Hotjar vs SessionStack: A Definitive Comparison [June 2023]

Hotjar vs SessionStack: A Definitive Comparison [June 2023]

Mihael Cacic

May 2, 2023 • 10 min read

Hotjar vs SessionStack

Hotjar is a great platform for high-traffic websites that want to see aggregated user data through heatmaps and surveys. However, it lacks detailed customer journey analysis and has a subpar session replay feature, which is jittery and significantly impacts site load speed.

Sessionstack, through a combination of pixel-perfect session replay, practical error logs, sitewide click trends, and real-time co-browsing tools enables UX designers, developers, and customer support teams to get impeccable insights into how users are finding their way on your platform, quickly identify and resolve frustrations, and improve user experience overall.

In this article, I compare Hotjar vs SessionStack in four key areas: 

  1. Heatmaps
  2. Co-browsing
  3. Session replay
  4. Customer journey analysis

I’ll also touch on site load speed impact and integrations to give you the full picture and help you make the right decision for your needs. While I haven’t written specific sections on these two topics, I have included them in the overview table below:

Hotjar SessionStack
Price
⭐⭐⭐
Limited free plan. Starter plan is $39/mo for 100 sessions/day. Business starts at $99/mo, and Scale at $213/mo for 500 daily sessions.
🏆
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
SessionStack’s pricing is currently in revision.*
Session Replay
⭐⭐⭐
Has the core session replay features like player controls, user details, and action logs.
🏆
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Everything in Hotjar + high-speed and powerful live co-browsing features + dedicated error tracking space and console.
Co-browsing

No live session replay capability.
🏆
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Sub-1-second full co-browsing features with user interaction tools like control takeover.
Heatmaps
🏆
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Page-specific visual click, scroll, and mouse move maps + visual tools for comparing user actions on specific pages.
⭐⭐⭐⭐
Stands out with site-wide click tracking that surfaces page elements that cause the most dead clicks and rage clicks.
Customer Journey Analysis
⭐⭐⭐
Funnels are limited to three event types and ten steps max. Side-by-side comparison graphs are available on Scale plan only.
⭐⭐⭐⭐
Can create funnels with four events and no step limit. Maps basic user journeys to identify problematic site elements.
Site Speed Impact

Reported
829ms average page speed impact across the web. Strong impact on main thread execution.

🏆
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Extremely lightweight JavaScript. Doesn’t block main thread execution.

Integrations
⭐⭐⭐⭐
10 native integrations + Hotjar API + Zapier
⭐⭐⭐
14 native integrations + SessionStack API 
G2 Reviews
291 reviews with 4.3 Rating 63 reviews with 4.9 Rating
Trusted by
Unbounce, Decathlon, Brand24, Hussle, Yatter Kraken, Bazaarvoice, Imagine.ai, Mend, Texas.gov
Best for
Roughly analyzing user site interactions with visual heatmaps. Identifying user frustration points with your app or website.

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SessionStack is being reshaped to meet the growing demands of its existing and future customers. The team is laser-focused on helping e-commerce businesses streamline their conversion rate optimization efforts for faster revenue growth. This is done through an industry-first AI capability – SessionStackAI, which is based on the rich session data the platform is already built to collect.

 

As part of the ongoing change, SessionStackAI is currently offered only as a paid pilot service with a 21-day free trial. To find out how SessionStackAI can help optimize your e-store with no effort, book a demo today 👉

What is Hotjar?
“Leap over conversion obstacles”🚧🏃‍♂️

Hotjar

In 2014, David Darmanin, a former conversion optimization professional, founded Hotjar with the goal of creating an affordable all-in-one tool for understanding user behavior.

This vision led to the development of a sleek and modern platform that is both intuitive and versatile. With Hotjar, you can view three different types of heatmaps: click maps for the most clicked elements on a page, scroll maps for how far down a page site visitors scroll, and move maps for tracking areas where site users frequently move their mouse cursors. Additionally, you get access to survey and customer feedback widgets for collecting direct feedback from website visitors.

Hotjar’s focus on heatmaps makes it great for websites with huge traffic that want rough trends on how users interact with the site, which is why brands like Decathlon, T-Mobile, and Panasonic use it. But it’s less suited for singling out exact issues because of how it approaches session replays and customer journey analysis.

What is SessionStack?
“Become the hero of seamless user experience” 🦸‍♂️💫

SessionStack

SessionStack’s founder Alexander Zlatkov was a software engineer at Progress where he built products and helped customers resolve problems with their apps. He noticed there weren’t many good tools to help understand how users interact with online apps, so he set out to create one in 2016.

With its advanced session replay features, SessionStack stands out from the rest of the tools and even earned G2’s “session replay category leader” title for it in 2023. That’s because it takes every session replay functionality to the next level. It supports low latency (<1 second) live sessions but also lets you interact with the user’s sessions and take over with co-browsing. It doesn’t just log JavaScript errors but also has a dedicated tool to identify them site-wide. It allows user segmentation but also helps you instantly identify the exact elements that are causing user frustrations — all without the need to install additional software.

