Email Seen Declining As E-Commerce Traffic Driver

Monetate-Ecommerce-Traffic-Share-by-Source-Q32012-Q32013-Dec2013Email is accounting for a shrinking share of e-commerce site visits, according to the latest quarterly report from Monetate. During Q3, 2.9% of site visits came from email, down from 4% a year earlier. Email’s traffic share has now declined for 3 consecutive quarters among the subset of e-commerce sites included in the report, down from a peak of 4.5% during Q4 2012. Nevertheless, that email’s peak came during the fourth quarter has some implications for retailers during this holiday season.

It will be interesting to see whether email’s share of visits picks up again during the fourth quarter, when retailers are sending more messages in an effort to lure shoppers. During the fourth quarter of 2012, for example, Experian found that brands sent 26% more emails than they did during the third quarter. (Admittedly, the brands included in that study spanned 7 industries, not just e-commerce. Nevertheless, the data indicated that among those 7 industries, multi-channel retailers had the second-fastest rate of quarter-over-quarter volume growth, at 30%.)

Meanwhile, the Monetate report finds that social’s influence as an e-commerce traffic driver has also been shrinking, down from 1.5% share of visits in Q3 2012 to just 0.8% in Q3 2013. Reports have indicated that social is contributing only a fraction of e-commerce traffic so far this holiday season, although, as always, it’s worth noting that social’s influence tends to be seen earlier in the purchase journey. (See here for trends concerning specific platforms within the social shopping space.)

Search appears to be holding steady as the dominant e-commerce traffic driver, its 31.2% share in Q3 the highest since the year-earlier period (31.7%).

Email and social are seen in a more favorable light when looking at conversion rates, per Monetate. With its average conversion rate of 2.95% during the third quarter, email easily bested both search (1.79%) and social (1.09%). Still, that 1.09% figure for social was by far its strongest showing in at least a year, besting last year’s Q3 average of 0.69% by a significant margin.

Search comes back to the fore in the average order value (AOV) analysis. Search traffic boasted an AOV of $129.10, up significantly from $107.24 in Q3 2012 and its highest rate in several quarters. Email AOV was also up from the year-earlier perild ($100.48 vs. $93.43), but was down from other quarters in the interim. The same pattern was apparent for social: the channel’s AOV of $81.44 was slightly ahead of the year-earlier period ($79.66), but trailed AOVs for the quarters in between.

About the Data: The EQ analyzes a random sample of over 600 million online shopping experiences using “same store” data across each calendar quarter.

Averages throughout the EQ are calculated across the entire sample. Key performance indicators, such as average order value and conversion rate, will vary by industry/market type. These averages are published only to support the analysis in each release of the EQ, and are not intended to be benchmarks for any ecommerce business.