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In Analytics Last updated: February 14, 2023
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Understand the user, visitor, or customer journey better and optimize website performance with Clickstream data and analytics concepts.

Businesses have been using data for a long time for critical decision-making purposes. With the growth of digital businesses, understanding how users or customers interact with your virtual assets has been tricky. 

Thanks to the Google Analytics tool, businesses started gathering various data points to understand online platforms like social media, eCommerce, website, and app performance. 

However, Google Analytics does not create a comprehensive customer journey upon which the business managers, marketing teams, and website developers can build newer and faster lead or visitor conversion solutions. 

Here comes Clickstream data analytics. Read on to learn this concept from a foundation level. 

What Is Clickstream Data?

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Clickstream data and Clickstream analytics are the frameworks for collecting, investigating, and reporting website data. This data tells the marketers and website developers the clicks users make to reach a content or product on a website and in what orders. 

Simply put, website owners monitor, record, and analyze webpage visits by the target audience or any organic traffic in this web data analytics framework.

The process captures each visitors’ actions on the website. Since the framework records many clicks, the data is nothing but a stream of clicks, hence the name Clickstream.

There are many ways to track and record Clickstream data. Primarily, the back end of a web page relies on the server log files that track and measure website performance. The process is completely separate from other types of web page analytics like Google Analytics.

Following this basic idea, website analysts typically utilize two specific forms of Clickstream data analytics, and these are as outlined below:

#1. Traffic Analytics

Traffic Analytics

Traffic analytics operate at the server level, and it monitors the following: 

  • How many web pages or content paths does a user visit
  • How long it takes each page to open
  • How often the visitor presses the web browser’s back, forward, reverse, stop, etc., buttons
  • The amount of data downloaded or streamed before the user clicks ahead

#2. eCommerce Analytics


Clickstream analytics for any eCommerce site mainly tracks the following data:

  • Organic product views, products added to the cart, and conversion
  • Ad-based traffic to the site and their engagement with products or services and, finally, purchases
  • eCommerce traffic’s actions on the website after they come through affiliate links
  • Attributing conversions and trials to the correct affiliate accounts for commission disbursement

Among website owners and digital marketers, the Clickstream analytics framework is a valued tool, and it is evident from Allied Market Research’s recent report. The report shows that the Clickstream data market had a value of $868.8 million in 2018. However, this should grow to a staggering $2.56 billion by 2026.

Social media and internet giants like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Amazon, Walmart, etc., are investing big in Clickstream data technologies.  

What Does Clickstream Data Include?

Clickstream data is all about web analytics, mostly from the back end, that the users can not see. Such web analytics help web developers and marketing managers create successful campaigns to improve user experience on the site and enhance revenue.

Hence, to make this happen, Clickstream data analysts collect the following data: 

  • Unique and organic visitors to the website
  • Sources of the visitors, like online ads, affiliate links, social media, etc.
  • Search terms and criteria users use when they arrive on a website
  • The landing page that provides the most visitors
  • The complete visitor journey on your website, from the entry to the landing page to newsletter subscriptions, service subscriptions, or product purchases
  • Time spent per visitor per user journey session
  • After which page visits and clicks, the visitor decides to sign up for a newsletter or add a product to the cart
  • After what activities on the website, a customer removes an item from the shopping cart
  • How often do the visitors use various content or site control buttons on the website, like the back, stop, reverse, forward, reload, etc.?
  • What are the most engaging content or features on your website that the users consume  

Now, try to imagine the amount of data you will gather when you constantly monitor multiple online assets, like apps, websites, social sites, etc., in your business. The data will be in the terabytes range. You will need a robust data analytics and visualization strategy to extract valuable insight from these web analytics data.

Another data collection consideration is personal data. Clickstream analysis does not collect any personal data. However, you may run some surveys on your websites and apps and proactively inform a user about the surveys in real-time and ask for permission to collect personal data through an online form. 

Microsoft, Google, and several other sites often run such surveys to collect demographic data that can substantiate the value of non-personable Clickstream data.

Clickstream analytics is not just beneficial for own website analysis. You can also compare your website with your rivals. When performing competitor website intelligence using Clickstream data and analytics, marketers and web developers usually collect the following data: 

  • Comparison of engagement and conversion rate with similar sites or a specific site
  • How do the most successful competitors attract traffic to their websites, and what does such data tell about their digital strategies?
  • How does your advertising strategy compare with your rivals?
  • Which eCommerce or tech web blog sites do the users open when they also interact with your website?
  • How does your digital visibility on Facebook, Google Search, Amazon, Bing, etc., compare with your rival websites or eCommerce outlets?  

How to Collect Clickstream Data?

There are mainly two ways to collect Clickstream data. If you’ve got web developers, cloud engineers, and data analysts, then you may choose the manual method. 

Alternatively, if you are a solely business-focused team and want to rely on professionals, then you can choose any SaaS platform offering Clickstream data collection and analysis services. Explore both methods below: 

#1. In-House Manual Process


In this process, you need to build a database of Clickstream data using cloud databases like Apache Cassandra, DataStax Enterprise, etc. You also need to use the DataStax Kubernetes Operator and Red Hat OpenShift to deploy the database on a hosted cloud platform or on-premise servers. 

