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Hat tip to Kiss metrics for putting together this clear and concise infographic about mobile’s impact on B2C commerce in 2012 and near future.

Here are some key takeaways:

1. Velocity of adoption

Though according to allthingsd.com, only about 20% of all web traffic in the US originated from a mobile device (smart phone or tablet) in 2012, Gartner expects that over 50% of web traffic in 2013 will shift to smartphones and tablets. If both allthingsd.com’s and Gartner’s numbers are correct, that would be a pretty significant shift, especially given the sudden acceleration of that change.

Relevance: Whether Gartner is reading more into the web-enabled device mobile-to-computer curve or not (see infographic above), the shift to devices is coming. It doesn’t really matter if that change happens in 2013, 2014 or 2015: It will happen. Consumers are increasingly likely to search for, find, discover and access your website from a mobile device than from a laptop or desktop PC. Even if that number only increases to 35% in 2013, that is 35% of your potential market. How much is that worth to your business? How many consumers are you potentially turning off or not properly converting by pursuing a digital strategy that is better suited to work in a 2010 digital environment than a 2013 digital environment?

Fix: Companies currently thinking of and designing their brands’ digital experiences and/or e-commerce sites primarily for laptop and desktop users need to adjust their strategy asap. The web is no longer about computers. And we aren’t just talking about website design but search, purpose/utility, UX/UI, e-commerce and social features.

2. 2011-2013: Mobile Sales Explode

Speaking of e-commerce, key indicators like Black Friday sales show an increase of 40% in online purchases made from a mobile device between 2011 to 2012. The number of online shoppers using mobile devices to make a purchase on Black Friday increased by 166% between 2011 and 2012. Paypal also reported a 190% increase in mobile payment volume between 2011 and 2012.

Relevance: Consumers aren’t only accessing websites from mobile devices with greater frequency and in greater volume, they are also becoming increasingly comfortable making purchases from their mobile devices as well. If you are not actively working to make your products easy to purchase via mobile devices, you are leaving money on the table. E-commerce is now indivisible from mobile commerce. What’s your strategy?

Fix: You basically have two options to make this work. The first is to create simple, painless, even fun mobile shopping purchasing experiences for your customers (see Nespresso example below), or you can work with key retailers to ensure that they create simple, painless, even fun mobile shopping and purchasing experiences for your (their) customers. Two examples:

a) Direct-to-consumer sales: Nespresso.

Nespresso sells espresso machines and espresso capsules/pods for those machines. Though every Nespresso product can also be purchased via Nespresso’s website, the company also created a mobile/tablet app that allows customers to order items (especially the capsules) on the fly. The process is quick and easy and is a lot quicker than opening up a browser, looking for a website, navigating through it to find the right page and finally order products.

b) Distribution model: Amazon

Amazon’s web experience is already pretty stellar but their app also allows shoppers to scan bar codes, search for a product by snapping a photograph of it, and so on. Everything about Amazon is geared towards ironing out hurdles between the search/shopping phase of the digital experience and the purchase/order phase of the digital experience. In addition, Amazon has been known to experiment with themed, seasonal mobile and tablet apps like the Santa App they launched in December 2011 (see below) to help children help tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas.

3. Adjusting expectations

44% of mobile app users who will ultimately make in-app purchases take 10 visits to finally take that step. 33% will make a purchase between their second and ninth visit. 22% will become customers after using your app only once. 22% isn’t bad, but remember not to try and set unrealistic goals for your digital team. And remember to design your app around realistic consumer behaviors and not in opposition to them.

Relevance: If your mobile app doesn’t enable and drive some kind of transaction, you probably haven’t designed it with the right objectives in mind.  Also, if your mobile app doesn’t make your customers’ shopping experience easier or better than it was before you launched the app, then it probably doesn’t offer enough value to be effective. Don’t just focus on what you hope customers will do but on why they should want to do it in the first place.

