The Rocket Blog

Crazy Egg Review: A Good Egg or a Bad One?

Crazy Egg Review: A Good Egg or a Bad One?
By Jay Peyton on Jan 22, 2014
PredatorCRO

Marketers love heat maps. They were especially en vogue last year— the rabbit in the hat of half-baked usability studies.

Heat maps probably surged in popularity because they looked vaguely futuristic—like what a Predator (the extraterrestrial kind) would see when using the Internet—and they were deployed gratuitously as something of a badge of cutting edge marketing. 

It’s fairly obvious that they litter agency blogs for no reason other than to market marketing, but everybody keeps pumping them out anyway. (Apparently on this blog, too.)

Despite my skepticism, I have to admit that Crazy Egg, one of the most popular providers of heatmaps, is not without its merits. A few months back, I pointed out some dubious claims on their website, but never actually reviewed the product. (See what happens when sales copy gets a bit too aggressive?) 

It is an occasionally illuminating tool. It’s particularly valuable for anyone trying to squeeze a few extra conversions out of landing pages. But Crazy Egg is ultimately a complementary, non-essential tool—only worth the price of admission for those who are flush with cash.

Screen Shot 20140122 At 32440 PM

Boooo Google Analytics Boooo

Pageviews continue to rule the day in web analytics—and will for the foreseeable future. Many providers are working to carve out their niche in the market by taking a contrary stance to Google Analytics' pageview-driven philosophy. Mixpanel, a relatively new analytics provider positioning itself as the anti-Google Analytics, is explicitly opposed to pageviews. Crazy Egg yelps about how much data is overlooked without click tracking, but is partially dependent on pageviews. 

I wouldn't argue with Mixpanel or Crazy Egg that their products offer something Google Analytics isn't remotely close to offering, but the whole marketing bent of standing off against Google Analytics is a little noxious. 

Event tracking, click tracking, eye tracking, etc., are not diametrically opposed to pageview-driven analytics, and any responsible analyst would ideally employ whatever is most appropriate for the situation.

(It’s worth noting that the people who fawn over heat maps and eye tracking often throw them into content where the primary metric of value is… pageviews. My guess would be they wouldn’t bother tracking the same post with a heat map.)

Setup

I set up Crazy Egg on four different websites with a variety of different goals. Set up is as simple as any tracking script—just copy and paste the script on whatever pages that need to be tracked. The dashboard, while nothing to look at, takes all of five seconds to figure out. 

Crazy Egg's Features

Crazy Egg offers four different views of click tracking: overlays, scroll maps, confetti maps, and heat maps. Google Analytics provides an overlay report, but it requires some elbow grease to distinguish between discrete links to the same page on the same page. So give a hand to Crazy Egg’s overlay for working out straight of the box. 

Rfhomeheatmap

Scroll Maps

The scroll maps don’t really offer anything that couldn’t be readily assumed—less users scroll to the bottom of the page than the area above the fold. Surprise! Nobody needs a scroll map to realize that the most important content goes above the fold. Of course any scrolling needs to be emphasized through design. 

I can see scroll maps being useful for evaluating a recently redesigned, scroll-heavy website, but redesigns are so infrequent that paying Crazy Egg’s annual fee (anywhere from $108 to $1188) for that purpose alone seems far from worth it.

Confetti Maps

I initially thought the confetti maps were entirely ridiculous, but after seeing an endorsement from Avinash Kaushik, I reconsidered them. They certainly have some use (e.g., what new users click on compared to what returning visitors click), but for the most part, the confetti maps discharge a glut of data that is too scattered (literally) to drive any actionable insight. The confetti maps require a great deal of filtering to achieve any semblance of clarity. In all fairness, if Avinash likes them, they’re probably great and I’m missing the boat.

Heat Maps

I actually found the heat maps fairly compelling once the data started rolling in. They make it much, much easier to quickly parse visitor flow, particularly compared to Google Analytics’ visitor flow report. They also provide an interesting, easily digestible alternative to event tracking. People click a lot of stuff that isn’t linked.

One issue is that the longer a heat map collects data, the less useful it is. In traditional analytics platforms, more data usually makes for a clearer picture. With Crazy Egg, the unfortunate side effect of collecting a significant amount of data is that the primary navigation becomes white hot, and the rest of the page is a smattering of barely discernible blue blips. The result is that actionable data is obscured by everything but a limited dataset—which isn’t the worst way to make a decision, but perhaps not the best way.

The Poor Man's Eye Tracking

Last, in my experience, heat maps generated via click tracking—which is how Crazy Egg generates heat maps—look nothing like heat maps generated via eye tracking, though Crazy Egg generally advertises them as being a close alternative. They might be, but generally click tracking feels like the poor man's eye tracking. It's useful because obviously marketers/researchers can't track everybody's eyeballs (for now...), but click tracking is not a 1-to-1 substitute for eye tracking in usability tests. It's a nice counterpart, though.

the homeless man's eye tracking technology

Final Judgement: A Good Enough Egg

All in all, Crazy Egg can be an illuminating tool in the right context. However, it is so rarely necessary that it does not warrant anything beyond the basic ($108/year) or standard ($228/year) subscription levels. The plus level costs roughly the same amount as an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. The value just isn’t there. My guess is Crazy Egg charges an annual fee instead of a monthly one (though they only advertise the monthly fee) because nobody actually needs an annual subscription.

 The bottom line is it’s an okay—if overhyped and expensive—tool that occasionally provides unexpected insights. The lower end plans are worth it. As much as I desperately want to hate heat maps, at the end of the day, I do like them. If you're looking for an alternative to eye tracking, give Crazy Egg your money. Just don't give them all of your money.