When understanding in-depth user behavior and activity on your website, relying on traditional analytics tools like Google Analytics isn't going to cut it. Such tools only provide a helicopter view of the users' actions. To understand the 'whys,' behind the actions, we turn to more comprehensive tools.
Among those, Hotjar and FullStory are the top names. Now both of these are excellent conversion optimization and user experience analytics softwares. However, both also come with their own set of strengths and weaknesses.
What are those strengths and weaknesses, and how do these tools stack up against each other? Let's find out in this article, where we will compare Hotjar and FullStory feature-by-feature and find out which one's the best for you based on their relative capabilities and your needs.
So without further ado, let's jump in!
Before we get any deep into the review, let's briefly look at both tools and their core differences:
Hotjar is a web analytics tool and user experience tool that allows you to access data about your website's user behavior and provides you with practical feedback you can use to improve your website's performance. Hotjar provides you with deep insights regarding your overall website design, content, and navigation you can use to improve user experience.
By recording visitors' activity, you get detailed data about where your users click, scroll, and tap and where they don't. Hotjar aims to eliminate all the guesswork regarding your website analytics and provides you with key demographics to take your customer experience and conversions to the next level.
FullStory is a web and user behavior analytics tool that, according to their team, is "an easy-to-use digital intelligence platform that helps companies solve problems, answer questions, and fine-tune their customer experience."
Like Hotjar, FullStory also provides complete data on what the users are doing on your website, but the data is more raw and detailed (more on that later). It also provides complete details on your website's bugs and the challenges users might face.
From the brief descriptions above, Hotjar and Fullstory seem similar tools, right? Well, they are, actually, with just a few differences:
One of the reasons users like Hotjar is that it's extremely simple to use— more than FullStory, at least. You don't have to be tech-savvy to understand how it works. Setting it up is easy, and using it is even easier.
Here's how the whole process goes:
Once you've signed up, it will lead you to the user's dashboard, with all the available features and metrics.
To start working with Hotjar, you need to connect a website to it to collect data. Until then, the dashboard will remain empty. Connecting Hotjar to your website is also extremely easy, depending on your website's platform.
For example, if you are using WordPress, you only need to install the tool via the Hotjar plugin, and that's it. However, if you use other web hosts, you must manually add a tracking code. If that seems too much, you can also use Google Tag Manager.
Don't worry if Hotjar does not give you data immediately upon installation. It usually takes at least a day to gather data from your website before showing any reports. The overall interface is intuitive, with easy navigation and simplified reports that even someone with basic technical web analytics knowledge can understand.
FullStory also has a very intuitive interface. However, the plethora of features and extremely detailed dashboard/report can be overwhelming for someone inexperienced. However, this shouldn't be a huge hurdle.
FullStory provides helpful content and tutorials to smoothen your learning curve toward understanding the most advanced features. The tool's user experience is fantastic, with an aesthetically pleasing interface.
FullStory is also praised for its ease and convenience in creating new customer journeys. The flexibility in setting up new data points and premium quality onboarding support is just the cherry on top.
Overall, the software has a learning curve for beginners, but once you get past that, it's fairly simple to use.
There's no winner or loser here. Both tools are super simple to use when it comes to usability.
The Heatmaps feature is the hallmark of Hotjar— users love it for the amount of detail it provides about user actions on your website. It lets you know which parts of your website they see, click, and visit. You get this data with the help of three types of heatmaps:
The heatmaps visuals highlight the most active (and non-active) areas of your web page with the help of different colors. For example, red means busy, yellow means moderately busy, and blue means less busy. With the help of visual data, it provides you with details that you cannot get with statistical analytical tools.
Another advantage of Hotjar heatmaps is that it allows you to apply filters to display only a specific group of users. The most common filters include country, duration, date, landing page, and referral URL. All the heatmaps are downloadable in the form of JPEG and CSV.
FullStory's heatmaps are more or less similar to that of Hotjar. However, there are a few key differences that I would like to mention. First, instead of three filters, FullStory only has two filters to analyze users' activity on your website— scroll maps and click maps. However, these two maps are also accompanied by two other heatmaps, namely dead click and rage click heatmaps.
Just so you know, a dead click means when the user clicks on a certain part of a page and receives no response. Rage click means when a user repeatedly clicks on a particular element of a website without satisfactory results— e.g., buttons that don't function properly.
