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Top 7 session replay tools for analyzing user behavior

If you’re a business selling online, it’s important to create a website experience your users love. A poor user experience or frustrating customer journey can negatively affect your site’s conversion rate and, ultimately, your revenue. To fully understand how users are interacting with your site and give them the best experience possible, you need to take a closer look at user behavior. That's where session replay tools come in.

Last updated

28 Mar 2024

Reading time

10 min



A session replay—a video-like rendering of a user's journey through your website—shows you what individual users saw and what they did on your site during their visit, including their clicks, page scrolls, and mouse movements. 

UX, product, marketing, and conversion rate optimization (CRO) experts use session replay tools to truly empathize with their customers and understand how users experience their site from page to page.

Here's what you need to know to get started with session replays:

1. Hotjar

Hotjar (hi! 👋) is one of the most comprehensive digital experience insights and behavior analytics platforms out there.

In addition to its powerful session recording tool, Hotjar Recordings, complementary tools like heatmaps, which let you visualize where users click, scroll, and move, and user feedback tools, like on-site surveys and feedback widgets, provide additional context for recordings data. Combine these insights to identify opportunities to improve user and customer experience.

Learn how users really experience your site. Sign up for a free Hotjar account to start using session replays today.

The Recordings tool gives you an accurate view of user interactions by capturing visitors’ journeys on your site. Hotjar’s session replays include keystroke recordings (with private details omitted*), so you can see exactly what users are doing (or trying to do) on your site. ‘Frustration’ and ‘engagement’ scores in Recordings enable you to dive straight into highly relevant recordings that are jam-packed with insights you can use to improve your site.

Recordings feature adjustable replay speeds, a variety of user attributes for accurate filtering, and advanced segmenting options, so you can focus on understanding UX in your most impactful customer segments. 

Filter your session recordings by

  • Path: which page(s) users visited, landed on, or exited from

  • Session: new or returning user, country, and duration

  • User actions and behavior: specific events users triggered (or didn't), clicks, frustration signals, and even errors to detect website bugs

  • User attributes

  • Technology: device type, browser, and OS

  • More: feedback rating and Net Promoter Score®, Optimizely experiments (via the Hotjar and Optimizely integration)

* We take privacy very seriously: we are GDPR-, CCPA-, and PCI-compliant. Read Hotjar’s approach to privacy to learn more about our commitment to protecting user data and sensitive information.

💡 Pro tip: get so much more from your data when you combine session replays with other Hotjar tools and features.

  • Heatmaps: view heatmaps on key pages to get an aggregate, visual view of user behavior, then view recordings of individual users in a single click

  • Highlights in Hotjar: save clips of customer behavior (or full recordings) to a dedicated collection of highlights to foster easy collaboration with your team

  • Dashboard: this customizable, high-level view of your most important metrics lets you zoom in on individual user behaviors by navigating to relevant session replays in a single click

  • Hotjar Funnels: if you notice a drop in your conversion funnel, it just takes one click to watch sessions of users leaving at this specific stage and understand what prevented them from converting

  • Feedback and Surveys: view a session replay of users at the very moment they responded to a survey or shared feedback to see what prompted their response 

When a user provides feedback via the Hotjar Feedback widget (that red tag to the right of your screen), click the ‘Play recording’ button to view a session replay of that user at the very moment they shared their thoughts for all the context you need to make user-centric decisions.

2. Contentsquare

Contentsquare is a digital experience analytics platform that helps you understand how and why users are interacting with your app, mobile, and websites. Their next-gen analytics tools, which include session replays, help you improve conversion, retention, and customer delight.

Contentsquare’s session replay software includes segmentation, event tracking, error flagging, frustration signals, and find-and fix notifications. It also offers advanced filtering options you can use for deeper insights into user behavior over time:

  • Filter by traffic channels

  • Analyze individual user groups

  • Analyze mobile and desktop website versions separately

  • Track individual users across multiple sessions

Through error analysis, Contentsquare’s session replay event stream helps you pinpoint where technical errors are happening and what the root cause is. With a few clicks, you can then quantify how many other users are seeing the same bugs, prioritize what to focus on, and expedite the fix. Tying in Contentsquare’s alerting capabilities then ensures that any errors that happen in the future are automatically flagged down and can be dealt with immediately.

Along with its advanced real-time heatmaps, path analysis, and AI-generated recommendations, this makes Contentsquare more suitable for larger enterprises in need of advanced analytics and optimization recommendations.

While its tools and features are similar to Hotjar, the Contentsquare suite doesn’t include surveys, NPS®, and visual feedback, which are an equally important part of understanding (and improving) the user experience.

💡 Pro tip: combine Hotjar and Contentsquare to create exceptional customer experiences that drive growth.

