Definition

Session recording is an instrument used by researchers to acquire qualitative insights on visitors’ website behavior and experiences. 

With session recordings, marketers and CRO people can review recordings of real-time website browsing, then gather more meaningful and accurate behavior insights.

This analytics tool will empower you to understand exactly what’s happening on your website: from scrolls to clicks, from mouse movements to more. It’s how you spot areas where people get stuck, the content isn’t engaging, or your design isn’t immersive enough. 

If you think about it, analyzing session recording is similar to rewatching your favorite movie to spot hidden meanings or Easter Eggs.  

However, in analytics you’re not looking for an inside joke, but for an insight regarding your website’s functionality and how people react to the online experience.

Understanding Session Recordings

Did you ever wish to be a fly on the wall, watching your audience interact with your content?

Well, that’s exactly how session recordings work – but in the digital sphere. 

They quietly record everything a user does as they move around your website or use your app. Recordings include where they click, what they type, where they scroll, and even how long they spend on each page.

And this is how you finally understand how people interact with your site or app in real-time.

However, it’s important to be aware of the differences between session recordings and other tools, such as heatmaps.

For example, while heatmaps give you an overall picture of what’s popular on your site, session recordings dive deep into individual user experiences.

Perhaps you’re now wondering: “isn’t it dystopian to film someone while they’re minding their own business on my website?”

Yes, your instinct was right. 

Before using session recordings, it’s crucial to get the green light from users

You’ve got to tell them you’re recording their sessions and give them the option to say no. 

Plus, you need to be extra careful with any personal info they might type in, like email addresses or passwords. 

Also, keep in mind you have to follow rules and regulations such as the GDPR in Europe or CCPA in California. 

These rules lay out the dos and don’ts regarding the data privacy of session recording – as long as you adhere to them, you’re safe. 

So no, you’re not spying on your users – they explicitly gave their consent for your recordings.

Implementing Session Recordings

Now that we can breathe again, knowing there’s absolutely no ethical concern to session recording as long as you got users’ consent, let’s see how you could use this tool to build a better business.

Steps to Set Up Session Recording

Step 1: Choose a Visitor Recording Software

There’s a range of platforms out there that offer session recordings. 

Each comes with its own set of tools for recording visitor sessions, but they also have their own pros and cons. 

We won’t linger so much on the subject now, as we’ll be discussing at full-lenght soon enough.

Step 2: Set Up the Session Recorder

Normally, the system you pick will ask you to add a small piece of code to the backend of your website. 

This code, also known as a tracking script, lets the platform see your website visitors and record their actions for analysis later.

Step 3: Start Recording

Depending on the platform, not every visitor will be analyzed. 

Instead, you’ll get a good sample of your site visitors over a certain period.

Step 4: Filter Your Visitor Recordings

Instead of going through all your recordings, you can filter out the ones you’re interested in. 

There are many ways to filter your results. 

For example, you might only want to see recordings from users on Chrome or Firefox, or those who visited your product pages. 

Save your filters for future use if you find yourself using the same ones often.

Step 5: Mask Elements for Privacy

As you watch your recordings, you might see visitors entering sensitive info like passwords. 

To avoid any privacy issues, many recording systems let you hide elements like names, email addresses, and home addresses. 

When an element is blocked, you’ll see a solid box over it in future recordings.

Step 6: Identify Website Issues

If you’ve done your research and have a clear idea of your target audience, it should be easy to spot your visitors’ goals. 

Pay attention to those goals as you watch recordings and note where issues pop up.

Are visitors hovering over a spot where you should put a link? Clicking somewhere that could use a call-to-action button? 

These insights can help you improve your website and run future A/B tests more effectively.

Step 7: Segment & Focus Your Audience

If you find issues, like a page that doesn’t convert, start your testing from there. 

Most platforms let you focus your recordings from a specific page onwards. This lets you concentrate on the decisions that matter most for efficient recording and testing.

Step 8: A/B Test Your Findings

If your recording platform allows A/B testing, use it to see where your recordings show discrepancies. 

