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The ultimate guide to collecting, understanding, and acting on customer analytics

How do you learn more about your customers, their behavior, what they want, and what they love and hate about their experience with the service or product you're providing?

Customer analytics makes it possible for you to understand exactly how your customers engage with your website, brand, and product to give them what they want. Successful businesses use key analytics insights to improve the customer experience (CX) and, as a result, boost user satisfaction, conversions, and revenue.

Last updated

18 Nov 2022

But what exactly is customer analytics? And which metrics should you track to gain truly useful, actionable insights? We’ve put together a complete guide to help you understand what the customer analytics process consists of, which metrics to track, and how to get started. 

Let’s dive in.

Tired of trying to second-guess what your customers want?

Hotjar’s product experience insights tell you exactly how users experience your website.

What is customer analytics? 

Customer analytics is the process of gathering and analyzing information about your customers and their buyer journey. This process lets you better understand your customers’ pain points, needs, and demographics. Customer analytics also allows you to see how users interact with your brand, website, and product, what they expect from the customer experience, and whether they’re satisfied—so you can spot opportunities for improvement. 

The best customer analytics processes combine qualitative and quantitative data. 

Quantitative data gives you hard statistics on how customers behave ('what' they do). This includes how many people land on your website, which pages they look at, what percentages convert, etc.

Qualitative data goes deeper into 'why' your users act the way they do, with rich, detailed insights on how customers feel and what they really want. You’ll get qualitative insights from surveys, customer interviews, focus groups, etc.

Customer analytics will paint a clear picture of a brand’s customers, including where they spend their time, what pages of a brand’s website they visit, and at which touchpoints they best engage with the brand. This information lets marketers focus on the most effective channels and audiences for a campaign. 

Rich Hein
Editor-in-Chief, CMSWire

Why should you track and analyze customer analytics? 

Modern customers are increasingly in control of their buyer journeys. And with so much information out there, part of that journey takes place before they land on your website or speak to a sales rep. To attract and retain customers, you need to connect at the right time, with the right messaging, and through the right channels.  

To do that, you need to understand:

  • Who your customers are

  • What they’re looking for and why

  • Where they’re currently looking 

  • What drives them to make a purchase  

Tracking customer analytics at every stage of the user journey tells you exactly what your customers are doing, thinking, and feeling before, during, and after they visit your website. This lets you intervene in the right way at the right time to guide them to your webpage, help them find what they’re looking for there, and convert them from visitors into paying customers. 

Tracking and analyzing customer analytics lets you: 

  • Create detailed, accurate customer profiles to help you run more targeted, effective sales and marketing campaigns and create customer-centric experiences

  • Map the user journey and user flows, and identify barriers: this lets product, UX, and UI teams improve the user experience (UX) to boost conversions, adoption, and customer satisfaction

  • Identify the most profitable products, channels, customer segments, and new opportunities for revenue generation. Amazon does this by using ecommerce customer analytics to make timely product recommendations based on browsing behavior. 

  • Deliver what customers want based on real-time data. Fashion retailer Zara does this brilliantly by tracking social media, surveys, and ecommerce pages to quickly react to new trends. 

  • Attract and retain more customers to boost ROI from sales and marketing, and revenue from repeat purchases. Netflix does this by identifying patterns in subscribers’ search history and using them to suggest content to keep users glued to the platform.

  • Align cross-functional teams and eliminate guesswork and disagreements about 'what the customer really wants': this lets all your teams prioritize better based on hard user data, and gives you the stats you need to get stakeholder buy-in for product developments or changes.

Pro tip: Hotjar's Ask tools—Surveys and Feedback widgets—let users tell you, in their own words, what they like and dislike about your site and digital product. Use closed-ended rating scales or multiple-choice Surveys to get quantitative data from users in the wild. 

#A simple Hotjar Survey can help you get clear insights from users

Hotjar’s unobtrusive Feedback widget sits at the side of individual web pages so users can tell you what they think at any time

You can even combine Surveys with Session Recordings and use the filter to show you dissatisfied users to pinpoint exactly where they run into problems. 

See our guide on the benefits of customer analytics for more on how tracking customer analytics benefits your customers and company. 

Different types of customer analytics data to track

Customer analytics are designed to measure user engagement with your product or service and your brand. So which should you focus on? That depends on your unique organizational needs, customer profiles, customer journey touchpoints, and channels. 

"When visitors are interacting—liking, commenting, purchasing—they're more likely to be enjoying the experience. So when some pages have low interaction compared to others, it's probably because that page is slow to respond or has content that's irrelevant to your visitors," says David Attard, a digital consultant and web designer at Collectiveray.

Here are some common customer analytics to measure: 

  • Google Analytics data, like clicks on paid ads and referral traffic, to understand how your customers research a product and what drives them to your website

  • Email marketing metrics, like open and click-through rates, to see how engaged customers are with your content 

  • Digital marketing metrics like engagement with your blog, lead magnet downloads, and contact or sign-up forms

  • Registrations and engagement data from online and in-person events

  • Website traffic and on-site activity, including time-on-page, page visits, and drop-off and bounce rates. These tell you where customers start their journey on your website, how they react to certain web pages and products, and which pages need improvement. 

