A recent study by Forrester Research and shop.org reveals that site conversion and mobile are a far higher priority for retailers than social media for 2013. The reason for this is both orthodox and unconventional: the data supports these tactics.
What I want to share in this post is what this study revealed, and some context as to why these insights are relevant.
The State of Retailing Online 2013: Marketing & Merchandising study is an annual study of 65 high-trafficked e-retailers to gauge their pulse in multiple categories. It was conducted by one of Forrester’s most reputable analysts, Sucharita Mulpuru. Here is a recap of some of their key findings (note that these are piecemealed together from freely available sources – the actual report is available from shop.org free to members and $999 for the rest of us):
- Year-over-year online sales growth (2011 to 2012) was 28%
- The highest retail priority for retail is site conversion. (Mulpuru points out in a related presentation that consumers are 10x as likely to learn about a sale from a website than from a company’s social accounts)
- 87% of retailers are planning for or have incorporated mobile email optimization (In the same presentation cited above, Mulpuru shows that email fuels deal discovery 9x more effectively than social media).
- 72% of respondents intend to incorporate video in their marketing
- Half of respondents intend to increase spending on Facebook marketing in 2013
This is a survey-based study (you can see the questions here), so it doesn’t carry the weight of a data-driven study (like Mulpuru’s Purchase Path studies). But it does tell you how businesses are spending their marketing dollars.
Consider the data points that Mulpuru adds to substantiate some of the reported tactics (from the presentation linked above):
- 2/3 of new customers are acquired with one-touchpoint, 20% of those from direct visits, 16% from search
- Online sales from Black Friday to Cyber Monday 2011 to 2012 increased about 100% year-over-year
- Forrester projects retail sales to increase 3.5x in the next four years
- Mobile “showrooming” is an increasing activity: 57% of consumers would have bought from the first retailer they visited if they price matched.
One of the big insights from a study like this is that there are (in many cases) more effective and efficient digital tactics to invest in than social media. To some extent, organic web properties and mobile enabled sites and email may be better suited to generate sales than social.
It also shows that businesses with scale are having to pay to use Facebook (1/3 of the surveyed businesses had revenues exceeding $100mil annually). If businesses of that size pay to use Facebook, what are the odds that other businesses can generate repeat sales without?
In any case, some of their findings are quite thought-provoking. Incidentally, I want to make a quick plug to follow Sucharita Mulpuru on Twitter. I don’t suggest it for her edification, but for your benefit. Most of what she posts are links to high-value research-based content, and between her research and social content she offers far more useful content (useful = data-driven) than 99% of social media personalities do.
Let me know what you think about this study and what they found.