4 data types you need to understand the customer journey

Understanding the customer journey is essential when you want to attribute accurately and effectively optimize your website. That requires in-depth analysis of customer data. Luckily, there are a range of tools that can help you.

So what kind of data do you need to understand user journeys? In a nutshell, they are metrics that indicate how users are interacting with your site – including the pages they visit, the buttons they click, and the number of pages visited in a single session. These measures can be broadly categorised as ‘behavioral data’.

Behavioral data can give you really valuable insights into opportunities for optimization – showing you where customers are dropping out of your conversion funnel. But before you can do any meaningful analysis, you need to collect the data.

This content was produced in collaboration with SessionCam.


1. Website analytics

As a trusty wrench in your marketing toolbox, the analytics platform of your choice should be the first port of call when you want to understand how visitors are interacting with your site.

It provides a quick, top-level view of how your visitors are coming to your site and what they do when they get there.

The metrics you should focus depend on your industry. But broadly, if you’re looking to measure engagement levels you need to be aware of session duration, average time-on-page and average pages-per-session.

Of course, everything leads to one critical number: your conversion rate. Marketing analytics software firm Moz found a 0.6 correlation between time spent on a website and conversion rate. A 16% increase in average time-on-site increased conversions by 10%.

There’s enormous potential there for ecommerce sites, which average a 1.6% conversion rate.  Online-only retailers see a higher-than-average 1.8% conversion rate versus multichannel retailers, who come in with an average of 1.2%.

All of the data we’ve looked at so far can be tracked using Google Analytics, which provides a high-level insight into your site’s performance. However, while it gives you data to answer ‘what’ your customers are doing, it doesn’t tell you ‘why’ they’re doing it. For that, you need to collect much more granular data on the customer journey.


2. Heatmaps

Heatmaps give you a much more detailed look at website interactions, allowing you to visualize where users are displaying the greatest interest on any given page.

Heatmapping tools tend to present data in four different flavors:

  • Mouse click activity: Showing where users click (or tap) most often. This is useful for highlighting the most compelling buttons and calls-to-action on your page, demonstrating which links are most popular in your navigation bar, and highlighting unclickable areas that may confuse users.
  • Scroll reach: Displays how far users are willing to scroll down the page, which can be used to inform your decisions about what to include ‘above the fold’.
  • Mouse movement: Although mouse placement is not a definitive indicator of eye movement, it can be a good measure of interest – for example if a user hovers over a link but doesn’t click it, you might infer a weak intention to engage with that content.
  • User attention: This is typically a composite score combining metrics like scroll reach and time on page to give a sense of which sections of content are most viewed (displayed in red) and least viewed (in blue).


3. Session replays

If you want even more granular detail — and you should — session replay gives you a window into what your website visitors see and do. Observing the mouse movement, scroll reach and mouse activity is an effective way of identifying usability issues, improving conversion rates and enhancing customer support.

When you look at mobile visitors, session replay captures gestures like pinching and zooming, tapping, swiping and tilting.


4. Clickstream data

Web analytics, heatmaps and session replay all show you how customers are interacting with your site. But customers don’t always come directly to you before making a purchase.

In fact, a study by Moz found that it now takes 12% more clicks (360k) to generate a million euro in online spending than it did in 2016. Customers are increasingly using multiple channels, according to research from Google and Ipsos. In their study, 61% of internet users and more than 80% of millennials said they typically begin shopping on one device but continue or complete their purchase on another.

Source: Moz

That means there could be a huge chunk of the customer journey missing from your attribution model. How can you begin to understand the true ROI of your campaigns without understanding where customers come from?

Years ago, the answer would have remained a mystery. But today, you can collect and analyze data that solves that problem. Using a panel of volunteers who have agreed to share their browsing behavior, clickstream data lets you see which websites users have been browsing before arriving at your site and where they go after.

That opens up a massive opportunity for optimization by putting website behavior in the context of the rest of the customer journey.

For more advice on how to optimize your website for conversion, register for our next webinar with SessionCam entitled How to Convert Your Website Visitors into Customers.

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