Social media is kind of a big deal for most businesses. A single bad experience anywhere in the world detailed on a network like Twitter or Facebook can go viral and wreak havoc on a company’s reputation. However, in terms of cold hard cash, social media still lags search and emails.
Social Media Takes Bronze
A new study by online marketing provider Monetate shows that although social networks are generating more visitors for e-commerce sites, search and email still drive more conversions and higher order value. In the second quarter, email generated more sales conversions than either search or social. Search, however, had the highest average order value at US$ 90.40 followed by email at US$ 82.72. Sales driven by social activity had an order value of only US$ 64.19.
Earlier this year in its first quarter report Monetate, which works with over 100 top e-commerce sites and analyzes millions of online transactions, found that traffic from social networks had increased 77 percent on e-commerce sites. In spite of the impressive growth, social sites drive only a small percentage of conversions. In Q2 2011 social accounted for .35 percent of conversions. The percentage rose to .59 percent in Q2 2012 -- still only slight more than a half of a percent.
The impact of email, search and social on commerce was not the only insight the study offered. According Monetate, leading e-commerce sites receive 3.31 percent of their visits from Android smartphones, a 1.55 percent increase from last year. Apple iPhones generate 5.41 percent of their traffic on the sites, a 2.96 percent increase from a year earlier. Apple may lead Android in visits, but Android users buy more often. Androids accounted for 1.26 percent of conversions while Apple accounted for 1 percent.
There was a slightly different story with tablets. Apple’s iPad continues to soundly dominate visits at 88.31 percent. That’s impressive, but the iPad’s was 98.46 percent for the same quarter last year. Kindle Fire and Android have managed to eat away at iPad’s dominance. As with smartphones, Android (3.58 percent) led Apple (3.19 percent) in conversions.
Also interesting were the statistics about the browsers use when they shop online. Internet Explorer no longer dominates the field. Between 6PM and 6AM, traffic was split almost evenly between Safari (31.42 percent) and Internet Explorer (31.41 percent). Firefox accounted for 16.41 percent of visits, and users visited with Chrome 19.82 percent of the time.
Times Are Changing, Slowly
Businesses can draw several conclusions from Monetate’s report, but the most important one might be that composition of online shopping is becoming more diverse. Organizations that want to be successful selling goods and services online cannot create sites that only work with a specific browser, device or platform. In addition, the data suggests that although everyone may be discussing social, traditional channels like email can’t be forgotten. Search and email are still bringing the most eyes and dollars in online sales.