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The best session replay software to help you know your users

The FullStory Education Team
Posted September 21, 2023
The best session replay software to help you know your users

For any business that deals directly with customers with a website or app, session replay software is critical to getting more details about how that site or app is working. However, over the past few years, the sheer number of different session replay software options can make choosing one a daunting task. We’ve done the work, now we’re going to dig into the best session replay software options that you can use to know your customer.

What is session replay software?

Session replay software, also known as session recording or user replay, is an important tool for website owners and digital marketers who want to fine-tune their user experience and boost conversion rates. It lets you witness and understand user behavior by playing back real users' interactions with your website or app.

Basically, session replay tools play back entire user sessions, capturing details like mouse movements, scrolls, clicks, and other ways users interact with your site. Each session replay gives you a play-by-play of everything a user did on your website, app, or digital product. 

This level of detail goes beyond raw user data or heatmaps, giving you a crystal-clear picture of the user's journey and experience.

With this tool in your arsenal, you can spot bugs, analyze your customers' digital experiences, and get a deep understanding of how users navigate your platform. With these insights, you can make informed decisions to improve your website design, remove any friction in the user's way, and streamline the whole navigation process. The result? Happy customers, improved satisfaction, and better conversion rates.

Session replay also offers insights into user behavior that can drive your business forward. By observing how users interact with your product, you can uncover opportunities to boost engagement, optimize content placement, and fine-tune CTAs. And, of course, all of this leads to an even better user experience and higher conversion rates.

Naturally, privacy is a concern. But, fortunately, industry-leading platforms like FullStory have taken powerful steps toward protecting user privacy. Reputable session replay tools always make sure to anonymize sensitive data in accordance with data protection regulations. This way, you can analyze user behavior in a safe and secure manner.

Session replay software can supercharge your understanding of user behavior, improve your website's performance, and ultimately drive growth. It's a win-win for you and your customers.

What to look for in a session replay tool

While viewing every second of every user session could give you detailed insights, it's simply not feasible due to the sheer amount of time and data involved. That's why most session replay tools offer features that make the review process more efficient.

What to look for in a session replay tool

Adjustable playback speed lets you speed up less-eventful parts of the session while slowing down for more significant interactions. You can watch a half-hour session in a fraction of the time, without losing any critical details.

Additionally, being able to skip directly to key visitor interactions helps you quickly get to the heart of the matter. If you're looking to analyze a specific step in the user's journey, such as checkout or form submission, the ability to jump right to these moments is invaluable.

Session replay tools must offer privacy, accuracy, fidelity, performance, tabbed browsing, and omnichannel replay to truly be worth your time and money. If a tool doesn’t guarantee this, then it’s suggested you look elsewhere.

Choosing the right session replay software is crucial to gaining the insights necessary to optimize your website's user experience and improve conversion rates. Below is a list we’ve prepared of key features and considerations to keep in mind when selecting a session replay tool.

Comprehensive data capture

A great session replay tool should capture every single user interaction on your web pages or applications. This includes mouse movements, clicks, rage clicks, scrolls, and form inputs. The more detailed the recording, the better your understanding of how users navigate and interact with your site.

Adjustable playback speed and skip features

Replaying sessions at different speeds or skipping to specific interactions can save time and make the analysis process more efficient. Ensure the session replay tool you choose has these capabilities.

Privacy measures

The tool must respect user privacy and comply with data protection regulations. This includes anonymizing personal data and sensitive information in the recordings. How session replay tools handle privacy is another differentiating factor. It's essential to choose a tool that anonymizes sensitive data and is compliant with global data protection regulations like GDPR, CCPA, etc.

Powerful segmentation and filtering

The ability to filter and segment session recordings based on specific criteria (like location, device type, or user behavior) is crucial. It allows you to zero in on particular user groups or issues, making the analysis process more focused and efficient.

Integration capabilities

Integration with existing marketing, analytics, and customer service tools is a key consideration. The session replay tool should integrate seamlessly with your existing tech stack. This includes your analytics platform, customer data platform (CDP), customer relationship management (CRM) system, and more. A session recording tool that seamlessly integrates with your current tech stack can enhance its value by correlating data across platforms and providing a more holistic understanding of customer behavior.

