Social Media Supports Online AND Retail PurchasesSocial media analytics focus on tracking where sales come from using clickstream data, cookies, and Javascript. However, a new study supports what many of us knew all along — your social media marketing efforts drive ROI not only to your online store, but your brick and mortar store as well.

In the VisionCritical study of Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, all 3 social networks successfully fueled in-store purchases as well as online sales, with Facebook leading the pack. However, Pinterest was the clear winner in driving offline sales because Pinners hadn’t even considered buying the brand until they discovered it on a friend’s Pinboards, while offline shoppers from Facebook and Twitter were already considering the brand.

A new study for Twitter shows similar results — your online Tweets send folks into your brick and mortar stores! . And, that’s important since 94% of sales still occur OFFLINE, according to the Census Bureau.

Based on study results,

both organic and Promoted Tweets drive offline sales lift for CPG brands [consumer packaged goods].

The study shows firms using Promoted Tweets to gain engagement get a 12% lift in store sales for their efforts. But, don’t despair — organic Tweets gain an extra 8% in offline sales.

Social Media Supports Online AND Retail Purchases

The folks who see your promoted Tweet buy a whopping 29% MORE than folks who saw an organic Tweet, so there’s still great advantage in promoting your Tweets.

Opportunities and challenges

These studies suggest social media fuels a significant amount of in-store spending and argue strongly for a social media presence among firm who don’t even sell anything online. This includes brands like Nikon, Sony, and others who don’t sell online to avoid channel conflict with their retail partners. For these brands, showrooming is an increasing concern. These studies suggest brands can reduce or eliminate the effects of showrooming through effective social media campaigns.

Here’s what the VisionCritical study team had to say about showrooming in a Harvard Business Review article:

’Showrooming’, whereby shoppers use stores to see merchandise in person before buying online is viewed as a huge threat to retailing. While 26 percent of consumers engage regularly in ‘showrooming’, 41 percent browse online and then purchase in stores — a practice we call ‘reverse showrooming’. Instead of feeling threatened by ‘showrooming’, retailers should study their customers’ paths to purchase and use the insights gained to hone their online marketing efforts.

The implications for retailers and manufacturers is that ignoring social media is a huge mistake. Instead, firms should embrace social media as an effective way to increase their ROI across channels.

Social media analytics

Of course, this further compounds the difficulty of calculating the ROI of your social media campaigns. If you limit your analytics to simply assessing the ability of your campaign to drive sales from your website, you’re missing the very significant impact of the campaign in driving in-store sales. Current analytics tools can only track the movement of buyers online to determine the success of your social media marketing campaign. Expanding this to offline sales is challenging, but not impossible.

One way to track your success offline is using coupons. For example:

  1. California Tortilla routinely gives its Facebook fans deals not available from other sources. When customers come in asking for the deal, California Tortilla knows the customer came through Facebook.
  2. Offering a coupon or code word to get a discount on in-store purchases allows stores to effectively track the performance of their social media marketing campaigns.
  3. Red Robin runs social media campaigns on a certain day allowing restaurants to track the impact of social media on sales — incremental sales over similar days when no social media offers appear.

Need Help?

We can help. Whether you need a complete social media marketing strategy or just some help with your social media analytics. We can help you do your own social media marketing better or do it for you with our community managers, strategists, and analysts. You can request a FREE introductory meeting or sign up for my email newsletter to learn more about social media marketing.