Digital experience monitoring: What Is DEM?
What is digital experience monitoring (DEM)?
Digital experience monitoring (DEM) is emerging as one of the most critical elements of a digital strategy to keep customers you have, attract new ones and continuously improve the user's digital journey. In fact, the DEM market is set to reach a staggering $6.53B by 2031.
This isn’t a surprise considering a friction-free web and app experience is at the top of the priority list for many companies.
Why? Consumers are jumping between apps and sites faster than ever and want and expect a seamless digital experience–and will tolerate nothing less. In fact, 53% of website visitors will abandon any site that takes longer than three seconds to load. That’s almost zero leeway. So companies need to hop to it or risk losing customers to the competition.
That’s where DEM comes in. The concept of digital experience monitoring evolved from traditional end-user monitoring, but it grew to include a more holistic view to keep continual track of the digital customer experience in real-time. DEM offers a more comprehensive approach.
Sitting within IT management, DEM measures and monitors real-time performance of systems and their interaction with users—from loading speed to server request errors, outages and other relevant user experience data. It combines real-time behavioral and technical insights to help IT resolve issues quickly and optimize future performance. Ultimately, DEM helps organizations improve the digital customer journey.
According to Gartner, by 2026, at least 60% of I&O leaders will use DEM to measure application, services and endpoint performance from the user’s viewpoint, up from less than 20% in 2021.
How does digital experience monitoring work?
From a central dashboard, DEM software continually tracks and measures a variety of web, APIs and mobile app system data that impacts users, such as website traffic, memory, software, hardware usage and many other metrics.
Analyzing this combination of system and user data, real-time intelligent analysis and automation deliver critical data for IT to diagnose, resolve and even predict future problems—all seamlessly to the user. Ultimately, these improvements can lead to increased customer buying and retention, which will grow the bottom line.
Why Is digital experience monitoring important?
Traditional tools are limited
Today’s website and mobile app users are accessing data in the cloud and through ISPs from every type of device—and beyond the corporate data center infrastructure. Application performance monitoring alone can’t provide real-time user experience insights. DEM provides the advanced tools in a cloud-first world to monitor, measure, resolve and optimize digital performance.
Expands IT visibility and efficiency
Instead of sifting through help desk tickets and using various tool views, DEM is managed from an integrated dashboard to monitor and manage all of these analytics in one place. IT has real-time metrics for bottlenecks, crash sources, technical errors, historical trends and other critical data across the digital enterprise.
Lowers IT costs
There are several ways DEM helps to reduce IT costs. One is through a more streamlined approach to monitoring the digital experience with fewer disparate systems. But another key way is through proactively pinpointing critical problems before they reach users, causing outages and other problems. This saves time and resources that would be put to work otherwise.
Grows a competitive edge
DEM puts your business in front of problems and a step ahead of your competitors. Because today’s customers expect a flawless digital experience, there is a low tolerance for error. DEM helps you understand critical technical and behavioral signals that impact the user experience and make the difference between a purchase or packing for the competition.
Benefits of digital experience monitoring
Monitoring and improving the user experience on your web and mobile app from a technical and behavioral standpoint offers a range of benefits to your I&O organization—and, ultimately, your most important stakeholder: the customer.
As noted above, DEM delivers a range of advantages for IT in helping manage and monitor all systems and customer-facing digital experiences. Here are some of the top benefits:
Reduces operations complexity and cost with one integrated DEM dashboard.
Automatically identifies device, network or application problems that affect performance.
Proactively solves problems before they can affect your web or app visitors.
Uncovers performance issues to remediate for the customer experience.
Increases collaboration across IT operations teams to triage and resolve issues.
Improves productivity for IT personnel to focus on other tasks.
Challenges of digital experience monitoring
While DEM has clear advantages and offers better outcomes for users, there are also inherent issues that crop up for IT organizations. They include:
Difficulty separating out key insights: Collecting and analyzing vast amounts of data from many resources can cause data overload. It’s critical that I&O teams have well-planned data management and analysis strategies to extract the most meaningful insights.
Integration complexities: Integrating different monitoring tools, systems and data sources can be complex. To achieve a holistic view of the digital experience, integration needs to be seamless.
Ability to scale: Scaling up your DEM to grow with increasing users, complex systems and more digital services requires disciplined planning and resource allocation.