You can then try out new versions and watch recordings in real-time to see the impact. 

For example, if visitors aren’t clicking on your CTA but keep hovering in a certain spot, moving your CTA there might boost conversions.

Step 9: Watch Enough Recordings for Accuracy

Make sure you watch enough recordings to get an accurate idea of how visitors are interacting with your site. 

Viewing just a few could give you the wrong impression. Aim for a few hours of video at least to understand how most people use your site.

How to Pick the Right Session Recording Tool?

Choosing the perfect tool that fits your needs and expectations can be a bit tricky. 

To start off, here are some ideas to help you narrow down your options:

  • Define Your Goals
    Get clear on what you want to achieve with session recording.
    Figure out the specific insights and metrics you’re after from user interactions. This will help you figure out if a session recording tool is the right fit for you.
  • Check Ease of Use
    Look for a tool that’s easy to use and navigate.
    You want something with a user-friendly interface and features that let you analyze recorded sessions without feeling like you need a degree in rocket science.
  • Make Sure It Captures Everything
    Your session recording tool should capture all the important stuff – mouse movements, clicks, scrolls, form submissions, you name it.
    It needs to give you detailed and accurate recordings so you can really understand how users are interacting with your site.
  • Look Into Analytics
    See what kind of analytical features the tool offers.
    You’ll want tools like heatmaps, click maps, funnels, and options to segment and filter your data.
    And it’s a plus if the tool plays nicely with other analytics platforms you’re already using.
  • Think About Privacy and Security
    Don’t forget about the privacy and security of your users’ data.
    Make sure the tool gives you options to keep personally identifiable info safe and follows all the necessary security protocols and regulations.

Remember to consider your specific business needs, budget, and plans for growth when you’re choosing session recording software. 

Hint: take advantage of any free trials or demos to see if a tool really fits the bill before you commit.

Analyzing Session Recordings

Once you’ve recorded your session replay videos, the next step is to dive into them and really understand how users are interacting with your site or app.

Using Filters to Dig Deeper

Most session recording tools come with filters that let you narrow down your analysis to specific user behaviors. 

For example, you can zero in on users who abandoned their shopping carts or spent a lot of time on a particular page. These filters are key for spotting trends and patterns that can help you fine-tune your website.

You can also break down your session recordings by different factors like user type, location, device, and more.

Taking Detailed Notes and Sorting Sessions

When you’re watching session replay videos, it’s important to take detailed notes as you go. Jot down anything that catches your eye or seems important for later. 

And you can create tags to label different kinds of user behavior, like “abandoned cart” or “watched video.” 

This makes it easier to sort and group sessions based on what users are doing.

Measuring User Behavior with Metrics

Session replay doesn’t just show you what users are clicking on—it also gives you insights into where they’re going and how long they’re staying there. 

Metrics like page views, time spent on pages, and bounce rates help you find areas for improvement. Or understand which features are popular with users.

Metrics serve two main purposes: they give you an objective way to measure user behavior, and they help you spot areas where users might be struggling. 

If you see a drop in conversions, for example, metrics can help you figure out what’s causing the problem so you can fix it fast.

Spotting Issues and Finding Opportunities

The first step in using session replay for website optimization is spotting any problems. Session recordings are great for pinpointing issues, but they can be tricky to interpret sometimes.

Here are some tips for making the most of your data:

  • Identify trouble spots on your site, like slow-loading pages or abandoned carts.
  • Look for ways to make things better through testing and research. This might mean making products easier to find or improving navigation.
  • See how long users spend on each page to gauge how engaged they are. And look for areas where users might be struggling with tasks that could be simpler.

Session Recordings and User Experience (UX) Design

Using session recording also helps you determine if your website’s navigation structure matches visitors’ expectations. 

If it does, great! You can build on that success. 

But if it falls short, it likely creates friction points, leading to a poor user experience. 

The good news is that watching recorded sessions reveals why visitors might struggle to move smoothly between pages.

Additionally, session recording can also help with website design: you could tweak everything from text and images to tables and illustrations. 