SessionStack stands out with session replays, co-browsing, error logs, and user action segmentation because it’s purpose-built for identifying errors and user frustrations for websites and apps. Trusted by brands like Kraken.com, Bazaarvoice, and Imagine.ai, it supports a variety of use cases and teams: product management, development, customer support, and more.

Hotjar vs SessionStack: Session Replay

Hotjar is best for visually analyzing user actions, while SessionStack stands out with co-browsing and error logs

Hotjar SessionStack
⭐⭐⭐ ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Session Replay is a feature that allows you to record and playback user interactions on your website, capturing everything from mouse movements, clicks, and scrolls to form inputs and page navigations. It’s crucial for understanding user behavior and optimizing the customer experience.

In this section, we compare the tools’ session replay capabilities, specifically their:

  1. UI/UX design
  2. User segmentation
  3. Live sessions
  4. Co-browsing
  5. Error logs

Session Replay’s UI/UX design
SessionStack is practical and easy to use, while Hotjar is minimalistic and intuitive.

SessionStack’s interface stands out for its user-friendly design, featuring a simple two-column layout with bold and large icons that make navigation a breeze.

SessionStack Session Replay

The action log on the left side of the screen is synchronized with the session replay, allowing you to easily follow along and pinpoint specific user actions (such as clicks, rage clicks, dead clicks, errors, etc.). This design makes workflows in SessionStack very fast even for long sessions — you can jump on a replay with a specific issue in mind and find it within seconds.

Meanwhile, Hotjar has a sleek interface, with a neat organization of recording actions and session details on the right, replay options on the bottom, and a user screen in the middle.

Hotjar Session Replay

User Segmentation
Both let you segment users and filter them based on user, session, and activity data. Hotjar stands out because it lets you compare segments visually.

EDITOR’S NOTE: What is user segmentation?

User segmentation (or ‘Audience segmentation) allows businesses to categorize their users based on specific criteria (such as demographics, behavior, and even new vs returning users). This is vital for understanding how different users perceive your website, and helping you make your UI/UX perfect for everyone.

SessionStack’s implementation of user segments is simple and straightforward, allowing even non-technical users to easily navigate and create segments.

You can build and save multiple customer segments with specific users, sessions, and event filters — providing a comprehensive overview of user behavior and engagement on your app.

SessionStack Segments

Hotjar stands out with its side-by-side trend comparison. This lets you plot trends across multiple customer segments on the same graph (such as comparing new vs returning visitors, or different traffic sources), allowing you to easily compare user behavior patterns of two or more distinct user segments.

FullStory Segments

Live Sessions

SessionStack lets you see and track user activity in real-time, while Hotjar lacks live sessions altogether.

Live sessions allow you to view real users who are currently active on your website in real-time. In theory, this feature gives your product, development, and customer support teams the ability to immediately identify issues and provide assistance to your users.

SessionStack, has true real-time live sessions since its latency is consistently under 1 second — this allowed SessionStack to build a new feature on top of live sessions, that takes customer support to the next level — co-browsing.

Co-browsing

SessionStack takes live sessions to the next level with co-browsing.

Co-browsing is an additional feature on top of live sessions, that allows you to join user sessions and provide guidance in real-time, without users having to install any additional software, plugins, or add-ons.

EDITOR’S NOTE

Co-browsing is not the same as screen sharing. It doesn’t require any third-party downloads or installations and is browser-based, meaning you don’t see the entire screen, just a single browser tab. To understand the difference, you can read more about it in our article on co-browsing.

Co-browsing is possible only when live sessions are truly real-time — with delays of less than a second. Since SessionStack is the only tool on the market with less than 1-second delays, it is also the only true co-browsing tool.

In SessionStack’s co-browsing mode, you get access to three tools [1]:

  • A pointer: A circular cursor that highlights different elements on your user’s screen, without interacting with the page.
  • A pen: A drawing tool for annotating your user’s screen.
  • Control takeover: With permission from the user, you can take complete control of their screen and perform actions on their behalf (on your website, only).

In SessionStack, the co-browsing experience is smooth and fast, with latencies of less than one second on both ends. It’s also completely secure, as users can mask sensitive data (like credit card details and login information) preventing it from being sent over to the agent.

Co-browsing is perfect for customer support teams when onboarding or resolving issues alongside a phone call, chat session, or email conversation to provide timely, personalized service in real-time.

Error Logs

Hotjar has basic log consoles in session replays, while SessionStack has a dedicated tool for managing all error logs.

Hotjar logs events & error logs with your site in the session replay views but doesn’t have any filters or a search bar to help you make sense of the data.

FullStory Events & Errors

Meanwhile, SessionStack has a dedicated space for events and error logs. It lets you see individual errors across the whole site [2] and analyze individual errors in-depth [1] as presented in the screenshot below.

SessionStack Events & Errors

Each event or error log is linked to a specific timestamp in a session replay [2]. When you click the Play button, the session replay starts and pauses right at the point where the error occurred [1] — allowing you to immediately see how users discovered bugs. From here, you can pull up the console to view more details about the error [3].

