June 11, 2012, 2:17 PM

E-retailer Big Dot of Happiness wins big results from social media

The crafts and party goods retailer says shoppers from Facebook convert the best.

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For smaller retailers without strong name recognition, attracting attention on social networks is not always easy. However, once established, those footholds on social media can be especially valuable because social media offers a unique way to interact with, and get feedback from, consumers, as well as to attract new customers and drive sales.

For instance, online-only crafts and party good retailer Big Dot of Happiness uses a patchwork of Google Analytics, Yahoo Merchant Solutions tools and the social networks’ own measurement tools to understand which posts drive shoppers to BigDotOfHappiness.com and how they behave once they’re on the site. That approach has helped the retailer establish the value of social engagement.

In April, the site’s owner Sherri Yukel found that the conversion rate for shoppers clicking from Facebook was 1.70%, which outpaced paid search (1.48%) and organic search (0.88%). “We can get a ton of traffic from optimizing our site for Google, but it might not lead to a ton of revenue,” she says. “Social helps drive sales.”

However, some retailers say it’s difficult to attribute sales to social media marketing; even if analytics tools indicate that a shopper came to a retailer’s site from a social network, that doesn’t mean a retailer’s social marketing or activity on social networks actually drove that sale.

Whatever the impact on sales, many smaller retailers argue that engaging consumers on social networks has become a necessity.  Big Dot of Happiness, which says 5% of total sales and total traffic stems from social networks, says it helps to distinguish itself from its often larger competitors in the party and craft supplies space. “For me, the only way to get our brand to stand out from the competition is to create a community in social media,” she says. “We want to make sure that people are talking about our brand because if we don’t get that messaging out I’m dead in the water.”

Because Big Dot of Happiness has limited resources and funding, it’s found that nothing works better than word-of-mouth advertising, which social media fosters. “For us, it’s crucial,” she says.

Besides its flagship site, BigDotOfHappiness LLC operates five other e-commerce sites: BabyShowerStuff.com, SimplyBabyStuff.com, SimplyBirthdayStuff.com, BridalShowerStuff.com and SimplyWeddingStuff.com.

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