Does Social Media Lead Directly to Sales?

I think many of us are past the point of considering social media a ‘new’ marketing channel. Businesses of all kinds are participating on Facebook, Twitter and more. It is easy, inexpensive and you can do it in-house. But is it working? Is it not only driving traffic to your site but is that traffic buying something or contacting you?

In the most recent Ecommerce Quarterly by monetate, they go into depth on the issue of not being able to trace direct sales from social media. We know people are using social media and we can see on our website’s analytics how many people are coming right from social media sites (and which ones). We can also tell who of those visitors are making purchases… and it isn’t a lot. We can also see how much time they spend and what they do on site – and social media is pretty far behind Search and Email on pages per visit too.

monetates referrer chart

In your analytics you will see most of your traffic comes from Search and from Direct. The squishy part is, there is a decent chance that your social traffic is in there. If someone sees something they like on social media, they may open a new browser and search for the company or product to learn more or go right to the URL (if it is easy enough to remember). If that is the case, then social media seems like more of a branding exercise than a traffic source. We are creating impressions and not making sales.

Another angle for social media is if you are creating great content and an engaged community, you will hopefully see your other internet marketing channels grow. Hopefully you will notice more people searching for your company or products. Maybe you will see your email list increase because people want to be sure they are getting your content. As with most things in internet marketing, they all seem to work together.

Unfortunately right now we aren’t seeing a lot of direct connections from social media posts to purchases. I think as users get more advanced and our measurement tools get more intricate, we may be able to attribute more sales to social media. We will see.

I definitely recommend you check out this report from monetate. There is a lot of interesting information in there.