Fix: Don’t create an app just “to be in mobile.” Create an app that improves your customers’ lives in some way and/or solves a problem for them. If you are a retailer, it could simplify the shopping/purchasing/ordering process. If you are a utility, it could help customers pay their bills, browse services they don’t currently know, manage their utility usage, etc. If you are an insurance company, it might (in addition to scheduling payments) provide tips, real-time assistance and even file claims. (Think about car accidents, unexpected visits to the emergency room, etc.).

Note: Having a presence on social media channels can play a crucial part in the process of value creation we just outline. Listening to your customers (and your competitor’s customers) with the help of digital monitoring tools (yes, like Tickr) can help you identify pain points/areas of improvement. These could be turned into your mobile app’s key value-add features and make the difference between your app just being there and your app being a commercial success. Ideally, your presence on social channels also drives a healthy dialog between your company and your customers (don’t just listen to what they’re saying: also respond, ask for their advice, acknowledge their contribution to their process and reward them for their help), but even if you haven’t built that type of social practice yet, active listening will make a world of difference in your app’s ideation process. Don’t just guess. Go find out. It’s easy to do now. All you need are the right tools.

That’s it for today. We hope this post was helpful. And if you aren’t using Tickr Command Center yet, check out what we can do for you here.

You can also come say hello on Facebook and Twitter. We won’t spam you with useless marketing content. Scout’s honor.

Cheers,

The Tickr Team.

 One of the perks of working in the social monitoring and social business worlds is that we run into all kinds of cool new apps and tools on a quasi-daily basis. Most of the time, we just file away that knowledge for future use, but today we figured we would share a few of the latest nuggets of social media tech you might have missed. In no particular order…

1. TweetBeat: Sentiment heat maps of the twitterverse. 

SGI has been working on a project they call the Global Twitter Heartbeat. Basically, think heat maps that convert sentiment on Twitter around the globe in real time. Applications for this range from seeing where natural disasters and political disruptions are taking place to being able to (eventually) see how Twitter users react to a campaign or particular message by geographic area. Easier said than done, but… SGI seems to have done it, and they do make it look easy.

Check them out here and sign up for their webinar/demo. There’s a video too.

2. Cloud.li: Quick contextual word cloud searches for twitter.

Want to figure out what types of conversations people are having about your company or product on Twitter? Cloud.li lets you quickly enter search terms and creates an interactive word cloud for you in real time. Click on any of the terms, and the next word cloud layer takes over. Think of it as a daisy chain of purposeful word association. Uses: campaign monitoring, digital reputation management, lead generation, community development. Simple, free, fast and super easy to use. Not a bad way to be quietly alerted to shifts in conversations (topic and volume) regarding your brand or product.

Check it out here.

 3. Trendsmap: See what is trending on Twitter… everywhere. Or anywhere.

How you approach the geo piece is up to you. You can look at trends by country, city… or even globally, if you feel particularly ambitious. Breaking trends are tagged with a little red tab that says… wait for it… “Breaking.” Trending topics with a little more history come with a handy 7-day history graph and an activity window that lets you see who is saying what and where. (You can engage users directly from that window by hitting “reply.”) Trendsmap now also supports Youtube videos and Instagram as well, so you won’t be limited to Twitter chats. We keep finding new ways of using this tool, so we’re pretty sure you’ll like it too. It’s worth dedicating a screen to, especially if you are a reactive organization that monitors news and trends. Not a bad way to monitor the effectiveness and virality of a campaign.

Check it out here.

 4. Social Collider: Discover quantum cross-connections between conversations.

Okay, this one is a little off the beaten path, but we really like it because it’s so… well… different. In its team’s own words:

The Social Collider reveals cross-connections between conversations on Twitter. With the Internet’s promise of instant and absolute connectedness, two things appear to be curiously underrepresented: both temporal and lateral perspective of our data-trails. Yet, the amount of data we are constantly producing provides a whole world of contexts, many of which can reveal astonishing relationships if only looked at through time.

 This is a pretty unique tool that helps you (if nothing else) expand your networks and locate otherwise invisible points of connection between you and either potential new communities to tap into, or more directly, net new lead generation where you least expected to find it. Probably not something you need to dedicate a full time screen to, but worth checking into if you are having a slow week or your community development trending is down.

