Simply put, eye tracking is mapping what consumers are looking at. There’s hardware that actually tracks the eye’s movements and software that analyzes the data. Small Business Trends asked Mike Bartels, senior research director at Tobii Pro Insight, to explain how and why this technology is important to small business and to supply 10 behavior secrets it uncovers.
Bartels started by walking us through the process. While there are a million different variations, he says, they all follow the same steps. First, a sample of consumers are asked to wear specialized eye tracking glasses or face a specially equipped computer.
“Then they perform whatever behavior is of interest to the company commissioning the research – shopping in a store, using a website, walking through an airport, or completing any number of other consumer behaviors,” he writes in an email. “The researchers are able to watch a live feed of each consumer’s attention in real-time and through subsequent data analysis answer a number of critical questions about their customers.”
Looking for Specifics
These researchers are looking for specifics like which ads are noticed more than others, which packages stand out on store shelves and generally what catches the consumer’s eye as they walk in a store. Sitting in front of a computer allows these experts to see what text gets the most attention on a website too.
Not surprisingly, Bartels stands behinds the technology as a great tool for small businesses.
“In my opinion, there is no better tool than eye tracking for getting inside the mind of the shopper, no matter if you have 100 customers a week or 100,000. We’ve conducted research on consumer attention in auto showrooms, at mall kiosks, in restaurants, at coffee shops, and in convenience stores. Improving the customer experience and increasing conversion is equally important for any business, big or small.”
Eye Tracking Shopper Behavior Results Revealed
So what are the 10 shopping behavior secrets that eye tracking is revealing? Bartels brings his 12 years of experience to bear and supplies a number based on Tobii Pro Insight studies.
Top Shelf Isn’t Best
The top shelf is the least visible place in the grocery store.
“Shoppers tend to angle their gaze at eye level and below, and the top shelf tends to receive little or no attention,” Bartels writes.
Aisle Length Matters
The length of the aisle makes a difference. When they are longer shoppers eyes are drawn to shelf levels 2 – 5. With shorter aisles, they concentrate more on upper and lower shelves.
The Three Feet Rule Is Important
“The first three-feet of the aisle is recommended for placement of attention-grabbing products,” Bartels says. “Most shoppers use the products in this space as a signpost for the aisle, instead of looking up to read the hanging category signage.”
Signs Need To Be Simple
Tobii Pro Insight reports that in store signs get less than 2 seconds of attention. That’s why small businesses need to focus on making them concise, straight forward and brand focused.
Signs Need To Be High In Malls
Elevated signs in malls do best during holidays and other seasons when there’s a lot of foot traffic. Standing and floor signs can get lost in the fray when there’s a lot of people walking around.
Outside Signs Should Be Near The Door
Bartels explains why this placement is important:
“That’s where people are focusing as they approach the building,” he says. “They should also be large since shoppers are often viewing them from great distance as they approach.”
Impulse Racks Work Better In Checkout Lines
Impulse purchase racks should be located near checkouts where customers need to wait in line. Self checkout files aren’t the best place for these because shoppers are more focused on checking out their own items and less likely to be looking around.
Videos Grab Attention
Not a big surprise here overall, but videos are a great way to grab a prospect’s attention on a webpage.
Visual Clues Matter
Research shows that visual clues are an important way to direct a consumer’s gaze. A puppy looking directly at a consumer will hold their attention. That same dog looking at some text on a webpage will lead the shopper to those words.
Shoppers Read The Same Way
Remember that research shows most people read from the left to right in what’s commonly called the The F pattern. Understanding how their eyes move across your text should help you to design effective landing pages.