How to Record Website Visitors Step-by-Step (10 Actionable Tips)

by Rob Wells

Last updated on November 27th, 2018

how-record-website-visitors-introduction

Imagine if you could record your website visitors’ actions as they swiped, scrolled, clicked, and otherwise experienced your website in real time.

Not only is that sort of technology available, but it’s highly-recommended recommended that you put software like this to good use, especially if you’re an ambitious web marketer looking to get ahead.

Otherwise referred to as web visitor session recordings or web visitor recordings, these videos are invaluable and provide a wealth of information.  

Here’s how they work.

What is Session Recording and How Does It Work?

To begin recording website visitors, you will need to select a web visitor recording platform.

Once your account is created, you’ll be given a piece of tracking code to add your website. After that, you merely tell the system to start recording.

The platform will then automatically collect data each day that it’s active and return results based on how visitors interact with your website.

These user interactions will be saved to a video file that you can play over and again.

how-record-website-visitors-session-recording

Keep in mind that these recordings come without context. That means that the results of your recordings should be analyzed carefully.

If you notice that many visitors are getting stuck on a form, you can’t know what they’re thinking and why most aren’t completing all of the form’s fields. You can make an educated guess, but you can’t know for sure.

This is just one example of the limitations of site visitor recordings, but recording tools are still incredibly useful.

Here’s why.

If you launch a new product, you can determine how popular that product is, for instance. You can also see why bottlenecks may occur in your conversion funnel.

If people get stuck on a particular page, you can see the exact point they may be bouncing. This can help you correct the error for greater page performance and conversions.

See, every web visitor has a certain goal. The individual may want information or to buy your latest product.

By recording your web visitors, you can see which pages they view, how they navigate, where they hover their mouse, which buttons they click, and lots more.

Most importantly, you can see if your visitors are achieving their goals, and why or why not.

Reasons Why You Should Record Website Visitors

By recording how your visitors interact with your website, you can identify bugs, such as faulty JavaScript or broken links.

You can see which menu items are most clicked and which are too far buried to receive any attention at all.

You can also customize your recordings. For instance, you can have the website visitor recording system only start logging user behavior when people land on a certain URL.

For instance, you can have recordings begin when visitors land on your shopping cart. That way, you can see if abandonment occurs and, potentially, why it occurs.

The bottom line is that most analytics programs tell you what decisions people are making, such as where are they clicking or bouncing.

Website visitor recordings let you know why visitors are making certain decisions. Where are they hovering and getting stuck, then bouncing?

These are elements that can’t be readily observed in traditional analytics platforms and are one reason why ambitious marketers should always invest in a web recording service.

How to Record Website Visitors Step-by-Step

Step 1: Select a Visitor Recording Software

There are quite a few platforms that allow for session recordings, including Crazy Egg.

Each offers visitor recording and session replay tools, but they also have varying advantages and disadvantages. Select the one that’s right for your needs and follow the instructions for installing the software on your website.

Step 2: Set-up the Session Recorder

Typically, the system you select will ask you to insert a simple bit of code into the backend of your website.

This is otherwise known as tracking script and will allow the platform to not only view your website visitors, but also record their behavior for further analysis.

how-record-website-visitors-step-2-set-up

Source

Step 3: Start Recording

Depending on which platform you use, the system won’t analyze every website visitor. Instead, you’ll get a nice sampling of your site visitors over a given period of time.

In the example of Crazy Egg, if you set your account to the Recordings 1500 plan and you receive 333,000 visitors in a month, the system will only record (1500/333,000= 0.0045) 4 to 5 people per 1,000 visits.

Step 4: Filter Your Website Visitor Recordings

Instead of viewing all of your visitor recordings, you can filter only the ones you might be interested in. There are many ways you can filter your results.

For instance, you may only want to view web user recordings for those using Chrome or Firefox. You may only be interested in U.S. traffic or those who visited your products pages.

Don’t forget to save your filters for future use, especially if you find yourself viewing the same filters as you attempt to figure out why your visitors are behaving the way they are.

Step 5: Mask Elements for Privacy Reasons

As you go through your recordings, you may see your visitors entering their passwords or other sensitive information. Obviously, this could get you into trouble with privacy advocates.

To prevent lawsuits or other similar hassles, many of these website visitor recording systems allow you to mask various elements, such as name, email address, and home address.

When an element is blocked, you will typically see an opaque box over any offenders in future recordings.

Step 6: Find Issues Within Your Website

Identifying your visitors’ goals should be easy enough, provided you’ve done your research and have a fully-sketched out buyer persona. When watching your visitor recordings, pay special attention to those goals and see if they’re met.

Mark down where issues occur. Are visitors hovering over an area where you might want to put a link? Are they clicking on a spot that might be ripe for a CTA button? Or are they bouncing from a particular page and always from half-way down? In the case of the latter, perhaps more robust content is in order.

These recordings of visitor actions and intent can also help you devise future A/B tests so that you’re not changing elements blindly when trying to optimize your website for higher conversions.

Step 7: Segment & Focus Your Audience

If you do notice issues where improvements can be made, such as a page that doesn’t convert when it should, start your testing from that page.

