Study: Social Media Sales Fall Behind Search, Email

Forrester Research says less than 1 percent of sales can be tracked to social media.

Social media may get most of the buzz (and might help you get some buzz of your own), but based on a new study, associations should look elsewhere if they want to actually boost sales.

Forrester Research, in a larger piece on e-commerce trends titled “The Purchase Path of Online Buyers in 2012,” says social media causes just 1 percent of web purchases while more traditional forms of online e-commerce, such as email or organic search, continued to stay strong despite a changing marketplace.

“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 continue to be effective,” Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru explained.

But social media isn’t a total bust — 48 percent of consumers find that social is a great form of discovery, even if it doesn’t directly lead to a sale.

And a good point to make here, as Greg Finn, director of marketing for Cypress North, explains on Marketing Land, is that small and medium businesses may see better results with social media than larger ones.

Other key findings in the study:

  • Multiplatform strategy: Don’t be afraid to hit people in more than one way. A third of new customers and nearly half of all repeat customers hit trackable touchpoints when making a purchase. That includes organic and paid search, as well as email.
  • The habits of frequent customers: Roughly 30 percent of transactions from repeat customers come from email links. Another 30 percent types the URL directly in the browser.

Check out the full study online [subscription].

Has social media helped lead to sales for your association, or are your results closer to Forrester’s findings? Let us know in the comments.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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