Bjork: A false bottom, which is a great way, great example of how you can use a heat map.
David: As I’ve said, we’ve identified eight typical issues, and they’re really interesting, actually. This is one of them, the false bottom thing. We call it the depth issue or depth test.
Bjork: Could you give an example of maybe one or two other common issues that you find?
David: Sure. Another one, we call the information issue or information test. What this is, is typically, you’d see a page, where you see a lot of click and move activity in a really small area. For example this happens to us on our pricing page, and on our free plan one of the items that we were offering in the free plan there was a lot of activity around that, and then we realized that the reason was it wasn’t clear we need to give more information about that.
When you see this on the hit map activity in a small area, basically our visitors are telling you, “Listen grab that small area and just re-size it and make it much bigger and just fill it with information.” We have actually had big successes using this with client in the past. You basically look at what they are engaging with and give much more information make that the center of attention on the page and give much more in depth details about it.
Bjork: An example would be if we sign an area on our sign up page and there is a bunch of little dots around it almost like short can spray, is that what it would look like visually?
David: No, It would typically be so imagine you have an area on the right which is like a right column design for example, right and you have something small in there which like here are some tips for some issue .All the activity was in that area that means it would be literally within that very small space small area on the page. When we have that that’s what we call the information issue so it means you need to expand that much more. You can do that by there having a nice link which you click on that and it gives you a pop up or you redesign the page for that
Bjork: Essentially telling you people are interested in whatever it is that you have there.
David: Exactly and there’s not enough information about it.
Bjork: It’s people essentially trying to pull more information out of this little area and it tells you, you need to provide more and give more information to them.
David: Another example where we saw this was a site they were software subscription sites and they had small money bank currency and there was a lot of activity around it. Our suggestion to them was that, they should explain it, the conditions, how it kicks in and doing that had a big impact for them.
David: Another interesting test which is kind of not what a lot of people expect it’s the distraction test because it comes from issues of distractions. Typically this you see it when the activity is just like more of the short can style you talked about before it’s all over the place.
When you see it’s all over the place and then scrolling is not deep enough, typically we suggest you start removing stuff so that you have one core focus. I would say actually and I don’t want to kind of lose track on this but I would say a lot of blogs have this problem because they typically are missing out on this goal step we talked about.
Ideally every site should have one goal. Whether it’s to collect their email or get them to download something. There should be one goal that you optimize your site against. That’s really important unless your visitors are just coming and going and there is no point by which you can measure and improve the site.
Bjork: I think that is really important for people that are in the food related area to understand because so much of what it is trying to get people to come to your site. Maybe it’s trying to get an image that get pin to Pinterest so you get traffic and then you get added impressions.
The bottom line is not how do you get people not to just come once but how do get them to come and then take an action. I think a great first step for people that are just getting started or maybe in that first year or two of building their blogs, to think about how can you get people to come to your site and maybe look at a recipe and then sign up for your email list.
That’s one action that I think not many people are intentional about having people take, especially if you don’t have a product you are selling. You want to make sure that you can at least make an offer to people to sign up to stay connected so those one time visitors can turn into two or three or four time visitors.
David: Exactly, and it doesn’t have to be an email there are a lot of things you can…you can leverage your social platform, it can be a podcast, it can be offering them free book or some free content or just their email address but if you’re going to ask for their email you need to offer them obviously something in exchange.
What’s the value, what’s the reason of giving you my email? Understanding this is extremely powerful, if you are building a blog this is really the asset that you have. Building this, let’s call it a list irrelevant of whether it’s like a social platform email or what not. That’s really, really important.
Bjork: For us we feel like email is really important but like you said it’s important to remember there are hundreds of options on what that could be. It doesn’t have to be like you said an email it could be subscribing to a podcast or maybe it could be a live event there are a lot of different options of what that could be. Bottom line is that you want to encourage people to engage further.
The very first step is just getting people there but a lot of times we stop there. We don’t take it to the next level of trying to figure out what are we going to do to motivate people to that next step. That next step I think is really where there is a lot of potential to really grow and become a business and to become a successful blog.
We have talked about analysis, these things we can look, we can analyze ,we can try and figure out our users a little bit more but then there is this other category of feedback. You tackled it a bit about feedback is important we hit on it a little bit but I would be interested to hear kind of a little deeper dive on why feedback is important.
