How to Understand User Behavior from Session Recording to Increase Conversion to Your Website?

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Do you feel like you are not getting customers even though your ecommerce website looks awesome? Paid thousands for marketing yet you’re still not seeing any significant boost in conversions?

There’s something that you’re doing wrong. Sure, maybe you’re already using Google Analytics. But that’s just going to give you back certain figures. What about real customer behaviour? To figure out what exactly is going wrong, you need to see what people are doing on your site in real-time. 

Sure, in your eyes the site might be perfect. But thousands of people are visiting your site. You need to understand what exactly is working out for them and what is not.

You need to know how users are interacting with your site! 

Wondering how to do this?

You can achieve this through Session Recording. 

This is a complete guide on session recording. Read on to find the answers to all your questions. What is session recording? How does it help your business? What can you really see with session recording? Most importantly, I will also guide you on how to correctively analyse a session recording replay. There are also certain common mistakes that people make while session recording. Keep reading to find out how to avoid making these.

What Is Session Recording?

Session recording is the process through which you record how a user navigates through your website in real time. Session recordings record mouse movements, clicks, page visit timing, scroll depth and more.

You must be thinking: Wait, don’t heatmaps already do that? Why do I need to watch session recordings separately? 

Because you can never understand customer behavior unless you see them interacting with your website in real-time. 

Watching session replays is essential to optimizing your UX interface and increasing conversion to your website.

What Are The Benefits of Session Recording?

Walk A Mile In Your Customer’s Shoes

Session Recording allows you to see exactly how your customers view your website. If you’re the website owner or designer, you very well know where each element is situated. But does that mean your customer knows it too? 

Of course not. 

They are completely new to your website. Of course they are going to get stuck in places and not find what you yourself can find easily. 

To improve their user experience, you need to empathise with them. This is the only way you can optimise your domain for maximum conversions. 

Several website designers make slight changes to the user interface without bothering to do the initial research. But there’s no point in making these changes without understanding your users’ perspective. 

This is exactly why session recordings are necessary to walk through your site in your user’s shoes.

Discover Where Your Customers Are Getting Stuck

You cannot remove bugs if you have no idea where those bugs exist. And no, I am not just talking about technical glitches here. Those are problems that your website development team can deal with. 

But barriers don’t always have to be technical. There can be informational barriers as well. Maybe your instructions aren’t clear enough. Maybe the instructions are hidden somewhere and your customers cannot access it. Maybe every time they click a button, the page reloads. 

You can only understand what is frustrating your customer if you take the journey with them. No heatmap is going to tell you exactly when and why your user got confused or annoyed. But seeing their confused or erratic mouse movements will tell you all that you need to know. 

You need session recordings to see exactly what is going wrong. 

Stop People From Leaving Your Site

Reducing bounce rates is the sole objective of almost all startups. Even if people don’t buy from you, you want your users to explore your site. To spend some time in it. 

Why? Because the moment Google sees a bunch of people bouncing from your site, they understand your site’s not useful. Your SERP ranking goes down immediately. 

This is why you must ensure that people are not leaving your site immediately. But what if they are? How should you stop them?

You have to see what problems they are facing while navigating the site. Are the important buttons not immediately visible? Is the landing page lacking in information? Are they encountering any bugs immediately after they enter?

Unless you actually look at these sessions, you’ll never be able to tell why people bounced.

Discover How Each Website Element is Working

If you’re trying to modify your user interface, you cannot simply rely on guesswork. Neither can you solely rely on heatmaps. 

Say you need to find the optimal placement of your CTA button. The heatmap is not just going to show you one red hotspot. In all probability, it is going to show you multiple hotspots. So which one do you choose?

Again, you need to go back to your session replays for this. This shows you exactly where people are hovering their mouses over looking for the CTA button. Not only this, you can also see how users are interacting with each of your website elements. 

Are they exploring the filters, the categories? Are they looking at all the options that you are providing? Are they ignoring some crucial button? 

That’s the exact kind of information you can get from session recording. This allows you to optimise your website further according to actual evidence. Not just guesswork. After all, website development takes time and money. You need hard proof to make changes. 

Prevent Cart Abandonments

When you’re recording sessions, you’re not just trying to find the bad parts. You are also trying to look at the good parts to see how you can replicate it again. 

The Decision Stage of the Sales Funnel is crucial to conversion. This is where the user decides whether or not to finally purchase your product. And this is exactly where a lot of stuff goes very wrong. 

Cart Abandonments are a huge problem in the eCommerce industry. According to the Baymard Institute, as much as 69.23% carts are abandoned. Why does this happen?

