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27. October 2020 13-minute read

8 of the best website heatmap tools, with session recordings (2020)

What are website heatmaps and session recording tools used for?

Analyzing how visitors interact with your site can seem like a difficult job.

Sometimes it happens that, despite the fact that you have created a user-friendly design to guide visitors to a specific part of the page (a sign-in button, a buy button, a subscription form), conversions do not happen as often as you would like. Heatmap tools and visitor recordings apps (also known as session replay tools) can help you find out why, by giving first-hand data about how visitors interacted with the website or app elements. They are the cornerstone of visitor behavior analysis within web analytics.

Heatmaps (alternatively spelled as “heat maps”) and session replay tools are deeply interconnected and, usually, they can be found within the same app. 

That being said, what are the best heatmap tools that also offer visitor session recordings? We had a look at several tools and focused on details such as available features, functionality, price plans, quota limits etc. What we thought to be the 8 best heatmap tools are described below.

NOTE: please keep in mind that all the tools listed also offer various extra features (website traffic stats, feedback modules, form analytics, A/B testing etc.). Therefore, it can be a little unfair to compare them based on pricing. But if you are strictly looking for a provider of heatmaps and session recordings/replays, then pricing can definitely be a factor. 

In this list, we focus only on these two features. It would be fair to say that most (or all) of the tools here can be the right solution for a customer, depending on the needs that they have. For example, if you don’t like Visitor Analytics for their heatmaps, you might like them for their traffic stats or their conversion funnels. There is nothing stopping you from using 2 or more tools from the list at the same time.

NOTE 2: we’ve added the location of the companies handling the tools in the list. Location is relevant because, under current regulations, it is illegal to transfer personal data from the EU to the US. Therefeore, you are advised to choose a tool that keeps the data of users within the EU.

1. Hotjar - Malta, EU

Expensive (starts at €39/month); good for large companies and websites with a lot of traffic; records "rage clicks", "u-turns"; has "continous capture" available.

Heatmap tool

While the number of heatmaps itself is no longer limited by Hotjar, there are limits set for the number of visits that can be processed for one of these snapshots, and they depend on the plan clients choose to install. There are also limits on the total number of pageviews per day that can be processed, that also implies a limit on heatmaps/snapshots. 

In the free plan, you only get snapshots based on a maximum of 100 visits (recordings) of that page. In the basic plan, it goes up to 2000. After that, the heatmap does not gather any more data and you would need to reset it for new results. If you need heatmaps based on more data, you can go to the business plan. In some cases, if the clicks are fewer and more scattered on a page, you may need more than those 2000 visits in order to discover and understand a trend.

Hotjar’s heatmaps have some limitations: they can’t generate heatmaps reports for pages that use “scroll-lock”, parallax scrolling, dynamic content, iFrames, pages with large file sizes or with more than 15.000 pixels in height, and content displayed using Adobe Flash. But all of these are also problematic for most of the other providers, as well.

Visitor session recordings / session replays

Most of the options you get in Hotjar session recordings are pretty standard nowadays, but there are still a few things that stand out. The fact that they can automatically identify and filter session recordings that have “rage clicks” (when a user repeatedly clicks the page) and “u-turns” (when a user turns back before taking an action) is something that few other providers have. Unfortunately, you get these options only in the Business plan, which can be quite expensive. 

It’s also nice how they connect the session replay feature to their other services, like “incoming feedback” and “Net Promoter Score”

Also, a more recent update: starting with the Business plan, you don’t even need to set up recordings, as there is now a “continuous capture” that takes care of it by default.

 

Hotjar Pricing

Hotjar is one of the most expensive heatmap tools out there, but keep in mind that it also offers other features for these prices: surveys and feedback modules. There is also a “free forever” plan, but it has several limitations. After that, prices start at €39 / month and progressively increase based on the number of daily pageviews of the website and number of daily recordings available. A big website with over 200k views / day can spend as much as €389 / month. It would get 4,000 recordings / day included in that plan.

