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Social Media Lags Search, Email in E-commerce Conversions

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Social media is lagging as a traffic source to e-commerce websites and as a driver of online purchases, despite increased brand investment, according to a recent report by Monetate.

The Ecommerce Quarterly (EQ) report, which analyzed a random sample of more than 500 million online shopping experiences in 1Q13, found that social media represented just 1.55% of all e-commerce traffic to top sites, far behind search (31.43%) and trailing email (2.82%). Moreover, social media platforms overall had a conversion rate of less than three-quarters of one percent (.71%), though this number varied by network.

Below, additional key findings from the report.

The Power of Pinterest


Compared with 4Q12, e-commerce traffic generated in 1Q13 by the collection of social networks evaluated either declined or remained flat.

However, the outlier was Pinterest, which sent more traffic to e-commerce websites in the first quarter than it did in the retail-heavy fourth quarter. Pinterest also had the highest average order value ($80.54) among social networks.

Tablet Takeover?

Tablets and smartphones accounted for 21% of traffic analyzed, compared to just 2% two years ago—and tablets (10.58%) actually led smartphones (10.44%) in e-commerce traffic.

Armed Forces Opportunity

Although they represented a small percentage of overall traffic to leading e-commerce websites in 1Q13, conversion rates among military personnel in the US (5.15%), Europe (4.30%) and Asia (3.57%) were significantly higher than the overall US consumer segment (2.53%). In addition, the average order value of military personnel was 23.39% higher than shoppers across the US.

About the research: The report was based on an analysis of a random sample of more than 500 million online shopping experiences using “same store” data across each calendar quarter. Averages were calculated across the entire sample.


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Ayaz Nanji is a digital strategy and content consultant. He is also a research writer for MarketingProfs. His experience includes working as a strategist and producer of digital content for Google/YouTube, the Travel Channel, and AOL.

LinkedIn: Ayaz Nanji

Twitter: @ayaznanji

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Comments

  • by Humble Opinion Mon Jun 3, 2013 via web

    I think there's nothing wrong or surprising about this finding - most people go on social media to get more information about a product/company rather than making an actual purchase. As an Email Marketer myself, most people would not open/click on an email if they are not interested in the products/offers hence Email or Search has a higher conversion rate.

  • by Kris P. Mon Jun 3, 2013 via web

    I think what this article misses would be the effect social media has on consideration of a brand. The problem with measuring marketing attribution to the last click, the referral, is that it doesn't take into account marketing's affect on the rest of the purchase funnel. While social media sites represent a small amount of direct referrals to ecommerce sites, I would bet that they have a very significant affect on the consumers consideration of brands as they are researching and evaluating. Word of mouth marketing, reviews and recommendations from friends/family, come into play during the active evaluation stage of the path to purchase. This McKinsey study has some good insights on this topic: http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/marketing_sales/the_consumer_decision_jour...

  • by Gracious store Mon Jun 3, 2013 via web

    Large percentage of people on social media are not not there to buy products, they are there to socialize and share views with other users

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