Uncovering the Online Marketing Strategy of 3 Major Industries – Part 1

The general assumption about online marketing is that there isn’t any exact formula that fits all industries. As an online marketeer I tend to agree with this premise. However, since I don’t like to take things at face value, I decided to run an analysis to see if there is any truth to this claim. To do this I used the new SimilarWeb PROIndustry tab’, plus running a traffic analysis for a specific site per industry.

By testing 3 completely different industries I hope to either prove or disprove this assumption and also pick up some great online marketing insights as I go. In order to minimize influencing variables I’m going to focus in 1 market – USA.

To keep things interesting I’ll run this research over a period of 3 weeks, each week I will cover 1 industry. You’re welcome to follow me and share your own insights and thoughts as I go along.

Industries checked in this test:

  • Finance -> Insurance
  • Shopping -> Clothing
  • Travel -> Accommodations and Hotels


The Insurance Industry

The insurance online industry is highly competitive on one hand and from the other it’s quite conservative, which means we might find surprising insights here. Let’s first have a look on the main traffic acquisition channels used in this industry:

General Industry Estimated Statistics for December (based on 2,171 sites):

  1. Total monthly US visitors – 127,500,000
  2. Average time on site – 3 minutes
  3. Average pages views – 3.45
  4. Average bounce rate – 50%

Main Traffic sources:

  • Direct – 37%
  • Referrals – 30%
  • Search (paid and organic) – 28%
  • Social – 2%
  • Display Ads – 1.3%
  • Mail – 1.7%

Traffic Sources of the insurance industry – SimilarWeb PRo

Search Traffic insights:

It seems that the insurance industry is mostly based on Organic, with around 90% traffic coming from Organic search as compared to around 10% from Paid search. The main search terms are for branded keywords. This might imply that one of the main marketing strategies for this industry is PR and building brand awareness.

The most popular keywords, in both organic and paid, are variations of car insurance. This probably reflects the fact this is a highly profitable category inside the Insurance industry. Another thing I’ve noticed is that branded keywords were a lot less frequent in the paid search. This could be either because most big publishers are already ranked for their brand name or they’re not aware of this possibility. It also shows you that major publishers are not trying to steal traffic from their competitors by targeting their brand keywords (a shady method that is sometimes used in paid search campaigns).

A surprising finding, for an outsider of this industry at least, was this term – ‘Obama Care’, and its variations. It appears both in organic and paid search. Just think about the arbitrage the early bird bidders had before it became a known targeted term. Still, I am sure it was short-lived.


Referring top keywords to the insurance industry – SimilarWeb PRO

Social Traffic:

The top social networks which are sending traffic to sites from this industry are:

  1. Facebook.com
  2. Youtube.com
  3. Reddit.com
  4. Twitter.com
  5. Linkedin
  6. Stumbleupon.com

Google+ didn’t even get into the top 10 sources, but was 13th. Facebook is distinctively the most significant traffic source for this industry with over 50% of the traffic share. This can be both organic and paid traffic. As a competitor in this field, it’s worth checking both options, maybe even hiring a FB account manager or an agency that will help you open optimized campaigns, because one thing is sure: the competition is already using it!

Youtube is the runner up with almost 30% of the traffic share. This is another great source of traffic since Youtube ads are pay per view, so you only pay for what people watched. You can find the relevant interests by checking the industry main audiences and running the same check for specific insurance brands.


Audience interests of USAA.com Users – SimilarWeb PRO

The rest of the social traffic is distributed between the other social networks, but with relatively low percentage. Reddit is the top one with 11%. This could be a great source of traffic since while the competition is not that fierce there, there’s enough percentage of traffic coming from there to show relevancy to this industry and potential profitability.

Referring sources:

As we can expect, the main referring category is ‘Finance -> Insurance’, which is obvious, and the next is ‘Business and Industry’, which doesn’t give us much since it is kind of generic. The following is ‘Health’, which makes sense; if you think about ‘health insurance’. All of these are not surprising and don’t add much in terms of finding arbitrage or new opportunities. The interesting stuff were found hiding under the ‘Shopping’ category. Now Shopping is a tricky category because it’s very broad. When you check it you have to use your judgment to decide what to relate to and what to ignore. In this case I ignored the top 2 sub-categories and skipped ahead to the 3rd one – ‘Coupons’, and the 7th one – ‘Sports’. Note that though sports has only 0.08%, it’s still significant due to the massive amount of traffic in the insurance industry:


Referring Sites, Shopping Category – SimilarWeb PRO

Both of these categories caught my eye and in order to get more insights about them, I’ll need to dig dipper by checking the website traffic analytics of a specific brand from this industry. The website I chose is one of the top ones for this industry in terms of traffic share – USAA.com. They’re also ranks 58th in net worth among Fortune 500 and 139th for revenue.


