As a product manager, you spend a lot of time trying to dig into the minds of your customers and unearth exactly what the experience of using your product is like for them. Which needs or wants are they trying to address? How easy or difficult is it to complete their task? Where, specifically, do they stumble and why?
The answers to these questions are worth their weight in gold. That’s why product managers are turning to a wider array of technologies to help them survey every nook and cranny of their customers’ digital experience.
With tools like session replay, heatmaps, on-the-fly funnels, and customer event tracking, today’s picks and shovels are more sophisticated than ever. Finally, product managers have what they need to prospect for the insights that will help them optimize the customer experience to a flawless shine. The only question now is how do you use this technology to sift through mountains of data to find the nuggets that are truly valuable?
In this post, we’ll focus on the specific ways analyzing your customer’s experience can help you understand and optimize customer interactions on your site or app like never before.
What Is the Gold Standard for Understanding Your Digital Experience?
Imagine the benefits of being able to observe how real customers engage with your product.
Modern session replay makes this possible by seamlessly capturing the experience of what it’s really like to use your site or app, allowing you to observe video-like reenactments of individual user sessions in their entirety. In other words, you can see what your visitors experienced, cheer for their successes, and relive and learn from the pain of their failures.
So Many Sessions, So Little Time
However, for product managers on the hunt for answers, this staggering amount of digital experience data begs a crucial question: Where does one begin to look? If you have thousands, tens of thousands, or even millions of users in your online product or app, how do you know which sessions to watch?
You need to narrow your scope—and find only the sessions that matter. Here are five ways you can use to quickly put replay to work.
1. Find the Rage!
Session replay registers the digital equivalent of aggressive, rapid-fire button mashing on your site or app. These “frustration signals” indicate a user’s cry for help when they encounter something confusing or unexpected, and they’re all indexed and made searchable so you can quickly find and replay the sessions containing them.
As you watch these sessions, you’ll see what the entire sequence of events looked like to the user, and you’ll learn exactly when, where, and how your product failed to meet their expectations. If you’re starving for real insights, you’ll get an understanding of the steps you can take immediately to make your digital experience better.
Frustration signals are low-hanging fruit: Your users are letting you know quite clearly what they wish to do on your site, and all you have to do is pave their desire paths.
Session replay captures the following frustration signals:
Rage Clicks: The digital equivalent of rapid-fire button pushing, Rage Clicks are digital body language indicating that a user has clicked multiple times in the same area. Perhaps they are frustrated because a video is taking forever to load, or a string of text or product icon looks like it should link somewhere but doesn’t.
Mouse Thrashes: The digital equivalent of rocking the vending machine, Mouse Thrashes signify erratic or circular mouse movements. Perhaps the user is still waiting for that video to load.
Dead Clicks: The digital equivalent of the vending machine not responding at all to your selection, this type of click has no effect on the page and happens for one of two reasons: 1) A button, link, or other element isn’t working, or 2) A user clicks an element that isn’t supposed to do anything, indicating that something on the page is misleading or confusing.
Tips to Get Started
Timebox an hour to replay sessions that contain Rage Clicks, Mouse Thrashes, Error Clicks, and Dead Clicks. Take notes on what users are doing or trying to do before their experience goes south. Note any patterns and rank issues to triage based on their frequency.
2. Watch Why Users Fail to Convert
Now that you’ve investigated the issues that are causing customers to pull out their hair, it’s time to aim your sights on what may be causing you to pull out yours: low conversion rates.
Because session replay automatically records everything that happens on your site, (so long as your replay service indexes events) using it to build funnels and investigate trouble spots is incredibly easy. You don’t have to worry about setting anything up in advance. All you have to do is search for the specific engagement (such as visited URL or “Add to Cart” clicked text), user identification (such as “return customer”), or properties (such as “product SKU”) you wish to include.
Oh, and remember our frustration signals? You can add them to your funnel to narrow your investigation even further. Basically, you can get as granular as you want and set up your funnel to include any combination of events in the order you specify, or in any order.
Once you’ve drilled down to the sessions that match your exact criteria, it’s time to watch and learn from the firsthand experiences of individual users who failed to act in the way you wanted them to. As you watch exactly what they did before abandoning a shopping cart or ignoring a CTA, for example, you’ll gain the context needed to explain why drop-offs are happening.
Tips to Get Started
How about diving right into your most consternating conversion issues first? For example, what’s the story behind users who add items to their shopping cart and enter their purchase information but still bounce before completing their purchase? Build a funnel and replay these sessions to find out.
3. Find and Fix Buggy Code
What other ways can your team use session replay to quickly find golden insights? It’s time for your engineers to put on the headlamp.
Few things send users scrambling away from your site faster than the sight of an ugly, scary-looking software bug. And few things are more time-consuming for your engineers than trying to reproduce a bug and find the source of the problem. It’s a painstaking process requiring a ton of guesswork.
Engineering teams at thredUP, GenM and Sixty rely on session replay to understand and replicate bugs.
Tips to Get Started
4. Optimize Onboarding
Another way to dive right into using replay for a specific purpose is to analyze the behaviors of your prospective customers: specifically, ones who signal interest in demoing your product. You want your demo to be as easy as possible to complete and for them to fully grasp the value of your product so they’ll sign up.
When you watch the sessions in which users interact with your demo, you can easily pinpoint the sources of frustration that may be preventing them from taking the next step.
The team at Classtime (formerly Go Pollock), an online education tool, did exactly that. K-12 teachers use Classtime during lessons to quiz their students (who answer on their own devices) and gain immediate feedback on their level of comprehension.
The Classtime UX team was curious why so many of the teachers who visited their demo page failed to make it through the setup process and actually start the demo.
As they watched user after user gets tripped up in certain areas, they quickly diagnosed the reasons why and developed a list of improvements:
After implementing these solutions, Classtime saw their conversions to the next page immediately increase by 25%. Class dismissed!
Tips to Get Started
Whether you’re looking to optimize a demo, tutorials, or other onboarding features, session replay can help you make sure users learn how to use your product with as little friction as possible. You can find these sessions by searching for users who visit a specific URL (such as the demo page) or who engage with a specific element (such as onboarding pop-ups).
5. Search Their Search
Our last way to mine your replay data is to use it to make your knowledge base significantly more helpful. Indeed, watching users interact with the search bar in your knowledge base is a powerful learning experience. Viewing these sessions can help you find insights into helping your site visitors find the answers they’re looking for—quickly, easily, and with no frustration.
Case in point, eCommerce platform Shopify used session replay to unearth the gaps in their knowledge base and fill them with relevant content. First, the Shopify UX team discovered that users commonly entered questions into the search bar, such as “What can I sell on Shopify?” and, based on this knowledge, they created dedicated answer pages to address frequent queries.
The team at Shopify also used session reply to provide additional context for the feedback they received for articles on their help center. At the bottom of each article is a section where users can provide optional feedback on its helpfulness. These ratings and comments often fail to paint the full picture of why users are dissatisfied. With replay, Shopify can fill in the missing context around negative user feedback by watching the sessions that prompted it.
Tips to Get Started
Playback digital experiences to pick up trends on how users look for answers, and if you notice common searches that are coming up empty, start compiling a list of missing content to address.
Search and Replay Their Digital Experiences to Find Insights You Can Take to the Bank
Session replay offers a way to see the digital experience “through your users’ eyes” exactly how your product is fulfilling—or failing to meet—their expectations. And with these tips, you’ll be able to narrow your scope and extract the most valuable nuggets from this data goldmine, which will in turn help inform exactly what ends up on your product roadmap.
Want to learn more about session replay? Check out FullStory’s Definitive Guide.