Learn more about Microsoft Clarity, and our favorite features from Cypress North’s power users
After setting up 24 Microsoft Clarity accounts and counting for various clients, there are some things we’ve come to love about the platform, and frustrations we’ve had to work around. In this post, we break down the pros and cons of Microsoft Clarity, and provide an honest review of the tool. First, let’s start with a definition.
What is Microsoft Clarity?
Microsoft Clarity is a user recording and heat mapping tool that can be used to better understand user behavior on your website. Marketers can use Microsoft Clarity to understand user engagement (scroll depth, clicks), user frustrations (dead clicks, rage clicks), and insights into devices, operating systems, and more.
Here at Cypress North, we love Microsoft Clarity because it’s easy to install, easy to use, and it’s free! In the past, I’ve used Clarity to:
- Look at top performing and underutilized elements on specific pages
- Understand how users move through the main nav and the utility nav
- Understand if users from different countries interact with content on a site differently
Through these different projects, I’ve come to learn more about the platform and all of the exciting integrations available at our fingertips! If you’re looking for a new heatmapping or session recording tool, read on to learn more about our favorite Microsoft Clarity features and some of the disadvantages we’ve found as frequent users of the platform.
The Microsoft Clarity Pros
1. It’s free
Yes, you read that right. Microsoft Clarity really is free to install and use! To get started, you first need to sign-in to Microsoft Clarity using your Microsoft, Google, or Facebook account. From there, you can create a new project and install the tracking code onto your site. Two hours later you should have data populating in your Clarity account!
2. It’s easy to install
Speaking of installation, Clarity gives users multiple options to install the tracking code onto your website, including manual installation or installation via third-party platforms like Google Tag Manager. The majority of our clients use Google Tag Manager, and the installation process takes about five minutes to complete. You can’t beat that!
3. Microsoft Clarity integrates with Google Analytics
Not only is Clarity easy to set up, but it can also integrate with Google Analytics (either via UA or GA4) to pull additional metrics into your dashboard like popular pages, sessions by country, source/medium, and more. Whether you connect with UA or GA4, the metrics pulled in are essentially the same – UA just includes Bounce Rate in addition to Sessions and Session Duration.
Universal Analytics Metrics in Clarity:
GA4 Metrics in Clarity:
Within Universal Analytics, the custom dimension “Clarity Playback URL” pulls in the links to session recordings, so you can watch recordings for specific landing pages, exit pages, and more right from GA.
In GA4, “Clarity Playback URL” should also be created as a custom dimension which can be set from the “Configure” tab.
4. It’s GDPR compliant
With all this data being stored, is Clarity GDPR-complaint? The answer is yes! According to Microsoft’s Frequently Asked Privacy Questions, Clarity is GDPR-compliant and processes data in compliance with the CCPA. All data is stored in the Microsoft Azure Cloud service, and project data is only stored for three months before the project owner can no longer access it. Project owners also have the ability to mask certain elements and text (by default Clarity masks sensitive text like emails) in Settings to ensure confidential information isn’t being collected.
5. Superior Filtering Capabilities (to an extent, see cons)
Clarity allows you to easily filter recordings and heatmap data by device type, country, traffic source, session duration, page path, and more. Users can even create custom filters to track elements more specific to their website. Segments can also be created to save a group of commonly used filters for easy access.
Some filters I have found helpful in my travels include:
- “Entered Text = Yes” checkbox to see users who have interacted with forms
- Country filter to see if/how users from different countries interacted with the content differently
- “Medium = organic” checkbox to look at user engagement from visitors arriving to our sites organically
6. Useful UX metrics
Microsoft Clarity has a lot of different user engagement metrics which can be helpful to identify where users on the site might be getting stuck, and what elements they interacted with. Some of these include:
- Rage Clicks – excessively and rapidly clicking/tapping on an element in an attempt to get it to do something. This can indicate user frustration and may be a sign that buttons or other elements are broken.
- Dead Clicks – clicking/tapping on an element that is not interactive. This can indicate that the user expects the element to be interactive in some way.
- Quick Backs – user navigated back to the previous page as soon as they arrived on the current page. This can indicate that the user was expecting a different result (anchor text, title may be misleading, etc.)
- Selected Text – the user selected text on the page, which may indicate that that text resonates with them, answered a question, or they are copy/pasting
All of these metrics can be used to make UX improvements to the site, like editing anchor text to more accurately describe a link, fixing broken elements, or reworking elements that look clickable.
