March 28th, 2018
User Tracking: Why Spying on Your Customers is Good for Them
Eric Lynch
Partner & Director of Business Development

User Tracking- Why Spying on Your Customers is Good for Them

This title may sound terrible, but I assure you it’s not. If you love customized content, getting the search results you want, seeing the things you really want to see, it’s because someone spied on you. Additionally, if you’ve enjoyed the experience on a website, it’s not an accident. Customer spying is a thing, and it’s been a thing as long as there’s been marketing.

Making customer assumptions is generally a quick way to get things wrong. If you think you know what your customers want without actually finding out, you’re letting your own bias get in the way of data. Because what you could call spying on your customers, we call collecting data. So how does it work? What methods can you use to learn what behaviors your customers take that can change your business? Let’s find out.

Heat Mapping

Heat mapping looks at the aggregate behavior on a page. It tells you what most people did when they visited. Looking at the heat map below you can see that a lot of the people clicked on “Work” and “Careers” while very few clicked on the banner call to action. Which ironically takes you to the same place as the “Work” page. This tells us that this particular call to action isn’t engaging to people, and it’s time to change it.

build create web page

Digging deeper into our Work page, we find that the clicks and hovers center around a few key brands that we’ve worked with. (The image doesn’t show but most of the clicks on that page are with other recognizable brands as well) To us this means it’s time to invest in more case studies and data to support the impact our work has had. Plainly stated, we need to give the people what they want, more information on the growth seen by brands they know.

list of clients for build create

Screen Recording

While heat mapping addresses what happens with everyone over a period of time, screen recordings tell us what individual visitors do on our website. This is useful for a number of different applications. We use it for e-commerce websites to verify user issues during a checkout process. We also use it internally to see how a contact interacts with our website. By viewing a visitor’s recording we know how much time they spent on individual pages before converting.

screen recording screenshot of build create website

We can also take a look at what are called “rage clicks” this is where a user repeatedly clicks on a non-interactive part of the website. If this action is repeated by multiple users it says to us; “hey, maybe we should make this interactive, or change how it looks so it doesn’t look interactive.”    

Marketing Software

Probably the most robust insights that we get come from our marketing automation software. It’s also where our contacts and opportunities get the most benefit. This works by feeding them information based on their own behavior. If I’m a visitor who’s interested in getting custom development for my business’ application, do I want information on SEO? Probably not, so why give it to them?

website settings

People want content that is interesting to them. But all too often businesses give out sale information or “helpful” content in a blanketed fashion. This hurts conversions, and your email delivery. Even if you do only 3 things at your business, not everyone is interested in all three. In fact, only having three makes it easier to give your visitors more of what they want.

report of build create website traffic


We live in a world that collects data on us everywhere we go. From our in-store shopping habits (did you really think your grocery store had a rewards program out of kindness?) to the information we share on social media. Every aspect of our lives is tracked, be it for marketing or other purposes.

While people often see this as an invasion of their privacy, they also like the tailored ads and messaging they get. Well, dear buyer, you can’t have one without the other. The idea of tailoring your messaging has been a marketing and advertising staple for a long time. But, with the advent of digital marketing and tracking we haven’t been able to do up until the last few years.

The cold reality is this: yes, right now there is probably a person from a company on your Facebook account gathering information on you to help them sell more. They got that information from a software that connects your email address to your social profiles. But, at the same time, you’ve shown an interest in their product or service. Wouldn’t you want to see if they’ll offer you a deal to come back and buy?

Spying on customers is a tricky matter. While we all want to have tailored ads and messaging, we don’t want our privacy invaded. Remember what I said about making customer assumptions, it’s bad for the customer, and therefore it’s bad for business. So which would you rather have? What you want, when you want it, or to go back to hit and miss marketing based on the assumptions and bad math of marketing managers? Me, I’ll give up some privacy for better ads and marketing information.