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Search Outperforms Social Based on Episerver Analysis of 4 Billion Sessions

Episerver Releases Its Biannual B2C Benchmark Report Detailing Retail Key Performance Indicators Across Traffic Sources and Devices

Social media conversions are trending upward despite being outperformed by organic and paid search according to data from Episerver, the customer-centric digital experience company. Search still performs better than social, based on new Episerver analysis of 4 billion sessions. Retail brands have a big opportunity to turn passive swipers into active shoppers as mobile device penetration is at an all-time high. While organic and paid search traffic to B2C brand and retail websites, 23 percent and 17 percent respectively, each drive more than double the amount of traffic that email (6 percent) and social media (6 percent) are responsible for, search’s conversion rates are on a slight decline (-.4 percent) while social is on a slight incline (+.1 percent) per Episerver’s latest report.

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In “B2C Retail Benchmark Report, Q1 2020”, Episerver analyses the aggregate data from 160 B2C brand and retail websites across the globe to provide marketers and merchandisers with competitive insights for their digital experience planning. Unsurprisingly, mobile share of traffic on these sites consistently exceeded 50 percent every month in 2019 with peak holiday shopping in November 2019 reaching 59 percent versus desktop (37 percent) and tablet (4 percent) traffic. Mobile accounting for 59 percent of B2C brand and retail traffic in November 2019 marks an all-time high since Episerver began tracking in 2017. This device penetration is boosting the mobile digital experience in multiple ways such as pressuring brands to provide a better post-click experience from the search engine result pages (thanks to Google’s de-ranking of non-responsive sites), but there is room for improvement. Despite it being a mobile-first channel, social traffic has among the highest bounce rates at 52 percent compared to organic search, for example, at 30 percent. The data suggests search is still used by high-intent shoppers while swipe-friendly channels are still used by people simply browsing.

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“The research shows that getting customers to click through on social is not enough,” said Alex Atzberger, CEO of Episerver. “Strong and personalised content remains king to create meaningful experiences that resonate with shoppers. Retailers must invest in a relevant post-click experience as people increasingly discover products and companies by swiping, not searching.”

Other key findings from Episerver’s “B2C Retail Benchmark Report, Q1 2020” include:

  • Conversion rates by traffic source: Organic search (2.6 percent), paid search (2.6 percent), email (2.5 percent), social media (1.1 percent) and display ads (.3 percent).
  • Bounce rates by traffic source: Email (39 percent), organic search (30 percent), paid search (35 percent), direct (54 percent), referral (53 percent), social (52 percent) and display (70 percent).

Episerver’s “B2C Retail Benchmark Report, Q1 2020” is aggregate data from 160 websites across 4 billion unique website visits from 2017 through 2019. Download Episerver’s B2C benchmark report and/or visit Episerver at NRF, booth 427.

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