Check it out here.

5. TweepsKey: Visualizing and understanding your network.

Here’s how it works -

The X axis: The more tweets a follower has tweeted the more the tweep will be displayed to the right on the x-axis. The scale of the x-axis is logarithmic. When two “dots” (eg. followers) have similar values the graph will reposition the dot second dot as close to the first one in a random angle, on the next space available.

The Y axis: The more “friends” the follower has (“following”) the higher the tweep will be displayed on the y-axis (vertical). As with the x-axis the scale is logarithmic.

The Z axis: The size of the dots indicate the amount of followers for each follower. The bigger the dot is the more followers. Again on a logarithmic scale.

The color of the dots: Colors of the dots range from light-blue to green. The color is defined by the ratio followers/friends.

You can scroll over any of the dots and an interactive user profile appears. Slick and simple. Handy little visualization and community engagement tool. We wouldn’t necessarily dedicate a screen to this one, but it’s worth a look on a regular basis, so give it a shot.

Check them out here.

6. Tori’s Eye: Not the most practical Twitter visualization tool, but pretty as all get-out.

Tweets about your topic or brand appear as origami birds flying across your screen. Scrolling over them stops them in mid-flight and unveils the tweet they carry. Definitely not a quantitative tool, but if your digital control center has an extra screen and you feel like bringing a little life into your setup for a few hours, this will liven-up the joint a little. Other uses: Good for triggering serendipitous engagement points with Twitter users. Kind of like spinning a wheel, but with a lot more style. Bonus: it’s kind of relaxing, having this run on a screen amid all those graphs, pie charts and boxes.

Check it out here.

Okay, that’s it for today. We hope at least one or two of those will be helpful, especially when used along side… ahem… you know… Tickr.

If you’re only now discovering us, take our free version out for a spin. (It’s super easy.) If you’ve already done that, make sure that you follow us on Twitter and Facebook. (If not for our awesomely curated feed, to be among the first to hear about the new product we are launching very very very soon. It’s going to blow you away.)

Cheers,

The Tickr Team

by Olivier Blanchard

As the year ends and you start to meet internally to discuss next year’s planning, it might not be a bad idea to think about the changes already underway when it comes to media consumption, channel erosion, technology shifts, and what this all means to your business. Hopefully, this post will help you make smart decisions about where to focus your attention, efforts and funding in the next 12-18 months. No need for us to write a white paper on what it all means. We want to give you the information you need without saddling you with filler, so expect some bullets and key takeaways, but the graphics we have selected should speak for themselves. Pay attention and you should be able to connect the dots all on your own.

Let’s start with the graphic at the top of this post: Global Media Consumption per week 1900-2020. What do you see?

1. The main line: Global media consumption doubles every 25 years or so. Bear in mind that there are only 24 hours in a day, so that curve eventually levels off (even with second and third screens… but we won’t get into that today).

2. The nature of media is changing: 5 years ago, 50% of media was digital. In 8 years, that ratio will be 80%. Think about that and what it means.

3. Individual performance of specific media:

Print is steadily shrinking and has been since the 1940s, contrary to popular lore about the internet killing print. This is not a new phenomenon. It’s accelerating, sure, but it isn’t new. TV started that trend long before most of us were born.

Analog TV and radio formats have been replaced by digital formats. Radio has been relatively flat for a very long time. TV saw enormous growth from 1940 to 1980 but has been relatively flat ever since. Note that this graph doesn’t look at the growth of channels (channel proliferation and fragmentation, but consumption only. Adding 100 new TV and radio channels per day wouldn’t affect consumption).

Outdoor has been relatively flat for over a decade, as has been cinema.

So what’s growing? You already know: Internet, mobile (wireless) and games.

Speaking of mobile:

What this graph tells us:

Mobile cellular subscriptions are steadily increasing worldwide each year, as is the number of internet users. Active mobile broadband subscriptions are also growing quickly. That’s the black bar on the graph. It isn’t even there in 2006 but by 2010, it already reaches about 1 billion.

