Have you ever wanted to see what your site visitors see? Have you spent countless hours tweaking landing pages? You should try out a session replay tool. Learn about session playback, heat maps, and other user insights.
Boost Your Conversions
When I say that you need to know what your site visitors see, I don’t just mean what it looks like. There are many variables to consider
- Operating system
- Browser plug-ins
- Software versions
- Page load time
- Keyboard Input
- URL Path
- Exit Page
- Landing Page
- and more
As a web developer, you can do a lot to improve web experience. However, without measuring your site visitors’ actual experience, you may miss the mark. There are many tools out there that can provide you with insights into the user experience (UI).
Before we get session replays, let’s touch on general UI principles that you can use to improve your site visitors’ experience.
- Have a clear Call to Action
- Research Color Theory and what it says about your brand.
- Explain rewards and tell a story
- Make sure your site is mobile friendly
- Have customer support
- Include a search bar in the header menu interface
- Simply design – Avoid clutter
- User relevant images
- Include a blog that has useful information, not just updates about you
- Customer reviews are huge
- Include information about returns/exchange policies
Online Marketing Questions?
These tools can show you how far a user scrolls. They can illuminate where they click and even more importantly, where they don’t. Using UI measurement tools can help you answer important questions.
- What grabs people’s attention?
- Is our menu intuitive?
- What”s confusing and distracting?
- What should we consider removing, redesigning, moving? etc…
- Is our Call To Action (CTA) effective?
- Are the A/B tests we run actually working?
- Are people bailing due to long forms?
- Can we remove form elements or split test form variations?
Session replay reveals return on investment boosting insights. If you want the long story you can read about session replay on wikipedia.
Essentially, a tool that provides session replay give you the ability to view a visitor’s journey on a website or web app. Commonly these types of tools are used to improve usability and evaluate customer behavior.
Additionally, it is useful during customer service and fraud detection. To sum it up, the mouse movements, clicks, key inputs, and form interaction are the pillars of Session Replay.
By reviewing a subset of your visitors interactions you can glean how people use your site. Additionally, you can see if its people visiting your site, or bots.
If you are running paid ad campaigns you can view that subset to id click fraud.
Server or Client Side
Session playbacks can be server side or client side. The main difference is that you need control over your server to use server site session recording and specialized hardware and software.
Services such as ClickTale give you insights into how your visitors see and interact with your website.
Actually, there used to be a free trial version, however that doesn’t exist anymore. Several years ago when I tried it for free it worked well, but had some limitations:
- Didn’t allow tracking of HTTPs traffic
- Only three pages per visitor session
- No view on characters entered into fields
At the time, I was running a Google Adwords campaign to bring Beta testers onto a startup project and I found it very useful.
It helped filter out interested leads from those that probably shouldn’t have clicked on my ads in the first place.
A Heat Map is Worth a Thousand Words
Before we jump into the other solutions that exist in this space I want to tell you more about HeatMaps. If you have a high traffic website a Heat Map can be especially useful. When dealing with a very large data set a Heat Map can save the day by providing an intuitive visual representation of otherwise indecipherable data.
In other words, a human being can look at an Excel file made of thousands of rows and many columns but not sense any pattern. Sure you can slice and dice the data in excel but that’s for a different article.
By looking at a Heat Map of a particular page on your site you can learn:
- If people scroll through the page and how far most people make it down the page
- Where the largest portion of clicks happen and more importantly where they don’t
- Where your visitors eyes are going (many people synchronize where they are looking and where they direct their cursor)
- Here is a study that makes that claim
- Correleation of eye/mouse movement on web sites
- See it’s not just me.
Learn Online Marketing From ClickTale
ClickTale offers a lot of information on many topics.
- Monetizing and Conversion
- Customer Behavioral Analytics
- UX & Usability
- Testing, VoC & Analytics
- Form Optimization
Visit their Academy and check it out for yourself. They have a variety of content, like: Videos, Webinars, Case Studies, E-Books, Research, and a Blog.
ClickTale offers some powerful features.
- Session Replay
- ClickTale for Apps
- Advanced Insights
- A/B Integrations
- Integrations and more
The list of integrations they include is impressive. Additionally, it can be a great source of other companies to research. I only know a handful of these but they are all likely important, especially if you are on track to becoming an Online Marketing Guru.
Since they don’t offer a free trial anymore, that’s all I’m gonna write on ClickTale for now, but you can request a ClickTale demo to learn more. Now for competitors.
You can try session cam for free by completing their form for a session replay free trial. You just have to provide your website, role, phone number, name, and email.
I used ClickTale on a commercial project for Web-Based Financial Reporting tools. After researching I found that HeatMaps and other features are common across providers. Here are some other features provided by SessionCam.
- Alerts based on web visitors interactions
- API to connect to other solutions such as Google Analytics
- Day-to-Day assistance
- Form Analytics to show you which form fields cause difficulty
- Heatmaps to visualize scrolls and clicks.
- Conversion funnels to show the visitors path through your site
- Session replays
- As you may have expected
I know, I know, you are probably wondering how much this costs. As of April 2016 its anywhere from $50 to $500 dollars a month depending on your needs.
Visit the SessionCam website to learn more about their Enterprise-Level solution for Session Replay.
Okay, I’m going to assume you read the info for the above one. Many of these offer similar features.
Here is a quick summary.
- Scroll heatmaps
- Click heat maps
- Works with modern web apps
- Works with many different types of sites
- Dynamic DOM manipulation
- Cookies, login authentication
- Mark events and ID users
- Create a funnel and watch where users dropped of specified conversion path (funnel)
- Filter visitors by landing page and visited page
When it comes to showing off the product, I was impressed by their demo. It records your visit and plays it back to you. Try out the session replay demo by inspectlet. This demo will identify the following about you.
- IP Address
- Operating System
- Time of session start
- Screen Size
You will have a link to download the video or share the link. This is useful if you want to share with someone. It also has keyboard shortcuts for playback speed (1x , 2x, 4x, and 8x). Lastly you have the option to fast forward periods of prolonged inactivity from the user, which is feature, I hope all of the competing services have.
Once again as of April 2016, the price range for session replay by Inspectlet is as follows.
Since this one supports HTTPS on the free account, my next step is to try it out with this site.
Unlike ClickTale, this one features a free trial (14 days). Only the enterprise level offers heatmaps, form analytics, card sorting and remote unmoderated usability testing.
- Supports mobile and responsive pages
- Easy sharing with linkable recordings
- FREE Trial – Doesn’t Require Credit Card Info
Their offering for enterprises is a bit more expensive. It starts at $300 per month and that rate is based on an annual agreement.
- Form Analytics
- Feedback widget for every kind of device
- Surveys and more
Usability tools has two tiers of service and to learn more about their session replay and other services check out their website.
Updates to available options coming soon.