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It sounds obvious, but if you’re responsible for optimizing an ecommerce channel for a brand or client, you need to be focusing on the entire life cycle of your customer. This way you you can understand when they’re most likely to buy and focus your online marketing spend on the correct channels.
Because new and returning customers will be buying from you directly, online, you should focus your marketing efforts on websites they’re visiting throughout their paths to purchase. You can get a good idea of the kinds of sites your potential customers are visiting before they come to your site by looking at your local analytics (e.g. Google Analytics, Adobe SiteCatalyst, etc.), but you can’t get the full picture. You should also be looking at incoming traffic for your top competitors to better understand industry trends, and you should even be looking at outgoing traffic for yourself and your competitors to find a way to patch holes in your sales funnel. Explore the sites on your list and think about them in terms of your competition – look for advertisements, affiliate links, partnerships, etc.
If you can capture lost traffic and take better advantage of your prospective customers’ cross-shopping behavior, you can turn that into a noticeable effect on your ecommerce channel’s bottom line.
If, for example, ecommerce businesses in your industry primarily sell products that they don’t directly manufacture or create, take a look at shopping behavior. Are potential customers visiting product pages on the manufacturers’ sites before visiting you or your competitors?
If so, this could be a sign that you and/or your competitors aren’t providing enough product information, or that consumers are searching for manufacturer coupons. Additionally, looking for coupon or bargain sites in incoming traffic reports is a good way to identify potential partnerships or other opportunities that aren’t yet being thoroughly leveraged by your competitors.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. If you want to learn more about how competitive intelligence can help you optimize your ecommerce channel, check out Compete’s latest white paper, 3 Best Practices for Optimizing Your Ecommerce Strategy with Competitive Intelligence.
Jared is currently the Digital Marketing Manager at Millward Brown Digital. He is a graduate of Northeastern University, having achieved his B.A. in Communication Studies. If you like what you read, you can connect with him on Google+, Twitter, or on LinkedIn.