How Session Recording Can Tell You More Than Google Analytics

How Session Recording Can Tell You More Than Google Analytics

We love Google Analytics. Really, we love it. However, with all the insights we glean from Google Analytics, there are some things it can’t tell us. That is where live session recording comes in. If Google Analytics is the broad view of our website audience, live session recording is the single person, granular view; Showing us how each individual user is using the site. That is why we record every user that visits our site… let me show you an example of why that is beneficial to us.

One of the sites we developed is a popular food blog. On it, you can find fun recipes, holiday treat ideas, tips for moms and more. During one of our monthly audits, we saw some users bouncing back and forth between the home page and a recipe post. The time spent on each page was extremely low: 2 seconds on the recipe post, then going to the home page for 1 second, clicking back on the recipe for a couple seconds, then back to the home page, and so it went. That kind of behavior seemed quite odd… why would someone just bounce between pages? Bring in the session recording!


What we found (somewhat surprisingly), is that some users that were browsing on a mobile phone were arriving at the blog post and not scrolling down to view the actual recipe! It should be noted, that in our
experience most people on mobile do scroll at least a little bit. However, in this user and about 5% of other users case, they were simply landing on the blog post, not scrolling, but instead furiously tapping on the featured image trying to get to the recipe. Presumably not getting the recipe, they would go to the home page, seeing the post, and clicking it again. “I want that recipe from the home page!” I could see them saying, then clicking on the picture trying to get more… “That’s not giving me anything, back to the home page,” they’d say, and then back to the post and so on.

In our design, the featured image offered no interaction when clicked. However, we had learned that any user click should be rewarded, it increases conversions. We also saw that between our logo, featured image, title, category tags, and social media sharing icons, our actual blog content was below the fold (not in immediate view on page load). We had two problems:

  1. We weren’t rewarding a click.
  2. Our content was below the fold.


We set out to resolve those problems. First off, we set an engagement click so that when our featured image was clicked, it scrolled you down to the actual content. Then, on mobile, we move the social sharing icons down to the bottom of the post, ensuring that you could see the blog post content above the fold at all times. Since then, we have seen a drastic fall off in post > home page > post interactions.

Although Google Analytics is great, it would have been extremely hard for us to get this user interaction story from the data alone. We needed to see the user, watch their behavior to uncover the story. That is why in everything we do, we utilize every tool possible to get the full data driven design story possible! Hurrah data!


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