8 Important Stats Gathered from Analyzing Over 18,000 Small to Medium Ecommerce Sites

Like most large industries on the Internet, the e-commerce space has become more competitive as new businesses, platforms, and complimentary services enter the market. While it’s true that setting up an online store takes no longer than 5 minutes, turning that store into a successful business which supports you, your family, and the lifestyle you dream of is a race that most don’t finish.

Many people abandon their e-commerce adventure because they simply run out of time and are forced to earn a stable income in a 9 to 5 job. The reason they run out of time is because the valuable time they do have is invested in areas which bring little return.

In this post, I list 8 important stats gathered from analyzing the data of over 18,000 small-medium e-commerce sites. These stats help paint a picture of current marketing and consumer behavior trends in the e-commerce space, and they will give store owners a better chance to reach their business goals.

Editor’s Note: We haven’t look at the data set mentioned by the guest author, however the conclusions drawn in this post appear to be sound advice. Obviously it’s up to you to use this as a guide and measure your own data to see if the takeaways in this post work for you.

1. Search is still relevant and should be a major focus

When I analyzed the traffic sources of the 18,000 plus stores in Yotpo’s database, I noticed that 30.5% of all traffic was coming from organic searches on Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines. There is a constant debate going on regarding the relevance of SEO for online businesses, but 30% is significant, so it still needs to be a focus for any small online business owner.

The problem with SEO today is that for many long-tail keywords related to products, the competition is simply too high. New stores stand no chance of ranking among the top 3 spots for these high traffic keywords.

The takeaway: Invest in a long term SEO strategy that will help you rank on Google. This can be extremely tough for certain niches, which may force you to target long-tail keywords related to your niche through smart content marketing.

2. When it comes to social, focus on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter

There are numerous reports on the Internet that discuss the effectiveness of social media for e-commerce and other online businesses. When comparing social media networks, we see that there is a significant difference in performance regarding time on site and pages viewed per visit. The graphs below show a few interesting takeaways from this analysis:

Time on site per social network

Pages per visit per social network

  1. YouTube outperforms all other networks and is the only social network that has both better time on site and more pages viewed per visit than the site average. Therefore, video should be seriously considered as a medium for growing brand awareness and for connecting with potential new customers.
  2. Visits from Facebook (mobile) have low performance, which could indicate that most e-commerce sites have not optimized their sites for mobile.
  3. Visitors from Pinterest like to browse but spend less time on site than those from other social networks, which means that in order to optimize a site for visitors from Pinterest, we need to make sure it is easy to navigate and has a quick checkout process.

The takeaway: Focus initially on building a strong presence on Facebook and Twitter, and when time/resources allow for it, experiment with running campaigns and producing content for YouTube.

3. Mobile, CPC, and YouTube are the fastest growing traffic sources for e-commerce sites

The data on the growing and shrinking traffic sources is very interesting because it not only helps us identify new trends in consumer behavior but also helps us identify where marketing dollars should be spent.

Throughout the sample I analyzed, I saw that more and more stores are turning to CPC and YouTube as new marketing channels. The growth in the number of stores utilizing paid advertising will increase the average cost of common keywords in numerous niches so it is important to not blindly follow this trend but rather run numerous tests or even hire a top SEO firm to run them for you.

The growth in traffic from mobile is an Internet wide trend and its pace is accelerating. An increasing number of purchases are happening on mobile so now is the time to optimize your store for mobile traffic.

The takeaway: If you are using CPC campaigns, then make sure you are tracking them closely because prices will be going up. More sites are using video for marketing, so make sure you are watching your competition closely and consider adopting video before they do.

4. Run your marketing campaigns during the week

One of the most surprising findings was that less traffic arrives at e-commerce sites on the weekend compared with during the week. For me, this was counterintuitive because the average person has so much more time to browse shopping sites over the weekend compared with week days, but the data clearly shows a drop on the weekend.

The graph below shows the distribution of traffic by day of the week.

traffic by day of the week

The takeaway: Run your promotions and marketing campaigns in the middle of the week in order to maximize your reach.

