“Understanding reader habits can help us track toward a single outcome, from email sign-ups, purchases, subscriptions, or even client retention,” writes Clare Carr, Parse.ly’s vice president of marketing, in a newsletter noting the key findings from the data analysis.
Parse.ly works with a number of publishers, including Bloomberg, Condé Nast and Trusted Media Brands, among others.
The platform looked at a month of its network data from 2018 and evaluated total visitors, visitor frequency, visitor depth (how many views and views per session) and visitor source (where did they come from per session).
Parse.ly found cultivating audience habit — getting visitors to return — is the most important metric for driving conversions long-term. On average, returning visitors make up just under 20% of visitors to sites in Parse.ly’s network.
Returning visitors account for 25% to 35% of the average site’s traffic, measured in page views.
Visitors who come to publishers’ sites directly visit two-times more often per month than from any other source, including social, search and other referrals.
Those direct referrals include readers who come from email, type in a URL or bookmark a publisher’s page. They have the strongest loyalty to returning to that publisher’s site.
Those who come from social (primarily Twitter and Facebook) are almost as likely to return as those visitors that come from direct. Search visitors are the least likely to return, and have the lowest number of sessions per month.
However, readers from search visit the most pages in a single session.
Conversely, Parse.ly points out, this does not correlate with retention — although a search visitor is looking at more pages on the publisher’s site, that does not mean the visitor is more likely to convert to a loyal reader.
Most visitor sessions cap out at three page views per session, according to Parse.ly’s data, even for the most loyal site readers.
Of social media referrals, Twitter sends the highest percentage (25%) of returning visitors back to sites. Facebook sends 20%.