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If you’ve never heard of Microsoft Clarity, don’t worry. This new behavioural analytics tool only launched in October last year, and hasn’t quite become a household name. Yet. But it’s definitely worth taking a few minutes to learn what it’s all about.

So, what is it exactly? Clarity is Microsoft’s own take on Hotjar, offering two core features: site recordings, and heatmaps. With site recordings, Clarity provides website owners with playable reports that show real life interactions from real life users. It takes the entire on-site experience and lays it out in a way that we can both see and understand.

While recordings lay bare this on-site experience, the heatmaps feature allows us to visualise how users navigate around a website. It provides simple reports that highlight areas of the website that are engaged with most frequently, and those that aren’t.

The Benefits of Clarity

Microsoft Clarity provides unique insight into the actual on-site behaviours of your customers, which eradicates pretty much all guesswork when it comes to UX. It allows businesses to build and adapt websites from a proven, data-driven perspective, ensuring that they’re designing sites that meet the needs of their own audience.

There are already tools that do this, sure. Hotjar is one of the biggest names in behavioural analytics today. But at $99 per month for the basic package (which caps out at 500 sessions per day), it’s not particularly accessible to smaller organisations. This is where Clarity shines. In a somewhat unexpected move by Microsoft, Clarity is completely free, with no limits on the number of sessions that can be recorded.

For this completely free price tag, users can access a huge number of reports. Clarity can provide insight into aspects such as page load times, bounce rate, pages per session, browser and operating system, referral URL, and so on. But wait a minute. Isn’t this what Google Analytics does? It sure is. So is Clarity the new Google Analytics?

Clarity vs. Analytics

While there are a lot of similarities between Microsoft Clarity and Google Analytics in terms of reporting, the fact is that Google Analytics comes nowhere even close in terms of behaviour tracking. Nor does it pretend to. For measuring the fundamentals of user experience – delving deeper into the ‘why’s’ of navigation and interaction – Clarity’s session recordings and heatmaps are features that Google Analytics simply can’t beat.

However, that’s not to say there aren’t areas where Google Analytics shines. While Microsoft Clarity is excellent, there is one downside: it measures traffic KPIs exclusively. Google Analytics, on the other hand, measures both traffic KPIs (all the usual stuff like bounce rate, time spent on site, and so on) as well as sales and ecommerce KPIs (such as conversion rates, revenue growth, and more), making it a broader reporting tool.

So which one should you be using? Both. Neither are standalone options. Neither provides a comprehensive overview of the entire user experience, right through from start to finish. Businesses should be looking at Microsoft Clarity as an extension of Google Analytics, rather than as a competitor. They work best when they work together.

And the good news is that Clarity integrates well with Google Analytics. By integrating the two, you can automatically send session playback data to your Google Analytics dashboard, allowing you to take a strong data-driven approach to layout and UX.

Author Numan Chaudhry

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