Visitor recording and session replay tools enable businesses to record, save and replay the interactions their visitors have on their website. While there is some controversy regarding the use of these tools and the privacy issues they present, they have certainly proved themselves capable of providing digital marketers and UX teams with deep insights into the user experience of website visitors.
So how do they work exactly? Visitor recording and session replay tools record visitors on your website as they click, scroll, type or navigate across different web pages. By analysing the recordings, users are able to identify weak spots; an awareness that helps them optimise their website accordingly.
The pros and cons of visitor recording and session replay tools
So why do companies choose to work with session recording tools? Do the pros really outweigh the cons? The only way to find out is by looking at both sides. Let’s take a look below.
- Shows live online visitor interactions.
- Looks at individual visitor sessions.
- Discovers where visitors are getting stuck in particular funnels (e.g. the shopping cart) or dropping off.
- Helps find and reproduce bugs to enhance the user experience.
- Understand and improve onboarding processes. See specifically where users are failing in onboarding flows.
- Test and enhance new features or pages. For example, see how visitors react to a new landing page.
- Missing context. There is no explanation directly from the visitor regarding their activity. Visitor actions are left up to the business to interpret.
- Difficult to analyse large numbers of individual visitor sessions.
- Time consuming to watch individual recordings and not every recording will provide valuable insights.
- Introduces a privacy risk for personal visitor data. Read more about this here.
Here is our list of the most popular visitor recording and session replay tools:
Hotjar is one of the most well-known visitor recording and session replay tools on the market. With this software, users can watch recordings of actual website visitors while they navigate your website, including clicks, taps and cursor movement. Once a session is recorded, Hotjar users can add tags to the recording, take notes on user actions, share the recordings with colleagues and filter recordings, e.g. page visited, landing page, exit page, etc. This tool also allows user to create heatmaps, customisable surveys and feedback polls.
Hotjar is seen as a swiss army knife of user experience tools, with software that combines multiple UX tools in one. This focus however means that it lacks a solid CX solution. Feedback analysis and reporting are not available.
Depending on the number of pageviews, pricing for Hotjar ranges anywhere from €89/month (20,000 pageviews) to €589/month (400,000 pageviews).
Alternatively, Mouseflow is one of the older players among visitor recording and session replay tools. Similar to Hotjar, Mouseflow tracks clicks, mouse movement, scrolls and forms via session replay. This tool also provides heatmaps that show where visitors are interacting on the website. Mouseflow also offers Form Analytics, which is a feature that enables users to see why visitors abandon forms online. Users can track various funnels specifically as well as as see what visitors from different traffic sources do differently on your site.
For a starter package (10,000 pageviews), users can expect to pay around €29/month. There are also ‘growth’ (€99/month) and ‘pro’ packages (€399/month) as well as an enterprise package.
Inspectlet is another popular visitor recording and session replay tool available that lets users record 100 sessions per month for free. This tool has all of the same features as Mouseflow and Hotjar plus eye tracking heatmaps. Once sessions have been recorded, you can filter the videos using various attributes including, showing the session from returning/new visitors, entry page contains […] and exit page contains […]. Using one line of code, users can tell Inspectlet which user is being recorded. With this info, you can go back later and find users with an email address or ID.
Inspectlet offers a wide range of packages start from free to $299/month depending on the number of pageviews, recorded sessions and website.
Smartlook is a qualitative analytics solution for websites and mobile apps helping over 200,000 businesses of all sizes and industries answer the “whys” behind their users’ actions. Eliminate the guesswork and discover real, actionable reasons. With a unique feature set, Smartlook finally gives you a way to understand user behavior at the micro level. Always-on visitor recordings show you what every last visitor does on your website or app, while automatic event tracking lets you know how (and how often) your visitors do specific things. You can then build conversion funnels to see your conversion rates as well as uncover why people are churning. Heatmaps for websites give you mass data about where most people click, scroll, hover, and otherwise interact with your pages.
Smartlook offers a free package which includes 1,500 recordings/month as well as a Starter package ($19/month) and Power package ($79/month).
