Session Recording: Effective or Invasive?

Session RecordingYesterday, we discussed Hotjar’s visitor recording feature. Which raises the question, are session recording tools an invasion of privacy? Or are they a powerful insight for businesses to understand their visitors behaviour?

Protecting internet user’s privacy, particularly websites using session recording tools, makes an interesting debate. GDPR came into effect on 25th May 2018, which protects consumer’s data and privacy, so, do you think session recordings are an invasion of privacy?

In this article, we will be discovering the strengths and weaknesses of session recordings, and why many businesses view them as a necessity to understanding their audience.

If you aren’t familiar with Hotjar, you can catch up here:

What is a Session Recording?

Online tracking can go beyond just website analytics.

Session recording allows website owners to record, save and replay individual interactions visitors have on a website. Visitors are recorded as they click, scroll, type and navigate across a website.

Essentially, what you did, someone else can replay.

We already know on the internet we are never alone and nothing that we do is every really a secret. Tools like Google Analytics can access our geographical area, how we landed on the site and what we clicked on whilst on a site. But is recording our every move, where we scroll to, click and type a bit too far?

Strengths of Session RecordingSession Recording

  • – You can see how visitors react to a new page or new feature on the site
  • – Review the impact of your website on an individual level
  • – Deep insight to interactions
  • – Uncover where visitors are exiting your website, and what they viewed beforehand
  • – You could potentially discover bugs or errors on the website
  • – You could be led to key ways to improve the website

Weaknesses of Session Recording

  • – Analysing individual behaviour from a website with large traffic is very time consuming
  • – Potential privacy risk of personal visitor data
  • – Possibly unsettling for website users to know you’re watching what they do
  • – No context – recordings don’t offer an explanation as to why visitors behave as they do

Put yourself in the customers shoes. Imagine visiting a website and knowing a profile is being created on you. The website has software installed to watch your every move, where you have scrolled, what you have clicked on and what you’ve hovered over. It might seem a bit creepy, but it’s a valuable tool for the business and you.

Why We Think Session Recording is Needed for Websites

Session RecordingBusinesses install session recording for legitimate, advantageous reasons. It’s there for them to develop a deeper understanding into how you interact with their website, so they can work on improving it for you.

For example, if a lot of visitors on a website scroll past the first CTA (call-to-action) button on a page, it’s useful for the business to know why this is the case. By watching session recordings, they can understand if users hover over it for a few seconds (presumably thinking about clicking on it) or if they scroll past it right away (presumably because it hasn’t caught their eye). They can identify if they need to offer more incentives for visitors to click on the CTA button, or if they need to make it clearer that it’s there.

The Bottom Line

To conclude, whilst we understand why visitors may feel session recording is invasive, we predominately see it as a powerful marketing tool, that businesses should be making use of. But what do you think? You can share your opinion in the comment section below.

Why not check out our Digital Marketing Terms Glossary?

About the author: 

Marie Harwood is a Digital Marketing Assistant at Different Gravy Digital, Hale, Cheshire.

Different Gravy Digital are a full service Digital Marketing Agency operating in the Hospitality & Leisure, Financial Services, Legal & Property sectors.  Products and services range from; 3D & 360° Tours, Website Design & Build, Social Media, Video Production, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Content Creation, Email Marketing, Online Feedback / Review Systems and Paid Advertising (Google, Bing and Social Media).

Contact Details:

0161 706 0004

120a Ashley Road, Hale, Altrincham, Cheshire, WA14 2UN