Analyzing rivals’ channel strategies and clickstream data can help retailers hone their marketing plans.

“Channel” and “clickstream” may come off as complex marketing jargon, but the essence behind them is simple: where are people coming from and going after visiting a given website?

It can be extremely valuable to analyze both of these insights around your own website as well as your competitors’, so that you can identify which channels are funneling the most traffic to your competitors and pinpoint ideal moments to intercept consumers in their journey. 

There are two ways of analyzing “before” and “after” website behavior:

Let’s see an example of what each insight can reveal about your competitors.

Identifying Your Competitor’s Strongest Channels

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Let’s say Nike benchmarks their traffic against four major sports apparel brands, and notices that Under Armour gets traffic bumps in the beginning of each week. 

Nike may decide to investigate whether particular channels are driving this fluctuation—in other words, what percentage of Under Armour’s overall traffic is coming from social media, email, or search engines during these jumps?

As you see in the chart below (based on real email click data*), the percentage of Under Armour’s traffic coming from email shoots up every Monday, sometimes by over 350%. Under Armour sends very successful email blasts every Monday morning, where they often promote huge flash sales or highlight a single, exciting new product release. The Nike email marketing team can use this discovery to improve their own newsletters, which may be less successful because they promote too many products at once.

Clickstream — Smart Analyses to Drive More Traffic

Clickstream data identifies common places visitors go—and the top terms they search for—before and after hitting a website. Looking at your competitor’s clickstream behavior can help you intercept their customers earlier in the path to purchase. Looking at your own “upstream” and “downstream” data can also help you devise ways to bring visitors back after they’ve left.

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Here are some examples of how Nike could use clickstream data to their advantage. 

Better Partnership 

Looking “upstream” allows you to identify sites that drive more or less traffic to your website than your competitors. For example, Nike may realize they get more traffic than any other sports apparel brands from Foot Locker; this prompts them to double down on their investment in that partnership. Or perhaps they see that Adidas gets a lot of affiliate traffic from Lids, so they reach out to Lids about carrying more of their athletic hats.

Strategic Advertising 

Let’s say Nike notices that Under Armour drives a lot of traffic from Hulu.com. After investigating, they discover that Under Armour
 has launched a big ad campaign on Hulu, and (perhaps unknown 
to Under Armour) a high percentage of upstream traffic is coming from visitors who have watched the show “The League.” Nike may decide to invest in more advertising on Hulu to capture some of this market opportunity, and could even negotiate a contract where 50% of their advertisements will be served during “The League.”

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The face of competitive intelligence is changing, and only the most advanced and data-driven marketers will survive. Channel strategy and clickstream analysis provide incredible avenues for better understanding the complexity of your own customer journey. From a competitive standpoint, looking at how traffic flows before and after your competitor’s website can provide powerful opportunities for you to step in and divert their customers to you. 

Connexity is a digital consumer insights and activation platform designed to help marketers find, get and keep customers.

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