Google Analytics vs Hotjar – Which one should you use?

In this post, we’ll do a comparison of Google Analytics vs Hotjar.

Google Analytics is obviously the standard for web analytics for many website owners out there.

And you might be asking yourself, why would I even switch to something like Hotjar?

This is actually the wrong question to ask because these tools are quite different, but also quite complementary to each otherr—you may even find that you want to use them both!

Here’s an overview of what we’ll cover in this guide:

Using Google Analytics

Here we are inside of our Google Analytics account.

If you haven’t already, go ahead and get Google Analytics Installed using GTM.

We have the Google Analytics tracking code installed on our page and it’s gathering all this data for us.

Google Analytics

Before we start diving into this data, we should have a question in mind that we would try to answer. 

You might want to start out with something general, like how do users behave on our website? 

How do they use our website? 

Google Analytics has a few reports that we can get insights from.

So for example, if you’re under the Behavior reports, we can look into Site Content, and then the All Pages report. 

Google Analytics - All Pages reports

It shows us which pages are the most used by our users, which ones do they visit most often?

First up we have our homepage.

Homepage

You can also see our products page and other pages below the homepage.

Page that I’m interested in is the page with a high Page Value.

Page Value

Those are the pages that help convert users and naturally, for us, this is our premium product /measure-masters/.

measure-masters

We have a landing page which explains this product.

Further on how to sign up to it and then the user converts from there. 

This is a very important page for us. Let’s dig into it a little bit. 

When I click on the /measure-masters/ my data will be filtered down to this page. 

Google Analytics - Page Views

And we can click here on Navigation Summary.

Google Analytics - Navigation Summary

Navigation Summary will give you a bit of an overview where the users are coming from. For example, you can see what’s their Previous Page Path and the Next Page Path.

Google Analytics - Previous Page Path and Next Page Path

Also you can see how much traffic we got to this page and how many exits happened on this page.

Google Analytics - Entrances and Exits

For more information about GA Navigation, check out How to Improve Your Website Navigation with Google Analytics!

When to Use Hotjar?

You might be thinking that’s all great data that we have right here, but it really just shows us what is happening on the website, but not really why it is happening.

For that, we would need to have some more context to understand the behavior of the user on the website correctly. 

Google Analytics can’t really give us that data. It doesn’t have the tools, but behavioral analytics tools like Hotjar can actually show us this data quite nicely. 

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Here we see the Hotjar homepage.

Hotjar homepage

You can use Install with Google Tag Manager method. 

Installing Hotjar with GTM

For example, I have installed code manually.

Hotjar - Installing code manually

You should be entering your Hotjar dashboard.

Hotjar Dashboard

I have Hotjar installed already on my account.

Hotjar - GTM training account

Special Hotjar Features

Heatmaps

In my account here, we can see what Hotjar has available. We get access to various reports. 

It might seem quite small, but in the end they hold a lot of value. 

Let’s see what we can find out about our Measure Masters page and the users who visited.

Let’s go over the Heatmaps.

Hotjar - Heatmaps

This is the first visualization tool that they have available, where we can look at Heatmaps of our page.

We can filter based on what page we are interested in.

Hotjar - Heatmaps filter

Then we see our website overlaid with different data points that make it clear what is happening on the website.

Hotjar - Heatmaps - Click

We have Click, Move and Scroll.

Hotjar - Heatmaps - Click, Move, and Scroll

Click shows us which part of the website did users click on and in what quantity.

For example, we can see that the navigation is used quite a bit. 

Hotjar - Click - Navigation

We have our call-to-action button here, which is nicely clicked.

Hotjar - Click - Call-to-action

However, note that Hotjar can’t track our videos because they are in an iframe.

Hotjar iframe

Then we also have our call-to-action button here, which makes it seem that our website is used correctly.

Move shows where the users moved their cursor across our website.

Hotjar - Heatmaps - Move

This is helpful because sometimes users use their mouse to read certain things on the website. 

Finally, Scroll shows us how far users scroll down our website page.

