New Research Examines Performance Differences Between New and Returning Visitors

Apr 05, 2016


Monetate, an experience marketing platform for brands worldwide, announced the release of its latest global Ecommerce Quarterly report (EQ4 2015). The report explores the age old ecommerce conundrum--do marketers focus on finding new visitors or new ways to keep their existing ones? The Monetate EQ4 2015 looks to answer this question with real-world examples from leading brands Graham & Brown, Ballard Designs,, and Waitrose, as well as best practices for driving both acquisition and retention.

Following the close of the 2015 holiday season, the Monetate EQ4 2015 reveals new data on how shoppers--both new and returning--behaved online. For example, in Q4, despite making up less than half of all ecommerce sessions (48%), returning visitors spent nearly $5.3 billion online--almost twice as much money as new visitors spent during the same timeframe ($2.7 billion).

New visitors are half as likely as returning visitors to add an item to their cart. This is nearly universal across devices and referral channels. In Q4 2015, returning visitors, on average, added an item to their cart 15% of the time; new visitors, on average, added to their cart roughly 8% of the time. There are, of course, some exceptions: new visitors on mobile phones only added items in about 4% of sessions (versus 10% of sessions for returning) and new visitors from social networks only add items 4% of the time (versus 9% for returning).

On the whole, bounce rate was up slightly over Q4 2014: 30% in Q4 2015 versus 29% in Q4 2014. But, unlike add-to-cart rate, the difference in bounce rate between new and returning visitors varied significantly depending on a visitor's circumstances.

From a device perspective, mobile is still a laggard when it comes to the global average: 37% of mobile visitors in Q4 2015 bounced from the site they were visiting. Compared with the 26% and 28% bounce rates of desktop and tablet visitors, it's clear mobile still has challenges to overcome.

As expected, the holiday season contributed to solid conversion rates in Q4. On the whole, conversion rates averaged 3.5% percent, the highest rate in Monetate's trailing 12-month analysis and slightly higher than Q4 2014, which had an average conversion rate of 3.4%.

Device performance saw across-the-board, year-over-year gains (even if modest), while email and search both saw growth as referral channels. New visitor conversion rates trailed returning customers in every way imaginable. The average new visitor conversion rate for Q4 2015 was 2.5%, with desktop visitors the only segment within the new visitor category to break the 3% conversion rate plateau.