May 22, 2013, 4:31 PM

Stick with Pinterest

The up-and-coming social network is driving more traffic to retail web sites.

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More shoppers are coming to e-commerce sites via Pinterest than was the case last year, and they spend more per order than consumers coming from other social networks. And e-retailers might want to market more to U.S. military members.

Those are among the findings in the 2013 first quarter edition of Monetate Inc.’s “Ecommerce Quarterly." Monetate sells personalization, testing and analytics technology to web retailers. It based its findings on data from more than 500 million online shopping sessions from Monetate clients (up from 100 million from previous reports). The report includes both quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year comparisons.

The report says that that in the first quarter of 2013, 55.18% of site traffic that stemmed from social networks came from Facebook. That’s down from 62.45% in the fourth quarter of 2012. By comparison, Pinterest—which launched about three years ago—accounted for 24.96% of site traffic from social networks, up from 17.51%. The rest came from such sources as Twitter and LinkedIn.

Pinterest also came out a winner in another area—average order values for shoppers coming to e-commerce sites from social networks. Monetate says those shoppers spend $80.54 per order when coming from Pinterest, compared with $71.26 for Facebook and $70.17 for Twitter.

Monetate provided no immediate comment for the apparent Pinterest success in this quarter’s report. But the report cautions against getting carried away with the social media metrics. Just 1.55% of all site traffic analyzed in the report came from social networks, down from 2.36% in the first quarter of 2012. And the conversion rate for consumers coming from social networks trails the rates for older forms of online marketing, with e-mail at 3.19%, search at 1.95% and social at 0.71%.

“Based on these findings it might be reasonable to conclude that social  media participation is over-hyped and disproportionately resourced for e-commerce web sites,” the report states.

The report also delves into e-commerce site traffic from mobile devices. In the first quarter of 2013, tablets accounted for 10.58% (up from 5.95% in the first quarter of 2012), while smartphones brought in 10.44% of traffic (up from 5.42%). Combined in the first quarter of 2013, tablets and smartphones steered 21.02% of traffic to e-retail sites, with the rest coming from desktop and laptop computers.

The report also suggests that e-retailers should make an effort to sell to U.S. service members living on bases inside and outside the country. Many of them don’t “live anywhere near a shopping mall,” the report notes, making them prime online shopping candidates. That’s reflected in the general conversation rates: 5.15% for military personnel based in the United States, 4.30% for those in Europe and 3.57% for those in Asia. That compares with 2.53% for U.S. consumers as a whole, Monetate says.

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