Pro tip: watch Hotjar Session Recordings and see how customers interact with your site and digital product to find out exactly where they get frustrated, u-turn, rage-click, or drop off. 

Hotjar Heatmaps also tell you how far users scroll, and if any parts of your site aren’t attracting the attention they should. This lets your product, UX, and UI teams make small improvements—like changing the position of CTAs or contact forms—to boost conversions and offer a great customer experience.

#Use Hotjar Session Recordings to determine where your users are getting stuck

Hotjar Recordings show you how users really experience the customer journey on different devices

  • Customer satisfaction/experience survey data

    • Customer satisfaction surveys (CSATs) ask simple questions to deliver quantitative insights into what customers think about your products, services, brand, and customer support. For example, “Did our product do what you wanted it to do?” which can be answered with a yes/no answer or a sad/happy face emoji.

    • Net Promoter Score (NPS®) surveys provide qualitative data on customer loyalty, satisfaction, and enthusiasm. For example, an NPS survey would ask customers, “On a scale from 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this product/company to a friend or colleague?”

Surveys are also a great way to gather first-hand 'zero-party' insights. With third-party cookies being phased out, you need to be able to rely more on your own website data instead of tracking users across the internet. With Hotjar( 👋), you can configure Surveys to launch on your website at the most appropriate moment during the user journey, sending them out at different stages of the customer lifecycle.

#Hotjar's exit Surveys give you user-backed insights into the user experience
Hotjar's exit Surveys give you user-backed insights into the user experience
  • Cart abandonment rates: a high rate can indicate that customers are struggling to find what they want or complete payment steps—or that your prices are too high

  • Purchase history, including repeat purchases (the rate at which buyers make a second purchase): a low repeat purchase rate tells you you need to focus on your retention strategy

  • Product usage and adoption metrics to understand how customers engage with your product. This tells you whether you need to tweak features or provide more support. 

  • Social media activity: user comments on your posts or community forums are a great way to learn what users expect from your product or brand, and how they experience it.  

  • Call center or chatbot interactions let you understand customers’ questions and challenges to improve customer support and build better products. 

How can business and product teams gather and analyze customer analytics? 

To gather and analyze customer analytics, first, define your objectives and the resources you need. What do you need to know about your customers and product experience? Who will be involved in the project? Where and how will you gather data?  

Then, create a customer journey map that covers all stages of the buyer journey. The more specific you are about mapping customer insights onto specific journey touchpoints, the more laser-focused you’ll be on what to improve.  

The next step is to set up your tech stack. Some of the most commonly used customer analytics tools include:  

  • Hotjar: gather a range of user-focused, product experience insights from your website and digital products, with zero coding. It’s also user-friendly enough to be used by different team members without admin or data analyst support.  

  • Google Analytics or an alternative like Plausible.io: gather website traffic and identify trends and patterns on how visitors users with your website

  • Google Data Studio: combine data from Google Ads, Analytics, databases, etc. and create data visualizations with no coding  

#Google Data Studio delivers accessible customer analytics in the form of visualizations and reports
Google Data Studio delivers accessible customer analytics in the form of visualizations and reports

Check out our guide to customer analytics software for a full list of tools.

Once you’ve set up systems for tracking customer data, start gathering, storing, and organizing insights from sources like: 

  • Your website

  • In-store, web page, or in-app purchases and activity 

  • Paid ads and digital marketing channels 

  • Product searches

  • Your sales, marketing, customer service, and success teams  

  • Your customer relationship management (CRM) platform  

  • Social media and online communities and forums  

Finally, combine and analyze the data and act on your customer insights

So what does this whole process look like? For example, an ecommerce business might see analytics showing high page drop-off or cart abandonment rates, and use a PX insights software like Hotjar to get direct customer feedback and go deeper in understanding the user experience. They’d then use this mix of quantitative and qualitative insights to prioritize key decisions in collaboration with cross-functional teams (product, UX/UI, sales, marketing, etc.)—like running re-engagement or retargeting campaigns, offering promotions, or making changes to their website design or messaging.

Pro tip: Use Hotjar’s flexible Workspaces to organize customer analytics so your team can spend less time searching for user data and see only what’s relevant to them. 

Attractive data visualizations are also available on your Dashboard and can easily be downloaded to create presentations and shared via Hotjar's Slack integration.

Hotjar Workspaces lets you share insights across diverse teams 

See our guide to developing a customer analytics strategy for a step-by-step walkthrough of how to get started. 

Customer analytics: your window into customer desires 

Customer analytics are a goldmine of information about what your customers want and how they experience your brand and product. Using a range of customer analytics processes will help you understand complex buyer journeys, react fast to changing demand, and improve your offering for happier, more satisfied customers. 

Collecting and analyzing customer data is an ongoing activity that involves using the right tech tools to analyze data from diverse on- and off-line interactions, and cross-functional team collaboration.

Make sure you put your quantitative customer analytics findings in context with deep, granular product experience insights and listen to what your customers are saying—in their own words.

Tired of trying to second-guess what your customers want?

Hotjar’s product experience insights tell you exactly how they experience your website. 

Frequently asked questions about customer analytics