Sixty-two percent of websites are growing in traffic (at an average rate of 51%) while 38% are shrinking (at an average rate of -31%), based on a recent study by Adobe.
The firm analyzed more than 800 billion visits to 800 North American websites since January of 2013, including 45 billion visits to Canadian websites. With no middle ground for websites to coast on, a few key factors now separate the winners and the losers of the North American internet, and much of the distinction has to do with how they market themselves.
“Growing websites are actually leveraging channels that are outside of the typical branded, organic tactics,” said Becky Tasker, the managing analyst of Adobe Digital Insights. “They see 36% more traffic coming from these additional tactics, like email, paid search and social, than shrinking websites do.”
According to the Adobe study, growing websites saw 2.4 times more traffic from social channels, 1.7 times more traffic from email, 1.4 times more traffic from display ads and 1.3 times more traffic from paid searches than their shrinking counterparts.
“The channels that are seeing more traffic are channels that can be personalized or tailored to the individual,” said Tasker. “My hunch is that these growing websites are picking up on ways that they can tailor their messages to consumers, and consumers are listening.”
A survey of American Internet users that accompanied the report revealed that 78% preferred personalized advertisements, but only 28% believed they were being targeted properly.
Another key point of differentiation between websites that are seeing more traffic each year and those who see less is the adoption of new technologies and platforms. With nearly flat website visits across the board, those that can capitalize on consumer trends early ultimately take traffic away from their competitors over the long run, explains Tasker.
“The websites who got good at attracting traffic and capitalized on early trends, like the shift to mobile, saw a lot of benefits early on, and see more benefits today, because they shifted and followed consumer behaviour and optimized towards it instead of waiting for it,” she said.
Tasker explains the companies that came up with a mobile strategy earlier on are still enjoying a competitive advantage today.
“Three years later, we see the websites who capitalized on that when it first started occurring are now so far ahead of the websites who didn’t that it’s going to be hard to catch up in that regard,” she said.
Tasker adds that this mobile strategy example has wider implications for marketers operating in an Internet that has experienced nearly flat growth in recent years.
“It’s important to recognize that there is this shift in advertising going on, and you can no longer just rely on the pure strength of your brand to drive traffic,” she said. “If you don’t leverage new channels and figure out a way to advertise to a consumer in a way that’s relevant and intriguing, someone else will.”