We fully expected the slowdown to continue over the summer, and indeed it did in a big way. We saw traffic levels drop to below those last seen before the Covid surge which started in March. This is lower than we had anticipated and raises the importance of the upcoming October traffic levels to see if the engagement steps up significantly as we go into the traditionally very busy September, October and November months.
Traffic has dropped below the Pre Pandemic Surge levels last seen in February.
If you look at the traffic graph below you’ll see that there is a slight uptick in the traffic level, which does promise a more general uptick, in this case it is almost exclusively down to a huge rise in education-related traffic, up 390% month on month, as educators, pupils and students return to schools and universities.
When looking at individual brands the picture is very different, with some brands seeing severe drop-offs in traffic whilst half have retained the engagement of their newfound audience with 20% of brands still well over 100% up since January, even at the low point over the summer.
Audience growth remains marginally below trend at the start of September (see chart below) this is to be expected, but equally we are expecting a significant uptick in early October, so it will be interesting to see if that occurs.
As with the traffic levels, some brands continued strong growth in audience numbers over the summer, and we will likely have a good look into what are the key factors between those which retain strong audience growth over the summer and those which do not.
There’s no easily defined pattern here in practice, at least not currently. What is noticeable is that a number of brands have been streamlining their audience databases over the summer and some brands have materially reduced audience records from before in compliance with GDPR regulations.
As teams ramp up their preparations for the autumn, we’re starting to see a lot more management activity, and an increasing divergence between that and the level of audience engagement. We would expect this to rapidly change over the coming month or two as the summer holidays end and the autumn event, albeit virtual, and commercial season kicks off fully.
One aspect we’re happy to see is that brands have slowed down their messaging campaigns over August. We’re looking to add more data series later this year, to include bounce and unsubscribe rates alongside the messaging rates to see how they are affected over time, and in relationship to engagement.
This insight piece is one of a series where we explore Affino Client Brand audience engagement, traffic, reach and more, to identify the latest trends.
For a more in-depth conversation please reach out either to myself of Jonathan Collins, your project manager, alternatively you can reach through the forums to your support team.