SESSION RECORDING: WHAT IS IT AND WHY DO I NEED IT?

Part of our CRO toolkit, session recording allows us to capture and study real visits to your website

Often combined with other types of analysis, it provides fresh insight into how visitors experience your website.

Session replay can be quick and easy to set up and start providing useful insights right out of the box

When combined with traditional analytics, like Google Analytics, these recordings help analysts gain an extra level of insight into visitors’ behaviour. Combining this data with qualitative insights, we can turn the numbers into real, individual experiences give a deeper view of how users really experience websites.

What tools are there and how do I get started?

The most popular tool on the market is Hotjar, recently acquired by rival ContentSquare. It has a range of price points starting with free, so it’s a really good way to dip your toe in the water, although more advanced features and capabilities require more financial commitment. Rage Clicks and U-Turns are two interesting metrics that show where users are frustratedly clicking an element or reversing a journey. SessionCam, recently acquired by Glassbox, is another tool we use with our clients. This utilises Machine learning to devise a Customer Struggle score which can help analysts get to the insights much faster. SessionCam also provide fully serviced options. Glassbox is built with mobile and apps in mind, allowing customers to uncover areas of struggle across the full customer journey.

Other great tools include Crazy Egg, Mouseflow, Fullstory, and Microsoft’s recent free tool Clarity – the list goes on! It is really worth exploring all the options and evaluating which tool best suits your business’ needs; Plans differ regarding daily limits, prices, data retention, and other additional features.

Once you’ve selected a tool and created an account, you’ll receive a script that can be implemented directly onto your site (or via tag management). You’ll need to consider what your goals are, so you know what to keep an eye out for when diving into session replays. These can be set up quickly to begin tracking visitor interactions on your website or app straight away. Most tools will combine session recordings with heatmaps displaying click and scroll data to further augment your research and analysis.

How to get the most out of session recording tools

As soon as users visit your site, sessions will begin being collected in your tool and you can begin watching them! Just simply observing how real customers interact with your website or app will already give you a new understanding of your site’s journey.

Watching individual sessions is time-consuming, so a good place to begin is by filtering key pages/screens, such as your top landing page. As well, you can segment by device category, such as if your website has poorer conversion on mobile devices. Some tools can be integrated with analytics tools to allow you to use existing segments from Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics based on audiences you have already identified.

Some common behaviours that are revealed include how users click/tap between pages, if users click on non-clickable elements, whether they spend a long time interacting with individual elements, and if any elements are ignored by users.

Some tools come with various forms of automatic tagging too, such as Hotjar’s Rage Clicks and U-turn tags, which show up in the replay timeline, pointing out where it’s detected that a user has had a frustrating experience. Most tools will also let you add your own tags, either manually in the interface or through JavaScript triggers, so you can quickly identify points of interest and save time.

Combining recordings and heatmaps can help reveal specific areas of struggle where a website is failing customers

Once you’ve uncovered the pain points of your website or app, that’s when you can begin optimising! Some changes should be implemented straight away, while others will be suitable for A/B testing.

 

Are there privacy concerns?

It is up to the website owner to ensure that no Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is collected in these tools, but luckily they all have robust solutions to exclude PII. These usually require some development, so if you have a lot of PII on your website, you should consider this as part of the implementation and maintenance cost of session replay tools.

In Summary

Session recordings and heatmaps provide a valuable addition to your analytics toolkit. They can help inform decisions for UX design teams, developers, marketers, and conversion rate optimisation tactics too.

At Freemavens, we have set up various session recording tools across multiple clients, helping to reach deeper revelations to help our clients improve their online experiences.

If you have more questions about Session Replay tools or would like to discuss how Freemavens could help you get the best out of them, please get in touch.