5. Focus on retaining your customers and bringing them back to your site

Visitors who return to e-commerce sites dramatically outperform new visitors. New visitors spend an average of 2 minutes 31 seconds on site compared with 5 minutes 31 seconds for returning visitors. This is a difference of over 100%. When looking at pages viewed per visit, we see that new visitors view an average of 3.88 pages per visit, but return visitors look at 5.55 pages per visit.

Return visitors not only spend more time on your site and view more pages, but they also are more likely to make purchases and become evangelists for your brand.

The takeaway: Put mechanisms and campaigns in place that specifically target past customers in order to increase both engagement and sales.

6. The average e-commerce site has fewer than 500 Facebook fans

Growing a large Facebook community takes a lot of time and effort, and most online businesses fail at building a community of any real significance.

When looking at the number of fans across 4,000 different Facebook pages, we see that the average e-commerce site has between 1 and 500 fans, while only 2 sites in my sample have over a million.

number of facebook fans

I find the 500 number very interesting because the web is becoming more and more social, yet half of all e-commerce businesses fail to develop a large online following on the largest social network in the world.

The takeaway: The e-commerce benchmark for the size of a Facebook community is smaller than you might think. Try to build a strong community of 1,000 true fans, and you will be outperforming over 60% of e-commerce sites on the Internet.

7. The average value of a visit from Facebook is over 4 times more than a visit from Twitter

When comparing the average value of a visitor from Facebook (22 cents) with the average value of a visitor from Twitter (5 cents), we see that a visitor from Facebook earns the average e-commerce site over 4 times more money than a visitor from Twitter. This difference is huge, and after learning the takeaways from points #2 and #6 in this list, it is clear that Facebook is where small-medium e-commerce sites should focus their attention when it comes to social.

The takeaway: Focusing on bringing traffic to your store from Facebook will bring you higher revenues than traffic from Twitter.

8. 65% of mobile traffic to e-commerce sites comes from the iPhone and iPad

I’ve already mentioned how mobile traffic is one of the fastest growing traffic sources for e-commerce sites, but when we dive deeper into the actual devices used, we see that Apple devices are bringing the majority of the traffic. The iPad accounts for 30% of total mobile traffic to e-commerce sites and the iPhone accounts for 35%. The rest is spread over the dozens of Android smart phones, other smart phones, and numerous tablets.

The takeaway: When optimizing your site for mobile, focus on optimizing it for Apple devices first, and then later, the rest of the numerous mobile devices and tablets.

Conclusion

Knowledge is power, and when it comes to business, it’s those who have the knowledge, determination, and will that usually rise to the top. In this post, I have provided unique insights into a wide range of topics that will be useful to anyone trying to make a buck online. I hope I have painted a bright picture of the current trends in this very dynamic and ever-shifting space and that these stats will serve you well in the near future.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the ideas and recommendations I have raised in this post so feel free to comment below.

About the Author: Justin Butlion is the Content and Social Marketing Manager of Yotpo. Justin loves to blog about e-commerce, online marketing, web development, and entrepreneurship. Check out his latest posts in the Yotpo blog or contact him directly at justin@yotpo.com.

  1. Great article. I always tell people to just get it out there first and tweak later. No need to have it perfect the first time around, as you’re losing valuable time when your site could be starting to gain some traction with the search engines.

    My first tip at the moment after getting the site live is to have a blog on your site, and to have good unique descriptions for your products. These in my view are the two most valuable parts of the equation (assuming basic knowledge of the principles of on-page seo).

    • Thanks for the comment Richard and I agree with you completely. People should keep their heads down and put in the work and once things are in place, to start optimizing and seeing what works for them.

      Having a blog linked to your online store is almost always a good idea.

  2. I agree with the result of this experiment, most of the sites having top positions in Google or other search engines have good visibility on Social Platforms like Facebook, YouTube etc. These social communities divert huge traffic towards the website. In this manner, eCommerce site’s marketing strategies must include strong Social media signals not for the search engines but intended for the users.

  3. Thanks for sharing! Very valuable info for owners and marketers. I was just surprised with the result on the top social media platforms to use. There were reports that image-centric networks like Pinterest and Instagram will see huge success in retail sector. Anyways, i think it always depends on what works for your company. I agree with mobile playing a significant role in ecommerce.

    • I was also surprised to see this Michelle and my prediction is that the performance of social traffic will diminish over time because of overuse, an overload of information and too many choices.