David: I would say Hotjar is different because connected the two, right. We the very first company to take this approach which is we believe analytic is in a way useless if you don’t understand why it’s actually happening. You know what’s being done but now let’s see why exactly it’s happening and then you can go make a change and then see if we are changing the what and then ask again the why .You go into this cycle of never ending improvement.
The feedback side of things is pretty much made of three areas. The first is the feedback poll we talked about before. This tiny box which appears on the bottom left or right and you can choose where and the color and what not. We call it a poll because you can just have like check boxes or a check box. You can have a choice or what we recommend which is the best is to have just an open ended answer because that allows you to see to not pigeon hole your visitors into a reply.
That’s extremely powerful as we said to ask questions when they land on the page, or on pages where they are commonly living. Perhaps there is a post where you got a lot of likes so you might ask them what do you really like about this post? Why is it awesome? On other posts where you don’t get maybe that much activity ask what’s missing.
It’s kind of your portal to speaking to your visitors directly and asking them questions. Our users tell us once they start using this they are super addicted because it’s like you ask a question and you are going to get an answer and you act. It’s extremely powerful.
Bjork: That goes back to the back and forth. You get feedback and then you are able to analyze how that feedback impacted the page or the site that you are working on. Is that right?
Bjork: One of the things that I think is an important concept for people that are just getting started to understand is this idea of a feedback loop. Would you consider this process of feedback loop and can you define what that is just in really generic terms and why a feedback loop is important?
David: This is definitely a feedback loop, that’s the whole idea why we created it. The concept of a feedback loop is quite simply, right. Which is for you in order to improve anything or to take something to the next level whatever it is in life, really.
Not only in life as in not only on a personal human level this applies to engineering machines anything. I don’t know even chemistry, if you want, experimentation. It’s the whole concept of making a change seemly impact, getting feedback and then acting again and seeing what’s the change of having done that.
In fact if one does read about feedback loops in general it is actually good practice to use open ended answers like I talked about before. Asking a question and leaving the kind of just a simple box where they can type what they want in there. Reason being, I can’t stress this enough you should only use like specific kind of buckets that they choose.
For example, what content are you looking for? It’s very easy to just offer options such as recipes you take or this or this or that. The problem is you might be missing out on some juicy feedback by doing that. For a feedback loop to be very effective it should be ideally open ended and should do it after every change or as often as possible
Bjork: I think that I have done decent amount of reading on feedback loops and one of the things that people talk about is how important it is to implement them because it allows you to improve faster. I think that’s another thing that a lot of us don’t think about is, for most bloggers that I talk with and I know this is true for me too we think about how can I create more content or how can I figure out what’s viral and have a post that everybody sees and interacts with.
We kind of try and do it by our own power, right. If I just think harder about what works, or maybe if I go to other peoples posts and see what’s successful there. I think that works but with the feedback loop you are able to make these incremental improvements over a long period of time which really add up.
It reminds me of one of the things that we always talk to people about, and we call it one percent infinity, and it’s this idea that you don’t have to become the best in a week, a month, or a year what you have to do is, you have to figure out ways that you can make really small improvements, and figure out a way to do that each and every day, or each and every week.
Where, instead of these swinging for the fence every time you’re swinging for singles and you’re doing small improvements. You’re getting one percent better over a long period of time forever. If you do that there’s really incredible things that can happen with that.
But I think one of the things that is difficult for most people is the issue of time. We have people that maybe are working a full time job, or a part time job. They are working on their blog, maybe they have a family that they are taking care of, they are maybe struggling just to get content out there consistently.
Now we are saying, “Hey you should also do this analysis and feedback.” For those people that are listening that maybe have just 15 minutes a day to dedicate to learning more about their users.
What should they do, what should they start with, and what should they create a system around where they can come in every 15 minutes a day, and start to use some of these analysis and feedback tools?
David: I’d say Hotjar has been built specifically for this reason, because the time is limited, resources are valuable. Even now for example, we as a company are completely web-based and what not, even we have limited time and resources, so we face this challenge as well. This is why it’s so, so important to base your changes on feedback and analysis.
So many sites waste time making changes which are not driven by what we call the voice of user, or voice of visitor. Because the risk of doing that is that you’re just making changes which are either vanity based or just random ideas.
