Real User Monitoring (RUM): Examples, Common Issues & Best Practices

Mar 15, 2024 - Mike Hakob

Real User Monitoring (also known as RUM monitoring) is all about the user and is a fundamental component of performance marketing. You can use RUM to discover what your real users are experiencing, including challenging user interfaces, slow sites or servers, 404 errors, broken internal links, and more.

If you’re not using RUM as an essential part of your digital services, you’re making the costly mistake of allowing potential customers to find issues that lead to lost sales.

In this guide, we will cover everything from the basics of Real User Monitoring to its implementation process, ensuring you can fully leverage RUM to boost your website’s performance.

What is Real User Monitoring?

RUM monitoring and RUM analytics involve collecting data on the user experience. User experience is one of the most essential metrics you can focus on during the buyer’s journey. Over 74% of businesses use this experience to nurture leads and improve sales. Any time that a user uses the site, real user experience monitoring works in the background to monitor key performance metrics, analyze potential errors, and track HTTP requests.

How does real user monitoring work? It depends. The underlying technology can be a component of application performance monitoring, but it can also be a standalone technology.

How RUM Differs From Other Monitoring Techniques

RUM monitoring is not the only way to discover what your real users are experiencing. You will find multiple methods to achieve similar approaches, such as synthetic monitoring, which try to “mimic” the data you can capture in real time.

However, RUM works off of actual data and not just “best guesses.”

How does real user monitoring work? It’s best to look at examples to fully understand this approach to collecting customer data.

Real User Monitoring vs. Synthetic Monitoring

Real time user monitoring and synthetic monitoring both aim to do similar things:

  1. Track mobile app performance
  2. Track website performance

RUM analytics provides a wealth of real-world data that you can use to better understand user experience by monitoring exactly what happens on your site or app. For example, timestamps are in place to better understand when issues arise and why issues arise.

Scripts are added to the application (or site) to do the monitoring behind the scenes. If an issue arises, such as a server going down, this data can be seen in real time so that internal teams can rapidly fix the issue. Moreover, RUM allows for the analysis of user behavior across different devices and browsers, offering insights into how various factors affect user experience.

How does real user monitoring work? It works in real time, capturing data from actual users as they interact with your application or website. This direct feedback loop enables immediate action to enhance performance and usability.

Synthetic monitoring isn’t done in real time. Instead, it uses simulations to better understand user behavior and issues that may arise. While still a valuable tool in application and site testing, synthetic monitoring can’t take into account real user actions to the same degree as RUM real user monitoring.

synthetic monitoring vs real user monitoring

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Real User Monitoring vs. Application Performance Monitoring

We’ve answered what is real user monitoring and how it works, but what about application performance monitoring (APM)? APM focuses not on the user but on the application’s or site’s underlying system, including servers, databases, APIs, etc.

RUM analytics focuses on site speed, errors, and user metrics, but APM focuses more on memory utilization, CPU utilization, and server-related stats.

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Benefits of RUM Monitoring

RUM monitoring is beneficial because it focuses on the leads that may be lost or have a poor user experience because of site issues and flaws.

Once you know how to do real user monitoring, you’ll find that your team can go beyond workflows and fix issues faster and more efficiently. Rapid issue correction and real user experience monitoring will help with:

Improving User Experience

A real user monitor is a vital part of maximizing ROI because 89% of consumers are willing to shop with competitors because of a bad experience.

You can discover what your real users are experiencing with real time user monitoring, and if you take corrective action, you can reduce buyer friction, eliminate common errors, and Improve user experience.

Identifying Problems and Better Prioritize Issues

Now you know what real user monitoring is, let’s identify RUM problems and how to better prioritize its issues real time user monitoring identifies issues and problems, but it’s up to the real user monitor to identify and prioritize problems.

It’s not enough to know how to do real user monitoring. You need to use this data to make a noticeable experience difference. You can label issues by priority and start correcting the most time-sensitive issues faster to make a better, positive experience for the end user.

Enhancing Website/Application Performance

Imagine discovering what your real users are experiencing and finding that performance slows to a crawl and server response times are 10 seconds or longer. You’ll lose customers and sales.

RUM can identify:

  • Server or database issues
  • Times when servers are under high load
  • Ways to correct the performance issuers

Perhaps you need to spin up more servers or use load balancing to manage the database load better and keep performance high. RUM metrics allow you to make key performance changes that have the largest impact.

Business Advantages of RUM Monitoring

You discover what your real users are experiencing, and if your business takes steps to address issues. By capturing and analyzing this real-time data, businesses gain a comprehensive view of their digital performance from the user’s perspective. This insight is critical for identifying issues that may not be apparent through traditional testing methods.

