7 Tips for Tagging Products With Hotspots

Apr 18, 2014 by Arka Der Stepanian

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We've made sure that you can easily and effectively tag the products in your digital catalogs with hotspots, but how you do so remains up to you. You can choose the type of hotspot, set the size and placement of the click area, turn icons on or off, adjust the icon's position, and write your own mouse-over texts. With so many options available, it can be tricky to figure out the best way to tag your products. To help you out, we wrote this best practice guide. It contains lots of useful tips and advice, so check it out!

Tip #1: Use product hotspots to tag your products

This might seem obvious, but a lot of our customers are still using link hotspots to tag their products. So let's start off by looking at why you should go with product hotspots for tagging products in your publications.

Product hotspots are clicked 2x more than link hotspots

As we explained in our last blog post The Who, How, and When of Digital Catalog Usage, by using product hotspots, you enable your customers to receive additional product details (e.g. description, price, extra images, etc.) when they click on a product in your digital catalog.

Example of a product hotspot in Publitas.
Example of a product hotspot.

The reason why we suggest you use product hotspots instead of link hotspots is simple. With link hotspots, each click leads them away from the digital catalog to open your online store. This can be a really frustrating experience. With product hotspots this is not the case, as users can continue to browse your digital catalog and will have a more seamless experience. They can choose to go to your online store when and if they want to.

So what does the data tell us? We analyzed hotspot interaction rates in digital catalogs per device category (i.e. smartphones, tablets, desktops), and noticed that product hotspots are clicked on twice as often as link hotspots, regardless of the device category.

Hotspot interaction rates in digital catalogs per device category.

This is why we recommend to always use product hotspots when making your products clickable.

Connect your product feed with Publitas

You can probably imagine that creating product hotspots one by one is extremely time consuming. Tagging each product would require you to add product details, product images, the link to your online store and so on. That’s why we’ve made it possible to import your online store's product feed. This allows you to simply search for a product and drag it onto your publication to automatically create a product hotspot.

Creating product hotspots by dragging imported product feed information on to the publication.
Creating product hotspots by dragging imported product feed information on to the publication.

If, for whatever reason, you're not using your product feed in Publitas, we really recommend you to look into this. It may take some time to set up, but it's worth the investment.

By setting up the product feed and using product hotspots instead of links, you will:

  1. Save a lot of time
  2. Double your hotspot interaction rate

Please note that product hotspots are currently only available in our Pro and Enterprise versions. So if you're using our Basic version, feel free to reach out to us for more info about our other two versions.

Tip #2: Include the image, price, and description in the hotspot's click area

Whether you create a hotspot manually or drag and drop it from your imported product feed, the next step is to choose a size and position for the click area in your publication.

When it comes to setting the click area of a hotspot, we recommend to include the product's:

  • Image
  • Price
  • Description (optional)

Here's an example of a single product with a sensible click area:

Example of a product with a 'good' click area.
Example of a product with a 'good' click area.

As you can see in the image above, the click area of this product hotspot covers the full image of the product, as well as its price and the description below the image. It doesn't cover unnecessary white space, and it doesn't take up the space of other products.

Tip #3: Always stick to tip #2, even if hotspots need to overlap

The first example that we discussed is quite simple; the product has a square click area, and everything fits perfectly inside its hotspot without taking up space of another product. But that's not always the case, as your hotspots will sometimes need to overlap.

We'll go over a few different scenarios next, but whatever the case, we just want to emphasize that there's no need to worry about hotspots with overlapping areas. They're not 'bad' and you certainly don't have to avoid them. In short, if the situation calls for you to create overlapping hotspots, then feel free to do so.

Example of a catalog with overlapping hotspots.
Example of a catalog with overlapping hotspots.

As you can see in the example above, there are several overlapping hotspots. Unlike other catalogs, this example doesn't have a strict grid for its products. Our advice for situations like this: just stick to tip #2, even if this would lead to overlapping hotspots.

Another case where overlapping hotspots can come in handy is in a situation like this:

Example of a product hotspot in another product hotspot.
Example of a product hotspot in another product hotspot.

As you can see here, there's one hotspot that covers the entire shower set, and there's another, much smaller hotspot covering another product in the background. They are two different products, and in this way you can tag both of them, even if the click areas overlap.

How do overlapping hotspots impact the user experience?

Publitas automatically makes sure that in most situations, your customers get to see the most relevant hotspot when they click on an overlapping area. Here's how:

Situation 1: Hotspot icons are enabled

In this case, Publitas detects which hotspot icon is closest to the user's mouse cursor and displays that hotspot.

