October 6, 2009, 12:00 AM

34% of e-retailers say social marketing has increased sales, study says

Retailers who say social marketing helps to grow their business participate in five or more forms of it, compared to fewer than four by retailers who aren’t reporting growth from social initiatives, according to the State of Retailing Online 2009 report.

 

The 34% of online retailers who say social marketing helps to increase sales participate in five or more forms of it-the most common being social network pages, customer ratings and reviews, and blogs-compared to fewer than four by retailers who don’t tie sales growth to social media, according to the State of Retailing Online 2009 report.

The report, which was conducted by Forrester Research Inc. on behalf of Shop.org, the online retailing division of the National Retail Federation, an industry trade group, notes that most retailers regard customer ratings and reviews as useful and directly correlated to sales.

And though the report adds that 66% of retailers are unclear about the effect on business of other forms of social marketing, it notes that 58% say the primary benefit of social marketing and social commerce is in listening to and better understanding customers.

Other forms of social marketing and social commerce cited in the report include social product recommendations, product sharing in social networks, e-commerce widgets, customer-generated videos, social shopping sites, online forums and co-browsing.

The report also notes the percentages of online retailers agreeing with the following statements regarding social marketing:

  • The return on investment is unclear, 66%
  • Now is a great time to experiment with it prior to the 2009 holiday season, 63%
  • The primary ROI is in listening to and understanding customers, 58%
  • We’re pursuing it now to avoid being latecomers, 54%
  • We’re pursuing it because of the buzz surrounding it, 50%
  • We use a specific set of metrics to measure social marketing initiatives, 36%
  • It has helped to grow our business, 34%
  • We’re pursuing it because our competitors are, 28%
  • We’re pursuing it to satisfy senior management, 15%



The report also notes the percentages of online retailers who have used the following methods to measure the effect of social marketing:

  • Click-throughs to a retail site from a social marketing tool like Twitter or Facebook, 60%
  • Growth rate of followers on sites like Twitter and Facebook, 57%
  • Total subscribers to blog or social network page, 53%
  • Unique visitors to social marketing tool, 42%
  • Improved search engine optimization, 38%
  • Requested action taken (i.e., video views, contest entries, coupons downloaded), 33%
  • Insight and market research findings, 31%
  • Time spent on social tool, such as reading a blog, 26%
  • Percentage of products with multiple customer reviews, 25%
  • Number of referrals from customers, 24%
  • Media buzz generated, 24%
  • Return visits to social tool, 21%
  • Not yet measuring social media initiatives, 17%
  • Number of installed widgets (i.e., desktop links to e-commerce site), 11%

 

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