Though natural search engine results drive the most website traffic, online consumers are increasingly using emerging channels to navigate to websites, with social media having the greatest influence on younger generations, according to a report by Forrester.

  • Natural search engine results drive the most site traffic: 61% of surveyed online adults find websites this way, down from the 83% who did so in 2004.
  • Referrals are the next most popular method for finding sites: Typing a site URL directly (39%), personal emails (31%), links from other sites (30%), and recommendations (26%) are the next most-used tools to find websites.

Some 16% of online adults are referred to websites via social channels. But among Gen-Y adults—those now roughly age 18 to 30—social sites are more influential than personal email in driving site traffic: Nearly 30% find websites via social networking sites, while 25% do so via email from friends and family.

Gen-Y adults are twice as likely to use blog posts and Twitter as referral sources:

  • 14% of Gen-Y adults are referred to sites via blog posts, compared with 7% of all adults.
  • 10% of Gen-Y adults are referred to sites via Twitter, compared with 5% of all adults.

Meanwhile, older consumers value personal referrals: 49% of online Seniors rely on personal email to point them to sites, compared with 31% of all adults.

Older Boomers and Seniors are also more likely to value print media and online content, too.

Looking for great digital marketing data? MarketingProfs reviewed hundreds of research sources to create our most recent Digital Marketing Factbook (May 2010), a 296-page compilation of data and 254 charts, covering email marketing, social media, search engine marketing, e-commerce, and mobile marketing. Also check out The State of Social Media Marketing, a 240-page original research report from MarketingProfs.

About the report: Findings are from Forrester's North American Technographics Interactive Marketing Online Benchmark Recontact Survey, conducted in April 2010 among 4,036 US online adults age 18-88.

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Younger Generations Using Social Channels to Find Websites

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