Richard Hoeg points out that for his blog Twitter = High Visits But Low Conversion. Basically, he shows his "referring sites" from Google Analytics for the past two weeks:
Folks who visit from Twitter don't visit as many pages and spend less time of the site.
Of course, that made me wonder if twitter really was bringing lower quality clicks than other sources. That's contrary to what I would expect. You would think that someone who gets a link referred by someone they know would visit and then look around. It should be pretty qualified. So, I looked at a similar view of referring sites:
Indeed, people coming from twitter are the lowest in pages viewed per visit and near the bottom in time on site and highest bounce rate. Likely they were interested in the specific item that they came there for, but still it's a bit disappointing that they don't click around a bit more.
Of course, a relatively small percentage of traffic from twitter actually comes from "twitter.com" – many people use tools like TweetDeck. And I believe many of these are reported as Direct Traffic. So, I went to the list of All Traffic sources:
and while Direct Traffic does have a good number of referrals, it really doesn't provide good results. Basically, it's about the same as organic search traffic. And some of the Direct Traffic that comes from twitter is lumped in with Direct Traffic from other sources including RSS readers. And I believe that those other sources likely are higher quality clicks. Notice that google.com as a referring source (likely Google Reader) is better than Direct generally. Bloglines also has better numbers.
I tried to get a bit more detail by using bit.ly to see more about sources, but unfortunately, they also run into the same issue with the different twitter sources. Here's their description of "referring sites":
Direct Traffic includes people clicking a bit.ly link from:
- Desktop email clients like Microsoft Outlook or Apple mail
- AIR applications like Twirhl
- Mobile apps like Twitterific or Blackberry Mail
- Chat apps like AIM
- SMS/MMS messages
It also includes people who typed a bit.ly link directly into their browser
So they can't help differentiate either. Bottom line, everything I'm seeing suggests that Richard was right:
Twitter brings lower quality clicks
What's also interesting here is that there's been quite a bit of high profile discussion around Does This Blog Get More Traffic From Google or Twitter? where there was a question of whether twitter brought more traffic than traditional sources. For Fred Wilson, he gets pretty huge twitter traffic.
For Richard and I, we don't get nearly the same levels and it's not even close.
Twitter delivers some traffic, but it's still small compared to search.
It's surprising that Fred Wilson is not looking at the question of the quality of his twitter traffic either.
Aggregators Bring Traffic
One last thought, it's been a while since 2007 Traffic Stats - Hopefully a Meme where I looked a bit at my traffic numbers. They've grown considerably over the years, but a lot of the statistics have remained consistent. One of the really interesting things I saw in Richard's stats and in my stats was:
On Richard's eLearning Learning was number 7 as a referrer. For him, they were 100% new visitors and had pretty good pages clicked and time on site. For me, it was also pretty good quality traffic.
This is somewhat validating the concept behind these sites and the Browse My Stuff concept.
And all of this makes me think:
Marketers interested in quality clicks should focus less on twitter and more on blogging, search and aggregation.