hotjar-vs-fullstory

Hotjar vs FullStory: which one should you choose?

January 28, 2020 by Hotjar team

Let’s start with a few assumptions about why you’ve ended up on this page:

  • You want to better understand your users’ behavior and can’t find the answers you need using your existing analytics tools
  • You want to make the right changes to your website, but high-level numbers like traffic and drop-off rates aren’t giving you enough clarity about what to change
  • You want to really understand why your users behave the way they do
  • You want to use this insight to create experiences your users will love, ideally leading to higher conversions and happier customers

If this sounds about right, then the great news is that using something like Hotjar or FullStory is going to be a game-changer. Going beyond traditional analytics and diving deeper into user behavior will help you achieve your goals, regardless of which software you decide to use.

That said, at this point you probably want to know which tool(s) will help you do all of the above.

There are differences between Hotjar and FullStory that aren’t just limited to the features we offer (we’ll get to that soon). What you need to figure out first is which software is best for you, based on the kind of business you’re in, what exactly you’re trying to achieve, and the level of resources (time, expertise, and yes… money) you have available. We’ll cover this below:

TL;DR: what’s the difference between Hotjar and FullStory?

Before we get into the feature-by-feature comparison, here are the four key factors to consider when choosing between Hotjar and FullStory:

  1. Hotjar’s behavior analytics software is designed to give a comprehensive view of user behavior and the actionable insights you need to improve your overall user experience (UX). FullStory is designed to index every interaction an individual user has with your site and make it searchable, and this data is very useful in identifying bugs and providing support to individual users.
  2. Hotjar combines analytics data with user feedback collection to give you a more holistic understanding of your website visitors and customers. Hotjar and FullStory both offer tools like heatmaps and recordings to visually understand user behavior, but Hotjar also gives you survey tools and feedback widgets so you can quite literally ask your users for the why behind their actions, instead of relying on your own interpretation.
  3. Hotjar is easy to get approved, set up, and use. With a comprehensive free forever plan that’s ideal for sites with up to 2,000 pageviews per day, and paid plans that start small and scale according to the volume of data you want to collect, it may be an easier financial decision to start using Hotjar (FullStory offers a free plan, but it's limited to 1,000 sessions per month).
    Plus, you don’t need to be a tech expert to set Hotjar up and quickly start getting the insights you need, and you might get a more manageable amount of data than you’d find compared to FullStory’s ‘index everything’ approach (more on this later).
  4. Hotjar is very focused on helping businesses selling online create amazing user experiences. If you’re assessing Hotjar and FullStory with the ultimate goal of understanding people, improving conversion rate, and driving more online sales, Hotjar could be a better fit; if you’re shooting for individual customers receiving better support in their online user journey, FullStory may well be the tool for you.

How do Hotjar and FullStory compare in terms of current features?

FullStory Hotjar
Free plan
Heatmaps
Session Recordings
Bug Tracking
Funnel and form analytics
Feedback widgets
Surveys (onsite and email)

Brief history and mission of both companies

FullStory was founded in 2012 by a team of ex-Google engineers. The team originally launched an unrelated product, and the idea for FullStory came about when they were trying to understand how their customers were using that product.

FullStory describes its software as an easy-to-use digital intelligence platform that helps companies solve problems, find answers, and fine-tune their customer experience. As a venture-backed company, FullStory has raised total funding of $59.2m and is headquartered in Atlanta, GA.

According to a 2018 interview with Founder & CEO, Scott Voigt, “one of the core premises of FullStory (and something we don’t market a lot) is that it really is like Google for business in that we index everything. Every single user event for a user is searchable.” Here’s a look at the kind of thing that’s searchable at a user level in FullStory:

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Source: https://www.jotform.com/blog/interview-with-fullstory-founder/



Hotjar’s story began in 2014, when our 5 co-founders joined forces with a mission to democratize analytics and feedback. Our CEO David Darmanin had been working in conversion optimization for a while and had used combinations of various tools in an attempt to better understand user behavior, but never one that did everything he needed and was accessible (in terms of cost and expertise required) to teams of all sizes.

