Smartlook: a new tool to analyze the customer web experience

In the last few days so many Facebook’s message boards were overwhelmed by a new  adv: SmartLook, the name of a new monitoring tool available to e-commerce marketers and more.

What is it?

smartlook home

Smartlook homepage

The official website reads: “We will record everything visitors do on your site. Absolutely for free. Look at your website through your customer’s eyes“.
So inviting slogan it is … I cannot resist the temptation to test it!

To make it work, webmaster should insert a code snippet into web pages. Usually, it is done by embedding it in the header or footer … choice is up to you.

 

Once inserted, by the  first visit, system starts to record everything that happens during user’s navigation.
And yes, it’s a little hard to believe at first sight, but there it is: it works and records  mouse scrolling,  pauses, user’s clicks and so on. It seems to be in the user’s shoes … and you can guess the thought processes that led to look and/or click on this or that.

For an e-commerce site it seems to be a true blessing: really so many information…

Is it legal?

smartlook dashboard

List of recordings

After initial enthusiasm, we begin to question whether all this can be considered legal.

According to what we read on the site would seem so, but…yes, it is like asking the landlord if the wine he served was good …
I stop a moment and my developer soul would come out…

 

How was it made? What is there, or there may be, behind the scenes?

I imagine a possible solution …

Maybe it performs a kind of  page’s screenshot (or, even more simply, it does copy html code, to be showned in the player during recording playback), then later, through javascript, tracks the mouse movements and stores beginning and end, taking into account  breakpoints, to determine the end of a sequence: in this way the amount of data to be recorded is limited to a minimum and can be stored in an array, finally saved on database. In addition it saves coordinates of the various clicks ….

smartlook recording

Recording’s detail

Of course, this is only a guess … but it’s possibile, and so makes me think that, basically, there is nothing illegal in this modus operandi …

What stated by the authors of this fascinating tool seems, therefore, to be sustainable.
Other data recorded, in fact, are common to any web statistics system (see Google Analytics, etc …) and include IP address, operating system, device type and browser, referrer page, resolution in pixels, and little else.
All information that is essential part of the http protocol and html.
Nothing new or shocking.

The tool, currently in beta, appears to be quite slim and simple to use, with no special frills. What seems to be missing at the moment is the presence of some reporting tool and metrics on which to base these reports.

It ‘s nevertheless true that software goal is just to provide a detailed analysis of user behavior, that itself is difficult to fit in specific metrics, although some of these are obvious: total number of clicks made by the user (which can be considered an index of the level of interest generated from the page itself), as well as clicks to other pages, and maybe this will be a next step of  tool’s development.

I just notice how much information can be obtained by crossing data from other analytics tools to understand the implications and the potential that a tool like SmartLook can provide to marketing manager …
A real gold mine!

SmartLook also provides certain APIs, primarily to manage tool’s behavior in a specific page. For example, in presence of certain parts that should not be drawn, as form fields related to sensitive information and showned not encrypted. This task, however, is up to the webmaster, who needs to assess risk presence and properly modify code to inhibit, partially or totally, the SmartLook recorder.

All free?!?

According to what SmartLook team said, which is based in Brno in the Czech Republic, it seems so:

  • unlimited number of recordings/month
  • unlimited number of websites monitored

But if you look closely,  an additional feature, that makes possible to show some interesting visitors’ detail (email, name, etc.), and, most importantly, how technically this is provided, suggests a possible data grabbing, even if it is a optional and not necessary for normal operation.

Nevertheless, in my opinion it seems to be a beautiful product.
Definitely it worth you’ll give it a chance.

 

Nicola Boccardi

principalmente programmatore e web-designer. Chitarrista e bassista blues. Ama perdersi nelle notti buie e serene a caccia di stelle e oggetti del profondo cielo con il suo telescopio. Motto: Quando smetterò di imparare, forse sarò già morto.

 

2 thoughts on “Smartlook: a new tool to analyze the customer web experience

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