Analysing Digital Analytics: Dissecting Data Streams


[Read previous articles in the Digital Analytics series here.]

Digital analytics draws insights from data that can be gathered from multiple sources. Most businesses utilize data from two or three sources, inadvertently missing out on data from the rest. The decision to incorporate data from some or all of the available streams can be a game-changing one.

The major silos of data that can be utilized for web analytics are given below:


Simply put, ClickStream is nothing but a record of the areas on which a computer user has clicked on. This activity is recorded when the user is browsing a website or utilizing a software application. The user leaves behind a sort of electronic trail wherein one can see the links that have been clicked , the pages visited, times spent on every page etc. ClickStream mining and analysis can be utilized to gain a deeper understanding into visitor behavior and preferences. Insights gained from ClickStream analysis can indicate what works in a website and what doesn't in terms of appealing to visitors. Based on these insights, businesses can restructure their website layouts, reconstruct the website content and tweak the advertising to get it right.

Content Management System

Content Management Systems are computer systems that allow businesses or individuals to publish or modify content. They also allow maintenance of websites from one central page. Integrating CMS with web analytics offers a host of benefits to businesses. Post login user preferences and data such as details from an online form, comments from forums and most other data that is stored from user interaction can be utilized to facilitate web analysis.

Ad Server & Third Party

Ad servers are tools that assist with ad trafficking, ad management and campaign management. With the help of ad servers, one can also get information on what ads were served on a particular website. Ad servers also track post-click actions. For instance, the leads or sales that take place once the user clicks on an ad and goes to the advertisers' site. Actions that take place after viewing the ad also can be tracked. That is, if a user views an ad and doesn't click but instead fills out a form or purchases a particular product from the advertiser's website. In general, actions, clicks and impressions that are broken down by campaign, geographic location and so on can be tracked.


Search engines traditionally operate by using robots called 'spiders' to 'crawl' the internet. These 'spiders' index the content in different web pages on the internet starting from the most popular websites (in terms of visits). Added to this, the search engines also keep an index of the queries asked. Applications and tools such as Google Adwords, Yahoo Search Marketing etc. provide insights into keywords, campaigns and more which add a different dimension to the data that is normally analyzed.

Social Media

With the proliferation of social media, it has become extremely essential that brands and businesses utilize the potential of the medium to provide insightful information. Social media is an ideal arena to study the behavior of potential customers and target audiences. There are two types of insights that can be gained:

a)     User insights (Total page Likes, or a number of fans, daily active users, new Likes/Unlikes, Like sources, demographics, page views and unique page views, tab views, external referrers, media consumption)

b)     Interaction insights (Daily story feedback such as post Likes, post comments, per post impressions and daily page activity such as mentions, discussions, reviews, wall posts, video posts)

Social media can also provide insights that can ordinarily not be captured via any other silo. For instance, campaigns that are run on a particular social network are best monitored through in-built tracking processes provided by those networks. These data can then be fed into your existing analytics tool to provide richer insight.

Customer Relationship Management

Customer Relationship Management stores information about customers and the transactions carried out with them. This includes all customer service interactions, products used and amount paid for each product. What differentiates CRM from ClickStream, however, is the amount of insight it provides to facilitate customer profiling. It provides information that helps you understand your customer and, therefore, tie that understanding to the right products/services. This way you provide the customer relevant information in a highly personalized manner. Data obtained from CRM helps make subsequent sales to existing customers.

For reading Srinivas Chari's earlier articles, please visit this link.


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