If your website receives hundreds of thousands of visits per day, Hotjar would be a great analytics tool to use. Other than that, for smaller websites, there are also other tools available that offer the same things, at a lower price.

2. Crazy Egg - California, USA

Average price (starts at $24/month); fewer recordings included; website editor allows small website changes directly from the heatmap view; filters clicks on the heatmap; predetermined target groups. 

 

What sets Crazy Egg apart is the fact that they offer a website editor connected to the heatmaps and recordings. Customers can use it to directly move around and change the look of the website elements that they previously analyze in the heatmap tool. There are some limits to what you can actually edit, but the basics are there. 

Heatmap tool

A very interesting functionality is the confetti map, which allows you to filter clicks from the heatmap, based on several criteria. For example, you can actually see only the heatmap for visits from a certain country. Over 20 filters are available: new / return visitor, search term, search engine, operating system, browser, etc.

Visitor session recordings / session replays

The settings are again quite standard. There is not that much providers can do to innovate in this area. You can filter your recordings by country, OS, browsers, devices, page count, duration, visitor type (new visitor or returning visitor), visited page. 

Crazy Egg automatically segments part of your recordings in predetermined target groups. Some examples are: engaged users, mobile visitors, or new recordings for the current week. They enable you to exclude and whitelist some elements/pages to be recorded. 

An extra for Crazy Egg is that it offers the possibility to do “advanced searches” in your recordings lists, but these searches may take 3 days to be completed, depending on the numbers of recordings available.

Crazy Egg Pricing

Crazy Egg is not as expensive as Hotjar, with plans starting at $24/month (for which you get only 100 recordings/month, though) and going up to $249/month. Although cheaper than some, the quotas are also much lower than what you get with other providers (e.g.fewer recordings included). A benefit is the fact that Crazy Egg has 30-day free trials for any plan you may choose. A downside is that there is no free plan after 30 days, so you can’t stay free forever.

3. Visitor Analytics - Germany, EU

Most affordable plans by far (starts at $5.83/month); great value for money; all-in-one analytics tool; no cookies used; heatmaps based on up to 8000 pageviews; unlimited data storage; plan quotas are not monthly; plan limits are very generous.

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In addition to heatmaps and recordings, Visitor Analytics offers advanced traffic stats, conversion funnels, competition stats analysis etc. And it looks like the team will not stop there, adding new features all the time. No wonder their slogan is “the All-in-One Analytics App”.

Visitor Analytics is user-friendly and a lot more privacy-focused than most tools in the list. It doesn’t use cookies and offers a possibility to get all visitor data without prior consent. So no cookie banner needed for it. This surely gives users some peace of mind and less hassle.   

Heatmap tool

The main options are the same: click, movement, tap and scroll maps, available for desktops/laptops, tablets and smartphone views. It has options for geo-locating users that the maps are based on. 

Heatmaps are grouped by URL / page and this means you access a heatmap and can switch between mobile and desktop interactions in the same view. This is a little more user-friendly than it is with others. Also, Visitor Analytics heatmaps are a lot more user-friendly than others when it comes to displaying click maps for pages with lower traffic. With some other tools, when there are fewer clicks, the click maps tend to look scattered and it can be difficult to spot any behavior trends.

What is also nice is that, regardless of the plan you have, you can get heatmaps based on up to 8000 pageviews. This is a lot more when compared to what you get for the basic plans of other providers.  

Visitor session recordings / session replays

The overview has filters for country, devices, visitor type, operating system, browser, number of pages, duration and page visited. You can choose to set records strictly for visits with a certain minimum duration of your choice (for example, min. 10 sec.). A nice touch is that it allows you to apply two types of filters at the same time, to better group visitor recordings.

Another aspect that stands out is that you get unlimited data storage and no monthly quotas, but rather general quotas. This means that, for example, for the basic plan, you get 5,000 recordings and you can use them as you wish and when you wish. When you reach your quota, you can delete the ones you don’t need anymore, and make space for new ones or you can upgrade to another plan. 

