While the western United States bakes in above normal temperatures this summer, the race to be the next leader of the free world is also heating up.
By analyzing the behaviors of visitors to a candidate’s website, we can see how large an audience the candidate attracts; how well the candidate/website engages visitors; and importantly, how committed visitors are to the particular candidate.
Today we’ll look at the leading announced Democratic candidates, which based on national polls are: Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, former Senator John Edwards, and Governor Bill Richardson.
The table below compares average monthly traffic, cross-shopping and the average length of visits to each candidate’s website during Q2. Higher site traffic and average stay (a measure of engagement) are both positive signs for a campaign. The longer people stay, the more opportunity campaigns have to inform, rally and solicit funds. With respect to cross-shopping, a lower percentage is generally better, as it means fewer visitors are "˜"kicking-the-tires" over at a rival’s site. Grey indicates the category winner, while yellow marks the low mark for the category.
- Clinton attracted the largest audience during Q2, aided by a surge in June traffic. Her visitors were also the least likely of the four candidates to visit any of the other sites.
- Obama’s site is in a league of its own with respect to engaging visitors. The average visit to his site in Q2, at over 6 Â½ minutes, was nearly 44% longer than a visit to Clinton’s site. The $10M Obama raised online during Q2 is evidence that how many people you get to visit your site (Clinton averaged more) can be of less importance than what you actually do with those whom you do attract.
- As Richardson’s profile increased in Q2, his site traffic increased and notably, cross-shopping declined. The opposite occurred with JohnEdwards.com. Both are hoping to benefit if interest in Clinton and Obama begins to wane.
The charts that follow show each candidate’s monthly performance with respect to site traffic and cross-shopping. The bars represent site traffic, while the lines represent cross-shopping to a particular rival’s website. For example, roughly 340,000 people visited HillaryClinton.com in June, 11% of whom visited at least one of her rivals’ campaign websites, and 8% of whom also visited BarackObama.com.
- Cross-shopping among HillaryClinton.com visitors declined for a second month in a row in June, suggesting that those visiting her site at this stage in the nominating process may be increasingly committed to her candidacy.
- Traffic to BarackObama.com has been relatively steady the past four months after seeing a huge spike in February with the launch of his candidacy.
- Cross-shopping with Edwards appears to have peeked, while Clinton cross-shopping has trended upwards since February. Roughly 1 in 7 visitors also visited Clinton’s website in June.
- Cross-shopping among JohnEdwards.com visitors to Clinton and Obama’s websites moves in virtual lockstep suggesting that no clear second choice has been chosen by Edward’s supporters.
- Interest in John Edward’s campaign, as judged by site traffic, appears stalled. In addition, cross-shopping has been trending upwards since the start of the year. Could this foreshadow trouble on the horizon for the Edwards camp?
- Richardson remains a distant fourth, in terms of traffic, and has the highest cross-shopping among rivals. While low cross-shopping is generally positive for a campaign, in the case of a lesser known candidate, like Richardson, the increased cross-shopping could also be validation for the campaign that the public is actually beginning to view their candidate in the same league as the other leading rivals.
Check back tomorrow for a look at the GOP frontrunners.
As VP of Millward Brown Digital’s financial services, retail and consumer products practices, Matt is responsible for vertical growth and strategy and the delivery of digital insights and best practice marketing consulting to leading Fortune 500 advertisers. Follow Matt on Twitter @mattpace.