  • Match up Hotjar survey responses to session replays in Contentsquare: understand the reason behind any pop-up survey with a detailed rant about your site’s UX. Simply head into your Contentsquare account and find a recording of this user’s last session to see what happened. 

  • Build Contentsquare segments using Hotjar data: for example, send out a Hotjar survey asking customers whether they’d buy your product again, then create a Contentsquare segment with all of the ‘Yes’ respondents. Use this list to study and learn from happy customers’ behavior.

  • Understand bugs faster: if a user replies to a Hotjar survey saying they experienced an error, find their session replay in Contentsquare and see what it looked like through their eyes. 

⚖️ Check our full breakdown of using Hotjar with Contentsquare and learn how these platforms work together to provide a 360-degree view of user behavior on your site, product, or app.

3. Smartlook

Smartlook is a website conversion rate optimization platform that lets you perform qualitative analyses of mobile applications and web pages.

Smartlook’s session recording software includes event tracking, adjustable playback speed, and filters. It also provides a friction score for individual pages (much like Hotjar's 'frustration' score) and allows you to view a log of JavaScript errors to help identify bugs.

Smartlook works with mobile apps, but doesn’t offer feedback tools like Hotjar’s Surveys and Feedback widget.

⚖️ Check our full breakdown of Hotjar vs. Smartlook to learn more about how these tools compare.

4. Mouseflow

Mouseflow is a real-time journey intelligence platform that incorporates session replays with web analytics, heatmaps, and other conversion optimization tools. It’s designed primarily for marketing teams.

Mouseflow features adjustable replay speed along with a wide range of segmenting and filtering options.

While its features are similar to Hotjar’s, Mouseflow doesn’t have 365-day data retention or unlimited team member access.

⚖️ Check our full breakdown of Hotjar vs. Mouseflow to learn more about how these tools compare.

5. Crazy Egg

Crazy Egg is a platform designed to help businesses optimize their websites. Its features include session recordings, heatmaps, and A/B testing tools.

Crazy Egg’s session replays include site-wide visitor recording, filters, adjustable playback speed, tagging, and the ability to save favorites. These features help you determine different page variants to test with Crazy Egg’s A/B testing tool.

Unlike Hotjar, Crazy Egg doesn’t let you filter for rage clicks or u-turns when you’re trying to find sessions that reveal user pain points.

⚖️ Check our full breakdown of Hotjar vs. Crazy Egg to learn more about how these tools compare.

6. Lucky Orange

Lucky Orange is a platform designed to improve conversion rates on your website through session recordings, heatmaps, forms, conversion funnels, and surveys.

Lucky Orange features full replays, a timeline view to jump to key events, and a live view to record and follow website visitors in real time. It also lets you adjust the play speed and skip idle time.

Despite similar tools and features to Hotjar, Lucky Orange lacks historical data and has few integrations to offer, meaning it’s a tool better suited to individuals flying solo, but not for businesses seeking to grow their revenue.

⚖️ Check our full breakdown of Hotjar vs. Lucky Orange to learn more about how these tools compare.

7. Microsoft Clarity

Clarity is an open-source tool that lets you see what users are doing on your site with the help of its session replays and heatmaps tools.

Clarity features hi-def recordings at any speed, lets you share recording clips, and—like Hotjar—discover bugs that damage the user experience. This session replay tool also includes filters and integrates with heatmaps and Google Analytics 4 (GA4).

Unlike Hotjar, however, Clarity doesn’t offer the ability to collect voice-of-the-customer data via surveys and feedback widgets. 

⚖️ Check our full breakdown of Hotjar vs. Clarity to learn more about how these tools compare.

Why businesses use session replay tools—and why you should, too

Session replays show you how individual users explore your website—right down to their mouse movements and the places they click. They’re the perfect complement to quantitative data-gathering tools like Google Analytics, which help you identify traffic trends across your site.

For example, traditional website analytics tools answer questions like

  • Which pages are getting noticeably fewer sign-ups or sales than others?

  • Which pages on your site do visitors spend the least amount of time on?

  • Which pages do people visit just before they exit?

  • Which pages have the highest bounce rate?

Having the answers to these questions is helpful, but session recordings take it a step further by helping you understand individual journeys to see how and why users are completing—or not completing—certain actions on your pages.

So, what specific insights can you get through session replays?

Learn which changes to make to increase conversion rates

Session replay tools give you a detailed picture of how real users browse your site and interact with different page elements.

#Hotjar Recordings lets you capture in-the-moment feedback as users interact with your site, so you can see exactly what delights or frustrates them
Hotjar Recordings lets you capture in-the-moment feedback as users interact with your site, so you can see exactly what delights or frustrates them

After watching a few replays, you might notice users scrolling past an important call-to-action (CTA) button or browsing a product page without continuing through the sales and conversion funnel. These insights help you make changes to improve the user experience—and ultimately increase your revenue.