That’s why it’s so important to, as I said, if you have a short amount of time, use funnels to identify where you’re bleeding your visitors the most. Whether it’s a particular post, or a step in the process towards a goal you have. Find the point which will have the biggest impact, we call them the arteries with the biggest blockage.
If you have a goal, if you have the sign up or what not, find out where as you push your visitors in that direction, where you’re missing out the most and work on that area first. Don’t even look at anywhere else, just focus there. Set up your polls and come in everyday to monitor what’s being said, feedback and what not.
Bjork: With all of those I think it takes a commitment upfront to get those up and running and to set those in to place. But once they are it is relatively easy to monitor those and make small adjustments along the way.
David: Exactly, and if you look at the time involved setting up the script it’s just one piece of script you put in the heads, and this is extremely straight forward in the head of the page, and then setting up polls that take seconds.
In fact, in our action plan that we’ve created, we sent these to our users via email. Is spread out over one month, and for each task we give a tiny amount of time, and most of them don’t even go over 15 minutes.
Today we sent out an email explaining ‘how to use polls to uncover why your visitors are dropping off at certain points’. We give tips about what questions to ask for example, and this task specifically takes just 15 minutes.
Bjork: I think those are all things that are…if we commit to them, going to give back more than 15 minutes and maybe creating a post toward or something like that so…
David: Absolutely, I love the fact that you mentioned that. In fact our philosophy is we believe in this kind of compounded interest that you talked about right? I think we should all use these, not only for our sites or businesses, even for ourselves personally.
The key is just to try and improve something…one person today, because when you compound that over a year that become huge.
Bjork: Significant, yap. Yeah absolutely, so let’s say that we have somebody…well and the first time I got back and said this, I think that for those that are listening and they hear something about funnels, or reaching that goal the first thing that they need to do, like we talked about before if they haven’t yet, is figuring out what is that goal?
What is your hope for the people that are visiting your site? If it’s just to get another take on your traffic mark, then that’s probably not the right answer. There are some sites that are maybe built more form that, but if you really want to take your blog to the next level. You should probably be trying to figure out where do you want to move people that are coming to your site.
Like we talked about before, there’s hundreds of different ways that you can do that, but it’s important to figure that out, so just a point on that. If you haven’t yet, for those of you that are listening, I would spend some time thinking about what that would be, where you want to direct people?
With all of these things, let’s say that we’ve gone through, we’ve implemented some of these, we are starting to get some of that data in, and we are able to do some analysis. Maybe even we’ve done some feedback, we have some polls that we are getting, and people are maybe filling out some surveys, we are getting some information back.
How do we know if it’s working, how do we know if it’s successful?
David: Great question and that’s why you need to have these goals in place, because if you don’t have anything to benchmark against, then you are in deep trouble, because you don’t know if you’re improving or not. Now we talked about having these goals.
If you don’t have a goal, one metric that we highly recommend, and this is fantastic for anyone who writes, is what we call, net promote score. We allow you to measure this using feedback polls and surveys.
Now what is net promoter score? It’s basically asking your visitors, how likely are you to recommend this blog to your friends? They vote from 0 to 10. There are a lot of studies that have shown there’s a correlation between a high vote and getting word of mouth, and what not.
If there is any piece of advice I’d give everyone hearing this today who have blog or a writing, set up a net promoter score and perhaps do this once every quarter. At least you can map out whether you’re becoming better or not in terms of generating content which can be spread. I think that’s a key thing to be measuring.
Bjork: If you have a net promote score, let’s say it’s, how likely would you be to recommend this blog in a scale of 1 to 10? Let’s say the average is…somebody well, let’s say somebody goes in and they say seven, do you follow up with another question after they respond to that, or you’re just collecting data at that point?
David: In that case at the moment we already know what all our users want us to improve on. If anything, we know at least what our net promoter score, and what we want to improve. But you’re complete right.
In fact, we are shipping out a big update just now, which allows to then ask a follow up question. If someone voted four, then you can say what should we improve? Because that obviously then becomes very, very powerful.
Bjork: Interesting, yeah and then that’s where you collect that information and you can look at maybe the people that scored six or under, and you can see the recommendations for what they’d suggest to improve?
Bjork: Great, and that’s down the line, is there an ETA and when that will be available?
