Microsoft Clarity | A New Site Heatmaps & Sessions Tool

In this article, I’m going to introduce you to Microsoft Clarity. A new tool without any traffic sampling for free heatmaps and session recordings of your site. Why? Simply, because building a compelling and user-friendly website is hard.

And although A/B testing, guesswork, and intuition can steer you in the right direction, it’s still difficult to understand what moves your metrics. With data and session replay from Clarity, you’ll see how people are using your site — where they get stuck, and what they love.

What Is Microsoft Clarity?

The free analytics tool by Microsoft provides all website usage statistics, session recording, and heatmaps for webmasters. Whilst compared to Google Analytics (and other web analytics platforms), it’s a little basic. But it’s robust, it’s easy to use, and it has some interesting features.

What Is Microsoft Clarity?

Microsoft Clarity is Microsoft’s free behavioral analysis tool. That enables webmasters and website owners to visualize their user behavior at scale. Whereby, they can make data-driven decisions on changes needed to optimize conversion, engagement, and retention.

Traditionally, user research and A/B experimentation are used to update web experiences. While these are proven techniques, they each have limitations. For instance, users in research studies may not fully represent your target audience.

Then again, A/B experimentation doesn’t necessarily explain why your metrics changed. And as such, Clarity fills in these gaps by letting you replay your users’ sessions so easily. In order to see what’s working smoothly and what isn’t.

Additionally, detailed heat maps show you where users clicked and scrolled and how they moved around the site. With Clarity, you can discover which parts of a page drive the most engagement. Not to mention, you too can sign up for free to start right away!

How Microsoft Clarity Works

First of all, Clarity is so GDPR compliant as a data controller (for more information, see the Microsoft Privacy Statement). Whereby, it processes data in compliance with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Refer to Terms of use to know the Privacy Policy it uses.

Secondly, Clarity captures all the user interactions on your website. Like how the page has rendered and what interactions your user had on your website — such as mouse movements, clicks, scrolls, etc. The code to capture this information is open source and available on GitHub. You can choose to mask your users’ data.

On the other hand, you can use Clarity on multiple subdomains under the same website too. All you’ll need to do is add your project’s script to each subdomain and page you want to be instrumented. And, of course, it requires some modern browser APIs but should never throw exceptions on older browsers.

It tracks and collects mouse events through the installed tracking code of the project. By choosing the best screenshot to ensure that the top elements are included. Top elements are ranked in order of clicks on a page. Element ranking is absolute in aggregate to all page views for a given set of filters.

Which Are Its Key Report Features?

What I know so far is that it’s designed with performance as one of the topmost priorities. Hence, there is no perceivable impact on your site’s end-user experience. So far, Clarity will work on a majority of sites with little code.

Not to mention, onboarding to Clarity is ultimately free and easy. But, Financial, Government, and Medical Websites are discouraged to board on. And though any site architecture is supported, it won’t be able to render inside ‘iframe’ or ‘canvas’ elements.

Another sidekick is that it supports all browsers that execute JavaScript — including all modern browsers. To run it on your website, you’ll need access to your website’s <head> section. And then finish the Setup process. Other features include:

1. Dashboards & Metrics

As you might expect from an analytics tool, Clarity provides an extensive overview in the form of a dashboard. This contains all of the usual kinds of metrics you’d expect; session counts, total users, page view details, and similar.

Surprisingly, the dashboard lacks some of the metrics you might expect in a tool like this. There’s no ‘bounce rate’, no ‘conversation rate’, and none of the kinds of tables you might be used to from tools like Google Analytics. You also can’t compare performance across multiple date ranges or segments.

Beyond the usual metrics, Clarity does try to provide some clever insight. Specifically, it tries to identify when users encounter friction. Special reports like ‘rage clicks’ and ‘excessive scrolling’ show users who might have been confused or annoyed.

Digging into these can be a great way to find out where your website is letting your users down. Fixing those issues might be a great way to improve engagement, reduce bounce rates, or increase conversions.

2. Clickmaps & Heatmaps

Most analytics tools do a good job of understanding which pages users navigate to and from. But it’s often much harder to understand how they behave whilst they’re on a specific page.

Clarity’s heatmaps tools record where users click and allow you to explore and filter this. This kind of view can help you to understand what your users want, and, where your designs and layout might be confusing them.

Clickmaps are split out into desktoptablet, and mobile versions. That lets you explore behavior by device category. The functionality here is a little basic, but a future update promises more options. Of note, we’re expecting the addition of scroll maps.

These will visualize the content people see as they scroll down the page, rather than where they click. That’s a different type of data, which can be very useful in helping understand how users navigate.

