Business is tough. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that as a digital marketer – we get so wrapped up in our own KPIs that we can lose track of dollars in and dollars out. But when you boil it down, that’s the ONLY thing that matters. Without money to show for it, your “organic traffic growth” is useless.

For our client in a small market B2B e-commerce niche, 2016 marked a period of stagnation. While some B2B sites can get away with site stagnation year over year without a major impact to revenue, pure e-commerce sites don’t have that luxury. Their sales (or lack thereof) are married to site performance: user experience, site traffic, shopping cart abandonment rates, the whole nine yards.

So what happened?

  • Organic search traffic dropped off 21%.
  • Email traffic dropped 17.5% and with it, a 6% decrease in channel revenue.
  • Social traffic increased 36% but channel revenue dropped 36%.
  • Referral traffic dropped 35% and channel revenue dropped 37%.

At first glance, this might seem horrifying, and in no way a story of success. However, digging deeper into the metrics we see many glimmers of optimism.

Not all scary numbers want to eat you

Let’s pull back the hood:

A deeper analysis reveals the silver lining

While the site did in fact bleed 21 percent of its organic traffic, those visitors who reached the site organically actually converted 37.5 percent more often than the previous year, resulting in 14 percent more revenue via this channel. They average a 6 percent conversion rate for all organic traffic.

Further, the site experienced a 14.3 percent funnel conversion rate for all transactions, up from 12.2 percent the previous year.

Content marketing saves the day-ta

While the site bled visitors from various channels, the client stuck true to their belief in content marketing, and were rewarded with an increase of 23 percent of blog-driven content, year over year. More importantly, that traffic contributed 88 percent more transactions for a total increase of 72 percent revenue created via the blog.

The blog followed suit and converted visitors 37.4 percent more often than the previous year.

So… was it really a bad year?

Not necessarily. While the client did experience a 7 percent contraction, they seemed to learn how to more effectively address their market as indicated by their improved conversion rates. And this is crucial, because it seems that their market may be changing, as indicated by their time-to-purchase metrics:

It looks like their audience is spending a bit more time considering purchases before buying than they previously experienced. Does that mean there are more competitors offering compelling products? Maybe, maybe not.

The net-net

Our client saw a contraction in traffic and revenue year over year. Being a savvy e-commerce client, they fully appreciate the direct correlation between site performance and their bottom line, and acted accordingly. A site redesign helped increase conversion rates by 37.5 percent. Content marketing traffic (the blog) helped stem the bleeding of overall site traffic by increasing its own traffic 37 percent, and contributing 72 percent more revenue year over year.

Jeff is the AVP of Marketing for Brafton's marketing team. He specializes in SEO research in and testing. In his personal time, he is a woodworker and jogger. He hosts a podcast that can be found below: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/above-the-fold-by-brafton/id1413932916