Hotjar -Heatmaps - Scroll

So how far do users scroll down the page?

You could be using Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics to track that data, but it isn’t as visual as we can see it here, which for landing page optimization makes it quite clear where you should place the call-to-action.

You want to put your call-to-action button above the Average fold.

Hotjar - Heatmaps - Average Fold

If you find out that this is not the case for your landing page, then you might have a really good argument to move the call-to-action around.

In the Heatmaps, you can really find some evidence if you’re suspecting your page structure is not conversion optimized.

If you find anything that’s out of balance, then it’s a great argument to show to your client to change something here.

For us, it seems to be working and let’s dig deeper into the other tools that we have available.

The users actually have different pathways to that page which might also influence how they use it.

Live Recordings

We can look at these pathways by looking at Recordings.

Hotjar - Recordings

Recordings are videos of your user going through your website. 

You can see the exact path that he texts through the website or the clicks, the scrolls and whatever he’s seeing on the screen.

It works on both mobile and desktop devices, and this can yield really great information, because you can view your website from your visitors perspective.

That can help you understand the experience that the user goes through and how he interacts with the website. 

Also if there are any blockers that prevent him from moving through your desired funnel.

Hotjar has the ability to let a Segment right here.

Hotjar - User Segments

Hotjar also has a great filter functionality.

Hotjar - Recordings - Add filter

If you’re looking at a specific page that the user visited, click Visited URL.

Hotjar - Visited URL filter

There are also some Technology filters.

Hotjar - Technology filters

Then also Behavior filters like Rage Click or U-Turn.

Hotjar - Behavior filters

All of these can be quite insightful to watch.

I’m interested in our Measure Masters page. 

So I will click the Visited URL, put in measure-masters and click Apply.

Hotjar - Search by Visited URL

And then you have your recordings here available and you can start watching a video. 

I have one recording already favorited here. Let’s take a look at it.

Hotjar - User recording - mouse movements

You can see how the user is going through our website. You can see his mouse movements.

Then he goes over to our landing page scrolls a little bit down and then reads this text with his mouse pointer.

Hotjar - User recording - user reading text with his mouse

Obviously, it’s pretty important to get that text right.

And then on the third element, the user leaves the website.

Hotjar - User recording - user leaving the website

So that might be something we want to be making others aware of.

You can at any point Share a recording to the parties involved or to your stakeholders.

Hotjar - User recordings - Share

We can also go ahead and any time, stop the recording at the point where we see that our funnel is failing and input a comment.

Hotjar - User recordings - Comment

Later on that can help us to identify our recordings and find the evidence that we are looking for to form a proper hypothesis. 

You can also input Tags to your recordings. 

Hotjar - User recordings - Tags

With Tags you can batch them up and look at them all together.

This player also has the added functionality that you can toggle the recording speed.

Hotjar - User recordings - recording speed

So you can go through many recordings in rapid succession.

You’ll be able to see any kind of patterns in many of these different recordings. 

You can see how recordings can be super valuable because we get an over the shoulder view of the users going through our website. 

So now we have a pretty good understanding by looking at Heatmaps then also at our Recordings, what is happening on the website, but that’s always an outside view and we form our own opinion.

Surveys

To gather even more conclusive evidence. 

Why not just ask the user about his experience and that’s what we can do with the Surveys feature.

Hotjar - Surveys

So Surveys are a crucial part, I’d say in your analytics stack, because here you can actually walk up to the user and ask them a question.

That can be quite powerful when you try to get an insight and all you need to do with Hotjar to run little surveys, especially pertaining to when the user is actually on your website is to click the New Survey here.

Hotjar - New Survey

Put in a name here.

Hotjar - New Survey - Name

Then you can create a Popover survey, a Full Screen survey, or an External Link survey.

Hotjar - New Survey - Location

You want to have a little pop-up, for example, that comes up like a toast widget here and you can ask any question you want.

Hotjar - Survey preview

And which question do you actually ask? 

Hotjar has some really cool suggestions here in the Question Bank.

Hotjar - Survey Question Bank

You can just drag and drop the certain question from the Question Bank that you want to insert in your survey.