3. Sessions Recording

One of the great attractions of Clarity is that all sessions are recorded. Clarity logs the mouse movements, scrolling, and clicks of every visitor to the site. These can be viewed and replayed at any time in the future.

Each of the dashboard panels provides shortcuts into these kinds of video recordings. You can drill down to see recordings from popular pages, from frustrated users, or from specific browsers.

Adding a project can be done in three simple steps (see the simple steps of getting started in detail). Whereas, you can add an unlimited number of projects for each domain or website.

If you are an Admin of the project, you can modify the project settings too. Such as changing the project name and site category. For more information, see the Project Management user guide.

Always remember, you’ll not be able to recover any data associated with the project after you delete it. You can delete a project only if you are an Admin of the project. Deleting a project will also remove it completely for all team members. Thus, you’ll not be able to undo this action. Follow these steps to delete a project.

4. Filtering & Custom Tags

To get useful insight, you can use filters to see data with specific criteria. For example, you might want to see session recordings where the user filled out a form, or, see heatmaps from pages where users seem frustrated.

Combining multiple filters can be a great way to dig down into user behavior, and to find problems to solve. Moreso, filtering becomes really powerful when you start using custom tags. With a little code, you can send extra information to Clarity.

That information can be about the page the user is on, the user themselves, the weather, or anything at all. Once you’re firing those tags, you can filter your reports to see metrics, session recordings, and heatmaps for sessions and pages where they fired.

Some great use-cases for custom tags include tracking ‘conversion events’ on your website, like when users buy thingsregister accounts, or fill out forms. Some less obvious, but also useful filters might include tracking whether the user is logged in, or, what type of page they’re looking at.

With that tracking in place, you can filter your dashboards and reports to see how specific users behaved. Unfortunately, there’s no way to compare filtered data (to all data, or to other filtered data). That means that you won’t be able to, for example, compare the ‘conversion rate’ across different custom tags.

5. An Easy Platform Installation

Getting your tracking up and running requires that you sign up to Clarity and create a ‘project’. Once that’s done, you need to get the tracking code onto your website. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, there’s no Microsoft Clarity WordPress Plugin.

That means that getting set up requires you to copy-paste the tracking script into your site template. Or rather, use a third-party system like Google Tag Manager to manage it. Either way, the core Clarity script is very simple – just one block of code to paste into the page, and you’re done.

There’s even a walkthrough of the steps (for each approach) in their documentation. For now, Clarity is just a very new product. And, therefore, there’s certainly some work to be done first. Before it’s ready for extensive or commercial usage.

It Isn’t Replacing Google Analytics!

It’s clear that Microsoft Clarity isn’t a comprehensive, all-in-one analytics platform. That’s not a bad thing, though. From my perspective, it even seems like an intentional design decision. That it’s not trying to be everything.

Rather, it’s trying to be a session recording tool, heat mapping tool, and ‘user behavior overview’ tool. And that focus helps it do a good job. Because of those limitations, you should probably think twice before throwing away all of your other tracking tools.

Related Topic: How To Track Your Site Visitors | Topmost Best Tools to Use

Whilst there are some interesting metrics and reports, it’s clear that Clarity isn’t fully-featured enough – to act as your primary analytics tool. That’s especially true if you have a complex site with multiple goals. As well as active marketing campaigns, and lots of moving parts.

But you can run both tools side-by-side. They even integrate together, with just a few clicks. Once enabled, Clarity passes information back to Google Analytics. That lets you see which Clarity recordings are associated with any of your Google Analytics sessions. That way, you get ‘the best of both’ platforms.

Takeaway, 

As can be seen, Microsoft Clarity is a very new but great web analytics tool by Microsoft. Allowing webmasters and website owners to record information about users who visit their website, and how they behave. While summarising all that information in the form of dashboards.

It allows you to explore and highlight interesting site segments and user behaviors. In addition, it also provides you with all the basic information on site user sessions, interactions, and engagement too. While breaking users down by device typecountry, and other dimensions.

Related Topic: How to Increase Organic Site Traffic from Google for Free!

And for all of these views, you can explore heatmaps and session recordings. These records might help you to better understand your users and their problems. You might be able to use that insight to improve your website.

Finally, I hope you’ll go straight ahead and try this new tool yourself too. So, if you’re a new user, you’ll start by signing up. You can always refer to Setup to know how to manually install the script. Or even start installing the Clarity tracking code right away.

Later on, feel free to share some of your thoughts, contributions, and suggestions in our comments sections. But, if you’ll need more support, you can Contact Us and let us know how we can help you.

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