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Social Media Marketing: Is It Worth It?

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At a time when social media platforms are becoming the most visited sites on the internet, new figures reveal Social Media drives just 3% of traffic to retail websites

The market research consultancy ForeSee, have released their latest Social Media Marketing Report today. They wanted to establish what drove visitors to websites, and to do so they surveyed approximately 10,000 visitors to the top 40 websites in the UK.
The report reveals that 3% of the respondents were influenced by social media to visit a certain site. In the report the primary influences on people to visit retailer’s websites were brand familiarity (46%) and search engine results (13%). More details on the report can be viewed on e-consultancy’s news story.

What does this suggest for retailers? Well, the immediate response is for them not worry too much about social media marketing, for the time being at least. After all, social media appears to still be in its infancy and so it still has plenty of evolving to do.

So whilst this medium is a powerful platform, it has yet to come up with a way to effectively link sites that are outside of this platform. For example, content from external sites can be accessed through social media platforms and so you end up staying on that social media site. This could be a deliberate ploy from social media platforms to keep traffic on their site.

The fact that brand familiarity was behind most visits, and by some margin with 46% of respondents choosing this, there is a clear indication that your services have to match your marketing. Social media, along with other forms of online promotion,  can help deliver traffic – but your site will ultimately have to take care of the conversions.

Online marketing therefore is a trust building exercise, not least in the untried waters of social media. This report also provides further evidence that you need to develop an integrated strategy. With 13% of visitors arriving through search engines and 10% via promotional emails, SEO and email marketing are essential elements for any online store. So too is PPC, delivering 5% and of course social media.

If done properly then social media offers an unparalleled level of brand exposure; however, this won’t always guarantee clicks or indeed sales.  Therefore, whilst it is important to have that exposure, at the moment it shouldn’t be the main focus of retailers. If they stick to tried and tested marketing strategies and offering the best possible service, these will pay dividends.

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