Report: Ecommerce Needs to Improve Social Engagement; Make Note of Customer Trends E-commerce is something that changes as social trends change; however many businesses are failing to find a good link between social engagement and e-commerce traffic.

Written by Monetate, with commentary by Mitch Joel and Jay Baer, Ecommerce Quarterly EQ1 2013 highlights three e-commerce areas of note: social media, tablets and the importance of targeting a military audience. 

Social Media Isn't Always Part of the Customer Journey

Even though social media or social commerce is a key engagement tool, the report has found that despite efforts it doesn't always draw potential customers to an e-commerce site nor does it have a high conversion rate.

[Social commerce is] representing just 1.55 percent of all traffic and a conversion rate of less than three-quarters of one percent, “social commerce” is a unicorn, at least in terms of last-touch attribution,” said Baer.

These numbers result from the fact that many marketers don’t use social media to encourage fans and followers to visit their brand’s website. According to the report there are a variety of issues, one of which is session interruption where fans don’t want to leave Facebook or Twitter to visit another site, but save the information and visit the site later. This suggests they weren't influenced by the post, but rather came to the site of their own accord or another medium, such as a search engine.

Add to Cart Rate By Referrer - e-commerce report

Other issues are that many marketers only post generic comments such as “like this if you can’t wait for the summer,” or “If you use this product, how about liking this photo?," when they should be engaging with potential customers in a way that increases e-commerce traffic, such as offering coupons and promoting special offers.

To improve the social media and e-commerce connection many businesses merely have to post more engaging statuses and content posts, but still others have a bit more work to do.

The challenge for social media and for its big brother, word of mouth marketing, is that they are inherently additive pieces of the conversion funnel, rather than causative,” said Baer.

e-commerce, Share of Social Traffic

E-Commerce Quarterly Report: Share of Social Traffic

Social media is social for a reason and brands have to form a connection with customers by monitoring social activity, contributing to social conversations and making customers want to share information about the brand with their friends. This leads to higher conversion rates and more customers using social media as an e-commerce portal. In a sense, this also creates customer loyalty.

Loyalty isn't about clicking on an offer,” said Joel. “Loyalty is about building the true relationship. If you dig beneath the surface of this data, what you will see are brands hoping and praying that social media will be as strong as email and search engine marketing.”

Tablet Use on the Rise

In addition to studying the issues behind social media as an e-commerce tool, the report also looked how much traffic these sites are getting from tablets. While the use of tablet devices is quite small with only 10.44 percent of website traffic stemming from them, the use of tablets and smartphones have moved up about five percent in the last year.

On the other hand, traditional or PC usage declined from 88.62 percent to 78.99 percent. Therefore, as the amount of shoppers who use iPads or other tablet devices increase, it is safe to assume they will eventually overcome PCs as the preferred online shopping device of choice.

Editor's Suggested Reading: Oracle B2B Commerce Trends Report Finds Companies Embracing B2C Best Practices

Don't Forget the Military: Sizable Market

Another important point in the report is the impact that military personnel can have on conversion, average order value (AOV), market shares and loyalty rates through location targeting. While these individuals aren't near shopping malls or physical stores, they do have access to mobile devices and computers. Therefore, they are able to purchase items and presents for family and friends, which is why the report sees them as an important market to invest in.

e-commerce Average Conversion Rates
E-Commerce Quarterly report - Average Conversion Rates

The report states that military personnel have a 4.3 percent conversion rate and those on military bases have an AOV (average order value) rate of 23.39 percent, both of which are much higher than the average American shopper.

Therefore, when a business is looking to utilize social media for ecommerce purposes, they not have to look at how they engage customers, but whom they are engaging and what market they fall into.