SessionStack Events & Errors

Winner: SessionStack. In addition to the recorded sessions, live user sessions, and segmentation, you can interact with users via their browsers in real-time using co-browsing tools. It also supports developers and product designers with powerful error identification and logging features.

Hotjar vs SessionStack: Heatmaps

Hotjar for visual presentation and SessionStack for solving issues across the whole site

Hotjar SessionStack
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Hotjar tracks clicks, scroll depth, and mouse movements.

Hotjar has click maps, scroll maps, and move maps. The move map gives you a visual representation of the different spots where users moved their mouse while navigating a specific page (Shown in the image below).

Hotjar Heatmaps

While these maps are great for visualizing how users interact with each of your pages, they aren’t very useful if you’re trying to identify issues, especially site-wide. That’s because they don’t track exactly which HTML elements users are interacting with.

SessionStack analyzes your user’s most clicked and most frustrating elements and takes a different approach to mapping user actions.

SessionStack does not offer visual heatmaps because those lack precision when it comes to tracking dynamic elements like drop-down menus. Instead, it compiles user data by HTML element to quickly surface the top 10 sitewide results for the:

By default, these results are shown for all users who visit your site. But you can filter them by setting up custom filters (which we have already discussed in the User Segmentation section.)

SessionStack Click Trends

The great thing about SessionStack’s approach to mapping user actions is that you instantly see which HTML elements on your site or app need attention, without having to look through each page separately. That’s because it also tracks how users interact with dynamic elements like hidden menus, which traditional heatmaps don’t record. Combine that with user segments and you get a powerful tool for quickly analyzing sitewide user behavior.

Verdict: Hotjar is best for visualizing user actions on individual pages, while SessionStack is best for quickly identifying, prioritizing, and solving sitewide issues on websites or apps.

Hotjar vs SessionStack: Customer Journey Analysis

Hotjar lets you track a few simple funnels, while SessionStack gives more options and scope

Hotjar SessionStack
⭐⭐⭐ ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Customer journeys are analyzed using Funnels: tools for tracking how users navigate your site. You can set them up by defining which events cause users to “progress” down the funnel (for example, page visits on a specific URL), effectively segmenting your users based on which parts of the site they interacted with. Here’s an example of a funnel:

Example of a funnel

Hotjar’s funnel options are rudimentary and very limited.

Each funnel you create in Hotjar can only have a maximum of 10 events. Additionally, you can only choose from three readily available events which are:

  • Viewed a page
  • Clicked an element
  • Event occurring

On the flip side, Hotjar makes it easy to track and compare multiple funnels side by side, which can be a helpful feature for teams looking to conduct A/B tests for conversion rate optimization.

Hotjar Funnels

SessionStack covers the basics of funnel creation and conversion tracking.

Unlike Hotjar, SessionStack lets you add infinite events to the event chain, with two additional events to choose from: ‘Rage click’ and ‘Dead click’. This lets you keep track of more nuanced customer journeys and even identify problematic elements that prevented conversions or made customers drop off the site.

SessionStack Funnels

Winner: Sessionstack because you can use it to track more complex funnels with more user events.

Hotjar vs SessionStack: Pros & Cons

Hotjar ProsHotjar Cons
✅ Colorful and intuitive interface❌ Limited free plan
✅ Most heatmap types: click, scroll, and move ❌ Expensive pricing plans
✅ Has visual representation of heatmaps❌ Only records a sample of user sessions
✅ User feedback tools and survey widgets❌ No live sessions or co-browsing
✅ Comprehensive conversion funnel analytics❌  Has basic funnel tracking features that are only available on the highest plan
SessionStack ProsSessionStack Cons
✅ Generous free plan❌ No annotation in session replay
✅ Affordable pricing plans ❌ Does not have page-specific heatmaps
✅ Extremely easy to set up and navigate❌ Can’t track every user event with funnels
✅ Pixel-perfect session replays
✅ Very lightweight and doesn’t affect site speed
✅ Super fast co-browsing tools
✅ Dedicated error tracking page


Final Verdict: Hotjar vs SessionStack

HotjarSessionStack
Best for:
Businesses with large traffic sites that want to understand general user behavior.
Best for:
Product teams and developers who need granular insights on user interaction with apps and sites. Customer support teams that want to offer the best service to users.

Hotjar’s heatmap and visualization features make it best for understanding user interactions on large-traffic websites. Then there’s SessionStack with its advanced session replay, co-browsing, and error-tracking features for identifying app or site issues and helping customers resolve problems in real-time.

Use Hotjar if:

  • You have a website with lots of traffic.
  • You want a visual representation and comparisons of session event data.
  • You don’t need detailed user interaction data and are more interested in general trends.

Use SessionStack if:

  • You’re looking for a tool that helps you quickly spot errors in your software.
  • You want a platform that lets you interact with your users in real-time and help them.
  • You need a tool to find the exact issues and frustration users have with your apps and site.

Click here to get started with SessionStack!

We’ve also put Mouseflow, Lucky Orange, Inspectlet, and Smartlook in the mix! Learn how they compare and find out which one will work out best for you:

See what SessionStackAI can do for your business