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Retail Paid Search Traffic Up 30%, Organic Visits Drop 3% [Study]

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E-commerce platform MarketLive has released an interesting study based on data from more than 200 website over the first six months of 2013. The study primarily focused on the differences between paid versus organic search when it comes to things like revenue, bounce rates, and snapshots across various market areas.

Organic vs. Paid Traffic

Paid vs Organic Search Comparison

The study provides an interesting look at where traffic to retail sites comes from, and how it converts.

Paid search traffic went up a not surprising 30 percent, while organic traffic declined by 3 percent. While the decline isn’t necessarily good, it does show that such an increase in paid traffic isn't decimating organic traffic, as many advertisers worry that they are gaining paid search traffic at the expense of free organic traffic.

MarketLive also found the revenue from paid search grew to 44 percent of revenue from all search engine traffic, including organic. Paid search accounted for about one-third of search engine visits, which is a pretty big increase compared to 26 percent in 2012.

When comparing paid and organic side-by-side, there are definitely some differences worth noting.

  • Conversion rates: The conversion rate for paid search was 2.6 percent, compared 1.9 percent for organic.
  • Order size: Paid search averaged $113, which was a 3.3 percent greater increase over 2012, while organic search order size was $109.66 on average.
  • New visits: Surprisingly, paid search brought a lower percentage of new visitors to the retail sites, with 58 percent of traffic being new visits, while organic search accounted for 66 percent of new visits.
  • Bounce rate: These were fairly even – 34 percent bounce rate for paid search with 35 percent on the organic side.
  • Page views: These were also lower for organic search, with 7.1 pages per visit for paid search versus 6.8 pages for organic.

Mobile & Tablet Traffic

Spotlight on Mobile and Tablet

When looking at the mobile changes, the differences between last year and the current year are significant. One-third of traffic in the first half of 2013 came from mobile and tablet devices, and they anticipate in one year almost half of all website visits, an estimated 44 percent, will come from mobile and tablets. This highlights that is even more important for a website owners to ensure they have a mobile-friendly website, as they found only 52 percent of merchants had a mobile optimize websites in the second quarter of 2013.

Tablet traffic also significantly increased, with tablet traffic increasing at three times the rate of smartphones. However, while conversions are still pretty low for smartphones, they increased by 24 percent over last year, which is a huge jump.

When it came to overall revenue, smartphones accounted for only 2.7 percent of revenue but it increased by 40 percent over last year. Same with tablets, which accounted for 11.9 percent revenue, but it was an astounding 77 percent increase.

In terms of visits, 19 percent of visits came via smartphones, which is a 40 percent increase over last year. For tablets, 13 percent of visits came from tablets which was a 74 percent increase.

But when it comes to average order size, it was significantly higher when compared to overall. Smartphones had a $123.60 average order size, and tablets had $151.42 average order size. Conversion rates were .59 percent for smartphones and 1.77 percent for tablets.

Additional Findings

MarketLive discovered that revenue gains were up across all sectors they study over the past year. The home category went up 34.3 percent for the change in revenue, while there increase in visits went up correspondingly by 34.8 percent. Even the lowest improvement across the sectors was apparel, which still had 11.3 percent change in revenue. One interesting statistic is that the health and beauty sector increased 12.9 percent while their actual visits went down by 2.9 percent.

The MarketLive study definitely shows the importance of supplementing organic traffic strategy with a paid search strategy. It also shows that an effective mobile and tablet marketing strategy, including ensuring your website is mobile friendly, will become more critical of an overall marketing plan for any website in the coming year.

You can download the full report here.


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