Displaying the right hotspot when icons are enabled.
Displaying the right hotspot when icons are enabled.
Situation 2: Hotspot icons are disabled

In this case, Publitas detects which hotspot center is closest to the user's mouse cursor and displays that hotspot.

Displaying the right hotspot when icons are disabled.
Displaying the right hotspot when icons are disabled.

Tip #4: Add multiple products to a hotspot

So far we've covered tagging products and dealing with overlapping click areas, but what about adding multiple products to a hotspot? When does this become relevant and how can you do it?

While there are probably more use cases for adding multiple products to one hotspot, three common situations where this becomes particularly useful are:

  1. Tagging product combinations.Think of entire outfits, outdoor furniture sets, tableware sets, and so on.
  2. Tagging product ranges.These are usually a range of items on sale or a group of products that are available in different sizes, colors, etc.
  3. Cross-selling other products.This is where you use multiple products in a hotspot to show related products, product recommendations, or to use it as a “other customers also bought” feature.

1. Tagging product combinations

This situation is probably most relevant for fashion retailers who want to create "shop-the-look" options for consumers.

Example of a spread with different outfits.
Example of a spread with different outfits.

When users click on either of these outfits, they'll get to see a nice overview with all the items that a model is wearing, as can be seen in the example below.

Multiple product view in a digital fashion magazine.
Multiple product view in a digital fashion magazine.

Clearly, this is a good use case for adding multiple products in one hotspot. You don't have to create different hotspots for each item. All you do is drag the products on to an existing hotspot, and Publitas will understand you're adding multiple products to that hotspot. This saves you a ton of time and enhances the experience for end-users.

Creating a product hotspot with multiple products by dragging your product feed data on to the publication.
Creating a product hotspot with multiple products by dragging your product feed data on to the publication.

It goes without saying that the multiple product view could be useful for any combination or set of products that go together, and not just fashion items.

Dragging a product to reorder its position.
Dragging a product to reorder its position.

Once you've added all the products you want, you can also rearrange the order in which these products are presented to your customers. This is a great way to ensure the order of the product view matches the order in which the model is wearing these items. Simply select the hotspot with multiple products, and drag and drop your products in the desired order.

2. Tagging product ranges

Another reason to combine products in one hotspot is if your publication contains a group or a range of products in a single image. Check out this example:

Example of a product range with one hotspot.
Example of a product range with one hotspot.

This is a great opportunity to combine products in one hotspot, and it's in our opinion a much better alternative than tagging each item separately. It's less work for you, there's less visual clutter, and all the information is centralized in a single hotspot.

3. Cross-selling other products

In the two previous examples we included multiple products in one hotspot, because the click area actually included these products. With a single click users can either view an entire outfit or view all available colors of the same product. Another way you could use multiple products in one hotspot is to show your customers other products they may be interested in. For instance, you could add related products or products that are often bought together.

Here's an example from one of our customers who used this clever technique for their digital catalogs:

Example of a product hotspot for cross-selling.
Example of a product hotspot for cross-selling.

As you can see here, when a user clicks on the cake plate, they'll also get to see a bowl, a mug, and a dishware set.

Tip #5: Turn on hotspot icons

Another key component of the hotspot is the icon. The hotspot icon is an indicator for any type of hotspot. In other words, it's a way of letting consumers know that there's something in the area near the icon, be it a product, link, video or a reference to another page which they can click on. Here's what hotspot icons look like:

Hotspot icon in an online magazine.
Hotspot icon in an online magazine.

Before we dive into details and technicalities, the first question we need to ask is are icons even needed, and if they are, when? Last month we wrote a blog post to answer this question, which you can read here.

If you don't want to read the full post, here's a short answer to the question:

  • If you consistently tag all the products in your digital publications, it doesn't really matter if you turn icons on or off—it's up to you (we prefer to always use icons).
  • If you only tag some of the products in your digital publications, make sure you turn your icons on.

Tip #6: Follow the 3 rules for optimal icon placement

When it comes to positioning icons, we believe there are three simple rules to make sure your icons are always positioned in a logical way that enhances the user experience.

1. Touch the edge of a product, but don't cover it up

It's important to make sure the hotspot icon and its mouse-over text are placed in a logical position without obstructing or covering important details of the product. Placing the icon in the center of the product will draw attention away from the image, so try and position the icon on the edge of the product whenever possible.

Example of correct and incorrect icon placement, respectively.
Example of correct and incorrect icon placement, respectively.

Another mistake that often confuses users is floating icons. These icons are disconnected from the product they belong to, making it look like they're just floating on the page.

