Brands rely on their popularity and name recognition for the majority of site traffic, but building a brand is expensive, from traditional advertising to paid levers like search and display advertising. However, social media content and email campaigns may drive more qualified traffic than those direct efforts, according to L2’s Content & Commerce: Traffic Sources report.

Email and social media combined drive approximately 6% of site traffic, a small sum compared to direct. However, they result in substantially more site engagement. In L2’s study, the top 50% of brands ranked by site traffic from social and email saw visit durations that were 12% and 6% longer, respectively, than the average. Visit duration tended to be shorter for brands that leaned more on organic and paid search traffic, indicating that customers reaching a site through these channels are in “search and destroy” mode.

Content and commerce

The social media finding is surprising because traffic that arrives from social media is usually considered an interruptive experience: users leaving the social media site tend to return to it. Yet brands are producing increasingly compelling content. For example, Sisley uses Facebook’s events, messaging, and Call to Action features to promote conversion-oriented visits to the brand site; the brand regularly includes hyperlinks to product description pages in its posts, directs customers to its site through products in the Shop section, and features a prominent Shop Now button that links to a shoppable tutorial page.

Email is less of a surprise. It’s a tried-and-true tactic that is relatively cheap and, due to the new targeting and segmentation capabilities of big data and artificial intelligence, more effective than ever. Best-in-class brands combine product content with re-engagement and targeted emails that often focus on loyalty. This works better for some verticals than others: activewear brands experienced close to a 50% lift over generic email campaigns by incorporating these tactics.   

Despite headlines claiming social media is dead, most US internet users still visit social platforms daily. And despite the rise in messaging and other alternatives, email is still a trusted source of information for pretty much everyone. Therefore, these are essential tools for brands looking to attract consumers to their sites…and keep them there. 

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