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Category: Digital Analytics

Move into the Limitless World of Clickstream Data Analysis!

If you don’t have clickstream data, you can’t analyze the detailed path/interaction sequences that users take on your website. This dramatically limits your ability to mine insights from your digital analytics data, and create true competitive advantage.

For most organizations, data is still in the guarded hands of web analytics vendors since access hasn’t been paid for, or steps haven’t been taken to extract the data. As human and computational resources are becoming more accessible and cheaper than ever, now is the time to leverage this raw data.

Good news! We are going to elaborate on why and how you can take back the ownership of your clickstream data.

Why Own Your Web Analytics Data?

Essential business questions like these can’t be answered effectively by common web analytics tools:

  • How long do users take from first visit to purchase?
  • What is your user retention/churn?
  • What is the most common path to signup?
  • What is your customer lifetime value per acquisition channel?
  • Which channel brings in the best customers?
  • What is the first/last channel touchpoint for users who purchase?
  • How many users have signed up more than 3 months ago but never purchased?
  • What % of users who signed up in the last Christmas season are still purchasing? Cohort by first purchase date.
  • Are users acquired via email marketing more valuable, compared to those acquired e.g. via AdWords?
  • Which users added products to the cart but didn’t finish converting? Which products were those?

If you’re interested to answer these questions, you must have clickstream data.

What is Clickstream Data?

Every time a user sees a webpage or takes an action that is being tracked on a website, a “hit” is recorded. A hit is simply a row of data which contains rich information about the hit and the visitor. A typical hit can include dimensions such as: date, time, user ID, browser, operating system, country, city, requestedURL, hostname, etc.

Clickstream data is composed of thousands, millions or even billions of hits that tell the story of how, who, and what visitors are doing on your website. This is what web analytics vendors use to provide you statistics about your website. However, the way vendor tools process and interpret this data (i.e. group/aggregate) reduces the analysis value it can provide.

State of the Analytics Nation

We are in a booming cloud computing age:

  • Data is being created at a tremendous velocity
  • More data sources than ever
  • Cheap to store large sets of data
  • High demand for highly granular data
  • Inexpensive to perform complex computations on large sets of data
  • New breed of software and human resources with the skills to mine data

Data is an extremely valuable asset. It can be used to gain competitive advantage, and the valuation of many popular companies is almost entirely based on the data they are collecting. If data is so valuable, why don’t you own ALL your data?

You Likely Don’t Own Your Digital Analytics Data

Almost every web analytics vendor uses JavaScript tracking (or via mobile SDKs), by firing a pixel with data that identifies each hit with browser resolution, page path information and other rich metadata. Most of this information doesn’t go to your own server logs; it is stored inside your vendor’s data warehouse and you have to work to get it out (if they provide it to you).

Many of the paid web analytics vendors provide this granular clickstream data (e.g. Google Analytics Premium via BigQuery, Adobe Analytics via Data Feeds, etc.) and it’s up to you to extract it.

Until you extract this clickstream data and use a more advanced analysis tool, you will be stuck answering only basic questions. Free your digital analytics data, to help you answer the questions that matter to your business.

How to Free Your Digital Analytics Data

If you are a Google Analytics Premium client, you can enable the Google BigQuery integration which will make the clickstream data available to you on a daily basis.

If you use Google Analytics Standard (free version), Google will not be providing you access to the clickstream data. You can query the API for certain data, but it is summarized and processed data. Fear not though; you are not stuck! One solution to get ownership of your Google Analytics Standard clickstream data is to use Blast’s Clickstreamr product which captures a copy of the same data that is sent to Google Analytics.

If you use Adobe Analytics, you can have your clickstream data delivered daily via FTP in multiple zipped files.

If you use Snowplow Analytics, you already own your clickstream data. This sophisticated event analytics platform leverages Amazon Web Services to scale. Data is stored your database (e.g. Hive, Spark, Redshift or PostgreSQL), and can be analyzed with advanced analysis tools (e.g. R, Python and SAS), and popular business intelligence tools like Tableau. Besides natively owning your data, Snowplow is differentiated by offering real-time clickstream analysis to facilitate data-driven applications or empower immediate decision making.

Popular Applications of Clickstream Data

Owning your clickstream data has never been so easy and affordable! Some of the most popular applications of this data include:

  • Joining clickstream data with customer data from external sources
  • Product Recommendation Systems
  • Customer Analytics
  • Catalog Analytics
  • Prediction Modeling
  • Attribution Modeling
  • Cohort Analysis
  • Customer Lifetime Value Analysis

Having a solid web analytics implementation with summarized data can bring value to organizations, but as your analytics maturity evolves you’ll find that highly granular, user-level data will allow you to answer far deeper and more valuable business questions.

Stop waiting for your analytics tool to build a feature to answer your business questions. Move into the limitless world of clickstream data analysis!

Follow our blog to continue the journey into clickstream data analysis! More posts coming soon.

Joao Correia
About the Author

Joao Correia is the Director of Data Insights at Blast Analytics & Marketing. His mission is to improve business performance through data, actionable insights and thoughtful strategy.

Joao Correia has written on the Blast Digital Customer Experience and Analytics Blog.

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