Heatmaps have been our signature product since 2005. But we’ve grown quite a bit since then, and you may be surprised to learn about the full range of website optimization tools that we offer.
Aside from heatmaps and the four other valuable reports we provide on the health of your website, we also give you visitor recordings (aka session replays) — one of the most effective ways for you to understand why visitors aren’t behaving the way you expect them to.
By the time you leave this post, I guarantee that you’ll be not only jazzed about diving right in, but also ready to make visitor recordings a part of your regular CRO and QA processes.
Benefits of Visitor Recordings
No matter how carefully you design a visitor journey and map out the exact pathways that people who reach your site should take, there’s no guarantee that this will play out in reality. You don’t know what you don’t know, and that goes doubly for website design, copy, and layout.
When you’ve been in the weeds creating a website or product, it can be hard to see the escape hatches that cause people to bounce or exit your site:
- Are you providing too many options up front? Not enough?
- Is your navigation bar too confusing?
- Has a new chat widget covered up a key CTA offer?
- Is there a glitch on your site that you weren’t even aware you had?
- Is your site truly responsive?
All of these questions, and many more, can be answered by watching visitor recordings. Here are just a few reasons why we think they’re so powerful.
1. Enables User Testing on a Massive Scale
Rather than sitting down in one-on-one sessions with tens of people, you’ll be able to see a truly random selection of your website visitors and what exactly is causing them confusion, frustration, and ultimately keeping them from converting on your business goals.
2. Useful for High Traffic and Low Traffic Sites
We think of recordings as an important part of understanding how people are experiencing your site. For those of you with high traffic sites, visitor recordings are a great way to supplement the rich click/scroll/event data in Heatmaps, Scrollmaps, and our other three reports.
With high volume comes a lot of noise — which is why we’ve created Playlists to help you focus in on different cohorts of people (most engaged, mobile, new, etc.) so you can get to the insights you need quickly.
In that case, recordings are even more valuable because you can analyze the visitors you do get in-depth to figure out how you can make their user experience more likely to end in a signup, purchase or registration.
3. Ideal for Website Redesign and Updates
You’ll be able to see in real time the factors that are causing people to convert successfully, so you know what to focus on when entering the next round of your website improvements.
4. Helps Increase Your Conversion Rate
Keep in mind, every person who exits or bounces from any of your pages is revenue lost, goals not met, and potential customers who may never come back.
Just by going to your site, they are giving you the gift of attention and showing you their interest. It is in your power to rescue them, and that starts with understanding how they journey through your pages so you can see exactly what resonates with your audience.
Pay attention to those who are paying attention to you, and you will see an increase in your conversion rate.
Why You Should Use Visitor Recordings with Snapshots
Visitor Recordings are a complement to Snapshots. Snapshots give you event-based information through five different reports: Heatmap, Scrollmap, Confetti, Overlay, and List. Each of these reports log when someone takes an action like clicking or scrolling.
The challenge is they don’t tell you how or why those actions take place. The space between those two events is left to the imagination or to intuition, and if you try and assume what’s happened, you’re corrupting the evidence of data with your own biases.
Recordings are there to fill in the gaps between those events. They take hard data (clicks, scrolls, referrals, engagement, new vs returning visitors) and fill in the gaps with real-time user behavior.
But, What If I Don’t Have The Time To Watch?
A common piece of feedback we hear about why people avoid visitor recordings is they can’t spend hours watching people navigating their site — or they have to watch too many recordings to find one of value.
To show you how to make the most of what you have, we’re sharing how our Head of Product, Neil Bhatt, uses recordings as a part of his regular CRO maintenance routine — all in 15-20 minutes a week.
1. He uses traffic or bounce rate data from Google Analytics to identify his most important pages, then spends about 10 minutes looking at 3-8 Snapshots of those pages.
2. He finds a Snapshot that shows behavior that doesn’t match what his goal is for that page, such as a key CTA being missed or odd areas of high attention in the Scrollmap.
3. He comes up with ideas about why visitors aren’t behaving the way that he expects and forms hypotheses of how to change this.
4. He then filters his Recordings based on visitors who have hit this page.
5. He watches a tight 10 minutes of videos to validate the ideas he has. He’ll add tags if he notices any patterns in the videos so he can easily refer back to pertinent Recordings.
6. He makes a list of 3 things (1 navigational, 1 design, and 1 content) and then prioritizes based on which has the highest reach or impact.
So for example, say he’s focused on our homepage conversion rates for our primary CTA.
He’s specifically looking to understand why visitors aren’t motivated to click the “Show me my Heatmap →” button and to find out what else they’re doing on the page instead.
His goal is to find out how he can get people to share their email address and convert as quickly as possible. In this instance, it’s just as valuable to see the behaviors of those who do convert as those who do not.
Looking at Snapshot Reports can provide him with hypotheses for what’s going on (are people more focused on the “Not ready to get started? Learn more” CTA? Is the blue CTA not clear enough of a color?), but heading into Recordings is what will allow him to see people’s actual movements, scrolls, clicks, and website journey.
Once he’s filtered the recordings to those that began on the Homepage, he will watch them at 1x or 1.5x speed and not skip pauses.
Here’s an example of a Recording that’s been run on a blog post:
We log pauses as anything that isn’t a click, a browser resize, and a new page view. So that means even some scrolls and other mouse movements can actually be viewed during the “pause,” making them valuable to watch.
In fact, these pause behaviors can actually tell you why people are not clicking: they might have stopped moving — in which case they might not be around — or they might be scrolling rapidly, which usually signifies that they’re confused, indecisive, or looking for something in particular that they’re not finding.
During his viewing, Neil will take notes, come up with ideas, and create one (or more) tag(s) if he notices a specific behavior being repeated across multiple recordings that might point to what’s causing people not to convert.
For instance, if he sees multiple people scrolling rapidly at a specific point in the page, he could create a tag that groups these recordings together to share with his team and to easily find them again for reference.
From there he’ll create developer tasks to fix any issues he comes across, and then begin the process again the following week.
Worried About HIPAA Compliance?
Your visitor privacy is of the utmost importance, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use a recordings product. In fact, most services (including ours) will allow you to mask input elements like password fields, birthday, or any other sensitive identifying information that would cause a breach of GDPR or HIPAA compliance.
In our Recordings Settings, you can find four different methods for masking elements.
1. Auto-Masked Fields
We will automatically hide from the following fields in recordings:
2. Custom Masking Using CSS
If you would like to be even more fine-tuned in your masking, then you can manually add elements for us not to capture:
3. Click and Pick Elements on Your Page
If you’re not a developer or you’re not sure about the name of a particular element, we actually allow you to click and choose an element to mask on your page. All you need to do is input your URL:
4. Newly Launched Full Page Masking
Finally, we just released a new full page masking feature. Now you can choose for us to either skip recording when visitors hit a specific page or to end the recording when they hit the specified page:
Interested in Giving Recordings a Try?
Watching visitor recordings could be the key puzzle piece that you’re missing about why your visitors are leaving your site. If you’ve been hesitant in the past because you felt like you had enough data at your disposal or were worried about privacy issues, then hopefully this article has helped address some of your roadblocks.
Whether you choose to follow our Head of Product Neil’s approach or develop your own, the beauty of session replays is that they can slot into any routine you care to create.
In Part 2 of this Recordings series, we cover our recommendations for how to set up visitor recordings and detail what to keep an eye out for.
Current customer? Head to your Recordings dashboard and take it for a spin.
Haven’t tried us yet? Give our 30-day free trial a go!