What’s flat (or close to flat?) Fixed broadband subscriptions and fixed telephone lines.

What does this graph show us?

1. Look at the relationship between internet users (green) vs. Fixed broadband subscriptions. What do you see? There are far more internet users than broadband subscriptions. Part of the reason for that is that one broadband subscription may serve an entire household or office, but there is more to it than that: Mobile broadband. More and more people now access the web through mobile devices. It isn’t to say that PCs are dead, but this indicates a pretty key shift in how people (it’s okay to call ourselves consumers) now access content and information.

2. Look at the relationship between fixed and mobile broadband (pink and black, respectively). In 2006, fixed broadband was it. By 2008, they were essentially tied. By 2011, mobile broadband was double the size of fixed broadband.

Bear in mind: Mobile broadband subscription = 1 user. Fixed broadband = several users. It’s simple math. Regardless of the apples to oranges comparison, growth is growth. Shift is shift. 75% of media will be digital in just 4 years. 80% of it will be digital in 8 years. Mobile devices are becoming the interfaces of choice for digital content. If you aren’t building your business processes and designing your content with this in mind, don’t blame “the economy” for what is about to happen to your market share.

Now let’s look at a quick graph on the relationship between age and internet use in developing economies vs. developed economies:

 Now look at this:

See the change in just 5 years?

Here’s another one that should make you think a bit, especially if your company has a global footprint:

Three things:

1. Globally, 45% of internet users (regardless of the interface) are under the age of 25. Though it may be obvious to most of you, don’t take for granted that every CEO and CMO has figured this out yet: It doesn’t matter if your typical customer is mostly over the age of 35. In 10 years, those 25-year-olds will be potential customers and they will expect you to do business the way they want you to do business. Better start working on them now. And while you’re at it, better start working on bringing every aspect of your business and its marketing/communications up to speed. You wouldn’t believe how many senior executives completely miss this.

2. Developing economies have some catching up to do when it comes to internet use, but they are quickly closing the gap.

3. Look at the growth of 3G penetration between 2009 and 2014: From 39% to 92% in Western Europe. From 9% to 40% in Eastern Europe. From 38% to 74% in North America. Japan hits 100% two years from now. 100%. (Japan is the model, by the way.) Even developing regions like Africa, the middle East and AsiaPac (minus Japan) are quadrupling 3G mobile penetration in the next two years. We are moving towards 80% of all media being digital. Mobile devices are increasingly becoming the digital interface of choice for consumers. Connect the dots.

Here’s a thought if you still don’t understand how this applies to your business: Follow the money. If it isn’t clear why any of this matters or even where things are going, look no further than shifts in advertising budgets in relation to digital and other media:

What do you see? Ad spend is flat in print (actually shrinking a bit) while digital ad spend is steadily growing. Every graph that compares online ad spend to other types of media ad spend look basically like this. If you don’t understand why this is happening, the graphs further up the page will help connect the dots.

Here’s another graph that ought to make you think about how your media planning strategy should already be shifting:

 What this graph shows is the point where online video wins the attention war and TV begins to recede. Same content but different interface, different medium, different level of user control. 2019 will be here before you know it. (The graph may even err on the side of caution. Things might already be moving faster.) What are you doing today to prepare for the television set’s Waterloo? From media buying to content production and distribution, are you sitting on your hands talking to analysts about future trends or are you staffing up with people who understand this and know how to prepare you for it?

Just as importantly, how are you restructuring your market research and consumer insights programs? (Are you? You should be.) This might help.

Let’s continue with today’s #graphfest. This ought to shed some light on what is happening on the interface front:

The 411: Desktop PCs are flat and mobile PCs (laptops) are growing. No surprise there. Also no surprise as to the growth of smart phones and tablets. But check this out:

Smart phones sales overtook desktop PC sales in 2008 and will take over mobile PC (laptop) sales in 2013. That’s next year.

Tablet sales will overtake desktop PC sales (that boxy thing taking up space in your employees’ cubicles) next year.