David: I think that’s should go live this week, because it should be today or tomorrow. It’s a pity we have the call today. I could have said it’s available. [laughs]
Bjork: Yeah, well the podcast won’t go out for a while here so by the time that people are hearing this, then it’s probably ready.
David: It’s ready then. Yeah it is.
Bjork: David I want to say thank you so much for coming on the call today, coming on the podcast, I really appreciate it. I think these are things that are going to be really important and potentially really significant for people that are looking to grow their blog.
I know that a lot of people don’t necessarily think about these things at the start, but if you are just getting started I would say, do whatever you can to start to make a habit of some of these things. One of the things that I want to say before we leave, some people might think, “Well, why did you use Hotjar specifically to talk about some of these feedback and analysis things.”
One of the reasons, I love the tool and I’ve really enjoyed using it, not only is it a really beautiful tool, but because of how the pricing is structured. Can you talk that a little bit?
David: Sure so, the whole team at Hotjar we come from a background of being the guys who are working on their own, or juggling a job with trying to create something new. We all come from a background where we’ve tried to make things work, and we know how difficult it can be.
This area that we are building this tool in, when we talk about analytics and feedback is traditionally very expensive. We wanted to change that, we felt it was time to disrupt this market and empower designers, marketers, writers around the world to give them this knowledge, this power.
We decided to take Hotjar completely free, there are some small limitations just so we don’t go bankrupt, no I’m joking, but there are some small limitations such as the number of hit maps you create, but then you can easily delete old ones and create new ones.
Then if you want to you can also upgrade to a bigger, more powerful plan if you have the traffic and you want to accelerate your results. But anyone who has a site with any traffic, Hotjar is completely free for you. I’d say there is no excuse for you to get out there, and understand your visitors, and what kind of drives them to act.
Bjork: That was one of the reasons why not only dint I know that the knowledge that you would share would be really valuable and also a year, two years, three years from now it’d probably be a lot harder to get you on this podcast. I wanted to get it while it was hot, so to speak, pun intended.
I also really appreciated the fact that it was open. It wasn’t the kind of thing where you get in and, right away, you feel like, “Oh, I need to upgrade and I won’t be able to actually do anything without paying.”
There’s really accessible features that allow people to do things that usually you’d have to pay quite a bit for, which I really appreciate. I think our users will really appreciate, too. Many of them, just starting out, don’t have a big budget to get into this. I think it would be really helpful. Really appreciate you coming on the podcast today, David. Really appreciate the things that you share. I’m really excited to watch as Hotjar continues to grow.
David: Fantastic and thanks for having me! I just have one small note to end with. If I give any tip, it would probably be, “If you do want to boost your traffic and revenue in long term, you really, really need to think different. Try and be completely different, especially in this area, which is creating content from a culinary point of view. It’s so important to re-position yourself. Try and be different. Think about how you can stand out of the crowd. That’s one thing which is really important. Like we did, in a way. It’s good to be bold.”
Bjork: I love that. That’s awesome and a great note to end on. Appreciate it, David.
David: Fantastic. Thanks a lot for your time.
Bjork: Thanks a lot.
David: Thanks. Bye.
Bjork: Thanks. That’s a wrap for episode number four of “The Food Blogger Pro” podcast. Another quick thank you to Dr. David Darmanin, from Hotjar, for coming on and talking about some of those things that we can be doing as blogger to improve our blogs. Like I said at the beginning of this podcast, these are really the things that separate the people that are doing the hobby-level blogging and the people that are doing the pro-level blogging. I really encourage you to start to think about ways that you can implement some of those things like the feedback loop. You hear back from people, you make improvements based of the feedback you’re getting, and track how those changes perform.
If you’re interested in getting step-by-step examples of how to use Hotjar, you can check out Food Blogger Pro. We actually have a course dedicated to the tool. We walk through each of the feedback-and-analysis areas, using Screencast. We show you what it looks like to implement those. You can check that out. If you want to follow along with future podcasts that we do, you can subscribe on iTunes or wherever you listen to this podcast.
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Thanks so much for listening. We really appreciate you guys, and I mean that. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for listening and for following along with all that we are doing. I really hope that the things that you are learning, from this podcast or Food Blogger Pro, are helping you to take your blog, or your website, or your dream, whatever that is, to the next level. That’s it. Make it a great day, guys. Thanks.