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Surprise! Social Media Buying Triggers Less than 1%

October 1, 2012 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: SEO 

Okay, the headline to this blog post is meant to set you online retailers back on your heels, as I’m sure it did – and yes there is recent survey statistics that show that Social Media triggers are less than 1% when it comes to online shopping.

Huh?

Okay, let me explain and show you the backstory on this Forrester Report entitled “The Purchase Path of Online Buyers” and what that study entailed. Forrester is a large multinational firm that is in the business of selling proprietary research, consumer and business data, custom consulting, events and online communities, and peer-to-peer executive programs. They serve clients all over the globe and are one of – if not the – most respected business research firms around.

What that means is that for those of us who either are online retailers or have clients in that space, the research that Forrester does on the upcoming Q4 Christmas buying season is a big deal – big enough that it needed to be shared, IMHO…and hence this post.

First the numbers that are shown in the Report, come from GSI Commerce who colloborated with Forrester to produce this report based on their top 15 online commerce clients who represented over $1 Billion dollars in sales in 2010. In other words a vetted and big sample…and it’s important to remember that as this is a big big sample, that extrapolating from same is a valid method to use to look at your own online commerce business.

Here’s Forrester’s Executive Summary for this report –

Successfully reaching online shoppers during the critical holiday season is crucial to the Q4 success of eCommerce businesses. Forrester collaborated with the eCommerce service provider GSI Commerce to understand how retailers in fact did connect with online buyers. Actual retailer clickstream analysis from 15 online retailers who are GSI Commerce’s clients showed that traditional forms of web marketing (e.g., search, marketing) continue to drive online sales while experimental tactics like social continue to be just that, peripheral tactics that have generated buzz but are rarely associated with revenue. This retailer data also showed that some tactics like display advertising may be underrepresented as they are earlier in the purchase funnel. While this data highlights findings from the holiday season of 2010, it is a useful illustration of how retail eBusiness executives can accommodate those findings in their customer acquisition and retention programs throughout the year…”

As you can see the line “while experimental tactics like social continue to be just that” means yes, the numbers reported in the $1 Billion market channel that this report was based on is surprising.

Read the complete report and then think on this for a moment…or two. More than half of all online purchases were following multiple exposures to web marketing efforts and search and email continue to be the most effective tactics in driving sales.

You got that right? Organic search backed up with SEO campaigns was still the #1 method to drive online sales….followed closely by eMail marketing.

And social media? Less than 1% of all online sales were a result of a social media campaign using for instance, Twitter or LinkedIn or Facebook. Less than 1%….and all that “hoopla” on social media….hmmm….something to think on, right?

And yes, if you know online marketing though, you’ll quickly respond with a knowledgeable nod…those of us here in the online marketing trenches have learned that social media does in fact NOT drive sales.

Instead it’s the trigger for online reputation and social authority success that while not sales oriented, instead drives a buyer to learn more about a brand…and to see the consumer feedback on dealing with a firm or company and it’s products. That’s’ the real value in social….

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