If you want to keep a recording for 10 years, you can. That is not possible with the other providers, that only keep data for a limited time. This principle also applies to other features they have, and it’s a very good one, as it gives the customer more control over the data. And the quota limits are very generous.

Visitor Analytics Pricing

It is tough to beat them in terms of pricing and value for money. There is a free plan available, with all features included, and for premium plans, prices range from $5.83 to $34.99 per month. This is 5-10 times cheaper than other tools! 

Offering a lot of other features, using no cookies, being one of the most affordable apps available and providing more than decent plan limits and similar functionality to others… All of this makes Visitor Analytics one of the best heatmap tools out there (in fact, one of the best stats and insights apps altogether). 

4. Mouseflow - Texas, USA

Average price (starts at €24 / month); good plan limits; live heatmaps; filter date ranges for the same heatmap; click maps need a lot of data in order to display nicely; friction score for recordings. 

Heatmap tool

What stands out is the ability to see live heatmaps of your pages, which not a lot of tools have. Another nice detail is the fact that you can view heatmap results based on date ranges, which means you can potentially check evolutions in user patterns more easily.

A downside we noticed is the fact that click heatmaps need a lot of data in order to generate a proper range of red to blue colors. When there are fewer than 100 clicks or so, the points on the map look very scattered. For smaller websites, with not that much traffic, this could be a bit of a drawback.

Visitor session recordings / session replays

This feature has all the standard options that the others have as well. The recordings screen has filters for country, page count, duration, visitor type, OS, browser, entry page, exit page, and visited page. 

Mouseflow also offers some features for excluding and whitelisting elements to be recorded, the ability to filter by referral source, and a live stream option that enables you to see recordings in real-time, which can be very useful. For each recording, they have a friction score, which is a metric based on several behaviors that indicate user frustration. This is an original feature.

Please note that Mouseflow uses the same set of initial settings for both recordings and heatmaps, so the recordings you set up will be used for generating heatmaps.

Mouseflow pricing

Pricing is similar to that of Crazy Egg, with premium plans from €24 / month to €299 / month (if paid annually), but the plan limits are a lot higher, so you tend to get more recordings for the same prices. Also, there is a free forever plan that offers many features, but stores data only for 1 month, so it resets every 30 days. All in all, not a bad option in terms of price, although still considerably more expensive than Visitor Analytics or Lucky Orange.

5. Lucky Orange - Kansas, USA

One of the most affordable tools (starts at $7 / month); good value for money; multifunctional tool with diverse features; filters data on heatmap; shows intensity score for user activity during session. 

Lucky Orange is another tool that is better described as an all-in-one tool. It describes itself as the "original all-in-one conversion optimization suite". Indeed, it is a multifunctional tool that includes traffic statistics, recordings, chat, polls, heatmaps, funnels, and form analytics. Their dashboard is customizable, so you can move around stats boxes and remove the ones you don’t need to see very often. 

It would be hard to find a tool that has a more diverse range of features. Once Visitor Analytics launches the modules they are working on, it will be the only one we know of that will share the diversity of Lucky Orange. 

Heatmap tool

An important advantage of the Lucky Orange heatmaps is that they can offer segmentation directly on the map. In this way, you can filter and choose to see a heatmap based only on a particular type of user or visit. You can filter by behavior tags, type of browser, OS, country, region, date range, referral source, referral medium, UTMs, number of visits. This is similar to how Crazy Egg does it.

Also, heatmaps are linked directly to the recordings of the visits they are based on. The tool automatically generates heatmaps for all pages, so you don’t need to do any setup. 

Visitor session recordings / session replays

The overview of recordings and the filters available are, once again, very similar to what you find in other tools on this list. In the overview section, there are a couple of original touches: an icon indicating whether the user typed anything on his keyboard during the session (which can be useful in some cases, if there are forms on the page), and a variable that indicates the intensity of the user’s activity.

