Online retailers embrace mobile and social media – but returns are muddy

91% of retailers currently have a mobile strategy in place or in development and that 72% of retailers will increase their spending on social networks this year over last year. BUT, the overall amount of mobile traffic and revenue has “not increased dramatically” and the ROI associated with social is “muddy” – says a recent report from Forrester &

On average, retailers see only a small single-digit percent of sales attributed to social media. Close to two-thirds of retailers surveyed also note that the ROI associated with social is unclear and that the primary ROI is around listening.

Listening does not pay the bills, but social media experimentation does not cost a lot – just time.

The report says “retailers feel like there’s potential around social…If they don’t put money into it they can’t learn about it and they have to keep learning. Even if it doesn’t deliver on retention and acquisition, they concede social is great for brand building and customer listening…As for social, I think no one wants to be a late mover, and all the hype around social networks in particular lead people to think that it’s something they need to do.”

Source: Direct Marketing News

Brands use of social media

Brands use of social media

Brands are more comfortable on social networks and have started to engage more authentically and build communities with other users on the sites, according to Burston Marsteller (via e-marketer).

25% of companies worldwide are using all four major social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs. Eighty-four percent are on at least one platform. 67% of companies using Twitter use the “@” convention to directly mention other users, while 57% use retweets to repost a fellow user’s comment, an increase compared to 2010.

On March 1, Facebook announced a deeper way to incorporate its Comments platform into third-party sites, allowing, for example, users’ comments on company blogs to be posted on Facebook as well. Additionally, Facebook has introduced a way for companies to act more like people on the site, and to comment on or “like” items as the brand or company, rather than as an individual.

78% of Facebook users don’t follow brands

E-consultancy research shows that 78.6% of Facebook users didn’t yet follow any brands on Facebook, leaving 21.3% who did. Females are more likely to follow brands on Facebook than males (24% vs 18%).

The most common reason for doing so was to be notified of special offers (70%). Other reasons included shopping (38%), to be follow events (38%) and to leave feedback (29%).

Other findings from the e-consultancy research include:

* F-commerce is in its infancy but one in four people have made a purchase via a brand’s Facebook Page.
* Less than one in five people have complained via a Facebook Page. I expect this number to grow in future, as the channel matures.
* People typically discover Facebook Pages via the company website, or having been recommended by a friend. Almost 60% of people have recommended a brand to friends.
* People primarily unsubscribe from pages if they are dull, or not updated frequently enough. They’ll also bail out if there are too many updates.

It’s important to find the right balance for your audience.

Small businesses use social media more than ecommerce

Small businesses in the vanguard of internet use are raising their profile and attracting new customers but the majority are still selling in the physical world, a study for Google finds, reported by the Telegraph.

– 65% of the businesses were investing in natural search and 62% in online advertising so customers could find their websites, online 40% of these early adopters used online ordering and just 29% accepted online payments from customers.
– 30% were running a business promotion group on a social media website and 20% were publishing business updates on micro blogging site Twitter.
– Companies making the greatest use of the web for sales and marketing grew at an average of 4.1% annually over the last three years. Lower web users grew 0.6% a year.

We can’t imagine who they spoke to of the 900 surveyed! Social media accounts for any tiny proportion of traffic and effective online retailers should grow at 25% per annum.

Here’s the full study from the Boston Consulting Group.

Social media traffic to online retail websites

Social networks are sending nearly 13% more traffic to online retailers this year than in 2009. A new Hitwise report shows that social networking sites accounted for 11.6% of all UK Internet visits during September, representing a year on year growth of 4.3%.

Facebook accounts for 55% of all visits to social networking sites, making it by far the biggest social network in the UK. It is also the second biggest source of traffic to all websites after Google. Approximately 1 in 10 visits to a website in September came immediately after a visit to Facebook, up from 1 in 13 visits back in September 2009.

Online retailers are increasingly relying on traffic from social media to drive sales and interest in their products. In September 2010, 9.1% of visits to the Shopping and Classifieds category came from social media, up from 8.3% in September 2009.

See Hitwise for full report.

Combine email marketing and social media

Sensible, but short, article on the cross-over between email marketing and social media. I think “do it” is the best summary:

* Archiving email newsletters online and posting links to them on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn can extend the reach of that communication
* Including links from blog posts or YouTube videos in an email newsletter can encourage subscribers to explore new social media efforts
* There are easy ways to add newsletter subscription links to social sites through blog badges, Facebook applications, or HTML

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