For brands, succeeding at e-commerce starts with being available in the same digital environments where consumers shop, integrating their offerings with consumers' existing habits. Availability requires a clear understanding of where people buy, why people search, and how people navigate the customer journey.
However, many marketers are flying blind in a digital world where most consumer behaviour happens in “difficult-to-see” places such as competitor sites, marketplaces, and social media networks. What happens on a brand’s site is the tip of the iceberg, and a huge volume of digital transactions take place behind walled gardens. At best, marketers tend to get incomplete data, cobbled together from different sources, with different metrics and in different formats.
So, how can marketers improve their understanding of what happens in environments they don’t fully control?
Steve Kraus, Head of Digital Insights at Jumpshot, a big data and advanced marketing analytics platform powered by a 100-million device proprietary panel, explains how clickstream data can provide comprehensive insights into digital behaviour.
For marketers, it can be surprisingly difficult to get data about a brand’s performance in marketplaces – CPG brands have long complained that retailers give them checks, but not information. Data about the competition’s performance in marketplaces – not to mention their branded sites – is even more difficult to get. Comprehensive sales performance data starts with sales data across all sites, but particularly in a competitive context.
Evolution of US Market Share Among the Top Garbage Bag Players
Jan 2018 – April 2019
Industry focus: garbage bags
For example, Jumpshot data suggest that Glad’s online sales of garbage bags grew 10% in the United States during 2018 – which would seem solid in a mature category. But online sales of garbage bags is not a mature category – it’s growing so rapidly that while Glad’s sales rose 10%, their market share among top brands dropped about twenty percentage points. Meanwhile, new entrant Solimo, an Amazon brand, is now essentially third in share. In context, 10% growth is not cause for celebration – it is an alarm bell.
Tracking sales volume and share is a good start, but brands must also understand performance (such as conversion rates), broken down across the various possible paths to purchase (e.g., by specific search keywords).
Source: Jumpshot data, April 2019
Product-related search is transitioning from Google to Amazon, particularly for utilitarian offerings. In women’s clothing, for example, the top Amazon search terms are unbranded and distinctly utilitarian (e.g., leggings for women), while the top Google search terms are brand names (e.g., Forever 21). Similarly, for mobile phones, Google gets many branded searches, while Amazon gets a smaller number of lower-funnel, unbranded searches for utilitarian accessories.
US Search Volume Mobile and Desktop
Q3 and Q4 2018
Source: Jumpshot data, April 2019
Search is one element of broader customer journeys that are more fully captured by clickstream data. Looking “upstream” and “downstream” from transactions can help marketers shape journeys effectively and optimise classic elements of the marketing mix such as price, product, place and promotion.
Full journey data also enables other specific applications:
• Publishers and YouTube influencers can better assess their effectiveness by measuring all the downstream transactions after an exposure, regardless of where those transactions occur.
• Affiliate networks and even streaming services can similarly move toward ecosystems where advertising revenue is tied to transactions across platforms rather than views or click-throughs.
• E-commerce leaders can refine their competitive positioning based on lower-funnel shopping behaviour that immediately precedes a purchase. How many brands did a consumer consider? What brands were in the consideration set?
• Channel managers can maximise direct sales while also maximising complementary revenue via marketplaces and answering the most crucial marketing question du jour. How many shoppers leave their site to buy their offering (or a competing one) on Amazon? Consider, for example, Nike. Their recent decision to begin selling directly on Amazon was part of an expanded “Consumer Direct Offense” to sell more directly to consumers, and it has largely been effective. Jumpshot data suggest data Nike sales are split almost 50/50 between marketplace sites and their branded site,[i] while many competing brands see the vast majority of their sales happen in marketplaces. A similar indicator of brand strength: About 15% of Nike.com visitors head over to Amazon, but about 15% of those shopping for Nike on Amazon then visit the branded site.[ii] This “equal cross-visitation” is rare – most brands in the category lose significant volume to Amazon and get little or no traffic back from Amazon. On most consumer journeys, a voyage to Amazon is a one-way trip.
• Strategic marketers can better understand their target consumers with multidimensional personas. For example, knowing that viewers of The Santa Clarita Dietare also highly likely to listen to The Pretty Recklesson Spotify and buy CareVe skin care products on Amazon can help in crafting compelling content and offerings.