As inbound marketers, we know that you should always make decisions on data. Ideally, the data is our own - we track our efforts and the sales and customer value that we generate. However, sometimes it's useful to discover new opportunities to explore by looking at what's driving success for the ecommerce industry as a whole.
Driving traffic and sales is an important metric for measuring your effectiveness in social media. There are, of course, other applications of social media - such as customer service and positively influencing SEO. However, knowing which networks drive traffic that turns directly into sales will help you know what networks may be worth engaging in more proactively.
What would be an interesting expansion in this study would be to break the sales down by the type of content marketers are sharing in each network. Obviously, the highly visual networks are going to rely heavily on whether or not an image is included. It would be interesting to break this data down into marketers sharing coupons, educational content, social proof, contests, simple product detail pages, etc. We know from survey and anecdotal evidence that just spamming product detail pages, for example, isn't the best way to drive sales and that educational or social-proof content is more likely to drive traffic.
Facebook Dominates Traffic
It makes sense, given Facebook's massive size and dominance in overall share of social media users, that Facebook would have a significant share of the traffic. Facebook has an extremely sticky user interface, making it more active than "idle browsing" sites like Pinterest.
It seems unlikely, even given the reported nervousness by Facebook's executives that they're becoming un-cool to the next generation, that ecommerce marketers will be able to ignore this channel. Even given Facebook's increasing costs based on the lower organic engagement they're allowing, sales from Facebook grew 129% last year and ecommerce marketers will need to continue to be heavily engaged on Facebook.
Visual Networks Drive The Highest Average Order Values
Pinterest, Polyvore, Instagram, are all primarily image-based social networks - and take the top three spots for Average Order Value (AOV). Effective photography and imagery has long been known as a driving force in increasing ecommerce conversions, and even on social media sites that aren't exclusively image-based (like Facebook and Twitter), posts that include images tend to get much more engagement.
Ecommerce marketers should not only be engaged with these image-centric social sites, but should invest in creating and testing conversion-oriented images to share in social media. If necessary, hire freelancers to help you.
Lifestyle Brands Perform Well In Social Media
Social media is an emotional medium by its nature. Because of that, ecommerce websites that lend themselves to emotional purchasing decisions (such as antiques, fashion, gadgets, health, etc.) tend to perform very well in social media.
Social media is a great venue for communicating stories rather than crafting and communicating logical persuasive arguments. Lifestyle brands are doing well by doubling down on social media, and even brands that haven't considered themselves lifestyle brands in the past may want to consider positioning their products in social media from the perspective of their impact on the lives of their customers in order to maximize engagement and conversions.