ADI: Consumer Engagement With Brand Websites Down In 2015

A poor mobile website experience is one possible culprit, according to Adobe Digital Index’s new “Best Of The Best” report.

ADI: Consumer Engagement With Brand Websites Down In 2015

Adobe Digital Index’s (ADI) new “Best Of The Best” report unearthed some concerning findings for marketers in all industries: Consumers visited brand websites less frequently in 2015, and those visits were typically shorter.

ADI defines “best of the best” as companies in the top quintile (20%) based on performance across website metrics, such as visits, visit rate, consumption, video starts per visit, conversion, and stickiness, and advertising metrics, including click-through rate (CTR) and social interaction rate.

According to ADI, consumers visited websites less frequently in 2015 in every industry. Telecommunications had the highest average visit rate at 1.56 visits per month, while retail, travel and hospitality, and automotive had the lowest visit rate.

“On the surface, this decline might mean that companies across the board are simply doing a better job with how they present content on their website and that people are finding what they need quickly,” said Becky Tasker, an analyst at ADI. “On the flip side, it could also be that consumers are less tolerant of poor mobile website experiences. Since we’re seeing mobile visit rates decrease as well, it could be people are having a sub-par experience via their devices and not coming back.”

Given the ambiguity, Tasker emphasized that companies will “need to carefully examine their own customer experience to see which is true for their sites.”

ADI also noticed a pattern of shorter consumption in 2015, meaning consumers spent less time on websites, per visit. Consumption, or time spent, declined for all industries except travel and hospitality. Additionally, consumption varied by device; for example, visits on smartphones typically lasted half as long as desktop visits.

The shift to mobile, entailing shorter attention spans and bite-sized content, might be the driving force behind the decrease in time spent, Tasker said.

ADI also looked at stickiness, or the percentage of visitors that stay on a website once they arrive—a good test of how engaging a website is, Tasker said. For 2015, ADI reports a year-over-year (YoY) decrease for every single industry. The top 20% in each industry, however, outperformed their peers by an average of 44%.

“Those who invest in methods to attract and retain traffic are breaking away through the use of relevant and engaging website experiences,” Tasker said.

Mobile Traffic

It’s no surprise that smartphone traffic is growing YoY in every single industry, and that the majority of marketers are well-aware of their site’s mobile traffic, according to ADI. The problem? Not all marketers are doing anything about this mobile shift.

According to ADI, the top 20% of performers in mobile optimization broke away from the average performers in every single industry except telecommunications. The average performance of telecommunications was on par with the top 20%, increasing 5% in 2015.

Additionally, the top 20% in retail, travel and hospitality, media and entertainment, and automotive all registered more than 35% of total visits via smartphone.

Despite the growth in mobile traffic, ADI found that desktop traffic was still substantial. All industries had more than half of their traffic originating from desktop devices. For industries such as financial services, desktop visits remained particularly important, likely due to the fact that reviewing or conducting transactions is easier on large screens, Tasker explained.

Video Starts

Consumers are still watching more video content on their desktop PCs than via mobile, but video starts on smartphones are growing YoY. Smartphone video-viewing growth YoY is outpacing desktop (18% vs. 10%, respectively). This is especially true for the top 20% (34% vs. 13%, respectively).

“The growth in smartphone video starts could indicate better optimization on smartphones or the general shift to using larger-screen phones for entertainment,” Tasker said.

SEM Performance

ADI also found that search click-through rates (CTRs) increased for all industries. The top 20% have pulled away from their peers in all industries except financial services. Additionally, smartphone and desktop CTRs both increased YoY, with average smartphone CTR performing 29% higher than desktop.

Social Media

While search was up, social media has seen better days. According to the analysis, social media interaction rates were down in every industry except media and entertainment. Facebook’s promotion of paid display-ad interaction could have had an impact on budgets, ADI said, shifting focus to paid ads instead of free social interaction.

Media and entertainment was the clear standout for driving traffic from social media efforts, with an average of 15% compared with 1% or less in other industries.

Top performers within every industry are all present on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Newer platforms, such as Periscope, have yet to be fully embraced by any industry.

Retail and media and entertainment outperformed the average social following by more than 2x (2.2x and 2.4x, respectively). On average, each industry authored around 2,000 social posts per month, but telecommunications engaged the most with its audience—more than 10,000 times since its accounts were created.

When looking at website conversion, ADI analyzed travel and hospitality and retail. Mobile conversion rates, while still trumped by desktop, showed momentum in growth, with a 13% increase YoY. Desktop conversion was down a bit (7%) YoY. Travel and hospitality smartphone conversion growth outpaced desktop by 50%.

“Without context, marketers are left wondering if their results are any good,” Tasker said. “The ‘Best Of The Best’ report provides benchmarks that allow marketers to benchmark themselves against others, both their industry peers and those from other sectors.”

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About Adobe Digital Index

Adobe Digital Index publishes research on digital marketing and other topics of interest to senior marketing and e-commerce executives across industries. Research is based on the analysis of select, anonymous, and aggregated data from over 5,000 companies worldwide that use the Adobe Digital Marketing Cloud to obtain real-time data and analysis of activity on websites, social media, and advertising.

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