Engine Ready released its 2009 industry study on the role traffic sources play in visitor purchasing behavior on e-commerce websites. It confirms what most marketers already know - not relying exclusively on one marketing channel.
The highest traffic source is those visitors coming from direct access - those who type a URL into a browser or have the site already bookmarked in their browser. However, visitors going to websites from paid searches are up tremendously - and they spend more. And other information coming out of this report proves that it's more important now than ever to engage your visitors on-site.
A follow-up study consisting of 20.8 million total visits and 108 million page views, the original study was released in January 2008. In the original study, direct access/bookmarking sites were the visitors who converted the most. Though this group of visitors is still valuable, the newly released data shows that visitors who end up on websites because of paid ads had a higher average order value on e-commerce sites.
Brian Lewis, vice president, Engine Ready discussed the many take-aways from the data. "Visitors who reach a site by typing in the URL or from a bookmark are more valuable than those who come from organic searches. And, the disparity in value between paid and organic is much higher than the original study showed," he says. "This means that marketers should continue to do more A/B testing and improvement to landing pages."
And it appears by the numbers that marketers are doing a better job with landing page design and encouraging conversions on site, Lewis adds. Conversion rates for organic search were at 1.2 percent in the original study and only increased to 1.3 percent in the follow-up study. However, visitors from paid ads which had 1.4 percent conversion rate in the original study increased to 2.0 percent conversion rate in the follow-up - an increase of 42.9 percent.
One interesting number was the bounce rate by source of traffic. Bounce rates were the highest for organic searches with 48.5 percent. This proves that while you need to maintain good SEO practices, you can't optimize for everything. And it might be said that those who reach your site from organic searches might be at the beginning of the purchasing cycle rather than those who are hitting your site from those who get there from paid searches.
Bounce Rate by Source of Traffic
Though conversion rates are up from January 2008, the average order value is down. This is most likely due to the economy which started its decline after the first report was released. It is here that direct access/bookmark visitors declined in value compared to paid visitors. Direct access visitors spent an average of $170.32 in the original study. This declined to $95.29 in the new data. However, paid visitors averaged $138.04 per order. This declined much less to $117.06 per order.
Average Order Value By Source
Page views and time on site increased from the previous report proving that engagement is important for visitors. Other referring sites - websites that link to e-commerce sites - had an overwhelming average value per visit with direct access closely second. Other referral sites increased from $5.01 to $7.19 - and organic had no change at all. Overall average time on site increased 5.8 percent from the previous study with direct access leading the way and paid and other referring sites battling second place. But other referring sites tied for first for the average page views per visit - other referring sites increased almost 50 percent from the previous report.
Average Time on Site By Source (in seconds)
So what does all this information mean to you? A comprehensive approach to marketing is important. "Additionally, since results may vary among companies, [e-commerce merchants] should make sure they are accurately measuring their visitor behavior and adjusting their budget allocations appropriately," Lewis says.
Are you fulfilling the needs of your customers? Are you encouraging them to convert, to come back, to bookmark your site? Is your landing page aesthetically pleasing? Is your navigation easy and encouraging for action? These are all big factors in conversions. Get an outside perspective of your site to guarantee you're hitting the mark.
One way to make sure your site is up to par with current trends and user behavior is to check out Website Magazine's Findability Makeover. Website Magazine columnist Heather Lutze has been helping companies improve their findability for more than 10 years. She offers insight to Web owners to guarantee they are getting in front of their targeted markets. In each issue of WM, Lutze reviews a website's findability and how it can be improved. Submit your website for review at firstname.lastname@example.org. Lutze is also the author of "The Findability Formula: The Easy, Non-Technical Approach to Search Engine Marketing."