Customers accessing an online store via a social media site are 10 times more likely to buy something than other users, claims new research.

Marketingmagazine.co.uk, 29th June 2010

 Social media: undervalued as marketing tool says new research
 The research by Payment provider Sage Pay (PSP) has revealed that whereas 7% of all visitors to an online store make a purchase, a significantly higher 71% of visitors initiated via social media will click their way to the transaction section.

The study showed that while online retailers may be good at attracting consumers to the website in the first place, only a minority will be converted to customers.

It suggests such businesses develop stronger marketing tools to make this conversion, and adds that social media marketing such as advertising on Facebook is an undervalued tool, as it is highly effective.

Simon Black, managing director at Sage Pay, said: “Flitting from site to site, it takes a lot to entice today’s shoppers. Once they’ve arrived in an online store, they might sniff around and put a thing or two in the shopping cart – but even when they have typed in their credit card number, there is still no guarantee that the sale will be closed.”

Black added: “The modern shopper often looks for reassurance from a positive review, a special offer to make it more affordable, inexpensive delivery options and a quick, easy and secure way to pay.”

The study also reveals that despite the findings, just 5% of online marketers polled believed that social media was the most effective communication channel.

Speaking at the Cannes Ad Festival last week, WPP chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell likened social media to “letter writing” and suggested it could be “polluted” by attempts to monetise it.

This idea was rejected by Keith Weed, the new chief marketing officer of Unilever, who said it was “word-of-mouth on steroids” and could be harnessed by brands.