Maybe the user gets shocked by the delivery price. Maybe the user cannot trust your website during the payment stage because they cannot see the SSL certificate. Maybe your registration process is too complicated. Maybe the user wants to pay via a mode of payment that you don’t accept. Maybe they are trying to use a coupon code that is not working.

You have to know exactly why people are leaving at this last stage to stop them. And no, again, heatmaps are not going to be enough.

Carefully study the session replays to see where the users are fumbling. This is the only way in which you can fix that exact issue.

Provide Evidence To Stakeholders

Chances are, you are not the only person involved in your eCommerce project. You might have investors, partners, employees etc. who are just as invested in the success of the website. 

Session recordings are the best way to share information across the board. What’s better than telling everyone about consumer behavior? Directly show them how the consumer is behaving. 

If you’re a startup owner who’s hiring website developers, marketers and conversion rate optimisers, session recordings are a must. How else do you communicate instructions across a board? 

If you have investors, they’ll want to see what you are doing to optimise your conversion rates, right? How do you show them proof? Through session recordings, of course. Show them real life examples of how things used to be and how things have improved. 

Marketers also need to see session recordings to see the ROI on their different marketing ventures. If you see a lot of your traffic from Instagram ads are bouncing, you’ll understand these are not working. Either change your strategy or improve your ads.

Session recordings act as tangible evidence.

I need to reiterate something. You are most probably going to spend a lot on website designing and marketing. And even if you do it yourself, you’re going to invest a lot of time and effort into it. Ask yourselves this? Should you do all that without having any data to back your decisions up?

Of course not. You need data. And this data, in the rawest form, can come from session recordings. You do not need to go through millions of session recordings to come to a conclusion. You can just as well draw your interferences by meticulously studying 20-25 session recordings. 

Since the visit durations are provided, you can specifically target some sessions. Want to reduce bounce rates? Go after the shortest sessions. Want to see what people are doing at the conversion stage? Look at the longer sessions.

What Can You See With Session Recordings?

Mouse Movement, Click Placements and Scrolling. 

The core purpose of session recording is to see how users are behaving on your site. This is done by tracking their mouse movements in real time. Often the session recording tools mark the mouse movements through permanent lines so that you can track them later.

You can also see where your users are clicking and how they are scrolling. The pace of the scrolling gives you crucial information. If they are constantly scrolling down at a steady pace, that’s a good thing. If they are erratically going up and down, that basically means they are looking for something they can’t find.

Though these sessions are recorded in real time, you can of course fast forward them if you want to. Session replays are great for spotting patterns in search behaviors.

Mobile Displays, Scrolling and Taps

We all know why internet penetration in India has increased rapidly over the last decade. It’s because of cheaper smartphones and the decreasing data tariffs. Asians are the most avid mobile internet users and everyone knows that. 

So if you have an eCommerce website, you must necessarily to optimise it for mobile usage. By this year, 2021, 53.9% of the total internet users are predicted to convert into mobile internet users. You obviously cannot miss out on these customers. 

The good news is: the best session recording tools can record mobile browsing sessions as well. Since the view is elongated, you have to pay close attention to their scrolling patterns. 

Also, this allows you to optimise your site for mobiles specifically. Not everything that works on your PC-oriented website will work on your mobile website. You might need to adjust the font size, place your CTA button elsewhere etc. 

Recording mobile browsing sessions separately lets you figure out how to increase conversions through your mobile website.

Migration Across Multiple Page

Most eCommerce websites are multi-page sites. And we all know you cannot make a purchase if you remain stuck on the landing page. 

Session recordings allow you to see how your users migrate from one page to the other. It also allows you to understand whether there are any problems with your site navigation. 

Session recordings don’t get interrupted by your user going off to another page in your site. However, if your site reloads every time they click on a button, this might frustrate the user. And you’ll be able to see this from the session replay itself. If they are leaving right after the page starts reloading, you’ll understand that this isn’t working out for them. 

What Can You NOT See With Session Recordings?

Session Recordings even let you see what your user is typing by recording keyboard strokes. But does that mean they let you see everything? No. 

Financial information like Credit/Debit Card details are always hidden by trusted session recording tools. Plus, maintaining the anonymity of the user is important too. 

You can see which country they are accessing your site from. You can even see when they are accessing your site. But you cannot get any personal information from the session recording tools. 

These are the necessary steps taken to maintain the privacy of your users.

What Are The Common Mistakes People Make While Session Recording?

No Specific Goal in Mind

What is your goal? 

