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monetate-ecommerce-inbound-referral-traffic-in-q12012-july2012.pngSocial media may be getting all the buzz these days, but search engines still refer far more traffic to e-commerce sites, according to a new report from Monetate. Search drove 29.67% of inbound referral traffic to the analyzed sites in Q1 2012, up from 27.15% a year earlier. And although social’s share of inbound traffic jumped 56%, it still accounted for a fractional 2.15%. Email was the only source to see a year-over-year decline in inbound traffic share, from 7.83% in Q1 2011 to 6.58% in Q1 2012. At the same time, email’s share in Q1 2012 was an improvement from 5.82% a quarter earlier.

The Monetate study is based on a random sample of more than 100 million online shopping experiences using “same store” data across each calendar quarter.

An April 2012 report from MarketLive also found search engines continuing to be the strongest source of customers for the online merchants who comprise the MarketLive Performance Index.

Pinterest Share of SocNet Traffic Surges

Further data from the Monetate report reveals that Pinterest is burgeoning as a source of e-commerce traffic. The social network accounted for 26.48% of social network traffic in Q1 2012, almost double its share from just one quarter earlier (13.88%), and up from just 0.68% a year ago. Twitter also saw strong growth, holding 8.63% share of social network traffic, up from 4.63% a year earlier. Facebook saw the largest year-over-year decline, decreasing from 88.08% share of social network traffic in Q1 2011 to 59.59% in Q1 2012, still good for the top spot.

Email Sees Best Conversion Rates

In terms of Q1 2012 conversion rates, email (3.91%) outperformed search (2.83%), with both far ahead of social, which saw its rate fall from 0.53% in Q1 2011 to 0.38% in the first quarter of this year. Social network traffic performance also lagged in other areas: 51.24% of the visits bounced – leaving the website without going to another page – roughly double the bounce rate for search (23.63%) and email (24%). And while 11.98% of visits from email result in a product being added to a cart, social network traffic had only a 2.61% add-to-cart rate.

Tablet Share of Visits Soars

Monetate’s “Ecommerce Quarterly EQ1 2012” also reveals that desktop and laptop usage is being cannibalized by tablet browsing. Indeed, the share of website visits from PCs and laptops dropped 6% points between Q1 2011 and Q1 2012 (to 88.12%), while the tablet share of visits climbed 4.86% points (to 6.52%) and the smartphone share increased 1.12% points (to 5.35%).

Tablets are also showing similar conversion rates to PCs, at 3.23% for the former and 3.51% for the latter. This compares to just 1.37% for smartphones. Similarly, add-to-cart rates were far higher for PCs (10.2%) and tablets (9.66%) than for smartphones (4.55%).

Other Findings:

  • The iPad’s share of tablet website visits dropped from 99.69% in Q1 2011 to 89.49% in Q1 2012. This drop in share was replaced by the Kindle Fire, which rose to 4.29% of tablet traffic, and Android tablets, which surged to 6.22% of tablet traffic.
  • The iPhone accounted for 56.17% of smartphone traffic, while Android phones held 42.43% share of smartphone visits.
  • Conversion rates on Android tablets (4%) surpassed the iPad (3.22%) for the first time.
  • Android smartphones continued to have a higher conversion rate (1.68%) than the iPhone (1.18%).
  • The iPad had the highest add-to-cart rate (9.77%) among the tablets, while Android phones (5%) led amongst smartphones.

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