New Study Reports Social Media Accounts For Less Than 1% of Sales Online

Businesses are always seeking new ways to motivate their customers to purchase their goods and services.  But businesses who think that sales will primarily come from social media are going to be in for a rude awakening.  According to Forrester Research’s report entitled “The Purchase Path of Online Buyers in 2012,” social media accounts for less than 1% of sales online.

In their report, Forrester Research analyzed over 77,000 large scale orders in a one month period to determine the reasons behind customer purchases.  While it’s interesting to note that Forrester only analyzed large scale business transactions during a very brief period, their trends show that social media does not translate into high dollar sales in large scale business transactions.  It may come as no surprise, but in small to mid- size businesses focusing on smaller transactions and smaller transaction dollars, these businesses can usually trace a higher percentage of their sales back to social media marketing.

In the study, Forrester Research found that 48% of existing customers tended to like social media more as a tool to discover new products and another 40% of these customers liked to use social media to discover sales and promotions.  Only 17% of respondents had purchased an item because of a friend’s social media post.


Not surprisingly, the report cited tried and true methods as online sales drivers.

Among new customers, the following tools generated the most sales:

  • 20% direct visits
  • 16% organic search
  • 11% paid search

Among existing customers, the following tools generated the most sales:

  • 20% direct visits
  • 13% email marketing
  • 6% organic search


What these statistics mean for your business is that you need a multi-faceted approach to sales and marketing.  Your online sales will be generated from a variety of different methods and you can’t afford to ignore important pieces like organic search, paid search, and direct customer visits in favor of social media alone.

Businesses looking to increase sales need to pay attention to multiple purchase drivers, including customer awareness and customer appreciation.  These core concepts should be at the heart of all of your marketing efforts online.  Provide the customer with a great experience in every medium you choose.