USAA.com Analytics:

Referring Sites:

USAA.com’s main traffic source is ‘Referrals’, with 41% traffic share. This might imply a marketing strategy based on using a lot affiliates or using one big referring source. As a competitor in this field you would want to check all referrals domains to USAA.com, find the affiliates among them and see if they are relevant to you as well.

Interesting Insights found in referrals data:

Do you remember that insight about the Coupons we found in the general industry research? Well, in USAA.com’s analytics the top referring category is: Shopping -> Coupons, and the top referring site is – Shotathome.com, under the ‘Coupons’ category. It seems like they found this opportunity and are using it extensively. Here’s one of the examples I’ve found of such a coupon:


Search Traffic analysis:

Their second top traffic source is Search, with 40% traffic share, most of it organic and mostly from branded keywords – 35%. Google is the main source of search traffic and Yahoo right after that, which makes sense with a product targeting visitors from the US.

As a competitor in this field, it’s a really good idea to check the referring keywords for this site, separated by Organic and Paid. This gives you a clear picture of their keywords strategy and how they prioritize their bids. For instance the term ‘Life insurance’ is ranked high for both organic and paid traffic. The fact that they’re willing to pay for this term, although getting organic traffic from it, can imply a high ROI on this term.


Search Traffic Distribution for USAA.com – SimilarWeb PRO


Ad networks:

The first things you notice, when you check for the ad networks USAA.com is using is that their main source is Google. When you switch to ‘Paid’ within the ‘Search’ section’, you see only Google there. You can also switch to the ‘Search Ads’ tab and get a pick on the text ads they’re running. Not surprisingly, the ‘Life insurance’ term is staring in this section as well. Checking both referring paid keywords and text ads, you can see a distinctive pattern that indicates a strategy – the main industries USAA.com is targeting are: Life insurance, Car insurance/Loans and Home loans.


Search Ads of USAA.com – SimilarWeb PRO

Now let’s move on to the Display advertising section. You can see here that USAA.com’s main display campaigns run on NFL.com, Youtube.com and of course Google. If you remember the insight I mentioned earlier, about the ‘Sports’ category being an interesting source of traffic, you can see that we now find a direct correlation with that. NFL brings 17% of ad networks traffic to USAA. Of course, if you fall under the category of SMB (small, medium businesses), you won’t be able to afford ads on NFL. However, you can take an example from this and look for similar, smaller sites, which you can afford advertising on. You can export such a list of similar sites in SimilarWeb PRO – under the ‘Competitors – Similar Sites’ section (run the search for different major sports websites).


SimilarSites Section – SimilarWeb PRO

Social Traffic:

As for social traffic sources, the traffic share distribution clearly shows that USAA.com’s social marketing strategy is mostly based on Facebook with 52% traffic share. The rest comes from Reddit, Youtube, and a little bit of Twitter. Note that this does not necessarily mean these other social networks don’t have a potential to convert, but maybe there’s an arbitrage there to be found.


Social Traffic to USAA.com – SimilarWeb PRO

After researching the industry and a major site in it, these are the main conclusions I’ve reached:

  • Most of the traffic comes from direct and referral traffic sources – this could imply a dominate strategy of branding and also hint an affiliate marketing strategy.
  • Facebook and Youtube are the main social networks referring to this industry, however Reddit shows a potential as being a valuable traffic source.
  • Sports seems to be relevant category for the target audience of this industry
  • Coupons can be a profitable and relatively cheap traffic source.

This summarizes the 1st out of 3 parts in our Industry analysis series. Next week we’ll run a marketing research and analysis on ‘Shopping -> Clothing’ and uncover its main marketing strategies.

If you want to get information about how to use SimilarWeb PRO for industry analysis and competitors intelligence, leave us your details and we’ll setup a tutorial 1 on 1 tutorial with one of the consultants in SimilarWeb PRO. For a limited time, these meeting are offered for free to both new and existing users.

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About the Author -

Natalie Halimi is the Head of Marketing Communications & Education at SimilarWeb. With over 10 years of experience in marketing, Natalie has promoted services and products in the B2C and B2B arenas, in various industries.

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