When it comes to your reporting, it’s important to know exactly what you’re tracking. Enter sessions. If you’re using HubSpot analytics reporting, you may have noticed this metric start to pop up across the tools. But what exactly is a session? And what’s the difference between a page view, visit, and a session in HubSpot? Understanding the difference between the three can be key to continuing to master your HubSpot reporting. Let's dive in.
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What is a page view?
The definition: A page view is when a page on your site is loaded by a browser.
Here’s how it works: HubSpot counts a page view every time the HubSpot tracking code is loaded. If a single page is refreshed multiple times by the same visitor, each refresh would count as its own page view.
Example scenario: A visitor comes to your site and the resource blocking extension on their browser prevents some of your content from loading. They disable the ad blocker and reload the page.
Outcome: As the page was refreshed and loaded by a browser twice, your reporting shows two page views.
What is a visit?
The definition: A visit is any time a visitor reaches your site from somewhere outside of your website domain. That means the person was on a different site and clicked on a link that took them to your site or entered your website URL directly into their browser.
Here’s how it works: When a visitor enters your site through an external domain, a new visit begins that will continue to track the visitor’s activity across the pages associated with your domain. A visit will conclude only when the visitor leaves your domain by visiting an external site or closing their browser window.
Example scenario: A visitor has a problem and turns to their favorite search engine for an answer. They find your blog as a result. They read an article, don't find quite what they're looking for, and return to their search results.
Further down in their search engine results, they come across another one of your blog articles. This one contains the answer they were looking for.
Outcome: Though the overall “source” of these two visits is consistent, this situation would count as two visit events from external locations.
This is because the visitor in this example left your website. This would end the first visit event. When they returned yet again from an external referring domain, HubSpot would see this as a new visit.
What is a session?
The definition: A session is a measurement of visitor engagement that groups together analytics activities taken by a visitor to your website. It expires after thirty minutes of inactivity.
Here’s how it works: A session works by grouping together the interactions individual visitors are having with your site. This includes the pages they are viewing, but also when they engage with elements such as CTAs, forms, or events. The time sensitive element of a session allows you to drill into engagement and traffic on your site.
Example scenario: A visitor finds your site through organic search. Your product solves their problem, so they spend a couple minutes browsing your pricing page. After a couple minutes, they choose to leave your site and go about their day.
Twenty minutes later, the same visitor is still thinking about your product and decides to return directly to your pricing page.
Outcome: This set of interactions would be counted as one session. Even though the visitor completely left your site, they have not been inactive for more than thirty minutes, so the second visit to your website is recorded as a continuation of their original engagement to your site. If the visitor chose to return more than thirty minutes after they left your site, their visit would kick off a new session.
Originally published Dec 6, 2017 11:00:00 AM, updated April 23 2020