In order to see whether behavior patterns you notice in the recording are generalized for more users landing on a certain page, there is a link from every recording to the corresponding heatmaps for the pages that the user visited. We find that this is quite user-friendly and few other tools connect recordings to heatmaps so nicely. It is usually only the other way around: a connection from heatmaps to session replays.

Lucky Orange pricing

One of the most affordable tools on this list. Only Visitor Analytics is cheaper. Plans start at $7/month, but you need to pay for 2 years in advance to get that price. Otherwise, paying on a monthly basis will cost you $10/month. The most expensive plan is $100/month. All very reasonable, considering that you get more than just heatmaps and recordings. Lucky Orange earns a spot in the list of best heatmap tools.

6. Inspectlet - California, USA

Expensive (starts at $39 / month); some of the highest plan limits; the free plan includes 1000 recordings per month; limited data storage (2-3 months for lower premium plans); recordings display dynamic sites/pages and apps; demo available; can track zooms and orientation changes.

Inspectlet is another popular visitor recording and session replay tool available, that lets users record 1000 sessions per month for free. The tool includes session recordings, dynamic heatmaps, A/B testing, form analytics, and error logging (monitors all Javascript errors on your site). 

Heatmap tool

At first sight, you may get the impression that Inspectlet offers “eye-tracking Heatmaps”, but there is no technology that would enable any tool to actually follow the eye of the website visitor. In fact, this is just the name given to the mouse movement map, which is thought to be correlated with eye movement. 

There is nothing that is particularly different from other providers, in terms of heatmaps. But we would note that the tool is one of the most user-friendly and that users with low tech skills are finding it very easy to handle. Also, there are a few extra details for the mobile device data, like being able to see zooms and orientation changes.

Visitor session recordings / session replays

Session Recordings seems to be the star feature of their package. What stands out is the compatibility with dynamic sites. Other tools have a lot of trouble with providing playback of certain elements and pages that use a lot of Javascript and are more dynamic. But Inspectlet “makes it possible to playback pages that are otherwise impossible, such as dynamic pages that only show once“. It also supports single page apps. 

There is also the option to mask parts of the screen (like form fields) during recordings, in order to not reveal personal information. This is not unique. Other tools also have it, but in a slightly different presentation.

An interesting feature of their Recordings is the Demo function. Users can access their demo page and Inspectlet, for 1 minute, will record and playback their visit instantly. After that minute, the visitors will see their registered visit on that demo page so they can get an idea of how it works. Also, they do not have to create an account or register to access this function.

Inspectlet pricing

In terms of pricing, Inspectlet are more expensive than most other options, but they also offer higher plan quotas. The free plan offers a decent number of 1,000 recordings per month and the heatmap suite as well, but only 1 month of storage, so the data is deleted quite soon. Paid plans start at $39 per month and can go as high as $499 monthly, but the most expensive one is only for users that need to get data from more than 2 million pageviews and that need 250k recordings. Some users have complained that for the lower premium plans, they only get 2-3 months of storage and they sometimes need to keep data for longer. For them, there is the option to download session recordings, but only starting with the $79 plan.

7. Smartlook - Czech Republic, EU

Average to expensive, depending on how you customize your plan (lowest is €31 / month); all plans are customizable in terms of plan limits; it can generate heatmaps from retroactive data; customizable heatmap color intensity and opacity; diverse list of filters for recordings list.

Smartlook is a qualitative analytics solution for web and mobile. They offer session recordings, heatmaps, conversion funnels, and event tracking. 

Heatmap tool

An interesting feature they offer is that you can generate heatmaps from retroactive data in a matter of minutes. This is not something you see very often and it can definitely prove to be useful, as you don’t have to wait for the heatmap to gather data after it was set up. Also, filtering visitors based on type allows you to check whether, for example, returning visitors have a different general behavior than new ones. 

Another small functionality that stands out is the fact that you can change the color intensity and the opacity of the overlaid heatmap colors. This can come in handy in situations like when that dark red color is on top of a red element and you can’t properly see them. Just decrease the opacity and see better what is behind the overlay.