From the start, we ensured that our software was affordable by using sampling in our data collection. This is in direct contrast to FullStory’s ‘index everything’ approach, and partly explains the difference in pricing models and scope for each tool: Hotjar’s approach allows customers to collect fewer data points at a lower cost, while still capturing a large enough proportion of traffic to be confident in the insights gained and make UX improvements as a result.

If Hotjar’s intended use was to support individual users or track bugs, we would have to capture all data, too—but, unlike FullStory, that was never part of our mission. Here’s an early diagram of how we envisioned our scope:

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how we visualized Hotjar’s scope back in 2014


Hotjar is a fully-bootstrapped (no external funding) and fully-remote (no office) company that has grown to a team of just over 100 Hotjarians living and working in 23 countries around the world (which also means: in-house support across timezones).

We remain 100% committed to giving teams of all sizes the insights they need to create experiences their users will love, and have kept our ‘free forever’ plan available from day one.

hotjar-team-2019
The Hotjar team at our 2019 winter meetup

How Hotjar gives you the insights you need to create experiences your users will love

Both Hotjar and FullStory help you develop a better understanding of your website users’ behavior through tools like heatmaps, session recordings, and funnel analytics, but with Hotjar you get an even fuller story (...pun intended) as our software also lets you collect user feedback via surveys and feedback widgets.

If you consider Google Analytics as a helicopter view of what’s happening on your site, where you get the big picture but not the specifics, then Hotjar puts you on ground level with your users so you can see what they are actually doing and find out what they have to say about the experience.

Experience your site from your users' POV

There are several methods that can be used to visually represent user behavior on a website. The most commonly used are heatmaps and recordings, and Hotjar and FullStory give you both.

  • Heatmaps show you an aggregate of user behavior on individual site pages: where do your users click and scroll? What are they interested in? Do they see the most important elements of the page, and interact with them?
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  • Recordings allow you to watch user sessions across your website, so you get to see where individual users actually get stuck, u-turn, and eventually abandon your page.
example of a hotjar recording


These are tools that both Hotjar and FullStory do a great job of delivering. There are differences, of course, but for most use cases you’ll get the heatmaps and recordings you need from both tools. The problem you may face, however, is that heatmaps and recordings by themselves can be difficult to interpret, and you can still end up making false assumptions as to why users behaved the way they did.

How do you overcome this? You simply ask for people’s feedback—which is something only Hotjar lets you do.

Stop making assumptions: understand why your users do what they do

Say you’ve got your heatmaps and recordings up and running and you’ve started noticing that users on your homepage are getting frustrated, scroll around aimlessly, and don’t seem to find what they’re looking for. The temptation is to jump in and start making changes to your homepage in the hope that the experience will improve.

To this we say: hold fire. Don’t go making changes until you’ve validated your assumptions with your users. You can do this through Hotjar, by using any of our customer feedback tools:

  • On-page polls are pop-ups on your site that allow you to ask a quick question to your users, in the moment and in context, when they are most aware of what it is they’re trying to do and what’s frustrating them.
polls_NzoPU1d.width-750.png
  • Incoming Feedback is an expandable widget on the side of your web page that lets users share their hate-to-love feedback about the page itself.
example of incoming feedback
  • Surveys let you collect user feedback after a user has visited your site and taken an action on it like creating an account or completing a purchase. While Polls and Incoming Feedback are great for users to give quick in-the-moment feedback as they visit your website, Surveys are sent out after the fact, and your users can answer in their own time.
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When combined with heatmaps and recordings, these feedback tools take your analysis of user behavior to the next level and really allow you to empathize with your users. The addition of feedback is one of the key things that sets Hotjar apart from FullStory and other offerings (for example, Crazy Egg) that focus solely on quantitative data to the exclusion of qualitative data.

5 reasons our customers choose Hotjar

1. Go further than just GA data and dig deeper

Hotjar and Google Analytics make a great team. Hotjar is not a replacement for Google Analytics, but is in fact designed to help our users to dig deeper into the insights that Google Analytics already provides. If Google Analytics tells you that you have a high bounce rate on a page, you can jump into your heatmaps and session recordings in Hotjar to understand why.

