Social’s Influence on e-Commerce? Big returns or big waste of time?


“Does social media really affect my business and the shopping habits of my customers?”

A question many companies are trying to answer right now, in this new world of talking directly to your audience online, can you afford not to be social? We set out to investigate if updating your social profiles actually assists in making sales through your website.

  • What social channels are companies using?
  • Does updating social channels assist sales?
  • If so, by how much?


What social channels are companies using? And how many?

We looked in to the data behind 31 e-Commerce websites and what social channels they use to market their website. Social is a fast moving medium so we’ve only counted a company as having an active social channel if they have updated it within the last 72 hours, or 1 month in the case of YouTube.

Social Channel # Companies % Companies
Twitter 17 55%
Facebook 14 45%
Google+ 4 13%
Blog 9 29%
YouTube 4 13%
Pinterest 4 13%

13 of the 31 sites we surveyed had no social channels updated in the last 72 hours.

This says a lot for the state of social media within businesses, why is this so low and are these companies losing out?

  • Companies are still learning how to use these mediums and are unsure of the return value from putting in the effort to update these channels.
  • Companies may not buy in to the content strategy and multi-channel marketing world we live in today.


The bottom line - does social drive conversions?

We aggregated the stats across all 31 e-Commerce sites and looked at the proportion of total sales that were assisted by a social interaction. (we used the brilliant multi-channel funnel reports within Google Analytics). What we found was a big surprise…

just 0.77% of sales were assisted by a social channel.

Wow! Did you expect it to be so low? I thought it would at least be in single digits! It’s not all bad though, when we filter out the 13 companies that don’t have any social presense the stats change considerably

  • Companies that update 1-2 channels saw a jump to 1.63% of sales are assisted by social
  • Companies updating at least 3 channels saw 2.05% of sales assisted. That’s 2.6x the average.

As with all datasets there was a large variance between companies, the companies that are doing social “well”, and by well, I mean keeping multiple channels updated regularly, saw in excess of 5% of their transactions being assisted by a social visit at some point. Significantly higher than the average of 0.77% average.


So what next?

From what we’ve seen it would suggest that having a well planned out social media campaign and updating multiple channels regularly can help you keep in touch with your audience and assist in making sales.

This isn’t definitive proof that social “works”, different companies with different approaches will see varying results, but it does suggest that using social channels can assist in the path to conversion. The continuous interaction with your audience may help build trust and brand recognition.

  • Companies still aren’t fully embracing social. (Opportunity?)
  • Those that do have far more assisted conversions from social channels, which could indicate an increase in sales.



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