Many digital marketing clients often wonder if social media marketing can significantly drive more business their way, or is it just an over hyped digital marketing channel that has a minimal impact on sales? Even though it may seem a bit strange, given a few recent digital marketing studies, it has become hard to define which option is right. This is because every company has a different business model, for which they require social media marketing to be used in a different way.
Take for example Walmart’s sustainability program. While explaining this programme to their business partners, Walmart CEO Mike Duke said that in this age of social networks and instant information, customers expect more transparency on the products they purchase. He said, “Today, there is no trust without transparency”. Walmart has always been a company that projects a measurable return-on-investment for any project it undertakes. Hence, if they had a lot to say about the importance of social networks, then there must be a strong connection between SMO and profits.
This commitment to social networking from Walmart can be compared to findings from a digital marketing study conducted by Forrester and GSI Commerce in 2011. This study was widely talked about in many digital marketing circles, because it tried to prove that social media had very little impact on online retail purchases. According to an abstract of this digital marketing study, ‘social media rarely leads directly to purchases online’. So, which option is true? Is social media an effective tool or is it a weak buying factor?
Just like other overused terms, the term ‘social media’ also requires detailed study to get a good understanding of what the different statements and studies made about it actually mean. Concerning the digital marketing study mentioned above, if we check what data was being measured, we will see that ‘less than 2 percent of orders were the result of shoppers coming from a social network’. This means that rather than checking the influence that social media had on customers, this digital marketing study checked how many people clicked on Facebook ads to reach an e-commerce site, where they made a direct purchase.
Well, it is obvious that social media marketing means more than just display ad clicks. It is also an important channel for communications, redressing grievances, referrals and brand building, which contributes towards enhancing revenues.
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