🔥 If you’re using Hotjar: Hotjar Recordings integrates with various A/B testing platforms, including Optimizely and Omniconvert, so you can compare the user experience across your variants in A/B and multivariate tests. Want to understand why one variant outperforms another? Just filter your recordings by your experiment IDs to see session replays of your best-performing variants—then get analyzing!

Find user pain points to lower bounce rates

Watching session replays can reveal where people are struggling on your site. For example, you might notice that users are going in circles, clicking on unclickable elements, or looking for information that isn’t there. 

Uncovering these pain points helps you create a friction-free website experience where users easily find what they need, making it more likely that website visitors will stay on your site and convert.

🔥 If you’re using Hotjar: use Hotjar's session recording filters to home in on recordings that contain strong indicators of pain points. For example, recordings with rage clicks show you where users repeatedly and quickly click (or tap) in one place, indicating broken links, slow-loading pages, or even straightforward cases of confusing design.

Uncover unknown bugs to improve UX

Because session replays show you exactly what the user saw on their screen, they reveal website bugs you might have otherwise missed—for example, loading issues or buttons and forms that aren’t working correctly. Looking at session recordings that include behaviors like u-turns (where users turn back before completing a key action) is a great way to spot bugs.

This way, you resolve fundamental issues that could be causing people to exit your site out of frustration without converting.

🔥 If you’re using Hotjar: use the console tracking feature to find and investigate bugs, fast. Watch recordings of sessions with errors to figure out what's causing them. Plus, with the Jira integration, you can automatically create an issue from a console error found in a session replay. As well as a link to the recording, your Jira issue will also include information about the error, so engineers know what’s happening under the hood. 👩‍🔧

7 features to look for in a session replay tool

Getting insights from recordings can take a lot of time—especially when you have thousands of sessions to sift through. Here are seven features to look for in a session replay tool to save time and find the most relevant recordings.

Spoiler alert! Hotjar Recordings includes each of the following features, making it one of the best session replay tools for busy teams that want to analyze user behavior and draw accurate conclusions about their customer experience.

  1. 🎯 Segmented recordings: when you want to see replays from users who took specific actions, session recording segments save you a lot of time. For example, if you want to investigate why customers on your ecommerce site are abandoning their carts, you could create a filter for visitors who exited from the checkout page.

  2. 🔎 Filters for specific behaviors: looking for recordings of users sticking around? You'll need the ability to filter by engagement score to identify what makes users stay on your website, so you can replicate this success across more pages.

  3. 🔔 Alerts and notifications: if you need to analyze particular traffic segments on your website, look for a session replay tool that sends you alerts and notifications about the segments you choose. Consider a tool (like Hotjar Recordings!) that integrates with platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams, so your most important replays will automatically be sent to a dedicated channel with all the right people.

  4. 💻 Site-wide page viewing and recording: when you analyze user behavior, you might want to understand how individuals move through multiple pages. Look for a tool that lets you watch the user’s entire journey as they click through different parts of your site.

  5. 🔐 Keyboard stroke recording with complete privacy: it can be helpful to see what your users are typing—for instance, you might want to know what they’re writing in the search bar. This is when keystroke recording is helpful. Tools with this feature will anonymize personal and sensitive data, like credit card details, while showing you what users type in search bars and other fields.

  6. 🔨 Adjustable replay speed: watching session replays can be time-consuming, especially when your users make long visits over multiple pages. Look for a tool that lets you adjust the replay speed to get you the insights you need in less time.

  7. 🐞 Console tracking: looking to reproduce bugs? Visualize the issues your bug reports identified and validate your fixes after debugging. A good session replay software makes it a breeze to spot usability issues.

I clearly remember doing a presentation for my boss’s boss. I showed him a Hotjar recording of a live user session. In it, you could see the user’s frustration—they were moving their mouse wildly and clicking and nothing was happening. Being able to give that outside perspective was great.

Dave Powell
Ecommerce Conversion Manager, TomTom

Step into your users' shoes

Your website is a treasure trove of invaluable user data just waiting to be analyzed, and there's no better place to start than with a session replay tool like Hotjar Recordings. Combine these insights with other data—from heatmaps, customer surveys, and traditional analytics reports—to understand how users behave and why, helping you empathize with them in ways you never imagined. What are you waiting for? A better customer experience is a click away.

Watch how customers use your website, no guesswork necessary

Hotjar helps you monitor user behavior on your website to understand what drives customers to convert, so you can optimize your website for success.

FAQs about session replay tools