Why Session Replay Tools May Not Be the Best Fit for Your Business

Understanding customer journeys is one of the biggest challenges marketers face today. 

In fact, 50% of respondents in a recent survey agreed that they struggle to understand the connections between touchpoints in customer journeys. And, only 5% of these respondents said that they have a synchronized approach when it comes to analyzing journeys.

Businesses use session replay tools to solve this problem, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that your company must also be investing in one. Keep reading to learn why session replay tools are used and a few reasons why they may be risky or ineffective for your business. 

What are Session Replay Tools?

Session replay tools record customers’ actions and recreate the digital customer journey by reproducing them in a video format. The behavior recorded by replay tools includes mouse movements, clicks, scrolls, on-site navigation and more. 

Contrary to popular belief, the majority of these session replay tools don’t take screen recordings of customers’ actual journeys. Instead, they track customers’ actions and allow users to view each interaction. 

Each session belongs to a real user and their unique experience, so businesses need to view individual replays to get a comprehensive idea about their customer base’s overall experience and behavior as they go down the funnel. 

But why would businesses spend their time searching through customers’ sessions one by one? Below are some of the reasons why.

Why Do Companies Use Session Replay Tools?

Used by UX teams to improve customers’ experiences

To improve customers’ experiences, UX teams can watch user sessions and pinpoint any pain points in a product or web page. For example, replaying a session may reveal that users skip CTAs because they’re placed too far down on a web page and users don’t scroll that far. 

By using these sessions, UX teams can also perform A/B tests and try out new versions of a page or product. The replay tools can show teams which version is more successful in leading a user to complete a certain action.

Used by Product Teams to Fix Bugs

Sometimes using session replay tools is more effective than using bug reports filed by users. Product teams don’t have to spend time locating and understanding the source of the problem when they can see the issue in the session replay.  

This is also an advantage for customer support teams since they get an understanding of the problem a customer is facing by watching replays.

Used by Marketing and Sales Teams to Improve Conversions

There are leaks in almost every stage of your business’s acquisition funnel. Companies that invest in session replay tools identify users that have dropped off at a certain stage, and then watch their sessions to see what went wrong during their journey to prevent more prospects from dropping off. 

Used to Improve the Onboarding Experience

Onboarding sessions aim to educate customers about your product so that they make full use of its features. By increasing feature adoption, you also increase the chances of retaining a newly acquired customer. 

That said, not all onboarding experiences are successful in educating and retaining customers. So, when businesses notice that a new customer hasn’t adopted its product, or when a new customer churns completely, they can watch their onboarding session and see what went wrong. While watching, they can recognize features that are ignored, points of confusion, and behavioral patterns. This helps them optimize the onboarding experience and increase feature adoption.

You may have noticed that all of these use cases involve analyzing sessions one by one. Sounds tiring, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, this is just one of the various reasons why session replay tools aren’t the best option for many businesses. 

5 Reasons Why Session Replay Tools May Not Be the Best Choice for You

1. Lack of Privacy

When users fill in contact forms or place orders, they assume that your company can be trusted with their information. During their daily encounters with your brand, they may even provide you with sensitive data such as passwords and credit card information. 

When you’re using a session replay tool, you’re probably recording all user behavior–which includes their text inputs and form selections that contain said information. It’s easy to see how these tools are susceptible to privacy breaches: any leak could result in your customers’ data being out in the open. 

Not only that, but you might accidentally record sensitive information while using session replay tools. In fact, not so long ago brands including Mixpanel found and announced that their session replay tools had been unintentionally collecting customers’ passwords. This may be even worse than knowingly collecting information since neither the collector nor the customer is aware of the issue, and can’t take preventative actions before any breaches in data.

Still, some companies choose to use session replay tools and try avoiding these privacy breaches via masking. Masking lets businesses choose the elements that are tracked on their site, and so businesses can choose not to record password fields and purchasing information. 

However, masking requires each page’s layout to be changed, and even if companies are able to edit every page, masking may still not apply to many third-party apps like chatbots and CRM forms.

This risk may be greater than the benefit, both for your company and many other companies on the market that care about data regulations.

2. Analysis Takes Too Much Time

When it comes to weighing the risk and benefits, you should also consider the time it takes to analyze individual sessions.

You may have already noticed that UX, marketing, product and sales teams have to look at user sessions one by one to come to a definitive conclusion. Now imagine that you’ve made a big change to your product’s interface and want to see the overall response from your customers. 

Would it be efficient to watch every user session one by one? 

You may analyze sessions to understand individual customers’ problems, but it’s impossible to generalize without spending hours on session replays, some of which contain no valuable information at all.

