How To Legally Spy On Your Website Visitors

February 20, 2012

Welcome back to the Infinite Conversion Loop. Hopefully since the last post, you’ve not only got your Analytics accurate, but also are getting more visibility into who is visiting your website.

Maxwell Smart

Have you ever found yourself staring at your Analytics data, wondering “What the heck is wrong with these people on my website? Why would 10,000 people come to my site, but only 100 of them decide to purchase anything? I mean my site LOOKS awesome, and I’d give me money.” Unfortunately, we can’t actually view what people are doing without resorting to something illegal… or can we?


Enter ClickTale. ClickTale records a sampling of your visitor’s behavior for an entire session using JavaScript to detect mouse movements, clicks, time on page, etc… it’s able to do this in such a way that it really feels like you are watching a video of someone using your website. ClickTale is pretty pricey ($99/month for the lowest level), but I think running it at least for a month or two will give you all sorts of insight you just can’t get looking at the numbers.


For example, one thing I always wanted to understand was the low usage of the advanced search on my site. I saw in analytics that few people were searching with these advanced options, but I didn’t understand why. ClickTale gave me the other piece of the puzzle, people were TRYING to use the advanced search, but getting confused by the options. As I watched them click radio button after radio button, only to click the Back button 90% of the time, the UI problem became clear.

Another benefit to ClickTale is it also sort of does your cross-browser testing for you, quietly in the night. It logs JavaScript errors, and lets you search on them, so you’ll discover the JavaScript error that you didn’t realize was occurring on IE7 or Firefox 4 for OS X.

The only frustrating thing with ClickTale is that you’ll see people who are clearly confused, but you can’t ask them why!! (I’ll cover this in the next post).

Google Analytics

Since we’re big fans of Google Analytics here at LunaMetrics, if ClickTale is out of your budget, another great option is available to you now in GA.

One of the best new features Google has added recently was Flow Visualization in Google Analytics. Jim does a great job in the videos on that link explaining the basics, so let’s put them to work in figuring out what people are doing.

Flow Visualization

When you go to the Visitors Flow report, it may be confusing at first. I believe the default view is by Country, which probably isn’t useful for the majority of you out there. I typically choose by “Medium”, since that’s usually the most interesting for understanding how different types of visitors flow (since organic search comes in at the index, affiliates go to the deepest level, and cpc goes to landing pages).

Quickly you can see some interesting things, a quarter of my affiliate traffic is going to 404 pages! Also, almost all of the organic and referral traffic is going to the index of the site.

Keep adding steps on the right until you see all the large patterns. Don’t get too hung up in the outliers that only have a few “connections”. Look for the trends… are people clicking to search and then going back to home? That probably shows they can’t find what they are looking for. Does it seem like an abnormally long set of steps to get to the Checkout? Maybe your sales funnel can be optimized.

I’m sure some of you might be thinking “What about GA’s In-Page Analytics?” Well, it’s there…

But because it doesn’t differentiate between clicks on different buttons (any links with the same URL will be counted equally), I would only use this for the most barebones analysis.

All of this is just the first pass at UI changes to increase conversions. Use these tools to solve the big problems preventing users from converting, next time I’ll show you how to get to really get down to the heart of things.