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The next time you’re reviewing your site’s performance in Google Analytics, why not jot down the questions that you still have about the user behavior that’s driving the numbers? If there are a lot of unknowns that you need to figure out before you can confidently implement changes to your site, the chances are that Hotjar can fill in the gaps for you.

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2. Not just educated guesswork, but reliable insight directly from users

Our customers love reviewing heatmaps and session recordings because it allows them to really empathize with their users, see what they see, and experience what they experience.

That said, sometimes you can review a heatmap or recording and be left with more questions: it’s not always apparent why a certain area on a page is being ignored or an important call-to-action isn’t getting the clicks it deserves. In this instance, our customers tend to turn to polls and surveys to directly ask their users about what’s going on.

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There really is no substitute for listening to what your users have to say and using that information to make the right changes to your user experience. This combination of quantitative and qualitative data is something that sets Hotjar apart from FullStory and most others in the space.

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3. Designed to help B2C businesses selling online build better experiences

Hotjar is laser-focused on businesses selling online, particularly B2C companies who can see huge benefit in terms of conversions and revenue when they make the right changes to their UX. Leaders in the ecommerce space like Ryanair and TomTom use Hotjar to do exactly that.

For sites like these, with large volumes of traffic and transactions, FullStory’s 'index everything' model would require a huge amount of data to be captured and retained at a very high cost, when most of it will never be used to inform a decision. Capturing the most relevant data at a level that still guarantees statistical significance is a far more scalable approach for businesses selling online.

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If you’re assessing Hotjar and FullStory with the ultimate goal of improving conversion rate and driving more online sales then Hotjar is likely to be a better fit. If you’re shooting for individual customers receiving better support in their online user journey, FullStory may well be the tool for you.

hotjar-review-note

4. Simple to get approved and scales with your business

Data storage costs may be declining overall, but it’s still very expensive to capture and index huge volumes of data. This is one of the reasons why behavior analytics tools were often inaccessible to smaller teams before Hotjar came along and innovated the pricing model with the goal of democratizing analytics and feedback.

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The aim here for Hotjar is to give teams of all sizes the insights they need and not to make this kind of user behavior analysis the preserve of larger, better-resourced organizations. This means removing barriers to entry and making it easy for people to get approval from their business to start using Hotjar—and this includes the availability of a free trial and the presence of a free forever plan with a generous data allowance and all of our core tools.

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Once your free trial ends (or you outgrow the free forever plan), Hotjar’s price plans scale in line with the amount of data you wish to capture. This means the cost of using Hotjar remains affordable as your traffic and business grow.

5. Easy to install, set up, and understand

Affordability is not the only barrier that needs to be overcome before getting value from a tool. In many cases, the greater obstacle is ease of use. Do you need to have a lot of existing skills and experiences in order to use it effectively? Is training or professional services from the provider required or can you just jump in on your own as a ‘non-techy user’ and find what you’re looking for?

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Hotjar is designed to be easy-to-use regardless of your level of experience or technical skills. By installing one script on your website, you get access to all of the behavior analytics tools that Hotjar offers. You can get it up and running in minutes and quickly start getting insights, sharing them with your team, and coming up with winning UX strategies as a result.

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So, is Hotjar for you?

  • Hotjar is for you if:
    • You are a business selling online
    • Your aim is to create a better user experience and improve conversion
    • You want to understand the HOW and the WHY
    • You want to get going quickly and easily and start seeing insights
    • You want the option to try for free for 15 days (or even stick with free), and then only pay for what you need as your business grows

  • Hotjar is NOT for you if you want:
    • To track all data on each individual user
    • A bug-tracking or support tool
    • A tool to replace GA
    • A tool to run A/B tests
    • An SEO tool

We hope you’ve found what you needed to choose the right tool for you. If you’re still not sure what way to go, give Hotjar a spin using our free forever plan and see if it ticks your boxes.

Ready to start using Hotjar?

Get started for free today and start learning what’s happening on your website in an easy, visual way.

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Screen Shot 2018-03-27 at 16.30.26
Hotjar team

100+ Hotjarians, 25+ countries, 1 goal: to give you and your team the insights you need to create experiences your users love.