While certainly not the only solution, a commitment to marketing a business website will be one of the ways to reverse the trend of non-returning visitors. Building feedback loops into the site, where customers can easily subscribe to a secondary source of information, be that a newsletter or Facebook account, provides a way to bring a visitor back to your site. If these methods of marketing are not utilized, continue to expect that 75% of your visitors will only see your site once.
When you stare at this many numbers long enough, two things tend to happen. First, your eyes start to cross and blur, but more importantly, some interesting trends begin to emerge. It should be noted that no site led in all of the indicators. While one site might have led in total traffic, the bounce rate, or the percentage of people who come to and leave from the same page, may have been higher than normal. Those sites that led in time on site didn't lead in number of pages per visit. It was more common to find that each and every site either shared a commonality in a measurable, or were widely separated.
Ignore Search at Your Own Peril
If it's been awhile since you've updated your site and you're still relying on keywords to rank you high in the search engines, it's time make another investment in your website. While we didn't take a look at overall search engine rankings, only traffic generated from it, it's clear that ranking highly and across a breadth of words is a leading indicator of success. Of the websites generating over 6,000 visitors per year (21 total), three of them derived over 80% of that traffic from search engines; four received over 70% from search, and seven received over 60% from search. Getting traffic to your site is the building block of having success on the web. An obvious point for sure, but without it, the chances for sales leads and inquiries from your website drastically reduce.
Your Second Perilous Warning
While we've determined that search is important to getting traffic to your site, we wouldn't recommend investing time and money into search engine optimization or paid search if it didn't pay off in the end. If we take those sites that receive more than 70% of their total traffic from search engines (44 sites), and those that receive less than 50% of their total traffic from search (33 sites), the group receiving more traffic from search has a higher average pages per visit (2.84 v. 2.42), higher average time spent on site (1:41 v. 1:11) and a lower bounce rate (46.19% v. 58.64%). These sites that are performing well in search are performing well all around.
If you find your site isn't in the top of search engine rankings, paid search can be a great alternative for a short term jump in traffic. For a few dollars per click, paid search brings in traffic that is just off par for all traffic to the site. Considering that paid search normally brings in traffic that is unfamiliar with your business, this is quite impressive.
Most Businesses Aren't
While we constantly receive feedback that a business's website is considered one of the most critical marketing elements, it was surprising to learn that most companies aren't marketing around the site. Only ten of our 119 companies were marketing using paid search.
As well, only ten companies showed any percentage of visitors coming from campaigns. Campaigns can be a wide variety of outside marketing efforts, from eNewsletters to display advertising. Through a simple code added to your website URL, campaigns of any nature can be tracked through analytics to better understand how each segment of traffic acts. While some companies may be doing these marketing efforts without tying them into analytics, by far the great majority of companies seem to be doing little digital marketing to promote their website.
You are More Than a Number
There is a large disparity between companies in different analytic categories depending on the industry and purpose of the website. The companies that far exceeded the average in number of pages per visit tended to be those that had a great number of products on site, either in a searchable database or by creating individual landing pages for each product. The product itself could have ranged from real estate, to educational classes, to consumer and commercial goods. By listing the products online, these companies have invited users to come, browse and stay at their site for longer than what they would on a site with less depth.
The Rise of Mobile
Have you checked your site on a mobile device lately? If you haven't, don't wait too long to see how it looks. With the rise of smartphones and tablets, the equivalent rise of mobile traffic is undeniable. While not every site is showing large amounts of mobile traffic currently, mobile devices are definitely invading certain industries quickly. In the sites receiving more than average traffic numbers from mobile devices, the travel and entertainment, health care, and consumer good categories are represented in large numbers. These are industries where people need information quickly and often on the go. They're comparing features and pricing of your product versus your competitor while standing in the store; they're looking for quick contact and service information; or they're looking for things to do at that very moment. We're sure this trend will not stop at these companies.
When websites get reduced down in size from large 20-inch or more monitors into a 7-inch tablet or 4-inch phone, the usability and user requirements change drastically. You can't rely on your website, unaided and untested, shrinking and scaling to work properly on these devices. Custom mobile websites are often times
Lost Opportunities in Social
Facebook. Twitter. YouTube. Tumblr. Pinterest. LinkedIn. Google+. Flickr. Instagram. Other than just often times missing a crucial vowel, these social media outlets have something else in common - they can be a great traffic driver to your website. These days, with the amount of interest social media generates among business owners, and nearly every one taking a stab at doing it, RjM expected to see a sizeable amount of traffic coming from social media. Such was not the case.
Of the sixteen companies performing better than average in social media, only four of them did not have an ongoing, dedicated effort budgeted for each year, either internally or externally, based on our knowledge. These numbers prove that social media does not happen by itself. It must be worked at. Setting up accounts and not populating them, or relying on others to spread your message in these channels does not work. If you want to have success with social, you must commit your business to being there.
The other glaring note was the tremendous drop-off of social referrals from the top to the bottom of the list. Sixteen of the 119 companies were above average. Three more were just below average, bringing in over 100 social referrals in a year. Only two companies had more than fifty. The vast majority of companies, 78 of the 119, had twenty or less social referrals all year. In the age of social, it seems that most businesses aren't.
Be sure to check back in Friday as we release the conclusion to our web study!
Miss Part 1? Read it now - Part 1 : Measuring Where Your Website Stands
Finish the series with Part 3 : The Grande Finale