Online Merchants Seeing Greater Dividends From Paid Than Organic Search Traffic

MarketLive-Online-Merchants-Search-Traffic-Aug2013The online merchants who comprise the MarketLive Performance Index are enjoying the rewards of their greater investments in paid search, according to [download page] a new MarketLive report. During the first half of this year (H1), paid search accounted for 32% of all their search visits, up from 26% during the first half of 2012. Paid search traffic continued to be more valuable than organic search traffic, with the former accounting for an outsized 44% of revenues from search.

That’s because paid search traffic converted at a higher rate than organic search traffic (2.57% and 1.9%, respectively), with a higher overall average order value ($113.00 and $109.66, respectively.) Those gaps have narrowed somewhat from last year, though: conversion rates and average order value have improved for organic traffic while dipping slightly for paid search.

Overall, search accounted for 48% of all traffic and an equal portion of all revenue for the merchants.

Separately, the study examines smartphone and tablet traffic, finding that these devices combined to account for 32.1% of visits during H1. That’s a marked 53% increase from a year earlier.

Smartphone and tablet traffic continued to have poorer conversion rates than desktops, though. The conversion rate for smartphones was just 0.59%, while for tablets it was 1.77%. (By comparison, it was 2.68% for desktops). Average order value (AOV) lagged on smartphones ($123.60), while tablets ($151.42) and desktops ($152.51) were on par. Recent data suggests that tablet owners are willing to spend more than smartphone owners when making retail purchases from their devices, although e-commerce data from Monetate has in the past found smartphone AOVs to be higher than comparable numbers for tablets.

All told, while mobile devices combined to represent almost one-third of visits in H1, they accounted for a smaller 14.5% of total revenues. Smartphones were the culprit: while accounting for 19% of visits, they brought in just 2.7% of total revenues.

Other Findings:

  • Cart abandonment rates were higher on smartphones (86.3%) than tablets (77.9%) and desktops (69.8%). They averaged 72% overall, a decrease of 1.2% from last year.
  • Smartphone visitors spent an average of 2 minutes and 51 seconds on the merchants’ sites, compared to 4 minutes and 29 seconds for tablet visitors and 4 minutes and 12 seconds for desktop visitors.

About the Data: The MarketLive report examined H1 performance data for a subset of sites included in the index since January 1, 2012 or earlier.