Is Realtime Ecommerce Analytics Useful? These 6 Use Cases Say Yes.

Posted by Edward Gotham 17 Mar 14

Goal of this post: To make you aware of tactics you can use to make more sales from your realtime data.

Is realtime data useful in ecommerce?

This is a question that crops up often and for good reason. It’s difficult to pinpoint how you can actually use realtime ecommerce analytics data to your advantage. How does it fit into your daily routine? What should you be looking for? How do we act on this data? I’m here to tell you that it can be useful and it becomes increasingly more useful the larger the amount of traffic and transactions you acquire on your site.


In order to understand when this data becomes useful and how exactly you can use it for your benefit, you must start thinking about the actions available to you in the right context. Typically ecommerce marketers will perform a lot of analysis using historic data. This data is excellent for guiding your ecommerce strategy. It will give you insights into ongoing performance and, with a bit of digging, will tell you where you should be focusing your efforts to grow the fastest. The only issue with this data is that it is a lagging indicator and doesn’t focus on how you can consistently take action intraday to improve daily profits. Thus I advocate using historic data for strategy and planning, whilst using real time data for taking action intraday.

Here are 6 use cases to help you act on real time data:

1. Monitor referral traffic

The bigger your business or brand, the more likely you are to receive referral traffic from a large variety of different sources on a daily basis. The majority of the time you will probably not be aware that you are about to receive traffic from a referral source. When you look at your historic data and find a major source of referrals for a particular week, it is likely you have missed the opportunity to take advantage of the situation when it has the highest potential.

Keep your real time dashboard running in the background whilst you go about your daily routine and anticipate receiving significant traffic from referral sources. When you spot these opportunities you can leverage them as much as possible on social media and, where possible, contacting the referral sources directly. The goal being to try and attract as much relevant traffic as you can.

2. Cause the least disturbance when updating your website

Number 2 is a simple one. Using realtime data, you can target periods of low traffic when there are few people on the site - a good time to apply updates to your store. This minimises disruption.

3. Take action on social marketing campaigns

Monitor the performance of your social campaigns in realtime. If you track your links correctly you’ll be able to see which specific tweets/facebook messages are connecting with your target audience and driving traffic to your site. This is particularly relevant during scenarios such as new product launches, promoting/commenting on offline events, running online competitions or hosting online discussions. Any scenario where you are using time sensitive information - things that are happening right now - and you need to get the largest exposure possible. You must act on the feedback you are getting in realtime, it will be too late to analyse the data later on.

4. Recognise hidden trends with Pattern Recognition

Keeping your realtime data streaming live all day is the equivalent of walking the shop floor of your online store. The human brain is very good at recognising patterns, and you’ll be surprised by what you learn about your customers' behaviour which you didn’t pick up when performing analysis on your historic data. It can sometimes be very difficult to spot the obscure patterns when analysing historical data. You may stumble upon a scenario such as:

  • Traffic from a specific country is particularly active on x day of the week at x time.

Once you find a pattern, you can begin to take action on it. From the example above you could send segmented email campaigns to the relevant customer base at the time you have realised they are most active on your site. The goal being to attract as many people as possible from this segment when they are most likely to visit your website.

5. Sell the right products

On any day or week you may have a particular focus on a product or set of products you want to sell. If selling a particular product or range of products is important, then you will want to know that you are effectively encouraging people to purchase these products. Are they getting the right exposure? Monitor your active customers, those currently on the site, and your sales for that day to visualise how your customers and potential customers are behaving. How are they navigating through your site? If you realise they are not purchasing the products you intended, then you know you must react by merchandising your target products differently, with the intention of increasing exposure and sales.


6. Monitor intraday revenue targets

Compare intraday revenue performance against your daily targets, or compare them against the same day last week. If you notice that on a particular day you are really behind target you can take action by running a marketing campaign, such as an email blast, to entice more traffic to your site.


I hope these points help. If you have other examples of how you’ve used realtime data to your advantage please do let me and the community know by leaving a comment below. I’ll respond to all of them. 

If you're interested in optimising your customer acquisition & retention check out my most popular post ever on Customer lifecycle marketing: How to build a sales and markeitng machine. 

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