Here are the key business advantages of implementing RUM Monitoring, which not only enhances customer satisfaction and improves user engagement metrics, but also drives tangible improvements in key performance indicators:

  • Reduce buyer friction
  • Improve conversion rates
  • Lower cart abandonment
  • Boost user experience

Your team must know how to do real user monitoring if you want to address the main user issues.

Measuring Service Level Targets Easily

It’s a way for you to exceed user expectations to improve website conversion rates and enhance the experience.

Real user monitoring is often deployed to monitor your service level agreements. SLAs improve user trust in your service, and RUM analytics shows how you’re meeting your SLA, such as application uptime, failure rates, etc.

Key Components of Real User Monitoring

RUM monitoring and real user experience monitoring have multiple components that work together to help you collect information and detect problems. The following components are necessary if you want to answer the questions below:

  • How does real user monitoring work?
  • How to do real user monitoring?

Data Collection and Capturing

A real user monitor relies on RUM metrics to capture data using JavaScript, log files, error logs, and load balancing. This comprehensive approach allows for the collection of a wide array of information, including page load times, user interactions, system crashes, and network issues, directly from the user’s browser or device. Log files and error logs further contribute by providing backend insights, such as server response times and error messages, which are essential for identifying technical issues that could impact user satisfaction. To prevent data decay, it’s essential to ensure data accuracy and relevance continuously.  Load balancing data helps in understanding how traffic distribution affects performance across different servers. Together, these data points form a holistic picture of the user experience, enabling businesses to pinpoint areas for improvement and optimize their digital platforms effectively.


You can’t discover what your real users are experiencing without sessions. Real time user monitoring relies on sessions to record actions for specific users. Identification by ID allows you to record actions, log browser or phone type, record specific pages where issues occur, etc.

Problem Detection

RUM monitoring will analyze system resources, and real user experience monitoring in terms of navigation issues, server and database errors, slow response times, etc.

It’s about learning what’s going right and wrong on your site or application. You can’t know how to do real user monitoring without addressing problems that you find.

Individual Visit Reporting

RUM metrics and RUM analytics provide a small piece of the puzzle. Your real user monitor shows you insights on specific data events that you can then recreate through session data.

You can follow the same steps as an individual user to recreate issues and develop fixes for bugs that don’t happen 98% of the time.

Reporting and Segmentation

Real time user monitoring and RUM analytics rely on reporting and segmentation. A real user monitor can analyze user segments, page performance, availability, etc.

Reporting allows for an overview of performance that goes beyond parsing basic error logs.


You discover what your real users are experiencing in real time. RUM real user monitoring puts alerts in place to tell network engineers when there’s an issue, alert system administrators that anomalies are detected, etc.

RUM monitoring gives website and application teams a wealth of data to improve the user experience.

What can you monitor? Let’s find out.

What Can You Monitor With A Real User Monitoring Solution?

E-commerce stores, media companies, SaaS providers, and countless others use real time user monitoring to strengthen their applications, which can be apps or websites.

You can monitor a lot of data at once, but the most common data in RUM includes:

Timing and Performance Measurements

What is real user monitoring really about? Performance. Businesses often utilize RUM analytics, as a way to monitor time. For example:

Page Load Times

Real user experience monitoring will track the time it takes for landing pages to load, user-related pages to load, checkout pages to load, etc.

If a certain landing page’s load time is slow or longer than average due to video elements, it can lead to higher bounce rates. Google found that a single-second increase in load time from 2 to 3 seconds increases bounce rates by 32%.

RUM real user monitoring allows strict page load time monitoring to help internal teams react to potential system abnormalities and correct them before the user’s experience declines.

Resource Loading Times

A real user monitor also tracks response time for elements, CDNs, databases, etc.

Identifying hardware or resource issues is faster when you have metrics to know when internal issues are outside of optimal performance.

User Interactions and User Sessions

Real time user monitoring on the session level allows for a complete picture of usage to the extent that it can be recreated internally. Your RUM metrics can include:

Website Interactions

You can do real user monitoring based on website interactions by tracking things such as:

  • Number of clicks to purchase
  • Pages with the highest bounce rates
  • Interface areas that lead to lost sales
  • Common browser/device types
  • Traffic to pages
  • Third-party dependencies
  • So much more

Real user experience monitoring can capture the entire user journey from when visitors open the app or website until they leave.

Form Interaction

Your real user monitor system can log form interactions, including information on time to fill in forms, where form abandonment occurs, and areas of the form that are confusing to users.

Error Tracking

Error tracking is one of the most important sets of data to collect to discover what your real users are experiencing. You can track multiple data sets, such as server errors, database errors,
AJAX errors, JavaScript errors, and third-party dependency errors.