Visitor session recordings / session replays

As with a few other tools, Smartlook’s session recording is “always on”. They focus a lot on providing session recordings to be used for potential support tickets, which is why they choose to do things like this. 

The series of filters by which you can organize the recordings is impressive, having as many as 30 options, including some you would not normally think about. For example, see registrations of users who “clicked on text” or who “clicked on CSS selector” or “rage clicked” etc.

Smartlook then connects all of the details it has, in order to identify users by name and/or email. But be careful how you set up and use it in the current GDPR and privacy context. You will definitely need consent from your visitors for this.  

Smartlook Pricing

Smartlook’s pricing plans are customizable and they all include a 10-day free trial. There is also a free forever plan that offers (only) 3 heatmaps and 1500 sessions / month. Could be enough for some smaller websites. Other than that, heat maps are unlimited for other plans and you can choose the number of sessions / month you need yourself, as well as the timeframe for data storage. The maximum is 1 year, and it will cost you at least €151 / monthly, which is quite a lot. All in all, the price range is from €31 to €1,083 / month (the most expensive plan includes 500k sessions/month). 

8. FullStory - Georgia, USA

Pricing calculated on demand; it can get very expensive; they record every action on the website; very complex tool; automatically detects patterns in user behavior; innovative "most rage clicked" maps and "most dead clicked" maps; search bar fro any type of action within recordings; more suitable for bigger companies.

FullStory is one of the most complex tools in this list, as it goes beyond heatmaps, session recordings and stats and can supply devs with a lot of support. It can track single page apps and frameworks and claims to be able to record just about anything related to your website, regardless of the technical complexity behind it. Also, it gathers data without the need for prior set up. It captures everything. Unfortunately, this can lead to increased costs for it.

Heatmap tool

Heatmaps provided by Fullstory are named Engagement Heatmaps and let you dive into your recorded session replays, letting you understand why visitors click on some elements or not. 

The innovative part is that FullStory tries to automatically detect patterns in the way users interact with elements of your website and, in addition to the normal heatmaps, it can show you “most rage clicked” maps, highlighting areas of potential user frustration. It can do the same for clicks on non-clickable elements (“most dead-clicked”) and it also provides maps of clicks that led to JavaScript errors. These can prove vital when you are looking for errors on your site and problems in your user experience.

They also add network views and highlight your slowest pages, in connection to the heatmaps.

Visitor session recordings / session replays

You have the option to watch the sessions in real time and use it for customer support. “User is active” is displayed with green, inactive users are shown with yellow, and “tab is unfocused” will show up in gray and indicate the customers in another tab.

What is also noteworthy is that there are advanced search options that basically allow you to find any type of action and watch the recordings of it, in a playlist.

Fullstory Pricing

Here comes the biggest issue. Since they record every action on your website, they also use a lot of resources, which drives the costs up. They have a 14-day free trial. After that, you need to choose a plan. Pricing for the plans is not public and is calculated on demand. Previous users talk about situations where they got to $700-$800 / month. That all depends on the extras you need. For example, storing the data for more than 1 month costs additional money. So, a great, advanced and complex tool, but it might be more suitable for bigger companies.

That being said, there are more tools that we haven’t tested yet or we haven’t been in contact with users who have. Notable mentions are Clicktale and VWO, that we plan to have a look at in the future. In this competitive field, new tools are always showing up, as well. This is why the list will need to be updated as we go into 2021.

All things considered, you would be advised to test the apps for yourself before deciding on one. They may work differently than how they worked for us. 

If you are concerned about the transfer of data outside the EU, and if you would like to keep costs down, while still getting good functionality, we recommend you choose Visitor Analytics. Note that it is also the only one in this list that does not use cookies. This is as far as we know as of October 16, 2020.

If you find that your needs are more complex and are ready to spend (a lot) more, there are other alternatives. Most notably, Hotjar ticks the box for also operating in the EU, so it can provide adequate privacy standards and good services for bigger websites.

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