Are you trying to reduce bounce rates? Are you trying to reduce cart abandonment? Are you trying to get more people to click on your CTA button? Are you trying to get people to scroll down further? Which page are you trying to improve? Your landing page? Your products page? Your checkout page?

Unless you have an answer to these questions, don’t start session recording. 

No, don’t say “All of the Above.” That means nothing. You cannot set up an experiment that is supposed to prove everything at once. That basically means proving nothing. 

You can do session recordings for two broad reasons: 

  1. You are trying to figure out what the problem areas are.
  2. You already know what the problem areas are. You have made the necessary changes. And now you want to see how the site is performing. 

If it’s the first option, go through the overall recordings and note down the obstacles that you need to remove. Now focus on any one obstacle and start making the changes. 


If you have already changed your website and want to see the effect of those changes, focus on that.

If you set about to do everything at once, you will end up doing nothing.

Small Sample Size, Flawed Recording Set-Up

You cannot complain about getting the wrong findings if you set up your experiment wrong. The same is valid in the case of session recordings. 

If you have no goal in mind, you’ll just flit through the screen replays aimlessly. You will not be able to target any specific group of people or a specific timeframe. 

Say you’re trying to reduce immediate bounce rates. Should you be looking at the people who traveled to 3 of your other pages? Of course not. 

Also, insufficient sample size is a major problem in screen recording. If you only record 10 sessions, that is not going to tell you anything at all. Maybe those 10 people were the exceptions. They do not reflect the overall pattern of user behavior on your site. Thus, you cannot make changes to a site based on that small a sample size. 

No Standard Structure

Faced with a huge number of session recordings, we often forget what we had set out to review. When there is no standard procedure that you are following, subjectivity bleeds into the picture. And as we all know, subjectivity has no place in data-driven experiments. 

Very often there’s more than one person reviewing the session recordings. In such a case, you must agree to collect data according to the same parameters. 

If you are looking at cart abandonment patterns, your partner must also be looking for the same. If you are looking at cart abandonment patterns during mobile browsing, you need to separate that from PC browsing.

Divide your visitors into segments that you can easily monitor. This can either be based on their buying patterns or the time spent on the website. Don’t try to look at everything all at once. 

Note down your observations as you go and try to pick out a pattern instead of obsessing about exceptions. You cannot solve the problems of a hundred people separately. But you can try to find out if a hundred people have the same problem. Making changes to your site will be easier in that way.

No Holistic Analysis 

Most of the session recording tools don’t come alone. They come in a package with a Heatmap tool and an A/B testing tool. Though session recording is crucial, this should not be the only tool that you’re using to understand user behavior. 

Each tool has to be used in conjunction with one another. 

Why do you use screen recording in the first place? Because this gives you something that you cannot get from Google Analytics. However, what you can get from heatmaps, you cannot get from screen recordings and vice versa. 

Each tool has its own specific skill-set. For example, you can never visualize the data that a heatmap gives you from a screen recording. Heatmaps literally collect their data from hundreds of sessions. Can you manually collate that data from screen recordings? Of course not. 

But can heatmaps show you exactly where and how a user is getting confused while navigating through your website? Again, no.

Thus, you must obtain your data from a variety of tools to do a holistic analysis. Only then can you make effective changes to your site. Basing your change on screen recordings only is no different from basing it on guesswork.

Flawed Interpretations

The final problem.

 Let’s say you did everything right. You set up your recordings right, you had the right sized sample, you collected data in an organised way. But you interpreted it wrong. 

This ruins the entire exercise of collecting data in the very last step. 

The first mistake that people make is not segmenting the sessions. 

You will have as many recordings as you have visitors. The more visitors you get, the more you have to pay for the screen recordings. So, what should your aim be? To record thousands of recordings aimlessly? How would you even be able to analyse all of those? 

You can’t. Not unless you start with a plan. You need to categorise your visitors into neat little packets to view and analyse their sessions separately.

Think of this scenario for a moment:

You have an eCommerce site and you’re getting a lot of clicks. That’s great. But people still aren’t buying from you. You have to wonder why. If you try to view ALL session recordings to find out the answer- you’ll simply be wasting time. You need to target the sessions of customers who are getting lost in the Consideration Stage. Look at their sessions in particular to see where they are getting confused. 

As I have already stated, one of the major problems of session recording analyses is the interference of subjectivity. Just because you are looking at individual sessions, you are not trying to solve individual problems. Your solutions should still be driven by statistics. 

How To Correctly Analyse Your Session Recording Replays?

