Posted February 3, 2011 9:04 am by with 6 comments

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this page

Amidst all the hubbub about social media being the cures to all business ills there are some numbers that paint the medium as less of a silver bullet and more like one with a lot of potential and a lot of room to grow.

ForeSee Results has conducted a survey of 10,000 online shoppers. The report is titled “Social Media Marketing: Do Retail Results Justify Investment?”. Although it is not advisable to draw broad stroke conclusions from any one piece of research, the findings here are interesting in that the more traditional online marketing and customer acquisition methods of e-mail and search had more impact on site visits (along with real old fashioned brand recognition).

The next chart shows the power of social media as an influencer. Search comes out as the mass acquisition leader but with lower conversion rates as compared to social media.

This points to why there is a desire on the part of businesses to get more people engaged in social media because they simply convert better. Think of social media as the long tail of Internet marketing and promotion in a study like this with less volume but more qualified leads. Also of note is the higher satisfaction numbers on those folks using social media.

Do you agree or disagree with the findings here? Have you seen social outperform search and e-mail or is it all part of an Internet marketing mosaic that needs to work together to be truly effective?

  • Frank;
    An interesting study – thanks for posting it. We’ve found slightly different results leading me to wonder how much of this study was based on B2C rather than B2B online shoppers.
    We also find that the traffic generated by our SM activity is almost directly proportional to the effort we put into the campaigns for the week. A week with a big push drives our SM generated traffic to more than 50% of overall traffic.
    And as for the “quality” of these leads, measured by both initial bounce rate and conversion, it varies depending on the SM platform. For example, LinkedIn is easy to use to generate traffic (just comment in the discussions), but generally the bounce rates is higher than that of, say, WIki, which is harder to use but produces lower bounce rates and better conversions.
    In general I would say the key is to think of online marketing as a process and not as a collection of unrelated activities. One needs an overall strategy detailing all the facets of one’s marketing effort, enabling each piece to work in concert with the others. So much so, that to my way of thinking, it’s difficult to single out the effects of our SM campaign in isolation. Your SM strategy should be based on your SEO strategy – so that any form of SM marketing boosts your SERP ranking (think of all those external links). Measuring just the bounce and conversion factors derived from SM Marketing thus does not produce the whole picture – the subsequent rise in rank on the SERPs is a big benefit.

  • Good article. I think that the number of SM will raise but we could see that the impact of SEO is higher and this is understandable. The Social Media is not so target oriented and furthermore sometimes it is a form of spam. The SEO couldn’t be SPAM so this is its strenght.

  • Social media isn’t really a mass market tool. Although at first glance it looks like one, it is best at connecting niche groups of people to products they need. So, really, comparing it directly to mass media like TV and Radio is out of context. Niche connections just isn’t something that mass media is good at. The key here is the conversion rates. If social media is so great at connecting the right people and the right products then the conversion rates should be outstanding. Looks like that is holding up.

  • Hi Frank — great info here : )

    Conclusion: there is no silver bullet

    Solid strategy: leverage both

  • Honestly, I think numbers can lie when it comes to social media marketing and if I were to base your findings on this belief, I would have to agree with you. First, let’s have a quick look at ROI. Just because someone has something like 100,000 followers on Twitter doesn’t mean that all those are loyal customers/brand advocates. So, there goes the trouble… I think the root cause of this is engagement – businesses need to think more on how to personalize customer experience on an authentic level. It’s not enough anymore that you’re talking and listening. You have to show and make everyone feel you care and since each person is unique, you cannot simply post a one-size-fits-all response to all. Now, whoever will find a solution to how people can engage ‘better’ on the Social Web may be the next Mark Zuckerberg. That’s my take.

  • there is a flaw in the definition of social media right from the start which makes such studies meaningless. customer acquisition via search and email is still social mediation channel