3. You Can’t See the Bigger Picture

Let’s say that you did the impossible and binge-watched hundreds of sessions to understand customers’ responses to your new feature or product. You still wouldn’t be able to notice trends in behavior just by looking. You’d only have a feeling about the overall reaction, but not palpable sources to back up your feelings.

When this is the case, you can’t come to definitive conclusions and make changes to your products or sites since you don’t have direct evidence other than individual recordings.

4. Useless or Limited Data

When it comes to making changes to your site or products, you need more than these individual recordings. Your improvements should be driven by data, and session replay tools don’t show you the important SaaS marketing metrics like conversion or adoption rates. It’s also impossible to collect data manually by going through sessions and counting the number of successful ones. While it’s possible to obtain useful data on individual users’ journeys with session replay tools, it’s hard to collect and store this data on a larger scale.   

So, in order to back up your decisions with evidence, you’d need a tool that has more comprehensive data analytics capabilities.

5. The Tool Slows Down Your Website

Unfortunately, the time and effort it takes to use these tools isn’t the only major downside. Session replay tools link to your websites to record customer behavior as it’s happening. Recording done in the background can significantly impact your site’s performance, and since nearly half of all customers (47%) expect a page to load in 2 seconds or less, you can’t afford to decrease the speed or the performance of your site.

Given all these disadvantages of session replay tools, you may now be wondering, “How can I track user behaviour and understand the full picture, all without slowing down my website and causing security breaches?” Thankfully, there are alternative tools designed to do just what you’re looking for. 

Are There Any Alternatives to Session Replay Tools?

The answer is yes: analytics and attribution software can be a replacement for the session replay tool you’re using. When comparing session replay tools to analytics software, you should consider how time-effective and secure these tools are, as well as the ease of data analysis.

Analytics Software Save You Time

These software may not record and replay customer behavior on your screen, but they’re more than able to show you the exact footsteps of customers in the form of individual touchpoints or customer journey maps

Tracking user behavior with these tools is much more time-effective than going through hours of user sessions: you can get a snapshot of all user behavior (clicks, scrolls, and all the similar touchpoints you would record with session replay tools) just by looking at a dashboard. 

What’s more, with software like HockeyStack, you can search and find individual users’ or define user segments to see their touchpoints. No need to go through sessions looking for customers who started their journey by clicking on a blog post.

It’s Easier to Collect and Analyze Data

Once you’ve identified the customers that came to your site after viewing a blog post, you might come up with more general questions. 

How often do users view your content and then sign up for a trial? 

What percentage of users then move on to activate their trials? 

Answering these types of questions is almost impossible with session replay tools but easy with analytics software. For instance, with HockeyStack, you can view the entire customer journey, starting from your content and ending with expansion, and the number of users that drop off at each step. You can also see how conversion rates are tied to customer behavior by creating customized funnels. 

Advanced Analytics Tools Won’t Affect Your Site’s Performance

If analytics software tracks hundreds of customer touchpoints and collects bits of data simultaneously, it must affect your site’s performance, right? 

The answer is no for many advanced analytics software because HockeyStack and similar software integrate into your site via a tiny piece of code. This may not  hold true for all analytics software on the market, but easy-to-integrate tools like HockeyStack don’t slow down your site’s loading time or affect its performance whatsoever.

Your Customers’ Data is Safe

Now, you may be wondering, how can analytics tools do all this without tracking users’ sensitive information like IP addresses or passwords? Unlike session replay tools, analytics software don’t track textual or numeric input, so there’s no risk of having your customers’ passwords unknowingly stored in a tool. 

Also, tools like HockeyStack anonymize IP addresses and use cookieless tracking, which means that you don’t have to worry about storing sensitive user-specific data.  

In short, you can eliminate all the risks and downsides of session replay tools via customer journey analytics tools. These tools have the same – if not better – tracking capabilities, all with advanced data analytics and data security.

Conclusion

Session replay tools aren’t “bad” or “useless.” They may very well be an essential tool for some companies. That said, if you think that using these tools takes too much of your time, and if you’re looking for a tool that will help you understand data on a larger scale,, analytics software might be a better option for your company. 

Not only do these software help you connect the dots in users’ journeys, they also increase your ROI, conversion rates and overall customer satisfaction by providing detailed insights that session replay tools cannot.

FAQ

What is a session replay tool?

Session replay tools are software that show users the behavior of their customers. These tools reproduce the exact actions of customers to help companies visualize the customer journey.

What is the best session replay software?

Popular session replay tools include FullStory, LogRocket and Dynatrace.

What is session replay in DevOps?

Session replay tools are used in DevOps to improve products based on customers’ experiences. 

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