The filters you can use are also quite limited, allowing you to filter your customers only through device type, page views, time frame, most rage clicked, and most error clicked. One thing that I liked, though, is the inspect mode. It's a unique feature that allows you to check statistics associated with any page element by simply clicking on it.
Overall, FullStory's heatmaps are pretty amazing, just a little too technical for freshies.
It's a tough call, but I must go with Hotjar. It provides you with the same heatmap features that Fullstroy does but at a fraction of the cost.
Session recording is one of the most important features of Hotjar, right there with heatmaps when it comes to understanding user behavior.
With this feature, you can basically see the whole user journey in real-time, right from the second a website visitor lands on your page. The session lasts as long as the user stays on your page or switches to a different page on the website.
Once the user sessions end, they will appear on your dashboard. On the dashboard, you can sort all the recordings to access them easily with the help of filters, user segments, list tools, and the traffic cover widget. Just so you know:
Apart from those above, there's also a playback list section. It allows you to get very specific information about your visitors and recordings. For example, it helps you identify your user's location, which website your visitor was on before landing on your page, the length of the recording, and much more. Oh, and just like the heat maps, you can also convert the recordings to a CSV file.
FullStory session recording feature is one of the most complete in the market. It is accompanied by comprehensive analytical data that gives you a complete overview of everything a user does on your website, from how they moved their cursor to what they clicked on and everything in between.
Using this analytical data, you can change your website's UI to make it more user-friendly. Such data can significantly improve your conversion rate. Besides, when a customer submits a ticket to customer support, FullStory will also provide a session replay to help you analyze the user's activity.
It gives you a deep understanding of what could be causing the particular problem, helping you provide optimal solutions to your users. All the session recordings are saved in the session playlist, from where you can also see the user's location. Plus, which places on your website are the users most active in?
The user and event filters are just the cherry on top. Not to mention the user segmentation options. All in all, FullStory session recording provides you with everything that Hotjar does and more! It's more like Hotjar on steroids.
The Hotjar session recording is good, but FullStory is just more advanced and detailed when it comes to overall data. FullStory wins this one.
Hotjar has a session-based funnel tool that gives comprehensive data about your overall conversion steps, reasons behind drop-offs on your website, as well as overall conversions. You can make up to ten funnel steps based on different sessions, like viewing a page, clicking an element, or triggering an event.
Moreover, the Hotjar funnel tool allows you to apply the session filters to the entire funnel for more targeted data and results. You can also add up to 5 comparisons across a particular funnel view, including, but not limited to:
You can also apply date filters to your funnels to specify their particular time periods. Plus, view the conversion rate at each step of the funnel. All in all, while Hotjar's funnel tool might not be the best in the market, it does a pretty excellent job for what you pay.
Just like Hotjar, FullStory's funnels and conversion analytics tool give you a detailed look into what users are doing and not doing on your website. The best thing is that the data is not just about what the users do before conversion but what they do afterward.
Besides, you also get deep insights into why someone might have abandoned a potential sale in the final moments. Plus, why did someone randomly browse around your website without buying anything?
With the help of detailed data like rage clicks, error clicks, dead clicks, etc., it also gives you a clear view of why you might be losing potential conversions and what you can do about it. While FullStory's funnel tool is not as detailed and capable as Hotjar, it's good enough to give you a complete idea of what is and isn't working for you.
Both tools have great conversion funnel analytics. However, Hotjar is more detailed when it comes to overall data analytics and capabilities, and hence, it takes this round as well.
When it comes to improving the digital experience for the users, nothing gives you better insights than actual customer feedback. The guys at Hotjar know that well and provide you with the right feedback tools to collect as much data as possible.
With Hotjar, you can collect instant feedback from your users as they interact with your website by filling up a feedback form. What's interesting about the feedback form is that you can always customize it when it comes to question steps, appearance, and feedback responses.
Moreover, Hotjar allows you to choose whether you want your feedback widget to appear on all devices or specific ones. You can do that for specific URLs too. Apart from that, Hotjar also enables you to conduct various surveys, including:
You can either build surveys from scratch or use Hotjar's pre-built survey template for the purpose. Moreover, you can store unlimited surveys for as long as they benefit you.
