Less than one percent of online purchases come from Facebook and other social channels, according to a new report by Forrester Research and GSI Commerce.
The two companies examined 77,000 consumer orders made over a period of 14 days in April and concluded that “social tactics are not meaningful sales drivers”
“Forty-eight percent of consumers reported that social media posts are a great way to discover new products, brands, trends or retailers, but less than one percent of transactions could be traced back to trackable social links,” said Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru.
“While the hype around social networks as a driver of influence in eCommerce continues to capture the attention of online executives, the truth is that social continues to struggle and registers as a barely negligible source of sales for either new or repeat buyers.
“In fact, fewer than one percent of transactions for both new and repeat shoppers could be traced back to trackable social links.”
Mulpuru did however acknowledge that consumers report that they enjoy seeing social network links and posts about specific products and that the disconnect from actual influence is probably largely due to the fact that social networks “are highly top-of-the-funnel tactics” that might require a longer measurement period than the 30-days explored in the report.
She also stressed that social networks are believed to have a disproportionately larger impact on small merchants, which were not studied in the report.
Other key findings in the ‘The Purchase Path of Online Buyers in 2012’ report include:
Multiple platforms influence many buyers. While 33 percent of transactions by new customers involve more than one trackable touchpoint, 48 percent of repeat customers visit multiple trackable touchpoints, largely because they are more likely to be email subscribers and email is a significant driver of traffic to retail sites.
Email and direct traffic matter for frequent customers. Thirty percent of transactions by repeat customers start with an email from the retailer.
Paid search matters most for new customers. Thirty nine percent of transactions by new customers started with clicks from paid or organic search results – proof that the Web is a powerful tool for “spear fishers” looking for specific products or brands by typing words into a search box.
Direct traffic is critical to sales. New and repeat customers typed a retailers’ URL directly into a browser in approximately 30 percent of transactions. This percentage should increase further as retailers increasingly promote their URL on everything from shopping bags to outbound packaging.
“In spite of changes to the interactive marketing landscape and the growing number of shoppers using mobile and tablet devices to access content, core elements of web marketing (such as ‘search’ and email) continue to be effective,” concludes Mulpuru.