Now you have an in-depth idea about everything you can possibly do wrong. Let’s learn how to do things right.

Set-Up the Recording Correctly

Right when you start, you have to enter the URL that you want to track. However, you can leave out certain pages that don’t need tracking. 

This is also when you will have to select your sample size. You can choose anywhere between 2000- 10,000 visitors usually. Don’t choose a tiny sample size. Your data won’t reflect the overall pattern of your user behaviour. 

Similarly, don’t choose a sample so large that you cannot analyse. The sample size also depends on how many people are working on that data. For example, if you have a whole team of marketers or website developers, your sample size can be large. However, if you have a startup that only you are in charge of, don’t overextend your sample size.

Segment Your Visitors 

Right from the get-go, the best session replay tools will let you segment your visitors. You can always choose to record “All visitors.” But usually, starting out with segments is beneficial when you have a particular goal in mind. 

What can you base your segments on? 

  • Where are they landing first (i.e. homepage or products page)
  • Session duration
  • Exit pages
  • Device used
  • Browser used
  • Guest users
  • Bounced users

What is the use of this exercise? This ensures that you don’t have to look at hours and hours of recordings. It is, after all, very difficult to spot a pattern within mountains of unorganised data. 

Segmentation is going to help you keep one particular goal in mind as you move on to interpretation. 

Interpret as a Whole, Not Just the Parts

When you start screen recording, should you give up on Google Analytics? No. You should use screen recording to further understand the figures that Google Analytics gives you.

Should you make a change to your website, just based on your interpretation of your screen recording data? No. You have to take heatmaps into account. 

When you make the change, should you just trust the data and keep waiting for results? No. You need to do A/B testing. 

As you can understand, not one of these elements can function singularly. Therefore, your interpretation has to be based on the data as a whole. You cannot pick and choose data and make modifications according to that.

Hopefully, by now you know everything there is to know about session recordings. This article has detailed information on the benefits of session recording and the common mistakes people make during it. I’ve also elaborated upon what you can see through your session recordings and how you can interpret these correctly. 

Do you have any more questions regarding session recording? Do let me know in the comments below!

Frequently Asked Questions

How can we understand user behavior from session recordings?

You need to start with a clear goal in your head. Then segment the visitors based on that goal (visit duration, bounced users etc.). Carefully observe how they navigate through your site by looking at their mouse movement, scrolling and clicks. Try to chart a pattern by investigating a sizable number of samples. Interpret your findings carefully. 

For example, if you see that you have a lot of cart abandonments, try observing your checkout page. Looking at your customer’s navigation through this page will tell you exactly what is deterring them from conversion.

What Are Session Replays?

Session replays are the reconstructions of your session recordings that you can watch at a later point of time. These show you the mouse movements of the users along with their scrolling and click placements. Session replays are crucial for understanding user behaviour on websites.

What are the best free session recording software?

Hotjar has a free forever plan for session recording but this allows you to capture only 300 sessions. Inspectlet also has a free forever plan. VWO and Howuku both have paid plans only but they do have a free trial period. Rrweb is an open source session recording library. If you are looking for the best free website session recording software, try Wrytx. Wrytx allows for 60k pageviews per month in its Free Forever plan. Its Heatmap and A/B Testing feature are also absolutely free.

What is the cost of session recording software?

Hotjar session recording allows you to capture 100 sessions per day for $39. Inspectlet allows you to record 10,000 sessions per month for $39. The pricing of session replay tools can reach as high as $499 depending on the number of recorded sessions. The price of VWO is considerably higher and has to be requested separately. Wrytx has a FREE FOREVER Session Recording Tool that comes along with free Heatmap and A/B Testing tools.

What is the use of session recording?

Session recording is used to understand user behaviour in real time. It is used by both the developers and marketers of the website. It allows you to spot informational obstacles, faulty CTA buttons and bugs. It also helps you to empathise with your customers and enhance their user experience. Session Recordings are used to understand the ROI of different marketing ventures and optimise conversion rates.

Can session recordings be replayed?

Yes, session recordings can be replayed a number of times depending on the session recording software you are using. Permanent lines are added to track the path of mouse movements. The session replays can be slowed down or fast forwarded.

What can we learn from session recording data?

A lot can be learnt from session recording data. You can understand if there are informational barriers on your page that are creating confusion for the users. If the CTA button is not at the optimal position. Session recordings also help you to understand WHY these problems are happening. Why are the visitors abandoning their carts? Why are they not signing up? Why are your bounce rates high? Session recordings also let you know how the users are interacting with each of your website elements.

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