Too Many Session Replays to Watch? Save Time: Use Funnels and Behavioral Analysis

Jack Maden
Written by Jack Maden
March 07, 2017

This is part three of a series in which we look at how to get the most out of session replays. By the end of this series, we hope you’ll have gained three things: a logical process for session replay analysis, steps to cut down on the number of sessions you have to watch, and techniques for watching a balance of sessions to ensure you investigate your project from all angles.

Part one asked CX and CRO experts why session replay is becoming so important to improving digital experiences, while part two focused on the key steps you and your team should take before watching session replays.

In this article, we look at what you should do once you’ve established your methodology and framework, and want to know a good route in to watch back an initial batch of sessions.


If you’ve been reading this series thus far – gold star, if so – you’ll be familiar with session replay’s importance to optimization programs, you’ll have your set objective for your website project, and you and your team will have established your logical framework for session replay analysis.

If you haven’t kept up with the series so far, firstly: why on earth not?! And secondly, go catch up!

Been dodging my previous hyperlinks? Well, part one is here; part two is here. There, no excuses.

If you haven’t read the previous articles, but are already familiar with session replay’s importance, and are sure you already have an effective model for session replay analysis… then I guess you’re allowed to read on.

So, now what? Well, now it’s time to begin your investigation!


A logical place to start your website analysis is with funnels. Say you’re investigating why users abandon the checkout flow. Set up a funnel that outlines each stage of that flow, like the one below.

This gives you immediate visual insight into where the leaks in the process are.

Using the funnels within Decibel Insight, it’s possible to click through to watch back session replays of users who drop off or pass through particular stages of the funnel straight away.

However, this will often still leave too large a batch of sessions to watch back. There remains a multitude of things you can do to be smarter with your time.

To really illuminate and investigate an issue, you want to look at it from as many angles as possible.

Theresa Baiocco Farr is founder of ConversionMax. She specializes in helping mid-sized businesses increase their online revenues with conversion rate optimization (CRO). She’s a repeat speaker at conferences such as Conversion Conference and Pubcon, and is regularly featured on Unbounce, the Wall Street Journal and Marketing Day: 

“Start with a specific goal, or problem you’re trying to solve. For example, Google Analytics can identify the worst leaks in the funnel for a certain user segment, then session replay can provide more insight into what those people are actually doing on each page. Use tags, filters, and user segmentation to get the most out of your tool – and your time.”

Michael St Laurent is optimization strategist at WiderFunnel. He ensures WiderFunnel delivers the most accurately developed experiments in the shortest time possible:

The biggest mistake we see marketers make is trying to sit through hours of recordings and detect patterns. In short, they are relying on session recordings as the primary method to uncover insights.

“The problem with this approach is that you are working from too granular a level and missing the bigger picture. The issues that one user is facing will not be the same as the issues another user is facing. You need to understand the mean behavior of the whole population, first.

“The biggest mistake we see marketers make is trying to sit through hours of recordings and detect patterns… Session recordings should be a supplementary tool, meant to drill down on specific areas.”

“Session recordings should be a supplementary tool, meant to drill down on specific areas. At WiderFunnel we use broader tools, like Google Analytics, to first understand patterns of the mass audience. We then use session recordings to focus on areas of interest.

“For example, if we see that the billing step of the checkout is the biggest contributor to funnel leakage, then we will filter session recordings down to see users who exited the site from the billing page. This gives us very specific insight as to what actions users were taking immediately before abandoning the process.”

Use behavioral analytics to locate frustration

You’ve identified where the most drop off in the checkout flow is occurring, but there’s still too many session replays to watch back to gain any real practical insight.

Surfacing behaviors is an automated machine-learning feature that Decibel Insight offers. Our algorithms instantly hone in on where users demonstrate frustration, for example by multiclicking or by rapidly darting the mouse back and forth, leaving a jumbled mouse trail that resembles a ‘birds nest’.

Behavioral analysis surfacing a frustrated user

Behavioral analysis surfacing a frustrated user

In the example above, behavioral analysis honed in on a user furiously multiclicking on one of our landing pages, attempting to download a piece of content. For this user, the form which gates the content hasn’t loaded, leaving them unable to download it. The user clicks repeatedly on the unresponsive form heading, and scrolls frantically, demonstrating their frustration.

Being alerted to this session with automated behavioral surfacing caused us to investigate further, and we discovered that for users with a certain browser extension, our website forms didn’t always load correctly. This led to a quick, straightforward fix, potentially saving thousands of conversions.

In Summary

Combining this kind of behavioral surfacing with funnel analysis can be very powerful. Segment sessions by users who dropped off at a certain stage, and then let the behavioral analytics locate the key areas that frustrate users.

This gives you a good initial batch of sessions to watch back to kick off the investigation into your project.

Next time, we’ll look at other techniques for honing in on useful batches of sessions to watch, and ensure you’re investigating the issue from all the relevant angles.

Topics: Conversion Optimization, Customer Experience, Session Replay
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