Insightful metrics

Beyond simple replays, the best session replay tools offer insightful metrics that can aid in conversion rate optimization. Look for software that provides heatmaps, conversion funnels, form analytics, and other metrics that add depth to your understanding of user behavior.

Customer support

Finally, consider the level of customer support provided by the software vendor. Do they offer quick and reliable assistance when needed? Do they provide training or resources to help you maximize the tool's value? These are questions you should answer during your deliberations.

Pay close attention to the scope of the replayed sessions

When choosing a session replay tool, one of the critical decisions you'll have to make is whether you want a solution that captures all of your user sessions or one that only records a sampling. Both approaches come with their own set of benefits and considerations.

Full session reproduction

A session replay tool that captures all of your user sessions provides the most comprehensive view of user behavior on your site. This means every visit, every interaction, and every unique journey is recorded and available for you to replay and analyze.

session-replay

This approach can be incredibly beneficial. For instance, if your website experiences a sudden drop in conversion rates or a spike in user complaints, having a full session capture allows you to review all affected sessions to identify the cause quickly.

However, keep in mind that this complete data capture might lead to a large volume of data to sift through. It might be more challenging to pinpoint specific sessions to watch unless you have robust filtering and segmentation features at hand. Full capture also requires a robust storage solution and a keen focus on privacy considerations.

Session sampling

On the other hand, session sampling captures a subset of user sessions. This strategy can be less demanding in terms of storage and easier to manage. It's typically based on a predefined percentage, a specific user segment, or randomly selected sessions.

Sampling can still give you a good sense of how users are interacting with your site. It's a more streamlined approach, focusing on the quality of insights over quantity. This might be more manageable for smaller teams or businesses with less capacity to review a vast number of sessions.

However, the downside is that you might miss out on specific user interactions or rare events that could provide valuable insights. Your understanding of user behavior will be based on a subset of data, which might not fully represent your entire user base.

The best session replay software to use on your site or app

FullStory logo over a blue background

FullStory

FullStory is a robust and comprehensive digital experience platform that offers session replay among other features like heatmaps and funnel analytics. FullStory's high-fidelity session replays capture every mouse movement, click, scroll, and more, giving you a complete understanding of your user's experience. Its robust search and segmentation capabilities make it easy to find the sessions that matter most to you.

Pros of FullStory

  • Full capture of all user sessions, offering comprehensive insights

  • Robust search and segmentation capabilities

  • Excellent privacy controls with GDPR and CCPA compliance

  • Provides detailed metrics and reports

  • Integrates with popular platforms such as Google Analytics, Slack, and Zendesk

Cons of FullStory

  • Steeper learning curve due to its comprehensive features

FullStory offers a free plan with limited features, perfect for small businesses. Its Business plan provides unlimited sessions, advanced analytics, and more, but pricing is custom and depends on your specific needs.

Smartlook logo

Smartlook

Smartlook is another session replay tool known for its user-friendly interface and qualitative analytics. It helps you understand user behavior, uncover UX issues, and improve your digital platforms.

Pros of Smartlook

  • Easy to use with a user-friendly interface

  • Offers event tracking and funnel analysis

  • Supports integration with platforms like WordPress, Shopify, and Google Analytics

Cons of Smartlook

  • The free plan has limited features and recordings

  • Advanced analytics features may require some learning to use effectively

Smartlook offers a free tier with limited features, while their paid plans (starting at $55/month) offer unlimited recordings, advanced analytics, and priority support.

Hotjar logo over a red background

Hotjar

Hotjar is another choice for session replay, offering features that help you understand what users are doing on your site.

Pros of Hotjar

  • Feature set including session replay, heatmaps, and form analytics

  • Navigable user-friendly interface 

  • Supports integration with platforms like WordPress and Shopify

Cons of Hotjar

  • Does not offer full session capture, instead works on a sampling basis

  • Lack of advanced filtering options in session replay

Hotjar's Basic plan is free and offers limited data collection, while their Plus plan (at $32/month) offers more data, advanced features, and priority support.