      As you mentioned, it’s important to try a number of things and see what works for you.

  4. Interesting stats indeed! Especially that the e-commerce site has fewer than 500 Facebook fans. Well numbers don’t matter really – quality matters when it comes to followers, fans, etc.

    Running marketing campaigns or doing anything promotional during the week is a wise thing. Even if we look at the traffic stats of our websites most of us can clearly see a super dip during the weekends.

    Sure knowledge is power and it is the case with business too! Knowing our markets, the stats, our customers and all the little to big details do help in formulating our success strategy.

    Thanks for putting this together Justin!

  5. Hey,

    This is a great post, but there should be a bigger section on mobile / responsive website design.

    There are many e-commerce stores out there which are stubborn in that they’re simply not getting serious about mobile web traffic. The PC market is declining and more and more people are shopping on their mobile device. A website that is optimised for this will convert better than one that is not. I don’t know whether you’ve ever tried to buy anything from an e-commerce website which displays the desktop version on a 4.7-inch display, but I can assure you it’s awful – abandoning the checkout and coming back later is the only way forward.

    J

  6. Really helpful article. I especially found the reference to the 3 social networks to focus on very helpful.

  7. I found this very useful, thanks for posting. A quick observation regarding relative values of Twitter and Facebook. No surprise that FB visits have a higher sales value but I think that Twitter has a role in raising awareness, engaging potential leads and then building FB Likes. Following on Twitter is less of a commitment than liking on Facebook, in my view, so it can be a easier route to engagement. It would be interesting to see a study of the percentage of FB likes that originated in a Twitter follow. I also feel that people are more resistant to selling via Twitter, whereas FB provides a more natural platform for promotions and sales messages.

  8. Excellent, backward looking statistics. Point 1, SEO services are providers way of selling time with very inconsistent results, hosting services is the method that top businesses use for ranking. Point 2, time of social media sites is going down due to time becoming more valuable, this is not shown. Point 4, “the average person has so much more time to browse shopping sites over the weekend”, most people ‘surf the web’ at work, not counterintuitive, you need to address both sides. Point 5, with Amazon selling almost at cost that is a tough proposition. Point 6, as time on social media is going down and most Facebook fans are fake, are 500 real fans better than 10,000 fake ones. Point 7, but Facebook takes more effort so they balance each other out.

    All in all, very fluffy but no real content to the problems faced by retailers going forward, but the Apple usage was interesting, they say you always come away from an article with one new point. Extrapolating the past to the future is one of the surest ways of going under. Looking forward, the key is that small retailers are losing out to the big players and the niche content providers, there is a shift to top-down which means only the largest -or- most focused will have any chance of maintaining or increasing revenue at the detriment to the smaller stores.

  9. I’d be curious to know the avg. value of a Pinterest user. Everything I’ve read/seen seems to indicate that Pinterest does a better job of converting to sales than other social channels. I’m surprised that in this data that other social properties outperform Pinterest. I’m not a Pinterest evangelist by any means just surprised by the results.

    • I think it depends a lot on the niche of the business and the level of quality of their images. Unfortunately I don’t have data on the conversion rates of visitors from Pinterest.

  10. It’s great when someone can actually produce opinions with numbers to back it up. I was actually surprised that organic traffic was only 30%, but now I KNOW. Thanks.

    • Glad you liked it Derek. I think search will always have a part to play because of branding. The vast majority of the top searches are brand searches. I think we can expect to see the 30% drop a bit over time but I doubt it will get below 20% ever.

  11. Whoa. I run a t-shirt business on the side, and we have 1,500 likes… never imagined that I’d be ahead of 75% of the competition! The long tail is truly a magnificent thing to contemplate.

  12. Hi Justin,

    I just wanted to let you know that we thought this was an awesome article and we included it in our monthly round up http://blog.nexcess.net/2013/12/05/monthly-round-up-novembers-best-expressionengine-wordpress-magento-content/

  13. I don’t think there were any new unique insights in this post. All of this is old news. Time for KissMetrics to bring more opinionated stuff to the table instead of standard how-to:s and lists.

  14. Amazing. I love this Post, looking forward to your next one soon.

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