Improving your website’s design can involve making minor updates or completely revamping it. 

Regardless of your approach, the new design must outperform the old one and deliver better results.

While it might be okay to test minor changes like CTA colors or banner sizes based on intuition or market trends due to their low risk, experts generally caution against it. 

However, when it comes to a complete website redesign, relying solely on intuition is unrealistic. 

Redesigning your site involves overhauling its look, message, and target audience, which requires data-driven decisions.

Before making any changes, ensure you have enough data to support your decisions. 

Session recording provides valuable insights into whether elements like homepage headlines, CTA placements, or checkout flows meet visitor expectations. 

Reviewing recordings to gather insights, then use them as guides for your redesign efforts.

Your end goal should be meeting visitor expectations and improving responsiveness, intuitiveness, and overall user experience, ultimately boosting conversions.

Enhancing Conversion Rates with Session Recordings

While session recordings can be intriguing, you aren’t watching them as you would binge a Netflix special. 

You’re watching them with a specific goal in sight: improving your conversion rates

One of the key benefits of session recordings is their ability to reveal barriers to conversion that may otherwise go unnoticed. 

When closely examining user behavior within recorded sessions, you can uncover common stumbling blocks that deter users from completing desired actions. 

Whether it’s a cumbersome checkout process, unclear call-to-action buttons, or navigation issues, session recordings shed light on areas ripe for improvement.

The path is linear: you watch recording to find bottlenecks, you solve bottlenecks, you hope your rates go up. 

With the insights you gathered from session recordings, you can then set up targeted experimentation to address identified barriers to conversion.

A/B testing allows you to systematically evaluate potential solutions, whether it’s redesigning a landing page layout, refining messaging, or optimizing form fields. 

Testing variations informed by session recording analysis allows you to iterate towards solutions that resonate more effectively with your target audience.

Session Recording for Customer Support and Feedback

Your customers’ happiness heavily depends on the quality of customer support you provide. 

Unfortunately, there’s a substantial number of issues your customers could face. 

This makes it tricky for support teams to solve the problem, especially when customers themselves are unsure. 

Integrating session recording tools with your customer support system allows support teams to step into your customers’ shoes and experience firsthand the issues they face while using your product. 

You can assist customers by co-browsing with them, observing their experience (with a slight delay.) 

Session recording helps bridge the gap between what customers claim to have experienced on your website and what they actually did. 

Additionally, using live session replay enables real-time co-browsing, leading to prompt problem-solving and improved customer satisfaction.

Integrating Session Recordings with Other Analytics Tools

Keep in mind that session recordings don’t really work, if used in isolation. 

Yes, you could do it, but when recording sessions exist in a vacuum, they become simple observational tools. 

However, combined with other analytics tools, they become incredibly supportive.

For example, heatmaps deliver visual representations of user interactions, showing where users click, scroll, and hover on your website. 

When paired with session recordings, you can analyze these interactions deeper, gaining a clearer understanding of how visitors interact with your website. 

Moreover, integrating session recordings with analytics platforms like Google Analytics opens up cross-referencing opportunities

The correlation between session recordings and key metrics such as bounce rates, conversion rates, and traffic sources, reveals patterns and trends in user behavior. 

This integration empowers you to make informed, data-driven decisions to optimize your website’s performance.

And it doesn’t stop there. 

Analyzing session recordings alongside heatmaps and analytics reports, pieces together the puzzle of user journeys on your website. 

You can map out typical user paths, identify entry points, and find areas of drop-off. All these insights become more accessible, providing invaluable insights into user behavior.

In terms of platforms, there’s no shortage of options for integrated analytics solutions. 

Conclusion

So, you got the theory. 

Now it’s time for action. 

Use session recordings to see how users navigate your site, pinpoint where they click, and understand why they leave. 

Place your website under severe scrutiny and get answers to all your burning questions from your visitors themselves. 

It’s time you stop second guessing yourself and go after all the answers to those conversion and usability questions that have been tormenting you.