Security and privacy concerns: With massive amounts of data collected and analyzed, organizations must have appropriate security measures to protect sensitive customer data and comply with data protection regulations.
What are the key components of a digital experience monitoring strategy?
Digital experience monitoring is the foundation for all of the components of a DEM strategy. There are tools that work alone, but when integrated into a DEM approach, they deliver comprehensive IT data monitoring, insights and problem resolution. They are:
Real user monitoring (RUM): RUM collects real-time data on performance, functionality responsiveness and other key data from users’ devices.
Synthetic monitoring: This method “simulates” user interactions and transactions to proactively identify user performance issues.
Application performance monitoring (APM): APM monitors backend systems, servers and infrastructure supporting digital services performance.
Network monitoring: This software analyzes traffic from connected devices for full visibility of overall health and performance to detect issues that may affect users.
End-user feedback: Unlike monitoring software, this is direct feedback and sentiment analysis from users about their digital experiences and pain points.
Analytics and reporting: There are many forms of digital experience data analysis and reporting to track performance and generate actionable insights to improve and optimize websites and apps.
How can digital experience monitoring help identify and resolve performance issues?
DEM solutions combine a host of powerful tools and resources that can pinpoint and prevent real-time issues impacting website and app visitor user experience. These capabilities identify errors and events through data analysis, AI and other methods to determine ebbs and flows of website traffic, application performance and many other digital experience metrics.
Through DEM, organizations can identify areas where their products or services may be underperforming, usability issues are affecting conversions and other user experience challenges.
Digital experience monitoring tools and solutions
As discussed earlier, there are foundational DEM tools that comprise a comprehensive strategy to help I&O organizations improve the performance of their websites and apps—leading to a better user experience, more customer satisfaction and ultimately, a competitive edge.
Here’s a deeper dive into their features.
Real-time user monitoring (RUM): Collecting various data from devices, RUM breaks down interactions into separate events, for instance, bounce rate, to provide more context and richer insights. RUM’s ability to identify and categorize technical issues along the customer journey helps boost conversions, decrease customer churn and provide a better overall digital experience.
Synthetic monitoring: Emulating “real” interactions and transactions, it identifies issues before they happen. Using scripts, synthetic monitoring simulates user behavior for different user scenarios, device types, browsers and other testing variables. The analytics reveal how your apps are responding to typical user interactions, provide performance benchmarks to improve, prevent problems from reaching customers and other benefits.
Application Performance Monitoring (APM):. At its core, APM software focuses on diagnosing and optimizing apps. This is achieved through tracking and monitoring various systems, servers and infrastructure to identify real-time user problems and correct them, including application error rates, load rates, availability and other performance factors.
Network monitoring: Software analyzes network traffic from connected devices to assess the overall performance of the network and detect issues and errors impacting users. Network monitoring helps IT to resolve bottlenecks, proactively identify outages, detect threats early and gain insight into the potential need for more IT resources.
Defining capabilities of digital experience monitoring tools
We’ve established that real user monitoring is a core component of any digital experience monitoring strategy and implementation. Here are some of the features that contribute to its key role in DEM.
Real-time, high-level performance analytics: Performance data is captured and accessible immediately, enabling instant insights to adjust errors and capitalize on identified opportunities.
Page resource performance: In-page analytics explore how each resource on your page is performing so you can pinpoint and correct issues in a timely manner.
Core Web Vitals (CWV): Increase the pace, impact and depth of the page experience by optimizing CWV. Show how site changes impact your CWV immediately (or for any time range) so you can address problems before they affect Google’s CWV score—and the search rankings of your site.
Limitations of DEM and RUM tools
Through a powerful combination for insight into the user's digital experience, both DEM and RUM have limits on capabilities to fully understand a user’s complete web or app journey. Worse yet, it can result in an incorrect problem resolution, missing the real issue and, ultimately, conversion and new revenue. These limitations include:
Inability to reconstruct issues: While you can see the data around the technical issues, you can’t see the actual user session, so you won’t understand the full experience and impact on the user’s side. For example, you can see that the user continues to click on the checkout page button, but you don’t know the cause.
Missing parts of the user experience: RUM looks at page-level issues and provides insights on page load times, HTTP requests and other data but doesn’t uncover the specific problems the user is having. For instance, a site may be working fine from a technical perspective, but a visitor can’t find the form on the page, so they leave.
