Forrester: How Customers Reach Your Website Can Inform Digital Marketing Campaigns

4 minute read
Katie Ingram avatar

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According to a new report from Forrester Research, marketers should learn more about the paths customers take to get to their company's website to help inform discovery marketing campaigns.

The report, “How Consumers Found Websites in 2012" was compiled by Elizabeth Komar along with Shar VanBoskirk and Collin Colburn. Information was collected via an online survey from May to June 2012 from 30,978 US and 2,032 Canadian adults aged 18 to 88. From these results, Forrester noted that customers may take different paths to get to a website, but this information can be useful for digital marketing and search purposes.

A Customer Journey

In the past, in order to find a website, visitors would either have to know the address itself or perform a keyword search through engines such as Google or Bing, but Forrester notes that due to technological advancements this trend has changed. Now customers can find websites through a host of different sources and platforms.

According to the report, while 54 percent of users in 2012 still relied on what is referred to as “natural” search results, this has decreased from 61 percent in 2010. The channels that have started to make more of an impact are social networks, which grew from 18 percent to 32 percent between 2010 and 2012 and paid search results which went up 10 percent from 2011 to 2012 to end last year at 18 percent.

The report also noted that younger users preferred the "newer forms of website discovery over older users." For example, 50 percent of 18 to 23 year olds used social networks, while only 43 percent of those in the 24 to 32 age range did. As for offline channels such as newspaper and magazine, they are commonly preferred by respondents 68 years or older at 28 percent compared with 12 percent of the 18 to 23 range.

Other methods that are being used to find websites include emails, links from other websites, television shows and personal recommendations from friends or family.

Learning Opportunities

To Do You Must Learn

This change in website discovery can be beneficial to marketers in the form of discovery marketing. But before marketers can reach this level they have to take a few things into consideration.

In order to make use of a discovery marketing tactic, marketers first have to take a chance on a new idea; something that they currently aren’t doing. According to Forrester,marketers tend to concentrate on only what they know will drive sales such as the cost-per-click method, instead of exploring newer methods of reaching customers.

Companies have to branch away from their traditional areas and into discovery marketing by letting themselves experiment with new and more collaborative strategies. For discovery marketing, marketers need to focus on three key areas: what customers are trying to find based on what search terms they use, what sources marketers are using as a lead in to a website and what the current trends and customer needs are so each individual customer can be targeted accordingly.For example, if a customer uses a mobile search function to find grocery coupons, they should be targeted differently than someone would be if they were looking for information on a health issue.

By doing this, marketers will better understand customers, know what discovery tools they are using at different stages of their journey and develop a more rounded marketing strategy.

Changing the World

If more marketers add a discovery marketing section to their marketing platform, Forrester says that this will change the overall perspective on what search is and how valuable it can be for marketers. The report suggests that as search and discovery marketing becomes more prominent, companies such as Apple and Google will develop tools and software for it.

One kind of tool that Forrester thinks will make an impact is the integration of bid management platforms with the "discovery marketing technology stack," since a platform of tools often works much better than singular ones. An example that Forrester notes is iCrossing integrating DSP Red Aril to its search engine and the idea that IBM will add Kensoo and X plus to its pre-existing marketing suite.

While the nature of search is changing, it is changing for the better as it not only allows users more discovery options, but gives marketers a new area of to help businesses be even more successful than they already are at customer experience and conversion.

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