If you’re thinking about investing much time or money in social media to generate sales, you might want to think again.
According to data tracked from 100 million online shopping experiences, traffic generated by paid search and email marketing absolutely clobbers traffic from social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
“Ecommerce Quarterly” is a study that analyzes a random sample of more than 100 million online shopping experiences from more than 150 ecommerce web sites. The results show that traffic from social media can’t hold a candle to traffic from paid search and email.
For the second quarter of 2012, the study shows that the average order amount from paid search traffic is $26.21 higher than traffic from social networks. And for email traffic, the average order amount is $18.53 higher than traffic from social networks.
I’ve been saying for a long time that social media has not yet proven to be a reliable or particularly valuable source of traffic. Why do I say this?
It’s all about use
Understanding why traffic from social media underperforms isn’t difficult at all. It all boils down to use – and by that I mean how your prospects use each form of media.
Social media is used to share experiences through pictures, posts, witty sayings, entertaining videos, etc. So people are there for the experience, not to be marketed to. That isn’t to say that you can’t generate some traffic from social media. But the fact is, you have to jump through a series of hoops, many of which can be time consuming and frustrating, to generate any meaningful traffic from any of the social media sites.
Contrast this to how people use paid search and email. A significant percentage of search activity comes from people who specifically want to buy something. So your traffic generation efforts are directly matched to what the prospects wants.
The same goes for email marketing. While the percentage of people directly looking for what you’re offering is lower than search, people have been conditioned to expect to see advertising delivered by email. It can be a stand alone ad or an ad embedded in ezine or blog content.
Here again, you aren’t swimming upstream trying to force people to use these forms of marketing that contradict their primary reason for using them. So the amount of traffic you get will from these forms of traffic will always be far greater. And your conversions are naturally going to be more frequent and for a higher dollar value per order.
So what does this mean for your marketing?
First – as much as most people hate the hassle of using Google paid search, it’s still the grand daddy of paid search. Nothing else performs as well when it comes to paid search. So you should devote more time to making Google paid search work for your business. Bing is also performing well for a lot of my clients and has far fewer restrictions than Google. So it’s another form of paid search you should be testing.
Second – while email marketing can work very well, it’s expensive to test. You either have to rent email lists for stand alone mailings, pay for stand alone mailings in ezines and blogs, or place ads within ezines and blogs. All of which can be expensive.
So you only want to use email marketing once you’ve proven that your ads and conversions are working consistently by testing with less costly forms of marketing. In my experience, the two best forms of marketing for testing inexpensively are paid search and joint ventures.
Only after you’ve proven multiple times that your ads and conversion process work like a well oiled machine, should you start to use email marketing. But when your ads and conversion process do work, email marketing can be a gold mine.
Third – ditch social media marketing for now. It makes no sense to invest time and money into an underperforming marketing method. Sure, you’re going to be bombarded with promotions and editorial content that sing the praises of the social media marketing revolution. But don’t be fooled by all that. Pay attention to the studies based on real, unbiased data. If the data changes and social media does start to perform well for marketing, you can always jump in at that point.
One final observation. Have you noticed where you receive nearly all promotions for marketing with social media? Either in email promotions or articles or ads in ezines and blogs delivered by email! Enough said.
Am I nuts? Am I right on target?
Feel free to let me know – or share your own experience with this topic – by leaving your comment below.
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