One of the most important takeaways in our new Digital IQ Index: Department Stores report is that when it comes to upstream site traffic drivers, investments in search are by far the most effective. In the report, we found that the top 40 global department stores currently control, on average, 48 percent and 36 percent of all first-page organic and paid results, respectively. This is significantly more than the 71 Specialty Retail brands’ organic and paid search in our previous report, where the average for both was approximately 30 percent. In addition to optimizing for their own terms, department stores also optimize for many of the brands they carry. Among those we measured, top-ranked Nordstrom and digitally “Gifted” Net-A-Porter register the highest visibility, appearing most frequently in top organic search positions for luxury brand terms.
That search is the surest digital path to increased site traffic is no huge reveal, nor is that social media, the buzziest and generally most high-profile of all digital channels, is the least effective. But when you have new data to reemphasize an important and underreported fact, it’s important to publish a reminder. Though it varies retailer to retailer, Facebook and Twitter and YouTube–and all the rest, combined–refer just 1.9 percent of department stores’ site traffic. Driven primarily by Facebook (64 percent), department stores also get small boosts from their YouTube channels (11 percent), Pinterest boards (7 percent) and Twitter feeds (3 percent). As always, just because something isn’t as quantitatively effective as something else doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile. Net-A-Porter’s 30 Pinterest boards, for example, drive almost 3 percent of traffic to the luxury e-tailer. And while Instagram barely registers a boost in site traffic, its engagement rate dwarfs all other social platforms with nearly five times that of next-best Facebook.
For a current look at the department store sector’s social media footprint, see the chart below (click for greater detail).