Forrester Research Inc. recently researched the purchase paths of 77-thousand online shoppers to come to the conclusion that social media does not lead to direct sales. As Zach Stambor reports for Internet Retailer, “less than 1-percent of transactions for new and repeat customers can be traced back to social links.” 

Despite these findings, another Forrester survey found that, when asked, consumers claim that they do make purchases based on social media posts. Nearly half agreed that they find out about new products or brands through social media and 40-percent said social media posts are “a great way to discover sales.”

Essentially, this means that, despite the lack of direct sales associated with social media, it is still a valuable tool to raise awareness of your brand. Think about your own purchase path for products you’ve bought online. Does one email or social media post lead you to whip out your credit card? More than likely, you do some research and view mulitple marketing channels.

Forrester’s purchase path analysis found just that. One-third of shoppers take this multi-faceted approach for first time customers and it’s almost half of repeat buyers.

Perhaps the most telling statistic to come from the analysis is the role of email for repeat customers. Almost a third of that return business came from email. 13-percent went directly from email to sale and 17-percent read the email and clicked through to other marketing channels.

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