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Online retailers neglect social media marketing tools

08 February 2011 - 10:24 by Graham Miller

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A recent study has found that just three per cent of all traffic received by e-commerce sites is derived from social media sources, which some believe is an indication of how many firms are failing to exploit these new marketing tools to their advantage.

Analysis of more than 10,000 UK web users was carried out by ForeSee Results and it was discovered that by far the most common reason for people to visit a particular website is brand familiarity. Forty-six per cent of those questioned cited this as key to securing their custom when attempting safe shopping online.

The second most compelling reason to choose a site was as a result of a search engine, which was cited by 13 per cent of respondents, suggesting that the likes of Google and Bing still have a huge influence on consumers and their buying habits.

Of the thousands of consumers questioned, only three per cent said that they had visited an e-commerce site as a result of social media. It is worth noting that these are consumer opinions and not hard figures, but it perhaps suggests that both retailers and their customers are failing to comprehend the potential of these new tools.

What is significant about the figures is the fact that when they are broken down to show how likely a customer is to commit to a sale after visiting a site, their method of getting there seems to have very little impact.

As an example, three quarters of people who are familiar with a brand will buy a product and recommend it to a friend, which is almost the same percentage as those who were referred by a friend via social networking.

The tools for marketing the availability of safe shopping online are becoming more complex and diverse, which means both retailers and consumers will need to adapt.