In data collection, you must utilize programs like React components and Next.js. As a visitor enter your website, a back-end technology, server-side rendering (SSR), renders the website and quickly adds browsing data into the database. 

When users click on website elements, client-side React components make Next.js API calls to add click data to the database. Your database must be optimized for faster writing and processing to collect accurate customer journeys from the website. 

#2. SaaS Tool-Based Process


As Clickstream data analytics technology is gaining traction among small, medium, and startup businesses, various SaaS tool developers entered the market. You can choose from a few, like Kissmetrics, Mixpanel, Google 360, etc. 

Most of these SaaS tools for Clickstream data follow the following routes to collect web analytics data: 

  • A visitor visits a website using a PC or mobile web browser
  • The web server presents a web page for surfing tagged with a JavaScript tracker
  • This tracker tracks the clicks and moves on the website performed by the visitor and sends the data directly to the SaaS tools
  • SaaS Clickstream apps analyze the data and prepare a report with data insights 

Why Is Clickstream Data Better Than Keyword Data?

Keyword data, like keywords and their search volumes in hours, days, months, etc., are popular data points for marketers. However, keyword data has a fundamental problem. This problem is linked to bot traffic. You do not know what percentage of these keyword metrics are from actual users and bots.

Hence, if you are working on niche keywords, you might be tracking the wrong ones since almost all of these metrics could result from bot activities on Google Search, Bing Search, etc. 

On the other hand, Clickstream data easily isolates bot traffic from human users. Identifying bot activities on a Clickstream database is fairly easy, as you will see a programmable route or pattern in the visitor journeys coming from bots.

Real users tend to show random movements on websites, and you can not infer a similar pattern by looking at their clicks and mouse movements.

Thus, for content ideas or products that need marketing analysis, it is better to use Clickstream data along with keyword data. Blindly relying on keyword metrics may waste your marketing or SEO budget without delivering a good return on investment (ROI).    

Clickstream Data Vs. Google Analytics

Find below the differences between Clickstream Analytics and Google Analytics: 

FeaturesClickstream AnalyticsGoogle Analytics
DefinitionClickstream simply means streams of data collected from user-generated actions on your website or appGoogle Analytics is a web analytics tool that tells you the performance of your website
Data Collection MethodsYou can set up your own Clickstream database to collect website clicks, email sign-ups, cart movements, etc., to an on-site server for further analysis using in-house data analysts.

Alternatively, you can get on-demand Clickstream analytics services from many cloud platforms. These are more efficient and affordable than in-house Clickstream data analytics technology setups.  
Google Analytics is a web app from Google. You can set up your web properties on Google Analytics to collect website performance data.  
Data CollectedClickstream data mirrors user actions and moves on your website, apps, social media platforms, and eCommerce sites.

It tracks the source of the visitors, what they do after arriving on your website, what activities end up in product purchases, time spent on the web property, etc.  
Google Analytics collects website activity data like user volume, demographics, region, devices, bounce rate, track marketing campaigns, etc.  
Data AuthenticityData insights gathered from Clickstream analytics are more authentic than Google Analytics insightsGoogle Analytics is reliable, but the data also include bot activities. Hence, without eliminating the bot activity data, the insight could be flawed. 
Digital Marketing UsefulnessYou can use insights from Clickstream analytics to make the website user-friendly and subsequently increase conversion rates.Google Analytics insights help you understand how your organic SEO and PPC campaigns perform.

How to Use Clickstream Data to Improve Marketing Efforts?


For instance, a Clickstream data analysis insight can suggest that particular content is performing exceptionally well. Moreover, customers sign up for newsletters or purchase services after reading the content. In the future, you can create similar content to increase conversions. 

#2. For eCommerce, Prevent Cart Abandonment


Sometimes, users may abandon carts for the following reasons:

  • The purchasing flow is slow
  • It forces account sign up
  • The product is not going to the cart
  • Promotional discount not showing up
  • The price is not correct

You can discover the above issues by analyzing Clickstream data. Then, resolve the problems so that users can experience smooth purchase flows. 

#3. Make Customer Journey Smoother

A Clickstream data study can tell if website visitors need to click many buttons to reach specific content, promotional offer, product, or newsletter. Then, you can modify the website flow so that users can easily discover content or products on your websites. 

#4. Explore What Users Think About Rivals’ Websites

Syndicated Clickstream data from third-party vendors about your competitors’ websites can tell you if your competitors’ websites engage more in customer journeys than yours.  

Wrapping Up

The accurate and efficient use of Clickstream data and analytics will help many marketing and website development teams to understand the customer pain points of reaching content, information, products, or services. 

If you can uncover the secrets of thousands of users’ behavior with your or your competitors’ websites, you can create solutions that will provide better user journeys. 

Combining Clickstream data, data analytics, big data, and Google Analytics, you can create the best-performing digital business marketing strategy.

You might also want to learn about the SEO keyword research tools for highly engaging content creation for websites and apps.

  • Tamal Das
    Tamal is a freelance writer at Geekflare. After completing his MS in Science, he joined reputed IT consultancy companies to acquire hands-on knowledge of IT technologies and business management. Now, he’s a professional freelance content… read more
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