Hoverowl is a collects and analyses visitor recordings, carries out heatmap analyses and also offers website mouse tracking to optimise web pages and app features. What’s unique about this tool is it’s visitor timeline which identifies useful information such as the source of your visitors, location and time on the website.
Pricing for Hoverowl ranges anywhere between $9/month to $99/month – depending on the number of websites, impressions and storage needed.
6. Lucky Orange
Lucky Orange provides visitor recording & session replay, heatmapping, conversion funnels and form analytics. It also includes a real-time visitor map which indicates when a visitor is on the platform and how many there are at that moment. Users can also filter and segment recordings to see where visitors are dropping off.
Lucky Orange offers a starter package at $10/month for 25,000 pageviews all the way up to $100/month for 500,000 pageviews.
SessionCam is a visitor recording and session replay tool that enables users to watch recordings of live customer sessions. This tool’s real-time API feed can be used to basket abandonment campaigns or pass on customer data to other parts of your business. To save time SessionCam uses an advanced algorithm to detect struggle and from that algorithm it creates a Customer Struggle Score for each recording.
SessionCam offers a free package (up to 50 session replays) all the way up to a small business package ($50/month) and an enterprise package (price available on request).
ClickTale is an enterprise, cloud-based analytics system that collects visitor recordings from mobile or desktop sessions. Users can filter session replays by user environment, demographics, mouse movements, traffic sources, in-page behaviour and more. The client has control of which pages and text input is recorded. This tool also offers heatmapping, conversion funnels and form analytics.
Pricing is only available upon request.
MouseStats shows its users all mouse movements, scrolls, keystrokes and clicks as a movie. It also has interactive heatmaps that show you exactly which parts of the page attract attention. All reports are updated in real-time after each new visit.
MouseStats offers a free package that includes 100 recordings a month. However, for more recordings pricing can range anywhere $29/month to $299/month depending on the package you choose.
Wisdom is a visitor recording and session replay tool that is considered to be quite accurate. It refers to its recording feature as its Flight Recorder. To review a session replay, Wisdom reconstructs a virtual desktop screen to more closely capture the browsing experience of visitors. It also offers a co-browsing feature which allows the user to assist visitors on the website. Another interesting feature this tool offers is its console logs which show all details of their interaction on your site.
Wisdom offers a free version for a max of 100 visitors per month as well as startup ($89/month), pro ($199/month) and enterprise packages.
FullStory offers high-fidelity session replay, but unlike other replay tools, FullStory indexes user and event data so it can be searched. That means you can search all your sessions based on anything from URLs visited to buttons clicked, with no advance setup other than installing the FullStory snippet. Additionally FullStory indexes “frustration signals” such as Rage Clicks, Error Clicks, Thrashing Cursor, and more, so that you can isolate sessions and understand where users are struggling in order to optimize the experience further.
Because FullStory captures all sessions (no sampling), once you integrate FullStory with your customer support and help desk tools, new tickets will include links to session recordings—the same goes for bug reports. That means you know what a customer’s issue is without asking and bug reproduction is as simple as watching the replay.
Other popular uses include CRO and integrating FullStory with A/B testing tools like Optimizely or landing page tools like Unbounce. FullStory Pro plans start at $199 but there also FullStory Free, which includes 1,000 sessions per month.
Choosing the right visitor recording and session replay tool for you
Each of these visitor recording and session replay tools certainly has its own advantages and disadvantages – whether that be pricing, or analysis capabilities such as tagging and filtering, etc. However, the fact of the matter is – no single visitor recording and session replay tool is perfect. There are several privacy risks involved in using such tools, including an increased vulnerability to function creep and the fact that this type of data collection falls under profiling. While capturing this data with a simple opt-out is legal now, things are certainly changing on the session replay tool front.
An alternative to visitor recording and session replay tools is visual feedback. This type of feedback collection is risk-free in that the initiative to provide the user with data lies with the visitor. This is also a much more trusted approach as it doesn’t involve the company having to ‘peak over the shoulder’ of the visitor while they are browsing the website.
We hope this list will provide you with some inspiration in choosing the right tool for recording your visitors.
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