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?