This can be done in the settings menu of the platform you’ve selected, in most cases. This allows you to focus your visitor recordings from that page and onwards. These capabilities let you focus on the decisions that matter most for more efficient website recording and testing.

Step 8: A/B Test Your Results

Hopefully, you have selected a website recording platform that also allows for seamless A/B testing. This way, you can determine where your recordings are showing discrepancies, potentially fix those discrepancies with a new and improved version, and then view recordings of visitor interactions in real-time.

For instance, let’s say that visitors landing on your product pages aren’t converting. Your CTA in the upper corner of the page hardly ever gets clicked, yet visitors continue to hover for no reason in the lower right.

Placing your call-to-action in that frequently hovered spot might just yield more purchases. That’s the beauty of visitor recording and A/B testing combined.

Start A/B testing now

Step 9: Watch Enough Visitor Interactions to Get Accurate Results

When viewing your recordings, make sure you are viewing enough to get a baseline for how your visitors are interacting.

If you only watch a few, you may be viewing an anomaly and may make a harsh design decision based on emotion or otherwise a lack of valid information.

It’s recommended that you watch a few hours of video, at least, before making decisions on your website. Your job is to get an idea of how most people use your site.

Only by viewing a healthy segment of your audience population can you get in idea of how usable – or unusable – your website happens to be, and where improvements can and should be made .

Step 10: Use Website Visitor Recordings in Conjunction with Other Testing Platforms

Website recording systems are invaluable for marketing. Yet there are other systems worthy of mention, namely heatmaps.

how-record-website-visitors-step-10-heatmaps

Using heatmaps, you can take snapshots of your website to view visitor activity like scrolls and clicks and hovers.

Just like recordings, heatmaps give you insight into visitor activity. They save time, as you don’t have to watch so many hours of video, but the information is also limited, as you you’re only viewing activity from the majority of visitors.

With recordings, you can pay attention to the minority of visitors too; information that can still be valuable when fine tuning your site.

Even if only fifty people click on the upper right, a small button placed up there wouldn’t hurt anyone, and may in fact improve conversions.

Examples

Thin Content

If you notice that visitors tend to scroll halfway down the page, that may indicate your content isn’t valuable or that it’s too short.

Try writing longer and more useful content to see if scrolling continues in future web visitor recordings.

Broken Links

The recording software will show you what your users see as they navigate your site.

When clicking a link that goes nowhere, you’ll be able to see what happens to them. This, in turn, allows you to experience just as much frustration as users might, further enticing you to find a solution.  

Errant CTAs

If visitors are hovering in the right-hand corner, chances are they’re also looking there. This would be a prime spot for your phone number if you want telephone calls or a Buy button if yours is an e-commerce site.

Clickable Images

If you notice that visitors are always clicking on images when they shouldn’t be, maybe you should follow their lead. Make the images clickable and direct visitors to relevant and converting landing pages.

This is one way visitor recordings can be used to find hidden opportunities you might not have otherwise considered.

The Best Session Recording Tool

We’ve mentioned a few website recording tools, but the best by far is Crazy Egg.

Once installed, Crazy Egg allows you to capture live interactions from your audience as snapshots or recordings.

You can see how the majority or even the smallest minority click, scroll, swipe, and otherwise interact. What’s best is that you can A/B test seamlessly, selecting any elements you want while yielding invaluable results.

Analyzing the Website Visitors Recording Results

A popular benefit of web visitor recordings is when you’re trying to convince the boss that a certain change should be made on the company’s website.

With website recordings, you can play an actual video that shows people clicking an image that’s unclickable or bouncing from a page after scrolling half-way down.

A/B Test the Results

Even if you are analyzing your site for your own benefit, Crazy Egg lets you A/B test elements live to alleviate bottlenecks and other traffic problems.

how-record-website-visitors-ab-test

Start Using Crazy Egg’s Recording Tool Free

The great news is that Crazy Egg offers a free 30-day free trial, so you don’t have to decide blindly. You simply add your website and the system does the rest.

You can even begin recording your visitors right away.

Conclusion

Whether you choose Crazy Egg or another platform for your visitor recording capabilities, follow the steps above, add the system to your website, and see your visitor interactions as they occur.

Find out why certain pages are visited more than others.

Discover where your calls-to-action should be placed to maximize your digital real estate.

Most importantly, help your web visitors achieve their goals faster and more efficiently using information they provide through their very website actions.

That’s what session recording software offers. Isn’t it time you put a tool like Crazy Egg to good use?

No Comments

DON’T MISS OUT

Get updates on new articles, webinars and other opportunities:

Rob Wells

Rob has an extensive background in UX and website design. His degree in psychology gives him a unique window into what drives and motivates people to take an action.

NO COMMENTS

Comment Policy

Please join the conversation! We like long and thoughtful communication.
Abrupt comments and gibberish will not be approved. Please, only use your real name, not your business name or keywords. We rarely allow links in your comment.
Finally, please use your favorite personal social media profile for the website field.

SPEAK YOUR MIND

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Show Me My Heatmap

We've been demo-ing @CrazyEgg this week. Quite impressed so far.

Sara MacQueen

@SaraLMacQueen

What makes people leave your website?