Crazy Egg – Seeing How Visitors Use Your Site

An Interview with Sean Work, VP of Inbound, Crazy Egg

The Home page for the Crazy Egg web site has only two sentences on it:

What’s making your visitors leave?
Find out by seeing how users click and scroll through your website

But that really sums up what the software does.  It visually shows you where visitors are clicking, scrolling, and leaving your web site.  This allows you to change and optimize the design of your web site in order to better convert your visitors for whatever goals you are aiming for.

I chatted with Sean Work of Crazy Egg about the importance of visitor and conversion optimization, the current state of awareness of existing tools, and the effect of mobile devices on user interactions


HostAdvice: Let’s start with a little bit about yourself and your background.

I started as an aerospace engineer at Boeing, working on cool things like the space shuttle and the space station. At the same time, I was running an online skateboard shop that I had started while I was in college. At that time there weren’t a lot of tools available and I learned a lot on my own.

From there I just got sucked into the online marketing industry.  I met Neil Patel and have worked with him at all but one of his companies.

HostAdvice: Is there an interesting story about how you got to meet and work for Neil Patel?

I had a roommate years back that had done some deals with Neil. We were both working on a startup concept and we figured it would make sense for me to work with Neil to gain more knowledge and experience. We ditched the startup idea and I kept working with Neil J.

HostAdvice: When I began researching for more information about the Crazy Egg product, I was surprised to see that the only explanatory information I could find on your site was a 2 ½ minute video.  It turns out, however, that if I go to your pricing page, there is a description of each of the tools in your product.  Is this on purpose? Usually it is the other way around – web sites try to excite a visitor with a lot of information about the product and only then get to the topic of pricing.

Yes, it is on purpose.  I understand that it is somewhat surprising and counter-intuitive, but we have done a lot of A/B testing.  A/B testing is always very interesting, since the result will often end up being different from what you might assume or what your intuition tells you.

HostAdvice: Crazy Egg is a set of tools to help with web site visitor optimization – correct?

Yes, they are designed to help the webmaster or web developer improve the user experience on the site and to improve the conversion rate of whatever goals they have defined.

HostAdvice: The Crazy Egg product consists of four tools.  Can you briefly describe each of them?

crazyegg tools

  1. Heatmap – General analysis, to see what areas users are clicking and to learn how to direct them to the right spots on your site.
  2. Confetti – More specific than Heatmap, it provides pinpoint analysis of where users are clicking and segments them by parameters such as referral sources or search terms.
  3. Scrollmap –Critical for analyzing mobile and tablet users. Shows how far down users scroll before leaving the page, so you can make sure to put your CTA (Call To Action) before that point.
  4. Overlay – Segments user clicks onto specific screen elements.

HostAdvice: How would you describe the current state of awareness of the need for this type of web site optimization and the available tools?

Awareness of optimization issues and using the available tools is pretty well understood in larger companies. However, in the small business market segment there are a lot of people running online businesses that aren’t really aware of them.

We often see companies that will hit a certain plateau and then either become great or just shut down altogether. We want to help them to become great companies and to show them how they can make great improvements in their conversion rates without having to do any math – all of our tools are very visual, not mathematical. They help you form a hypothesis which you can then go and test by either running an A/B test or simply testing a new design improvement.

HostAdvice: Is it generally only larger companies that are willing to invest the money and effort in this type of analysis and optimization (even if it is actually short-sighted)?

The pricing and functionality of our toolset makes it appropriate for companies of any size. The key characteristic is that they are just getting started with conversion optimization.  That includes pretty much any online business or e-commerce site.  It can be in any industry:  real estate, finance, lead generation, physical products, SaaS, etc., as long as there is a defined conversion that they are trying to achieve online.  In order to meet the needs of diverse companies of different sizes, we offer four different tiered plans, each with a free 30-day trial.

The type of web site that it is not appropriate for conversion optimization tools and efforts is a web site that is simply an online brochure without any real online conversion goals.