If you are an executive, go for a walk around your offices and ask yourself: What decade are you operating in? In fact… What century are you operating in? Look at your business processes, internal collaboration, media planning and productivity. Go spend a day at a media conference or tour your local coffee shops. Ask yourself if your business is operating in a bubble or if it is as technologically and strategically competitive as it could be. Be honest with yourself. Tip: If the average twenty-something hipster lounging around at Starbucks is better equipped than your average middle manager or business development team, the answer is no. Here’s another one: If your business isn’t creating apps or content specifically designed for these new devices (let alone social channels), the answer is also categorically no.

Every time you spy an executive working on a presentation on a plane, look at what kind of tech they use. Every time you see one using a boxy old laptop, you know the organization he or she works for is already falling behind. Why are these folks still using 2007 technology in 2012? You don’t see five year old tech winning on the racetrack, the field, the court or the links, right? Business is no different from sports in that regard: Outdated technology doesn’t give anyone an advantage. All it does is make you less competitive. Get unstuck.

Here’s a thought: When the world is changing faster than you are adapting to that change, it’s time to start a) worrying, and b) doing something about it. The idea isn’t even to eventually catch up, mind you. That’s a defensive position, a survival position. The idea is to actually get ahead of that change. That’s where the real competitive advantage is. Survival is a nice default position, sure; many businesses aren’t even there. But with only maybe 5% more thought and work than it would take to just play catch-up, you can shift from being just an “also in” company to becoming the leader in your industry or category inside of 5 years. That sort of surge in competitiveness doesn’t happen by accident. It takes will, foresight and initiative. That takes leadership. Real leadership. And sorry to have to tell you this, but real leaders make it a point to know what matters. “I don’t understand this new digital stuff” isn’t going to cut it anymore. Not understanding how things work anymore isn’t a sign of leadership. It’s an urgent call to action. Learn this stuff. Get caught up. It isn’t that difficult, and yes, we can help.

One last little media-related graphic to close today’s post and help you get your bearings:

Something else to think about: Becoming more “social” is only part of the shift that is taking place in media. It’s important, vital even, but without understanding how media as a whole is evolving, being “more social” probably won’t do most companies a whole lot of good. We’re seeing that already. There is a much bigger field, and the more of that field you and your senior leadership see, the better equipped you will be to not only survive the next decade but come out of it stronger and more competitive than ever. That’s the goal, right?

Final thoughts:

Don’t forget to plan beyond next quarter and/or year.

Get IT more involved in the day to day discussions that affect your business.

Rethink your hiring requirements.

Rethink the way you conduct market research.

Rethink the channels you use to connect with customers.

Rethink your relationship with consumers.

You aren’t necessarily going to become a digital business, but your business does need to be as effective in the digital space as it is everywhere else.

Welcome to the great reshuffling of the Fortune 5000 world.

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Last week, Mashable’s Lauren Indvik published an articled based on a study by Forrester Research which states that only 1% of online purchases are driven by social media. (You can purchase the full report for $499 here.) The piece’s title, naturally, was “Social media Influences Less than 1% of Online Purchases. [STUDY]

If you find that statistic surprising, don’t worry. Your gut feeling isn’t leading you astray. We’ll come back to that. First though, let’s dive a little deeper into some of the claims made in the piece:

“Ecommerce businesses should concentrate more of their efforts on traditional online marketing tactics like search and e-mail than social media. That’s the conclusion of a Forrester study released Tuesday, which examined 77,000 online transactions made between April 1 and April 14. The study found that less than 1% of them could be traced back to social networks like Facebook or Pinterest.

Determining how web activity influences purchases is tricky; although many often credit the last touchpoint for a sale, Forrester found that half of repeat customers and a third of new customers touch multiple touchpoints prior to a purchase. As such, certain funnels, like display advertising and e-mail, may be undervalued.

Nevertheless, ecommerce websites still convert more highly than any other channel, accounting for 30% of transactions. Thus it’s smart for retailers to promote their domain names as much as possible.

Following direct visits, organic search and paid search are the two biggest drivers of purchases from new customers, accounting for 39% of new customer transactions. That’s because the web continues to be a useful tool for what Forrester calls “spear fishers” — consumers who know what they are looking for and find it through search.

