Search Remains a Key Channel for Website Discovery

Enterprises have many reasons to drive consumers to their websites. Some marketers want to sell websitedirectly to shoppers through their sites, while others want to entertain and inform. Which promotional tools work best to drive consumers to a site?  According to Forrester Research, it's all about search.

Natural search engines appear to be the most popular way for consumers to find websites. In the past 12 months, natural search increased its dominance in this channel, moving from 50% to 54%. Paid search, in comparison, only accounts for 18% of discovery but that format increased by 10% during the study period.  The second most popular discovery channel is social networking sites with 32% of surveyed adults going this route, versus 25% in the previous year.

Researchers noted that consumer age makes a difference when they're using the Internet. For example, natural search (57%) and social networking (50%) were clear leaders for young adults under age 24. However, for consumers over age 68, website discovery is linked to traditional media. 28% of older consumers find a website as a result of reading newspapers and magazines.

This study showed that  some sources are losing ground in their ability to drive website traffic. Links from other websites (28%), email from friends and family (25%), and newspaper and magazine articles (18%) are not as effective as they’ve been in the past.

As businesses determine where they’ll promote their websites, they should focus on emails to consumers. This channel increased from 15% to 26% for consumer discovery of websites.

While the Forrester study clearly shows that search is a key way for marketers to inform consumers about their websites, marketers should also consider their target audiences. A promotion for younger consumers should be weighted more heavily with social media while for older consumers, a mention in a newspaper ad is key.

Do you agree? Have you discovered other formats that are driving traffic to your websites?

Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.