9/01/11

A new tool can track the sales impact of social networking

Social commerce platform AddShoppers.com tracks conversion by combining sharing with analytics.

Stefany Zaroban , Research Analyst

Each of niche merchant 3tailer LLC’s 500,000 product pages feature a Like button, a Google +1 button and a tweet button. The retailer knows how many consumers click on those feature, but has had no way of tracking whether Likes lead to sales, or whether tweets drive more or fewer sales than +1’s.

“Retailers can go into Facebook insights and see which products are popular, but there is no conversion tracking,” says Jon West, founder and CEO of 3tailer, No. 783 in Internet Retailer’s Second 500 Guide. “We don’t know broadly what social media is doing for sales. There was no way for us to say Facebook is 10% of orders or Twitter is 40%. We didn’t know the value of each Facebook share or tweet.”

In hopes of obtaining that kind of data, West has moved on from 3tailer.com and has been working on developing AddShoppers.com, a social sharing platform that includes analytics tools for conversion tracking.

With AddShoppers.com, retailers can customize a product page widget to track whichever sharing buttons they choose, including Facebook’s Like, tweets, Google’s +1 or E-mail a Friend. They will then be able to not only track the number of times each product is shared how it’s shared, but also whether that sharing is impacting sales.

“On the back end, you are able to see who is sharing,” West says. “You’ll be able to know whether Facebook is driving more revenue than Twitter.”

This is accomplished first by using a URL shortener AddShoppers.com has branded called Shop.pe. So if a shopper on a Halloween costume product page on 3Tailer.com, for example, clicks the button tweet to share that product with friends on Twitter, the URL to that product page will be automatically shortened, so that it fits within Twitter’s 140-character limit. That shopper’s Twitter followers will see something like Shop.pe/1234.

West believes this URL shortener will work better for online retailers than other shorteners, as the Twitter users will recognize the Shop link as a product or an e-commerce site. “Usually, when people see links like Bit.ly on Twitter, they have no idea what they are clicking on,” he adds. “This is meant for online retailers.”

A piece of code on the retailer’s checkout page will track the sales that come from the AddShopper links, thus letting retailers know which social-sharing tools led to sales.

Additionally, with AddShoppers.com, retailers will be able to determine who among its customers are sharing the most often and having the highest impact on sales, West says. “A retailer could send that customer a coupon and hope that he tweets about it.”

AddShoppers.com is free and West has secured $50,000 in angel investor financing for the project so far. He expects to obtain another $300,000 in the coming months and says he has ideas for monetizing the product in the future, but would not elaborate.

Retailers that sign up for the beta test phase before it ends Oct. 1 will be able to be up and running with the product in a month, West says. 3Tailer.com will implement the feature in a beta test in the coming weeks.

Topics:

3tailer LLC, AddShoppers.com, Bit.ly, Facebook, Google +1, Jon West, Second 500, Second 500 Guide, Shop.pe, social networking, Twitter, URL Shortener, web site analytics, Widget

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