Hotjar - Question Bank - drag and drop

And it’s now a question within our survey, and we can ask our users how they found out about us.

Moving on when you are going through this setup here, you can target specific users.

Hotjar - Targeting

You can say when it should actually show up.

Hotjar - Behavior

You can also forward your response.

Hotjar - Forward Response

And this can be powerful when you want to react to something that the user put into one of these feedback surveys.

You can forward your response to Slack or via email.

This is actually something you can also see your client in, if there are certain complaints that you want to make sure that the client actually sees. 

This makes Hotjar very actionable on the data that we can gather in the tool.

And later on, once you have it all together, you can go ahead and look at the results. 

So we ran two surveys here, one directly on our Measure Masters page, where we ask, is there anything preventing you from signing up at this point?

Hotjar - Survey - Is there anything preventing you from signing up at this point

We got various answers.

These results might give us some ideas of what needs to be changed in order to answer some of these questions and make sure that the users understand what they’re actually getting.

We also ran a survey earlier to understand our users better. 

So we had this quick question survey, where we ask, what is your measure skill level and who do you work for?

Hotjar - Survey - Quick Question

So we understand a little bit better what our users are.

You can go over to the Results here.

Hotjar - Survey Results

And we can look at a chart form.

Hotjar - Chart form - What’s your measure skill level?

So our users apparently are in the middle, we have less pro users than total beginners. 

And they work mainly as in-house marketers in a company.

Hotjar - Chart form - Who do you work for?

Then we have freelancers and agencies.

So what is the number one problem that you’re trying to solve? 

Hotjar - Tech cloud

And there’s a nice tech cloud here which shows that overwhelmingly, people need help with tracking. 

Hotjar - Tech cloud 2

Having that on our page makes it easier later on to segment our traffic and also to create new products, or offerings that we want to bring to the Measure School crowd. 

So a lot of questions that you might have asked inside of Google Analytics might be somewhere in the data but it’s hard to read. 

With a survey feature like that you can just go up to your users and actually ask them and gather evidence. 

That’s why all of these different tools really help us to know our users better, to know how they behave and get a feeling of what we might need to change on our website. 

How to Use Google Analytics & Hotjar Together

You might be asking yourself, what can I do now with everything that we have discovered in Hotjar and Google Analytics?

There are several paths to go down from here, but with all the research that you have done to this point, hopefully now you come up with a very strong hypothesis, very strong recommendations. 

What would you be changing on your website? I would get all that evidence and show it to people and actually show them visually your Heatmaps, your session Recordings that you have gathered.

So they can also understand where you’re coming from and how you would be changing the website for the better. 

If you need more data, obviously you could run an A/B test, with tools like Google Optimize, or Optimizely, but certainly don’t forget to keep measuring your results.

Google Analytics, and Hotjar integrate well with these tools and you’ll be able to follow along with what the users are doing, and if they are receiving your new website the way you wish they would.

Summary

So for the final question in conclusion, in the showdown of Google Analytics vs Hotjar, which one is better?

Well, I hope I was able to show you that it isn’t really a question of either/or, but both work well together in parallel and they have their own strengths.

So Google Analytics is the king of aggregate data and measures everything in numbers. 

But if you want to zoom in and get a qualitative data view, a tool like Hotjar should be in tandem with Google Analytics.

If you’re still not sure if this combination actually makes sense for you, I’d recommend just trying it out.

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Did you like our Google Analytics vs Hotjar analysis?

Check out our comparison of Google Analytics vs Google Tag Manager!

Are you also combining Hotjar with Google Analytics? Let us know in the comments below!

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Adrian
Adrian
1 month ago

Hello Julian, thank you very much for the comparison and the suggested tips. I, like probably many of the owners of websites, have been using Analytics. But since the GDPR I have been looking for alternatives and my Consent Management platform suggested Hotjar, as the regulations for it in Europe is easier to understand and follow up. There is still hope for Analytics, but for now I am currently making the switch and must say I am really happy to be using Hotjar.

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