Marketing software company Optify released results from a recent survey measuring the effectiveness of different marketing tactics to drive action on the B2B customer websites. The results were consistent with a lot of recent social media research: social media doesn’t drive sales as effectively as search or email.
Better with Twitter?
Their set-up was pretty simple: traffic to websites was segmented by referral source, and click-through (“conversion”) was determined for each segment. Optify observed the following conversion rates:
email – 2.89%
paid search – 1.96%
direct traffic – 1.65%
social media – 1.22%
Email generated more than twice the number of conversions than social media. It seems that businesses that are nurturing social media at the expense of a mailing list may be marketing quite inefficiently.
Another interesting finding: Optify claims that Twitter was nine times more effective in converting leads than either LinkedIn or Facebook. This contrasts IBM’s finding in their “Black Friday 2012” report that Twitter had negligible effect on sales, but if it can be substantiated further would probably be welcome news to Twitter and the folks who love using it. It would probably be horrible news to Facebook or LinkedIn, too (spoiler alert: it’s probably not true).
Take with a grain of salt, add asterisk
This paper isn’t definitive by any means. It studies a sub-group of B2B businesses, measuring action by a click on a website. The amalgamation doesn’t factor in which businesses that are participating in social media or paid search, which nullifies a lot of the points made in the study (particularly as it relates to percentage of referred traffic, which I don’t discuss in this post). But I think the value of this research is to see that it substantiates findings of larger-scale studies such as Forrester’s “Purchase Path of Online Buyers” in a different cohort of businesses.
I’m not proposing this as an indictment for social media, but it casts further doubt on the value of devoting resources to social media at the expense of email generation. And as businesses come to the realization that Facebook has become a pay-to-play platform, it suggests that paid search might be a more effective way to invest.
What do you think? How does social media in B2B differ from D2C interaction in social media? If conversion isn’t an appropriate metric for social media, what is?