Q&A with Tal Schwartz, CEO of ClickTale

Tal Schwartz, founder of ClickTale, started his data oriented career at an investment fund. He explains, In a sense I was a scientist of financial data, because I was building models and trying to understand how financial assets are related to one another, and predicting their future movement based on historical patterns.” 

Schwartz put his data analysis background into his work at Click Tale as CEO. He says, “Today, people have become faceless data streams. When you go online and do something, youre not treated or observed as a real human being. We enable businesses and marketers to understand what people are seeking, what their needs and desires are, and what their intent is.

In this interview Schwartz talks about how ClickTale tracks the consumer experience, data, privacy without opt-in, measuring ROI, the impact of connected TVs and how the media landscape will look in the next three to five years.

CW: How does ClickTale measure intent? 

TS: ClickTale uses unique session replay technology, precision heat maps and customer experience consultants who work to help fix friction points on our customers websites. We gain insights into online customer behavior through various methods. One of these is anonymous session recordings of website visitors, which we are then able to show to our customers so they can see exactly where and why their visitors are experiencing frustration. These session replays are videos that depict exactly how anonymous visitors are experiencing a website -- they can see what their visitors do from the moment they enter the site until the moment they leave. The goal is not to see what individual customers are doing, but rather to understand why many customers are experiencing the same problem or having the same complaint. Another way is through heatmaps, which show an aggregate view - the most visited points on each page as well as the least visited. This enables them to see, for instance, that a specific item theyve introduced is not being used due to its placement below the fold, where users are less likely to see it. Customer experience consultants offer another layer of assistance, as we have experts to give key recommendations that improve the users experience. We also have a web psychologist on our team, who contributes a deeper level of consumer behavior analysis as a way to provide more insight and help our customers optimize the customer journey for their users.

CW: What data do you use?

TS: We do not collect any personally identifiable information but we record billions of in-screen behaviors, such as mouse moves, mouse clicks, hovers (for desktops); touches, tilts, zooms (for mobile users); as well as a host of other gestures, no matter the device (desktop, tablet, mobile).

CW: What do each of these gestures mean how do you parse out the insights from this type of data?

TS: Each gesture provides a unique view of the data. Being able to look at each gesture individually and then aggregating all the data in several different types of heatmaps enables us to drill down into the root cause of any challenge users are facing on a website. For example, looking at mouse clicks on a particular element: comparing the total number of clicks with the number of unique clicks, we can understand if theres an issue with a broken link or loading times and so on. If we see many clicks on a single call-to-action button by specific users, we can understand where theyre coming from (geographically), which browser they were using, and then uncover the exact group of visitors who may have been impacted by the problem.

CW: How do you access the collection of the data without getting to the individual level? 

TS: The aggregation is done through any one of our high-fidelity, data-rich desktop or mobile heatmaps, which enable our customers to see the precise way users interact with the page and compare segments side-by-side. To view the collective behavior of desktop users, our mouse move, mouse click, attention, and scroll reach heatmaps help to show which areas on the page are the most interesting and engaging: where users are looking, which promotions most affect their behavior, and how their entire journey takes shape. The same is true to understand the behavior of mobile users we have tap, attention and exposure heatmaps. For every heatmap, we provide a data-rich, graphical overlay with link analytics to display how every link on the page is performing. For example, you can understand if a particular link is being noticed enough, or intuitive enough.

CW: Is this opt-in?

TS: No. However we block the recording and collection of any Personally Identifiable Information (PII) entered by keystroke, as well as any PII as defined by our customers. We take a number of measures to ensure we never record, transmit, save, or display such information. To elaborate on this point, we only keep track of when keys are clicked, but not which keys are clicked. As a failsafe, even if any PII unintentionally reaches ClickTales servers, it is removed by the server-side rewrite rules before it can be stored. Furthermore, we use only 1st party cookies to guarantee the anonymity of site visitors.
CW: Give me an example of how you use the data to gain insights.

TS: A great example is looking at a search bar. There is a lot of debate in the industry as to whether customers using the search function are having a good or a bad experience. We use the data to answer this question, per company. For example, if the time to click on the search button is 40 seconds or more, well drill down to the individual session recording to understand why a visitor couldn't find what he/she was looking for. But if time to click on the search button is 5 seconds, this might be the way the visitor prefers to use the site, which means this is not a bad experience. In addition, we can look at the time it takes a visitor who hovers over the Search bar to actually click on it, as well as what percentage of hovering visitors ultimately click. Taking all of this together, we can answer the question of whether the search function is delivering a good user experience for that website.

CW: How do you prove ROI?

TS: Ill give you a couple of examples.
Before Christmas, Walmart was gearing up for its busiest season and launched a new Gift and Toy Finder tool as a means to boost sales. But there were a few glitches that were troubling the team at Walmart, so they turned to ClickTale to help optimize the buying journey for their users. ClickTales heatmaps revealed that 20 percent of the visitors were not seeing the Finders tool. Furthermore, some of the visitors werent intuitively clicking on the call-to-action Go button, and were getting confused when they didnt receiving search results; both findings were revealed by watching ClickTales session replays. Visitors faced other points of friction including a JavaScript error when clicking on the call-to-action Go button. As a result of fixing these errors, Walmart experienced an increase of 24 percent in their sales while improving their customer service.

Another example is Lenovo when Lenovo launched its Yoga laptop last year, conversions werent what the company expected. Our session replays showed Lenovo exactly how customers were moving through the site, and our heatmaps aggregated the mouse movements of thousands of visitors. We discovered that certain browser types werent rendering their web site experience well, making it difficult to find the buy button on some web browsers. Lenovo made the required adjustments, and conversions went up by a factor of three to four times in terms of sales.

Will you be getting into the area of connected TVs for your business and if so how will you get to the individual usage?

TS: Our goal is to reveal insights into consumers true digital experience on every device and platform which reaches significant market adoption. If it's technologically feasible and makes business sense, we will show the experience on Connected TVs. Right now, we have not seen much demand for insights into the cTV experiences, but we are keeping close tabs on the market.

CW:  Where do you see the media landscape going in the next 3-5 years?

TS: We see the era of customer engagement with automatically personalized website experiences taking off within the coming few years. Most of the big enterprises we speak with admit that they arent really there yet today but are actively working towards it. However, their goal here is more than the simplistic and often clumsy website or ad personalization that we see today, where visitors are retargeted based on product pages theyve visited, even if they just browsed a page for a split second. That kind of targeting will likely not be acceptable to consumers in years to come, and might even be characterized as ad spam. Instead, I think well see analytics behind the scenes that evolves to measure actual customer engagement, behavior, and intent, enabling better predictions on personalized experience. This will be perceived as a service rather than an interruption. Its a win-win for the consumer and the brand. I call this new experience the "Predictive Web" and I believe it will become a reality in the next 3-5 years.

In other words, this means sites will adapt in real time based on consumers real-time behavior, predicting what a visitor is looking for and helping them achieve their goal with much less effort. It will feel a bit like a magical browsing experience, in which consumers both enjoy the browsing experience more, and get more done in less time.

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