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Brand websites lose appeal

News, 23 March 2016

NEW YORK: US consumers visited brand websites less frequently in 2015, and those visits were typically shorter, according to a new study.

The Best of the Best report from Adobe Digital Index analysed the performance of the top quintile of companies using the Adobe Marketing Cloud, based on a range of website metrics, including visits, visit rate, consumption, video starts per visit, conversion, and stickiness, and advertising metrics, including click-through rate (CTR) and social interaction rate.

It concluded that consumers had visited websites less often in 2015 across every industry.

Telecommunications had the highest average visit rate at 1.56 visits per month, closely followed by media & entertainment (1.54 visits). At the other end of the spectrum were retail (1.31 visits per month), travel and hospitality (1.29 visits) and automotive (1.24 visits).

Becky Tasker, an analyst at ADI, offered two contrasting reasons for the decrease, the first being that companies are presenting content more clearly so that people can find what they want more quickly.

"On the flip side, it could also be that consumers are less tolerant of poor mobile website experiences," she told CMO.com.

"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," she suggested.

Either way, Tasker stressed the need for companies to "carefully examine their own customer experience to see which is true for their sites".

Time spent on these sites was also shorter than in previous years, and the trend was observed across all industries, bar one – travel & hospitality.

Since visits on smartphones lasted around half as long as those on desktop, and since more people are using mobile devices – with the likelihood of shorter attention spans among users searching for bite-sized content – this could be the reason for the shift, Tasker thought.

Perhaps a better measurement is the percentage of visitors that stay on a website once they arrive. "Stickiness" is an indication of how engaging a website is, but once again there was a year-on-year decline across all industries measured, although automotive performed noticeably better than the others.

Tasker did note that the top 20% in each industry 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," she said.

Data sourced from CMO; additional content by Warc staff