Want customers to like your furniture retail brand’s official page on Facebook? Think those people who like you are then going to navigate directly to your furniture retail website and purchase a new sectional? Think again. Monetate’s recent findings in their E-Commerce Quarterly Q1 2013 show that social media is not a significant source of direct traffic to e-commerce websites or purchase conversions from those destinations. While it’s tempting for an online furniture retailer to just give up and abandon their social media presence altogether, Blueport suggests ways to refine your social media strategy in order to reap the eventual ROI.
Don’t Discount Social Word of Mouth
Data from Forrester Research suggests that word of mouth is part of 80% of all purchase funnels. And social media is the next generation version of word of mouth, with brand or product mentions creating searches and/or direct URL entries. Unfortunately, social media wasn’t the final URL pre-purchase (last-click), so it gets none of the credit (attribution) for the customer conversion it spurred.
In addition, new research from Google shows that social media is very much an awareness-building vehicle, and less of a conversion trigger. With social media users accounting for only 1.55% of all traffic to a retailer’s e-commerce site, and a conversion rate of less than three-quarters of one percent (.71%), social commerce appears to be a fallacy, at least with regards to last-touch attribution. Per Google, social media is the second “earliest” (after only clicks on display advertising) in the average US consumer’s purchase path. The last step of the process is considered direct URL entry, which accounts for 48% of the last-touch conversions. What does this mean for furniture retailers? Having a social media presence is critical for word of mouth and awareness, even if you can’t tie it back to direct sales. Having this awareness and brand clout can contribute to register ringing success, even if it’s not a linear data point.
How to Make Your Social Pages (Eventual) Conversion Engines
All is not lost though in making your social media pages work harder to increase conversion. According to Monetate’s findings, brand-led direct social commerce tactics are ineffective. Examples of these are social media programs such as Twitter offers or links to specific products on Facebook. Of American social media users, 66% follow brands in social media hoping for exclusive deals and special offers. Two conclusions are that consumers want awareness of deals and offers, but don’t necessarily want to click on them in a social platform, or that e-commerce websites aren’t giving customers what they want for social commerce.
Another theory is the idea of unwanted session interruption, where consumers don’t want to leave the social network they’re on by clicking a link and going shopping online, but would rather mentally flag the product or offer and visit the retailer’s website later to purchase a sofa with a free matching ottoman, when they are finished with their personal social media time. The data would then reflect this purchase as a visit from the direct source, with no credit given to the first or second click influence of social media.
At first glance it appears that social commerce isn’t a big revenue driver. However, all of the posting, sharing, and liking is at least contributing to e-commerce traffic and sales, especially given that Americans spend more time on social media than on web browsing and email combined. Blueport recommends that furniture retailers at least have a presence on Pinterest, Facebook, Google+ Pages, and Twitter, and find a level of activity that’s scalable given their staff’s time and resources. And know that while a pin, post, or tweet may not generate revenue that hour, or even that day, the SEO value and traffic to their branded website makes the effort ultimately fruitful.
About Blueport Commerce
With Blueport Commerce, furniture retailers can build an integrated, branded e-commerce platform online, elevating their brands and creating an ultimate online superstore. Blueport Commerce is the only e-commerce technology and services company that localizes furniture retail online. We serve the top furniture retail chains with billions in sales interested in selling furniture online. Blueport Commerce is a full-service solution that combines a decade of experience, innovative technology and customized marketing services to meet the unique, localized needs of furniture retail chains. Learn more here. And, if you’re interested in working for Blueport, check out our e-commerce jobs on our careers page.