Lack of user experience in context: Yes, DEM tools can detect and find errors and events, but they can’t make the connection from one page experience to another at a later stage of the customer journey–so the context is missing. For example, a visitor may be going back and forth on web pages and eventually leave the site. You won’t know the cause of their abandonment, just that they left your site.
Doesn’t prioritize based on business impact: There will always be website errors, but RUM doesn’t have the capability to quantify those errors based on revenue impact or urgency. You won’t know how many times a specific error occurred or how many users left their sessions based on that error, which leaves you guessing which problems should be prioritized and which ones are less critical.
No visibility for Core Web Vitals on mobile devices: CWV measures the quality of a user’s experience on a mobile device, but many sites aren’t optimized for different types of mobile visitors. For instance, some users may be using older devices, slower networks, operating systems or other factors that can affect CWV. The challenge is you can’t parse out those indicators to understand each user’s experience.
The power of real user experience
Meeting customer expectations for a fast and painless web or app experience requires multiple teams to effectively measure, analyze and optimize performance. This means go-to-market, product, support and engineering teams need a holistic view of the entire customer journey to get the job done.
That’s where real user experience (RUX) comes in. In combination with DEM, it’s unstoppable.
It bridges the gap between web and performance analytics with digital experience intelligence. RUX doesn’t just document technical errors but reveals how and why their performance impacts the overall experience—and the bottom line.
This provides some big advantages across teams responsible for the customer’s digital experience.
1. More clarity for engineers
RUX offers much more visibility than a typical error log, so engineers can see which issues cause a change in user behavior or impact revenue. For example, say an online shopper adds a product to their cart, but when they navigate to the checkout page, a technical glitch delays the loading time. The customer gets annoyed and leaves, ending the session without a conversion.
With RUM, engineers can only see where this error occurred in relation to a sequence of technical events on the checkout page. RUX contextualizes these events with user actions or behavioral data leading up to and right after the glitch, determining how much revenue was consequently lost. RUX represents a major shift for engineering teams, where front-end errors aren’t just defined by technical attributes but also a quantifiable cost.
2. Faster and better technical performance insights for GTM and product teams
RUM is typically managed through complex APM solutions, which means nuanced technical insights are often missing for GTM and product teams—even when those errors have serious impacts on their own KPIs.
RUX integrates web and app performance analytics and digital experience analytics, creating a centralized view of the customer journey. This delivers a comprehensive view of how users behave at different stages and the technical events simultaneously occurring in the background.
With RUX, technical performance data isn’t siloed in engineering, but a part of a holistic view of product and conversion optimization efforts. For marketers, that could mean leveraging web performance analytics in their conversion rate optimization (CRO) process to pinpoint sources of friction stemming from technical errors, while customer success managers can run ad hoc “tech checks” to quickly determine if there’s a glitch behind drop offs at a particular stage in the customer journey.
3. Greater team efficiency and market response
RUX shows high value in responding quickly to changes in the market. Engineering teams easily identify which errors have the greatest business impact, freeing up valuable time for troubleshooting. Marketers, customer success managers and product managers can identify technical issues themselves instead of waiting on engineers to find conversion-related errors by elimination or guesswork. Most importantly, RUX allows teams to replace disparate data sources with a robust, centralized view of the entire customer journey experience.
How Glassbox can help
With Glassbox, you can get all the data you need to identify performance issues, then understand their root causes and business impacts instantaneously. Learn more today.
Q: How can digital experience monitoring help improve customer satisfaction?
A: Digital experience monitoring provides valuable insights into the end-user experience, helping organizations identify and resolve issues that may negatively impact customer satisfaction. By proactively monitoring and optimizing performance, organizations can enhance website speed, responsiveness and usability. Additionally, identifying and addressing bottlenecks and errors can minimize downtime and improve overall customer experience, leading to higher satisfaction levels.
Q: How does digital experience monitoring contribute to business success?
A: Digital experience monitoring is crucial for business success in today's digital landscape. It helps organizations enhance customer satisfaction and improve conversion rates and operational efficiency.
Q: How can digital experience monitoring help identify and resolve performance issues?
A: Digital experience monitoring enables organizations to proactively identify and resolve performance issues. By monitoring user interactions in real-time, organizations can detect bottlenecks, latency, errors or slow response times that impact the user experience. With synthetic monitoring, organizations can simulate user interactions and transactions to uncover potential performance issues before they affect real users.