Posted October 22, 2009 12:46 pm by with 9 comments

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While we all like our sites to have visitors, a loyal visitor—one who returns for later visits—is especially valuable. And while search engines do send a lot of visitors, a study issued by Chitika earlier this month shows that the most loyal site visitors come from social sites, as eMarketer reports today.

Studying 33 million uniques across its publisher network last month, Chitika used the criterion of four or more visits over the course of a week to indicate a loyal visitor. They found that Facebook and Digg had the best loyalty rates:
Facebook showed 20.69% of its referrals became loyal visitors. Digg had slightly over 16% of its referrals visit four or more times that week.

Interestingly, Yahoo had a slightly better loyalty rate than Google.:

Next came the search engines, Yahoo! leading the way with over 15% [15.89%] of referrals being loyal. Google and Bing were practically even at slightly below 12% [11.84% and 11.74%], and Twitter came in last place overall with barely over 11%.

I’m a little surprised that one in eight Google visitors return four or more times in a week. Considering that Google sent 76% of the traffic in the study, even with the lower retention rate, it’s still numerically more loyal visitors. But, as Chitika puts it, if you had the option of sending 1000 visitors to your site from Google or Facebook, if you want loyalty, Facebook is a better bet.

It’s also interesting that Twitter visitors were least loyal. You might argue that links in Twitter get pushed down in the feed so fast that it’s hard to dig them up again later to return, but the same is probably true for Facebook. (Note, too, that Twitter is falling rapidly in referral rates: eMarketer says, “In July, Twitter was No. 24 on Chitika’s list of top referrers, with 0.05%. By September, it had moved down to 44th place, with just a 0.02% share.”)

But probably most interesting is that one-sixth of Digg visitors are loyal. The site has become notorious for one-off traffic spikes that don’t do a whole lot for long term gains—but maybe the dynamic has shifted as the site has aged.

What do you think? Do you see more loyal visitors from Digg and Facebook? Have you seen a change in your visitors from Digg?

  • Facebook vs Twitter Loyalty doesn’t surprise me, because Twitter is a no-holds-barred, anyone can follow by opting in social site.

    Facebook, on the other hand, requires acceptance in the form of friend requests, and the page is curated to feel more like a scrapbook/family experience than the fast and furious Twitter ‘PR’ style.

    Something I would like to add to the discussion is how Social Media Drives search. Search and social coexist, and the more loyal followers you get speaking about you/your brand/business on the socials, the more likely you are to make a substantive impact on your search campaigns too.

    Good news for the Social Media Commandos like me!
    .-= Joe Mescher´s last blog ..Social Media Drives Search =-.

  • Hi,

    For me Facebook is the best way to promote my services, items ( interior design), I have facebook group and page and i can say in 2 month i double the visits and the sells.
    Twitter is good only to send bombastic message, eg, huge promotion only today …
    Google is no longer an option, we receive alot of visits but the sells are down.

    .-= Patricia´s last blog ..Cadeiras para Contract Punk / Shark =-.

  • This is why I am a big fan of Facebook advertising.. You can really target groups of interested people, rather than just put it all out there with the other public advertising networks. I’ve seen great examples of how much better CTR’s and conversions are for social ads rather than just plain web/search advertising.
    .-= Aaron´s last blog ..Bing announces search for Twitter feeds =-.

  • These reports are never black and white. If I google and find a facebook group or digg post, that lead to your page, does this count as Google, Facebook or digg?

    If the user mentioned above returns every week and follow your progress via Twitter or RSS feeds the rest of the days but never follow a link from Twitter, in what bar is this loyalty counted for?

    it all depends on the whole picture and it is never about choosing one or the other.

    Go for both search AND Social media AND the next big thing…….

  • Pingback: Saturday Social Marketing Round-Up — pamorama()

  • Wow! Facebook is great, getting the most visitor loyalty is not that surprising. Twitter has lots of media coverage, very surprising they are the lowest on the stats.

  • Too bad I really never got into Facebook. I just could never understand the whole concept of it and Twitter. Who knows maybe I am missing something; but I just could not stand the fact of using those sites.
    .-= Symptoms Of Panic Attacks´s last undefined ..If you register your site for free at =-.

  • Pingback: Social Sites Send Fewer, but More Loyal Visitors than Search | The Perfect Storm Team()

  • The Digg & Twitter locations in the chart surprise me. I’d expect those two to be flipped based on what I’ve seen.
    .-= Ed Kohler´s last blog ..TP at Sheraton Boston Hotel, Boston, MA =-.