Unlike Hotjar, FullStory does not have a feedback tool. Instead, it depends on integrations like GetFeedback to take customer feedback. Here, it goes without saying that you must have some basic technical knowledge of:
Although GetFeedback is a great feedback tool, it isn't native to FullStory. On the other hand, Hotjar features its own tool to collect feedback. Winner? Hotjar.
Hotjar comes with a lot of unique features. However, there are two features that stand out. Those are:
We have already discussed what the feedback tool is for and what it does, so let's not get into the details. The point is there are very few user experience analytics suites with a built-in feedback tool, and Hotjar is one of them. This is also one thing that gives Hotjar an upper hand on FullStory since it relies on external integrations to collect feedback, which costs more.
Interview or survey is another one of Hotjar's unique features. As mentioned earlier, you can ask your users custom and super-personalized questions or use Hotjar's pre-built survey templates. In both cases, you will get deep insights into what the users think about your website.
Like Hotjar, FullStory also has a huge set of unique features. The following are some important ones:
Frustration signals are, well, indications that the users are frustrated with your website at some point. A frustration signal can come off in the form of rage clicks, error clicks, thrashed cursors, and dead clicks. I have discussed dead clicks before.
The thrashed cursor is when a user circles the cursor on the screen without any clue, without performing any particular activity. You can use these frustration signals to identify broken elements of your page and fix them to enhance customer experience.
Journey mapping is another unique feature that lets you know how users flow and navigate your website. Moreover, it helps you to identify which areas of your website are the most conversion-friendly.
By collating the data collected through journey maps, you can make much better and more effective paths that could significantly aid your overall conversions.
You can integrate Hotjar with thousands of external applications to enhance its abilities and make it more functional for your website. Some of the most common integrations include but are not limited to:
Hotjar also supports API. This means you can automatically export the reports to any relevant tools and automate user lookup and deletion requests like never before.
Just like Hotjar, FullStory also supports several integrations. You can either integrate it directly with about 50 apps or connect it to thousands of other applications via third-party tools like Zapier. Some of the most common FullStory integrations include, but are not limited to:
Apart from all the integration options, FullStory also features an open API, making it super easy to import and export data across all the applications.
Hotjar offers decent customer support through many channels to help their customers. Their website features a live chatbot where you can ask questions to learn more about their services.
If the problem is more complex, you can also visit Hotjar's help center, where tons of content is available to help you understand the software's features.
Hotjar also has a huge number of free resources in the form of video tutorials, podcasts, webinars, blog posts, and guides you can use to utilize the tool to its fullest.
FullStory also has a live chat to help you with your basic questions. However, they also offer you email support if a live chatbot isn't going to cut it for you. To gain insights about the tool, you can also visit FullStory's help center.
There's a good amount of free content available to help you understand different features in the form of blog posts. Besides, you can join their super helpful community to interact with other users and seek help when needed.
This one's a tough call, but I must give it to Hotjar for the amount of free resources they provide to the users.
Hotjar's pricing model consists of four tiers, each divided into sub-tiers consisting of different features. They described as under:
Observe (heatmaps & recordings):
Ask (survey & feedback):
Engage (User interviews):
In Hotjar’s custom package, you can adjust the number of daily sessions based on your specific needs. This is best suited for large websites and businesses.
Unlike Hotjar, Fullstory pricing isn't transparent as they only provide custom packages to businesses. However, some sources suggest their packages start at as low as $299/mo.
On the brighter side, they provide a 14-day demo to the users of all their package tiers, giving you a taste of what the tool is capable of.
With clear, transparent, and affordable pricing plans, I would prefer Hotjar any day if I was someone on a budget. But as a huge enterprise, I would also check out FullStory's custom plans. It comes down to your needs. For me, Hotjar wins here.
If you are running an online business and need an excellent user experience calculator for a great price, I would definitely recommend Hotjar to you. However, if you are more into studying every individual user deeply, extremely comprehensive analytics, and detailed bug tracking, I would recommend FullStory.
The choice is yours. ; )
Irina is a Founder at ONSAAS, Growth Lead at Aura, and a SaaS marketing consultant. She helps companies to grow their revenue with SEO and inbound marketing. In her spare time, Irina entertains her cat Persie and collects airline miles.
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