HostAdvice:  What are the top three (3) tips or pieces of advice that you would give to a webmaster just starting out with or just considering visitor/conversion optimization?

My top three tips for someone just starting out would be:

  1. Look at your Home page. Don’t clutter it up, because the more things there are that a user can click on, the less likely it is that you’ll get the result you really want. Go and count the different elements you can click on and you may be surprised to see just how many things are dividing the user’s attention.
  2. Don’t use image sliders. They are totally unneeded distractions.  Just remove them.
  3. Reduce image file size. This affects page load time and as a result, also SEO rankings. Try to get the file size down to about 110 KB.

HostAdvice: Who do you see as your main competitors? How do you see Crazy Egg tools as different and/or as better than theirs?

I think that our main competitors are Hotjar, Clicktale, and Lucky Orange.

Our main differentiators and advantages are that we are:

  • Very affordable
  • Simple to use
  • Able to immediately provide valuable insights

HostAdvice: How do you normally acquire new potential customers? Since you are VP of Inbound, does that mean that you wait for them to come to you?

We do a lot of blogging and email promotions which have worked very well for us.  We also get a lot of leads and new customers by word of mouth from satisfied customers. Yes, Neil is very big on inbound marketing.

HostAdvice: How many active customers do you have today?

We have been around since 2006 and have a lot of customers all around the world. Sorry, but I can’t disclose any more information than that.

HostAdvice: Can you name a few of your biggest customers?

Sure – Virgin Atlantic, Toyota, Expedia, and Yahoo.  There are some others listed on our web site as well.

crazyegg customers

HostAdvice: How do you see web site and visitor optimization evolving in the next few years?

We will continue to see an increasing emphasis on mobile.  It will be more than just requiring responsive graphic design – we will need to answer the question of how do mobile users act differently than desktop users.

For example, many people may not want to actually make purchases from their phone. So it may be a better idea to have your objective for mobile visitors to try to get them to sign up for a newsletter of deals, rather than trying to make sales, and to optimize accordingly.

HostAdvice: What are your future plans for Crazy Egg?

We are about to release very shortly a new recording feature, so that you can actually replay and watch how users interact with your web site.

Somewhat further out – we have not really finalized the time frame – we are also going to provide an A/B testing feature for people who want to advance beyond analyzing the basic data we currently provide.

HostAdvice: Crazy Egg was founded by Internet Marketing guru Neil Patel.  You also mentioned earlier that you worked with him at several of the companies that he started. What is it like working with – and for – Neil Patel? How involved is he in the company today?

Neil currently splits his time pretty evenly across his different companies.  He is very smart and creative and certainly not your typical corporate executive. He is involved in high-level issues, but leaves execution and other issues up to us.

One of the great lessons that I learned from him when I was working at Kissmetrics – and still follow to this day – is to only focus your energy on one or two things at a time. So for example, at Kissmetrics we did a lot of blogging as our main form of promotion, rather than trying to execute several marketing projects at once. Your chance of success gets reduced because the amount of energy and focus will be divided by each project.

HostAdvice: How many employees do you have today? Where are they located?

We currently have about 10 employees.  We almost all work remotely from home, even though most of us are located in California and the west coast of the US.

HostAdvice: Is there a story behind the name Crazy Egg?

We were doing web design work at the time and we owned the domain name.  We thought that is was unique and memorable so we decided to go with it.

HostAdvice: How many hours a day do you normally work?  What do you like to do when you are not working?

I generally work from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm – with some breaks in between – like taking my daughter to preschool. I also try to go surfing when I can. I call surfing  “going to the gym.”

crazyegg sean surf

HostAdvice: If you were asked to give the graduation address to the class of 2016, what would be your message to them?

I would tell them that there is only one [planet] earth and we all have to live here.  We need to think about sustainability and about people in other countries.  If we work on those global issues, a lot of our other own, internal issues will get resolved.

HostAdvice: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

I would just remind them that we try to curate the very best optimization information available in our free newsletter, so be sure to subscribe and check it out.

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