4 Ways Top Digital Teams Harness Session Replay for Impactful Web Optimizations

Liam Burns
Written by Liam Burns
October 09, 2020

In an era where the quality of the digital experience has become a critical factor in the success of your website or app, what does your team do to deliver on rising customer expectations?

Rightfully so, many teams turn to web analytics to gauge website or app quality, but unfortunately the data provided by web analytics platforms fails to reveal the core user experience (UX) issues causing metrics to rise and fall. In fact, 42% of professionals say their analytics systems just don’t meet current needs, which is why top digital teams rely on other tools.

To find out exactly how top digital teams get around these limited insights, we collaborated with conversion expert Jay Baer, the founder of Convince & Convert.

After interviewing experts from 8 top brands about their approach to optimizing user experiences, it became clear session replay is fundamental for augmenting web analytics to uncover insightful user behaviors. Using session replay, teams can watch back user sessions and get an ‘over the shoulder’ view of the real issues causing user frustration, derailing user journeys, and impacting web analytics data.

As Sharon Flynn, Senior Manager for Digital Analytics at Bank of Montreal, indicates: they have “Adobe Analytics deployed on every single digital touch point” while using Decibel’s session replay as a “diagnostic solution to immediately evaluate datasets.”

To align your web optimization efforts with some of the top teams in the world, we’ve compiled four ways you can harness session replay to augment your web analytics data.

1. Review poor experiences across underperforming and high traffic pages

It may sound obvious, but it bears repeating: there’s no better place to start investigating user journeys than those with known issues and plenty of user traffic.

Tony Lloyd, VP Digital Customer Experience at Marriott Vacations Worldwide, emphasizes that: “There are these micro journeys that really define the overall user experience, so we evangelize it from a brand and digital perspective.”

And to better optimize those micro journeys on websites or apps, top digital teams turn to session replay for a closer look at areas of friction, frustration, and underperformance.

Whether you’re investigating a spike in checkout abandonment or rising time on site data on your homepage, session replay gives you that coveted first-hand look at what’s happening. Watching back sessions you may learn checkout abandonment has resulted from slow loading pages, whereas longer user sessions have apparently resulted from a confusing navigation menu.

Now, it’s just a matter of fixing those UX issues on your site’s most popular or problematic pages.

2. Pinpoint user frustrations leading to changes in conversion and abandonment

You can find out a lot by the way someone behaves – and it’s no different online.

With session replay showcasing user behaviors exactly how they unfold, it’s no wonder why 95% of practitioners rate session replay effective for digital optimization.

Top teams look for drops in conversion and spikes in abandonment to spearhead investigations with session replay. Watching back sessions with user behaviors like multi-clicks, bird’s nests, device rotation, and many others showcase clear instances of frustration that directly impact the user experience.

Sharon Flynn, Senior Manager for Digital Analytics Team at Bank of Montreal highlights that: “Being able to watch where that pain point is, to be able to slice and dice the data on the Decibel side with the same segments and ways we slice and dice in Adobe keeps a continuity of approach and methodology.”

With the ability to watch back user sessions showcasing clear user pain points and frustrations reflected in web analytics data, you can finally focus on optimizing the right areas to boost key metrics.

3. Investigate user experience issues reflected by form analytics data

Are your online forms converting users as expected? Or do they act more like a hurdle?

If it’s the latter you’re not alone, as only 49% of users add details to an online form after viewing it – and only 16.5% actually complete it. The best digital teams will turn to their form analytics to catch potential issues derailing these journeys and dive deep into these problems with session replay.

Whether you’re seeing increasing validation errors, low completion rates, or lengthy time-to-complete, playing back sessions connected to this data will allow you to see firsthand points of friction hurting form metrics.

Watching back how users behave on forms definitively highlights if these conversion gateways are poorly laid out, too far down the page, lack engaging content, or somewhere in between.

4. Explore instances of friction revealed by voice of customer (VoC) data

Customers are more than willing to tell you when there’s a problem, in fact 62% of customers share their bad experiences with others.

So how exactly can you address friction experienced by these vocal users? Directly connect that feedback to tangible UX fixes. Rachel Bader, Digital Product Manager at Chipotle shares that: “All of the different channels in which we communicate, and listen to our customers, are integrated into our process.”

More specifically, integrate Net Promoter Scores (NPS), Customer Satisfaction Scores (CSAT), direct surveys, and online reviews with session replay – this is a top team’s gold mine for web optimizations. Since VoC data doesn’t pinpoint specific cases of user frustration reflected by these metrics, digital teams can uncover those crucial details by using session replay.

Whether you’re investigating concerning NPS feedback or a spike in negative customer survey responses, session replay integrated with VoC data can surface user sessions directly impacting this data, allowing you to quickly visualize and address those issues with ease.

Model your web and app optimization methods after top digital teams

With tips from some of the top digital teams in the game, you’ve got the know-how to maximize your web analytics data with session replay insights. No more unknowns behind metrics, just a straight look into the user experience and discovering where you can make impactful web optimizations.

As you and your team strive to put together and fine-tune the best possible experience on your website or app, wouldn’t it be nice to have top experts guiding you along the way?

Collaborating with conversion expert Jay Baer, the founder of Convince & Convert, our latest guide features sage advice from top teams at brands like Chipotle, Marriot Vacations, and Web.com, and more. Download What Top Teams Do Differently to Optimize Digital Customer Experiences to model and align your practices with notable industry experts.

Topics: Analytics, Conversion Optimization, Session Replay, Website Performance
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