With a big pinch of salt: What you need to know about click tracking services

May 6, 2013 5:55 pm

With a big pinch of salt: What you need to know about click tracking services

It seems like the utopian usability research tool; place a bit of JavaScript code on your website to track what users do, and then playback videos of your customers using your website at your leisure. Click tracking has been around for many years and the CRO community seem to love it. Some services have very advanced & pretty reporting tools and others that let you run an in-house system yourself. It looks great, but how reliable is it?

The truth is, unless you’re running a website without dynamic content, click tracking has some real big issues that will waste your time and potentially harm your conversion rates if you base decisions on this data.

We’ve heard horror stories – so it was nice to stumble on an in-depth article by Red Ant that matched our experiences of click tracking.

I’ll summarise the big ones below.

The playback recording is false

  • It’s not a true recording of the session, it’s just clicks and screen grabs. There’s a huge difference between what you see on the playback and what the user sees. See these two videos to understand what you’re missing.

What the user sees:

[youtube video_id=”TxLYUw2PVWI” width=”640″ height=”160″ ]

What the service records:

[youtube video_id=”PocHJYNAR7s” width=”640″ height=”160″ ]

No Cookies

  • The bot that visits the site to take screen grabs of the visit is session-less if you use cookies. What it captures and what the user saw will be different.

No Ajax

  • The bot will miss all dynamic/conditional content and interactions that are delivered by JavaScript. This is pretty huge. Take a look at the different images below:
What the bot records

What the bot recorded

User view of basket

What the user saw


  • There are huge privacy issues with recording everything a user types. Are your customers happy that you are logging every click and letter they type with a third party service?

Eye tracking with click tracking?

This is just the tip of the iceberg to get you thinking.

Now go and read the great article on Red Ant about their experiences of click tracking.