Example of a floating icon. Can you guess which product this icon belongs to?
Example of a floating icon. Can you guess which product this icon belongs to?
2. Create sufficient space

It's also important to make sure that icons aren't touching or stacked on top of each other. You can do this by creating space between icons, which will avoid confusion and clarify which icon belongs to which product.

Example of icons that don't have enough space between them.
Example of icons that don't have enough space between them.

As you can see in the example above, it's not instantly clear which icon belongs to which product. This is much clearer:

Example of icons with enough space between them.
Example of icons with enough space between them.
3. Be consistent

Perhaps the most important rule for positioning your icons is consistency. It's foundational to a good user experience and also helps shoppers quickly identify which product belongs to the icon.

Consistent icon placement.
Consistent icon placement.

Here's how not to do it:

Inconsistent icon placement.
Inconsistent icon placement.

Tip #7: Write compelling mouse-over and call-to-action texts

Last but certainly not least, the mouse-over and call-to-action (C2A) texts you use for your hotspots can have a big impact on the hotspot interaction rate, and consequently your bottom line. Joanna Wiebe from Copy Hackers sums it up nicely in a post on Copyblogger:

"Visitors who don't click don't convert."

Simply put, if your mouse-over texts aren't inviting enough, visitors will be less likely to click on your products.

Example of a (default) mouse-over text, visible when hovering over a hotspot.
Example of a (default) mouse-over text, visible when hovering over a hotspot.

The same goes for the call-to-action button in your product hotspots.

Example of (default) call-to-action text, visible when clicking on a product hotspot.
Example of (default) call-to-action text, visible when clicking on a product hotspot.

"Your visitors can’t get through your checkout process without clicking at least one button," says Joanna. "And that one button — like all of your buttons — can be improved on."

Which is why you need to write compelling mouse-over and call-to-action texts. So how can you do that?

While there aren't any rules set in stone for this, there are a number guidelines you can stick to when writing these texts to improve their effectiveness. Here are a few copywriting best practices we've compiled for you:

  1. Arouse curiosity. The key here is to give your visitors just enough information to click, without giving away too much to leave them curious. You can do this by coming up with mouse-over texts that explain the what, without explaining the why or how. If you want to know more about why arousing curiosity is important, have a look here (see "4. Arousing Curiosity").
  2. Offer a benefit. In all of your copywriting, remember to ask yourself "what's in it for my customers?" Am I saving my customers money or time? Do I make them look more stylish or smell better? As the folks over at User Onboarding said in this incredible post: "People don't buy products; they buy better versions of themselves." That's so true, and there are numerous examples of companies that really understand and leverage this—and hopefully you will too.
  3. Create urgency. "People are extremely motivated to take action out of fear of missing out on an opportunity," says Greg Dineo in a post about call-to-action mistakes. Another great article on urgency that's worth checking out is The Smart Way to Create a Sense of Urgency.
  4. Use verbs. How often do you read headlines or call-to-action texts riddled with adjectives? The problem with relying on adjectives alone (see #5) is that they're descriptive and don't directly call for an action. Verbs are great way to combat this (as you'll see in the examples below), so use them more often.
  5. Write in first person. There are quite a lot of examples where changing the word "your" to "my" in call-to-action buttons has led to huge boosts in conversion, so that's something you could also experiment with. Joanna Wiebe talks about this in more detail here (see "4. Write button copy in the first person").


Here are seven magic words you can include in your mouse-over and call-to-action texts to get more clicks:

Examples of mouse-over texts you could use:

  • Get the look
  • New in online store
  • Sale ends soon! Click here to buy.
  • Shop item—free shipping for a limited time.
  • Save €15 today
  • [Look/smell/feel/etc.] better

Examples of call-to-action texts you could use:

  • Take me to the online store
  • Buy now

If you're ready to give some of these examples a try, just log in to your Publitas account and go to Language & Branding. We explained how you can change the default mouse-over and call-to-action texts in an earlier post, so have a look that. It's also possible to change a hotspot's mouse-over text individually without altering the default mouse-over text that you've set in Language & Branding. You can do this by filling out the field 'Hotspot mouse-over text' in the Editor (more on that here). This way you can give different products a different mouse-over text. Pretty awesome huh?

It's important to keep in mind that everyone's situation is different. What works for someone else may not work for you. The main takeaway is to:

  1. Define what you're optimizing for (clicks, revenue, something else?)
  2. Test different mouse-over and call-to-action texts
  3. Measure and analyze the results

This way you'll learn what works for your business and how you can make the most out of your digital catalogs.

A final word

We hope this guide will help you get more out of your digital publications while offering your customers an all-round better experience. If you enjoyed this post you may also like:

As always, feel free to comment below to let us know what you think and what you'd like to read about in the next post.



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