Clickstream data: Why ecommerce can’t overlook this first-party data source

By Ian Nadeau on February 9, 2023

Oil, once the world’s most valuable resource, has been supplanted by the newest top commodity: data. Ecommerce has long thrived on consumer data to acquire new customers, advertise, and more. The most leveraged version of consumer data used to be third-party. However, data sharing and third-party cookies will soon be a thing of the past due to privacy regulations and updates from the biggest software providers giving the customer greater control over how their data is managed. 

The inevitability of third-party data decline has ecommerce marketers shifting their focus toward first-party data. 

99% of senior decision makers agree that due to privacy regulations and 3rd party cookie deprecation, ecommerce is/needs to undergo a transformation.

Vanson Bourne 

What is first-party data?

Information collected directly from the consumer to the brand is considered first-party data. This can come from a CRM, web history, email, mobile app activity, transaction records, and other digital channels.

benefits of first-party data

Consumers routinely provide their personal information as they engage with an ecommerce brand, such as an email address when creating an account or a phone number to get updates on their purchase. Brands store and analyze first-party data using a customer relationship management (CRM) system, customer data platform (CDP), and data warehouses. 

The information stored within the CRM, CDP, and warehouses enables ecommerce brands to segment their consumers based on characteristic similarities. These segments are then used within marketing efforts — targeted advertising, product recommendations, and tailored promotions — to nurture individuals and turn them into loyal customers. 

What are the benefits of first-party data?

First-party data is a brand’s own raw insights, but it’s given by the consumer — increasing the level of certainty regarding the data’s accuracy. Further, first-party data is exclusive to the company that owns it, giving the brand a competitive advantage as they have information for a consumer that other companies can’t access (e.g., brands can upload customer email addresses to social media or Google campaigns to create relevant, targeted ads).

Perhaps the most advantageous aspect of first-party data is the fact that it’s consumer-driven. This means brands are less likely to fall out of compliance with the GDPR, CCPA, or one of the many new privacy regulations coming this year. Another benefit of first-party data is that it’s more cost-effective than second- and third-party information. Outsourced data takes money to acquire and time to organize and analyze. Meanwhile, first-party data is mainly gathered directly during a brand’s normal operations. 

As an ecommerce brand builds upon its pool of first-party data, it can leverage the insights to: 

how to leverage first party data
  • Better understand customer lifecycles by analyzing how they learn about, purchase from, and review the company, product, or service.
  • Identify key areas to improve the purchase experience by removing friction, such as allowing guest checkout or providing alternative payment options
  • Effectively target consumers with relevant emails, including cart abandonment reminders, products they may be interested in, or restocked inventory of previously sold out items.  
  • Uncover potential audiences by synthesizing data from site visitors, social followers, and email subscribers to create target profiles built on similar characteristics.

While all forms of first-party data have value for ecommerce, clickstream data may be the most relevant, yet underutilized, subset in today’s privacy-first world.  

What is clickstream data? 

Clickstream data is the in-session information gathered as a visitor navigates through a website. Each click delivers new insights which can be tracked, analyzed, and acted on. This allows brands to identify what pages are visited as well as the on-page behaviors being demonstrated. The real value of clickstream data comes not from tracking the journey of one site visit, but from millions. 

As a brand begins to focus on how users interact with its website, micro-behaviors and patterns can surface — allowing the company to better understand the customer journey and make data-driven alterations using the superior marketing attribution of clickstream data. 

Clickstream data insights can include: 

  • The first page of each session
  • How the visitor navigated the site
  • The duration of each page visit
  • Every page visited during the session
the benefits of clickstream data

While clickstream data alone can be an effective ecommerce tool, its greatest strength lies in the ability to power in-session marketing

What is in-session marketing? 

In-session marketing is the fusion of real-time analytics, consumer micro-behaviors, and AI. This synthesis of information runs on clickstream data and uses every interaction within a session to better understand visitor intent. All this empowers in-session marketing to deliver a dynamic customer journey capable of adapting around the moment-by-moment actions of the visitor and deploy strategic messaging, promotions, and more. Because it only applies real-time, user-generated insights into its model, in-session marketing doesn’t require historical, demographic, PII, or CRM data to be effective — helping brands tailor the journey without worrying about compliance issues.  

In the next five years, the retailers that will win the game will pay attention to what I think about as the development of an intelligence layer to understand their consumers contextually and in the moment.

Debjani Deb, CEO of Session AI

An in-session marketing platform analyzes clickstream data using advanced AI predictions, operationalizes those predictions instantly, and tracks relevant business outcomes. This enables the platform to provide the following key capabilities:

benefits of in-session marketing

Predictive segmentation of anonymous visitors

Combine AI algorithms and streaming event data to unlock novel audience targeting opportunities.

Triggered experiences

Respond to anonymous visitors’ short-term behaviors in-the-moment, before they leave your site.

Measurable outcomes driving immediate incremental results

In-session marketing can measure attributable business outcomes, such as improvements in revenue, conversion rates, margin savings, loyalty membership growth, and more.

On average, 90% of site traffic is anonymous. Learn more about how brands convert these unknown consumers by tailoring every session — regardless of the availability of PII, CRM, or other data — with clickstream data and in-session marketing.

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