Microsoft Clarity is a website analytics tool that provides insights into site visitation and user interaction. The platform offers free visitor statistics, session recordings, and heatmaps providing site operators with a better understanding of user behavior. Launched at the end of October 2020 and created to help developers manage websites, Microsoft Clarity delivers the information you need to make informed design decisions.
For years Google Analytics has been the leading website analytics platform. Its dominant role in providing website operators with analytical visitor data has put it at the forefront of website usage analysis. With over 550 Million active sites, this platform leverages its place within the larger Google ecosystem to attract and retain visitors. As Google is the world’s leading search engine with users performing over 3.5 Billion web searches per day, ranking as high as possible on this platform is vital to online success. Naturally, website operators would want to use the best tools available to achieve the highest page rank. Google Analytics is their preferred choice as it integrates well with the other Google webmaster products such as Lighthouse.
Considering the leading position of Google Analytics, would website operators see any benefit from adopting Microsoft Clarity? What is the difference between these two products? Where do they overlap, where are they different, and could you use both? Do they offer any form of integration so that you can manage both from a single console, and how difficult is it to deploy both solutions?
Microsoft Clarity Benefits
The session playback feature offered by Microsoft Clarity allows you to examine user behavior as they interact with your web application. Leveraging this free built-in functionality enables website operators, webmasters, and User Experience (UX) consultants to identify any design shortcomings. As it tracks a site visitor’s online journey, it helps you discover any areas where users experience difficulties. The reverse is also true as it also shows where the site flow is working smoothly. Developers can also leverage this feature during the development and testing phase of their web application projects. By utilizing session playback capabilities, they can refine their user interfaces, ensuring they deliver the best possible user experience.
The heatmap functionality built into Microsoft Clarity visualizes clicks, taps, and mouse movements, illustrating a website’s most visited interaction points. Although heatmaps can become confusing when analyzing dynamically rendered websites, they are still useful as they offer a visual output of numerical values. Without this feature, you would have no insight into the popularity of a particular website element, such as a call to action. While session playback is useful, it typically only shows the journey of a single user. Heatmaps, on the other hand, aggregate data over multiple sessions. Using both tools simultaneously offers you the comprehensive insight you need to design and deliver the experience you want for your users.
Microsoft Clarity vs. Google Analytics
Although Microsoft Clarity has a few features that you will not find in a standard Google Analytics console, several analytical elements exist on both platforms. Statistics such as session counts, pageview totals, and unique users are present on both analytical solutions. Together these data collections give you an extensive overview of your site visitation presented in easy to use, modern, data-centric dashboards. However, Microsoft Clarity lacks several core analytical statistic counters offered as a standard feature in Google Analytics.
Curiously, Microsoft Clarity’s dashboard lacks specific metrics you would expect in a website analytical tool. Items such as bounce rate, the percentage of site visitors that leave a site after viewing a single page, and conversion rate, the percentage of users that take a desired route or action, are missing. It also lacks the typical tables and metrics you might have come accustomed to with Google Analytics. In addition to these missing features, Microsoft Clarity also does not have the other analytical metrics that help you understand how visitors find your site. Detailed information on who is visiting your website and other vital data related to search engine optimization and online marketing are also absent.
Integrating Microsoft Clarity and Google Analytics
Although there is a slight overlap between Microsoft Clarity and Google Analytics, it is clear that each tool has a distinct set of features and capabilities targeted at different web analytical areas. Google Analytics focuses on user and market acquisition, audience, and conversion. Microsoft Clarity analyzes user behavior as a visitor interacts with elements on a web application. Both tools may overlap slightly, but they also offer unique features that complement each other. The question of whether you should use Microsoft Clarity or Google Analytics is yes. Together they provide a unique perspective on a user journey from how they reached your site, what device and platform they use, their location, and their interactions with elements on a web page.
As a combination of the features found in both tools offers insights into an end-to-end user experience journey, some form of integration is needed to view all the information in a single console. Although Microsoft Clarity is in its infancy, it does offer some integration with Google Analytics. The current solution places a link to session playbacks on your Google Analytics console. The central premise of this integration is that it allows you to investigate a user experience issue by identifying it on Google Analytics and then exploring it on Microsoft Clarity.
Microsoft Clarity or Google Analytics? Use both.
Managing your website requires analytical information. Without it, you would not be able to identify and resolve any issues plaguing your online marketing or user experience. While Google Analytics does a supreme job of analyzing your user audience metrics, it does lack some capabilities when it comes to tracking user experience. Microsoft Clarity complements Google Analytics as it provides the needed session playback and heatmap features. This capability offers valuable insights into actions users take when interacting with page elements. Together these tools give website operators the end-to-end user journey data they need to make informed design and online marketing decisions.