I've just been reading a couple of blog posts about social media that stemmed from Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox on reducing bounce rates. I'm not entirely sure Jakob Nielsen meant to do it, but he has started a bit of a conversation on Mashable about whether 'Digg traffic sucks'. It sounds like an interesting discussion, so I am going to join in. For those of you not famliar with the format, I have written about how Digg works before (at the bottom of that article) and briefly about the benefits of social bookmarking.
Does Digg traffic stay on the site?
There is no other answer to this question. Digg traffic bounces. It bounces a lot. 90% or more. It's high. If you're running an eCommerce site that is really high. Far higher than you could ever imagine one traffic source. If your a news/media site, that is probably just relatively high.
Why does it bounce?
Well that is the easy part of the question - it bounces because the people on that site are engaged with Digg and they aren't really engaged with your site. If I'm searching around Digg and I find a funny article that someone has linked to that has got to the home page of Digg (eg 'The Transparent Canoe') then do I want to know what the people of that site think about the story? No, I want to know what the people on my site think about it, because I interact with them every day anyway. I want to be able to Digg up some comments about how it wouldn't work properly. Or some crude comment about looking at people's bottoms. It's all part of the banter, the conversation. That's why I am on Digg and not searching out for canoe designs in Google.
Do Diggs Convert?
Yes. Why not? Because they mostly bounce.
Hang on a second, did I say Yes at the start there? Yep they do convert.
Do they convert well? Of course they don't - 90% of them bounced straight off.
Is this a problem that they don't convert well? No - because we're not paying for these people. Our ROI on these people is huge. We don't put any extra effort in and then they give us conversions. Ok, so they only give us a small volume of conversions, but this is better than none.
Does it affect our conversion rate? Sure it does. It destroys it. If you have 100 qualified leads and they convert at 10% (for an eCommerce function that sounds just about realistic, although I'm prob a tad on the high side). If you have 10,000 diggers they'll probably give you fewer conversions. This mucks up your conversion rate. So what? You've just got more conversions for no extra money.
So now what we're doing is suggesting that we'll take a hit on our conversion rate, if we can get more money for our spend. This is a nightmare for the guy who lives and dies by his conversion rate, rather than his ROI figure.
For eCommerce sites it is more difficult. You can't spend time and money on it because you don't get it back. If you create good content then you can get it back.
For all sites though there is another aspect. That aspect is Brand.
Brand is vitally important to us all, especially in online media. There are ways of increasing your site traffic through organic search and social bookmarking directly, but essentially our job is to get people to come back to the site. This is where Social Bookmarking is brilliant.
Think about buying an advert on a website. I'm talking banners, skyscrapers and MPUs here. Do you read it? Probably not - half the time they pop up and leave you annoyed that you can't get to the story. More often than not, you probably ignore them. People pay for those banners and skyscrapers. Clickthrough rates are low and ROI is near on minimal or negative. Why do people put them up there? They do it for branding purposes. Sooner or later you are going to need what they are advertising and hence the reason that you remember the ad that you saw bouncing around.
Social Bookmarking is a bit like that. You get traffic to your site, it doesn't stay long, doesn't look around, but it remembers you. Next time they are looking for your product or service they will think of you. Hey, I need a new canoe, why don't I look on that toxel.com website. This branding exercise is great for media publications because it's not as simple as just canoes, because the more Toxel gets on Digg, the more Digg users are going to think Toxel is a design site. Then when they are looking around the web for quirky designs, they are going to think of Toxel first.
Not only that, people have seen the post and your going to have people who blog about that sort of stuff there. These people are going to be really keen and link to your site. This is good for two reasons:
- They might generate some more traffic - a bit more qualified because they are coming from a specialist blog
- The extra inbound links will give your site some nice link juice that will be spread across the site and push you up the search rankings.
- Just given you a spike in traffic
- A ton of interesting comments that you can use to create your new stories
- Given you an idea of the level of interest around a subject in the world outside your blog
- Given you an increased brand awareness
- Given you more inbound links generating traffic
- Improved your search rankings