7. Helpful support team
In our experience, we’ve found the Clarity support team to be very helpful and responsive to any troubleshooting issues we’ve run across. For example, we’ve had issues getting Google Analytics data (specifically UA data) to populate in the Clarity dashboard. After being unable to find helpful support documentation online (see cons), we reached out to the support team via email and received a prompt response to resolve our issue.
8. Live Demo
In case you’re not sure if Microsoft Clarity is for you, they offer a live demo you can use to explore the platform and compare it against any existing heatmapping or session recording tools you may be using. The live demo gets its data from the Microsoft Clarity website.
The Clarity Live Extension plugin is a Chrome plugin that allows you to view heatmaps, area maps, and session recordings for any page on your website where Clarity is installed. This plugin is a really cool way to get some quick insights on engagement and view metrics without having to flip back and forth to another window.
Screenshot of Heatmaps:
Screenshot of Area Maps:
The area map is even interactive, you can hover over specific elements to see how many users clicked.
Screenshot of Session Recordings:
The only caveat – if you shrink your screen down to mobile view using Google Developer Tools, the plugin doesn’t provide mobile metrics. You’ll have to login to Clarity to see that data!
10. Google Optimize Integration
Microsoft Clarity started integrating with Google Optimize back in June of 2022, and although I have not yet used this feature myself I wanted to include it for readers who may already be running experiments on Google Optimize. This integration was created to help give marketers deeper insights into their A/B or multivariate tests running on the site by letting them see real-time performance on experiments (via heatmaps/session recordings using the Experiments filter) or to compare heatmaps to see different variants side-by-side.
If you already have Google Optimize running, Clarity will automatically detect your active experiments and add Optimize into Settings so there’s no set-up needed on your part! From there, the Experiments filter will be added so you can view session recordings/heatmaps for each variant.
This is an excellent addition to the UX testing toolbox, and I look forward to reporting back on this once I give it a try!
11. Industry benchmarks
Microsoft Clarity’s industry benchmarks are still in beta, but this interactive report lets users view benchmarks across different industries for metrics like page speed, browser data, traffic channels, and more. These benchmarks can be found by navigating to clarity.microsoft.com, then selecting “Website benchmarks” underneath Resources.
Available industry categories at the time of publication include:
- Arts & Entertainment
- Business & Industry
- Health & Fitness
- Home & Garden
- Travel & Recreation
- People & Society
- Kids & Teens
Once you’ve selected a category, you can see data like the user frustration metrics in the screenshot below. These were for the Shopping category:
Or use the comparison tool to compare data between two industries. Since this report is currently in beta, data is currently being collected from user sessions in the United States and Japan, but will expand globally. The data is updated daily.
Some Microsoft Clarity Cons
Now that we’ve listed out some of our favorite features, here are some areas where we’ve found room for improvement.
1. Lack of detailed documentation for GA integration troubleshooting
While Microsoft does provide some helpful online instructions to get started with Clarity, when we first started the set-up process the documentation did not contain detailed information on setting up Google Analytics (Universal or GA4). At the time of publication, it looks like the set-up instructions did improve substantially – but there still isn’t a lot of information on troubleshooting or common errors. A video to walk users through the set-up process would be really helpful here, along with a troubleshooting section.
2. No “exclude” ability on filters at the time of publication
Let’s say you want to view heatmap data for all countries outside of North America, so you want to exclude the United States, Mexico, and Canada. In order to do this currently, you would need to select all countries manually using checkboxes (there is no “Select All” button), except for those three countries. This takes a substantial amount of time, it would be much easier to include an “exclude/include” feature in front of the dropdown.
3. Login confusion if using a shared login
Admittedly this issue may be somewhat self-inflicted, but like many agencies we have one dedicated email account to access shared marketing tools and to own our Google Analytics account. We use this shared email account to login to Microsoft Clarity, but have found that if a user doesn’t log into Microsoft via the correct path, they won’t be able to see any of the projects we have access to.
This can easily be solved by logging out and logging back in, but if a client sends us access and the invitation is accepted via the wrong sign-on method (say Google), the project will not be accessible if someone logs in via Microsoft. If the client revokes the invitation, then sends access again, the project invite can then be re-accepted and will be accessible via the preferred sign-on option.
Overall, I am a big Microsoft Clarity fan. The pros far outweigh the cons, and the tool contains so many cool features and plugins – especially considering that it’s free. Microsoft always seems to be adding something new, and I’m excited to see the tool continue to evolve in the future.
If you need assistance with web analytics and tracking, don’t hesitate to reach out! Get in touch with us or continue reading to discover more helpful resources from Cypress North’s resident data nerds.