Any error tracked and user tracking allows dev teams to recreate the issue and find ways to rectify it.

Basic End-User Segmentation

RUM monitoring data can be refined to offer user segmentation by demographic, browser, app, device, screen size, funnel entry, age/gender (in some cases), referral source, etc.

Geographical Data

RUM real user monitoring can collect top geographical data based on the user’s IP address, such as country, city, and region.

Web Browser Type and Version/Device Type

Real time user monitoring collects device and browser data to better monitor the experience using real user devices. Perhaps an Android user keeps experiencing an issue, and you can narrow it down to the app version and operating system version.

Page Views and Navigation Paths

RUM metrics and real user experience monitoring can also monitor page views, navigational paths, and clicks.

Best Practices for Implementing RUM in Your Business

Implementing RUM monitoring and RUM analytics takes the right approach and experience. We’re going to share how to begin the implementation process using best practices.

Define Clear Goals and Objectives

Want to know how to do real user monitoring in your organization? RUM Requires clear goals and objectives:

  • What do you want to track?
  • What do you hope the data will help you achieve?
  • Are there issues that you want to resolve using the data you collect?

Perhaps you want to increase conversion rates or downtime. Add these goals to your objectives.

Choose the Right Tools

Real time user monitoring tools help you discover what your real users are experiencing. Select the right monitoring tools by testing them out, comparing dashboard and reporting functionality, and comparing costs.

Ensure Data Privacy and Compliance

RUM metrics must meet data compliance and privacy standards. Be sure to work with legal professionals to ensure you meet local user laws.

Examine Data

A real user monitor must examine data to know where to extract it. You need to examine data sources, analyze the data that you collect, and verify data to ensure it’s accurate.

Often, two key areas of data collection occur web and form, although they can also be grouped into one.

Website Content Analysis

You know how to do real user monitoring, but it’s time to run RUM metrics on your site. Use the data that you collect to do a full content audit that includes problem areas, error pages, pages where leads are lost, etc.

Routine analysis of your content will allow you to know which landing pages are missing KPIs and why this is occurring.

Form Data Analysis

A real user monitor focuses heavily on conversions, which always go through forms. Checkout pages always have a form of some type, and your RUM analytics should be used to closely monitor time spent on the form, areas of the form where abandonment happens, and much more.

Narrow down the data points that explain why sales are being lost using the data that you collect. Correcting these key issues, which may be as simple as asking for too much information, can transform your sales funnel.

Integrate RUM with Other Monitoring And Analytics Tools

You can discover what your real users are experiencing with RUM metrics, but you should also rely on other tools, such as synthetic monitoring, APM, analytics, heat maps, etc.

Continuously Monitor and Improve

What is real user monitoring all about? RUM is a way to monitor issues and improve the user experience.

RUM must be used to monitor your site or application 24/7 and improvements must be made to address pertinent concerns.

best practices for real user monitoring

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Limitations of Real User Monitoring

Now that we’ve answered the question of how real user monitoring works, and explained the benefits of real user experience monitoring, let’s explore some of the limitations of this practice.

Lack of Benchmarking

Real user experience monitoring can measure your site’s or app’s performance, but it won’t help you compare your performance with the competition. You’ll need to use other tools to analyze competitor sites.

Only Works in Production

RUM metrics are only available after your site or app is already up and running. RUM isn’t effective for pre-production or development environments.

Effectiveness in Pre-production Settings is Limited

Knowing how to do real user monitoring in pre-production settings isn’t very helpful. For RUM analytics to be useful, you must have real users to generate trend data and insights.

Too Much Data

As your user volume grows, so will your data volume. Real time user monitoring can become challenging when you have too much data. Additional tools will be required to make sense of your data.


RUM monitoring provides you with the data you need to improve your website or application. Common errors and user friction lead to lower conversion rates and user retention, which will impact the lifetime value of your users.

If you know how to do real user monitoring and have RUM metrics, real user experience monitoring can transform the experience to improve sales, boost adaption if offering SaaS or other services, reduce errors and so much more

Fewer errors and higher revenue allow companies to invest in high-value tasks and worry less about the user experience.

Mike Hakob

Mike Hakob is a seasoned digital marketing maven with over 15 years of mastery, and the visionary Co-Founder of FormStory. As the driving force behind Andava Digital, he has dedicated his expertise to empowering small to medium-sized businesses, crafting tailor-made websites and pioneering innovative marketing strategies. With a graduate degree in Management of Information Systems, Mike seamlessly blends the realms of technology and marketing, consistently setting new industry benchmarks and championing transformative digital narratives.