Treat Session Replay like a Microscope: Smart Optimization Advice from 4 CRO Experts

Jack Maden
Written by Jack Maden
March 21, 2017

This is the final part 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. Part three advised on a good route in to watching back an initial batch of sessions, and part four noted further techniques for investigating your optimization objective with relevant session replays.

In this article, we wrap up the series with a summary of how to put everything together, along with some final words from our conversion optimization and customer experience experts.


And so our series on how to get the most out of session replay comes to its end!

So far, we’ve advised on how to set an objective and develop a framework for session replay analysis, discussed how to start your investigation, and looked at various techniques for honing in on insightful sessions to watch back.

By the end of this concluding article, then, the pressure’s on for us to have delivered on the three promises we made at the beginning of the series. Namely, that reading it would give you three things:

  1. A logical process for session replay analysis
  2. Steps to cut down on the number of sessions you have to watch
  3. Techniques for watching back a balance of sessions to ensure you investigate your project from all angles

My strategy for delivering on these promises is twofold. Firstly, I’ll come up with an ingenius solution for linking all previous learnings from the series together. Secondly, I’ll run away hand over to the experts who have featured throughout this series for a final word on session replay.

Combine with segmentation

Ah yes, our old friend segmentation. Segmentation allows you to pull all of the filtering techniques discussed so far in this series together, generating a ridiculously relevant list of sessions to watch back, and cutting down on the amount of time it takes to find interesting and important insights into your website.

Segment by a certain funnel stage drop out, then layer multiclick behaviors on top of that, and device reorientations on top of that, a particular form field abandonment on top of that, and browser version on top of that – the ways you can slice and dice the data are limited only by your imagination and, more practically, by the purpose of your investigation.

Segment your users to combine all of the techniques discussed in this series, ensuring the sessions you watch back are always hyper-relevant and useful

Johann Van Tonder is the COO at AWA digital, a leading international Conversion Rate Optimisation agency specialising in ecommerce, and co-author of E-commerce Website Optimization, the world’s first how-to business book specifically for ecommerce websites:

“Filter clips based on pages visited, device type and other relevant conditions. This segmentation is key. Pick your area of interest and watch those selected videos back to back at high speed. For example, you could watch only sessions which abandoned checkout. Or examine the progression from Product Listing Pages (PLPs) to Product Detail Pages (PDPs).

“Aim for 100 – 200 recordings per key area of the site. Record anything remotely noteworthy in a spreadsheet that you can review later on in the context of other insights.”

Putting it All Together

Microscopes are fantastic pieces of equipment. They allow scientists to get up close and personal with whatever it is they are examining, and to see things with a fresh, extremely detailed perspective.

But scientists don’t just waltz about the lab randomly looking through microscopes, hoping for a breakthrough: they carefully plan and research that which is being examined first. The microscope comes last.

The approaches outlined in this series demonstrate that session replay is at its most effective when treated as the analyst’s microscope – and segmentation is the petri dish which determines the sessions you observe. Use your quantitative learnings to determine which qualitative data is worth investigating.

The most important takeaway of the series? Contextualize your investigation, and ensure you record your observations in a logical, practical fashion, guaranteeing you glean the most insight possible from your session replay tool.

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

“It’s easy to get lost trying to fix issues for individual users, so if you are not sure what you are looking for, you may find yourself burning through hours watching recordings. The key is to solve for probability, not possibility, so use session recordings to expose issues that you know are part of a larger, important problem. When used correctly, session recordings can be an extremely powerful method of uncovering insights.”

Hans Hoogenboom is a conversion strategist at Fresh Egg, where he works with a range of clients across different sectors both in the UK and internationally:

“It sounds obvious but it’s important to approach session replays with a good idea of the problem you’re looking to solve. It’s easy to waste a lot of time watching replays of entire user sessions: ensuring you focus on key areas of analysis is vital.”

Chris Wallis is optimization executive at Mezzo Labs. He helps customers optimize their digital experiences through A/B and MV testing:

“Ultimately, it’s all about knowing what to look for. Don’t go in to a session replay tool blind – make sure you have the context for what you’re investigating.”

In summary

So draws to a close our series on getting the most out of session replay. Did we deliver on our three promises? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments below.

Topics: Conversion Optimization, Session Replay
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