What is Eye-tracking: How to use Eye-tracking for Marketing

Eye-tracking means methods with which the eye movements of test persons are registered. The user experience (UX) is researched with eye-tracking. It provides information about the processing of visual information and the usability of a website or uses the software. 

Various methods are available for examining the usability of websites and software. Subjects are often asked about their experiences after completing a task. However, the UX can be determined much more reliably by eye-tracking. Because whether a button was actually discovered by the test subject is proven beyond any doubt by eye-tracking. With a landing page, in particular, it depends on the first few seconds of the call. In this short orientation phase, eye-trackers show whether the users immediately recognize the essential functions and the individual relevance of a page for the information they are looking for. The sooner this is the case, the higher the conversion is. 

Eye tracking helps to analyze weaknesses of the landing page that lead to the non-purchase. With an eye tracking analysis, answer the following questions:

  • Which elements of the website are intuitively perceived or overlooked by users?
  • How is the visitor distracted?
  • Can the information you are looking for be found quickly?

You may want to read some of the related UX and Marketing Guidelines:

  1. What is User-retention Rate?
  2. What is Conversion Funnel?
  3. What is a Mobile-first Design?
  4. What is Click Path?

Tools and Softwares for Eye-tracking

The investigation of eye movements when viewing objects was originally only used in the medical field. At that time, eye tracking was exclusively an invasive mechanical method that worked with contact lenses, today there are numerous tools for eye tracking in the form of hardware and software. An example of this is glasses for test subjects as portable eye trackers, which are offered by companies such as Tobii, for example. 

Mobile eye trackers are attached to the test subjects’ heads. There are also external eye trackers that record eye movements through devices on the screen and save them digitally. A camera recognizes the eye and registers its movements. In this way, knowledge can be gained about which elements of a website are fixed and which are completely overlooked. Eye movements can be split up into

  • Fixations (points that are fixed by the eyes, i.e. closely observed),
  • Saccades (rapid movements of the eyes)
  • and regressions (returning the gaze to a location that was previously recorded).

Fixations are periods of over 0.3 seconds in which the eye remains at one point.

Seminars and workshops on the subject of eye-tracking are very popular. The company Tobii is an international leader in the market for an eye tracker, software, and seminars. The seminars serve, for example, to familiarize companies with the handling of eye trackers. They also impart skills in the use of eye-tracking software so that examinations can also be carried out in-house.

Cartography of Eye Movements: Heat Maps

Based on the research on eye-tracking, so-called heat maps have been developed that are used internationally to control the usability of websites. Colored markers highlight certain areas of websites that are viewed relatively often. There are also gaze plots and opacity maps.

  • Heatmaps often mark elements that have been viewed for a long time in red, other areas in shades from green to yellow.
  • An opacity map is the reverse (i.e. the negative) of a heat map. It indicates the areas not considered.
  • Gaze plots make the entire course of the gaze clear and provide information about the order of the observations.

These cards show so-called areas of interest (AOIs): How many AOIs are there? What is the total duration of the fixations? At what point are the areas viewed by the user? Of particular interest for the conversion is the measure of “time to the first taxation”, which expresses how long it takes for a certain area to be viewed for the first time. The data from several subjects form representative average values. 

Conversion optimization with eye tracking

In online marketing, companies rely on placing the elements of applications in a user-friendly manner. Eye-tracking reveals weaknesses in a website that have a negative impact on the conversion. Studies on eye-tracking have developed important methods for the design of successful websites that are used internationally. A / B tests that compare the UX on two different versions of a website are particularly useful for increasing conversion, attractiveness, and usability.
These three points are important for a good conversion:

  1. The first impression is positive.
  2. The user perceives crucial information in good time.
  3. It does not overlook any essential content.

Eye-tracking research can also clear up myths and prejudices. Studies have shown that large fonts or highlighted words such as “free” or “free” hardly attract any attention. What is certain, however, is that users are generally interested in videos and images. The fact that users read from left to right also makes eye tracking clear: the left area of ​​a website is viewed by test subjects with above-average frequency. 

What is Conversion Funnel? To learn, you can read our guideline.

Usability Tests for Software and Websites

Designers and programmers use different methods to edit the look and functionality of apps and websites. The principle is that everything is based on the requirements of the people who work with the property. Today, digital means above all usability. Eye-tracking analyzes are therefore also interesting for software ergonomics. The user experience (UX) when working with a certain software provides information about problems with information search and with the use of programs. Usability tests provide answers to the following questions:

  • What elements does the user register?
  • What elements does it overlook?
  • In which order are the individual areas considered?
  • How intensely are they viewed?

The answers to these questions provide information as to whether the page or program structure is used to quickly find the information you are looking for. Studies on gaze behavior as part of the UX reveal which parts of a website or program have to be re-edited or placed if, for example, important functions are not performed or are only performed very late. 

UX Analysis Using eye-tracking and Biometric Data

The user’s gaze behavior naturally depends primarily on the individual usage goal. It is therefore important to analyze the UX against this background based on data obtained with eye trackers. Valuable information results primarily from the combination of eye-tracking and other methods for UX research. Comments from usability tests are checked using objective eye-tracker data. Both research variants allow the quantitative and qualitative analysis of results. It is already becoming apparent that eye tracking will in the future be a component of comprehensive methods that process and analyze a large number of biometric data. These include, for example, breathability, heart rate, and EEG data. 


Eye-tracking is a modern technology that helps companies understand their customers better. New methods of studying user behavior open up new possibilities for aligning digitally based applications to the needs of people. As part of neuromarketing, eye-tracking methods not only analyze visual perceptions but also provide information about the structure of decision-making processes. The investigation of the UX is being put on a completely new basis today by combining eye tracking and biometric data.

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