Mouseflow logo

Mouseflow

Mouseflow is a session replay and heatmap tool that provides insights into user behavior, helping businesses optimize their digital experiences. Mouseflow offers session replays, heatmaps, and feedback campaigns. 

Pros of Mouseflow

  • Offers a wide range of features including session replays, heatmaps, and funnels

  • Advanced filtering options for efficient data analysis

  • Allows for easy tracking of specific events or behaviors

  • Provides integration with popular platforms like WordPress and Shopify

Cons of Mouseflow

  • Some users find the interface less intuitive

  • Might be more expensive compared to other options

Mouseflow offers a free tier with limited sessions and features. Their paid plans start at $31 per month, offering more features and unlimited sessions.

Lucky orange logo

Lucky Orange

Lucky Orange includes a session replay tool along with other features including conversion funnels and form analytics.

Pros of Lucky Orange

  • Toolset including session replay, heatmaps, and form analytics

  • Provides real-time data on user activity

  • Easy integration with platforms like WordPress, Joomla, and Shopify

Cons of Lucky Orange

  • The interface might feel a bit cluttered due to the range of features

  • The session replay feature might not be as robust as other dedicated tools

Lucky Orange offers a free 7-day trial. Their paid plans start at $32 per month and offer unlimited recordings, heatmaps, and more.

Crazy Egg logo

Crazy Egg

Crazy Egg is a session replay tool that offers a features including heatmaps and A/B testing to optimize your website's user experience.

Pros of Crazy Egg

  • Featureset including session replay, heatmaps, and A/B testing

  • User-friendly interface

Cons of Crazy Egg

  • Some users find the session replay feature less robust compared to competitors

  • Lacks advanced analytics and reporting features

Crazy Egg offers a free 30-day trial. Their paid plans start at $49 per month and offer unlimited A/B tests, recordings, and more.

Clarity logo

Clarity

Pros of Clarity

  • Provides session replays and heatmaps for thorough user behavior analysis

  • The insights dashboard presents key metrics at a glance

  • Supports integrations with platforms such as WordPress and Shopify

Cons of Clarity

  • The interface might not be as intuitive as some competitors

  • Does not offer as many features as other comprehensive tools like FullStory or Hotjar

Clarity is free to use, making it a great option for those on a tight budget or with high-traffic sites.

Inspectlet logo over blue

Inspectlet

Pros of Inspectlet

  • Provides session replay, heatmaps, and form analytics

  • Offers robust filtering capabilities

  • Eye-tracking heatmaps allow you to see where users are focusing on your site

  • Supports A/B testing to help optimize your site

Cons of Inspectlet

  • The interface may not be as user-friendly as other tools

  • May not integrate as seamlessly with other platforms as some competitors

Inspectlet offers a free tier with limited sessions. Their paid plans start at $39 per month, offering more sessions, multiple websites, and priority support.

Each of these session replay software tools has its unique strengths, and the best one for you will depend on your specific needs, budget, and existing tech stack. Remember, what works best for one company might not be the best fit for another, so carefully consider your specific requirements before making a decision.

Frequently asked questions about session replay software

Does Google Analytics have session replay?

No, Google Analytics does not offer a session replay feature. Google Analytics is an excellent tool for tracking and analyzing quantitative data like website traffic, bounce rate, and conversion rate, but it does not provide the qualitative data that you can get from session replay.

While you can track individual user journeys to some extent with Google Analytics by setting up User ID tracking, it won't give you the visual representation of a user's actions like session replay software does. For instance, you can't watch a video of a user's session or see heat maps of mouse activity.

If you need these qualitative insights, it's best to use a dedicated session replay tool like FullStory, which can complement the data you get from Google Analytics and give you a more holistic view of your users' behavior. Moreover, FullStory integrates with Google Analytics, making it easy to correlate the data from both platforms for deeper analysis.

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