For repeat shoppers, e-mail is the most effective sales influencer: Nearly a third of purchases from repeat customers initiated with an e-mail. As such, businesses should up their efforts to collect e-mail addresses, and tailor their e-mail marketing messages to each recipients’ device and prior purchase behavior.

Social media’s potential as a shopping portal has yet to be realized. Less than 1% of transactions from both new and repeat shoppers could be linked to social networks, Forrester found.

That said, the researcher believes social media can still be a powerful marketing tool, and that social media’s influence on purchase behavior likely can’t be measured in the 30-day attribution window the report examined. Forrester also asserts that social media is a bigger sales driver for small businesses, which were not included in the study.”

The study was also picked up by several other media outlets, including Business Insider, which quotes Sucharita Mulpuru – the author of the report. Her conclusion:

Social tactics are not meaningful sales drivers. While the hype around social networks as a driver of influence in eCommerce continues to capture the attention of online executives, the truth is that social continues to struggle and registers as a barely negligible source of sales for either new or repeat buyers. In fact, fewer than 1% of transactions for both new and repeat shoppers could be traced back to trackable social links.” (Source)

“Trackable” social links.

Has you brain caught up to your gut yet? If not, let me throw a few thoughts your way:

1. The study is based on flawed assumptions: There’s a problem with the study’s understanding of social media’s role in the customer journey (paths to purchase). The study, for instance, states that direct visits to e-commerce sites drive the most sales. Really? All right. Here’s a question: How did people initially get to the e-commerce site? Before we can talk about paths to purchase, can we at least consider their path to discovery? Was the site recommended? Did it turn up on a search? How and where did retailers promote their domain names, exactly (which the article suggests they should do)? Beyond discovery, how were shoppers’ purchases influenced by peers and other shoppers, via social networks, digital or not?

The study doesn’t look into any of this. It obviously is just working backwards from a purchase by tracking clicks, and probably no more than 4-5 deep. Sorry, but except for impulse shoppers, that isn’t how things work. Shoppers don’t typically follow robotic, linear paths from discovery to transaction. So that’s one problem already, and the numbers reflect it pretty clearly. Perhaps the clearest way to explain the first problem with this study is that it doesn’t seem to measure the “Purchase Path of online Buyers” in 2012. Instead, it appears to just measure the final sprint.

2. The study is based on flawed methodology: The study’s attribution model is wrong. If you have been in the business of selling things to human beings for a few years, you probably know that it takes more than just one “touchpoint” to convince someone to become a new customer, especially online. The study, however, would have us believe that 67% of transactions from new customers were the result of just one touchpoint. (20% of those being a direct visit to the e-commerce site.)

Not likely. Even more puzzling, the percentage attributed to single-touchpoint sales remains precisely the same for returning customers: 20%. Think about that for a minute.

Again, the study appears to mistakenly assume that paths to purchase are linear and can be measured simply by backtracking clicks. That’s what the mention of “trackable social links” was all about. We have known for some time that “last click” attribution is a flawed model. For the same reasons, “last 4-5 clicks” is also a flawed model. I suspect that the methodology behind this study was as influenced as it was limited by the technology it relied on to collect its data.

From where I stand, the methodology used in this study is completely wrong for what it attempts to do. Take a look at the graphic below and give it some thought. What do you see?

3. The authors of the study misunderstand the relationship between social content and search: The impact of social media on search (and therefore discovery) is utterly ignored in this study. Given what we know of social content’s importance to search, this is a bizarre and inexplicable oversight. Social drives sales directly AND indirectly by greatly impacting search. This isn’t news. And yet…

4. The study’s scope is limited to the enterprise… but isn’t particularly forthcoming about that: As stated by Business Insider, “Mulpuru didn’t study small businesses, which she said do disproportionately well in social commerce.”

How about that.

Two questions come to mind:

First, why wouldn’t the study also look at small businesses? Surely… if you know that they “do disproportionately well in social commerce,” there must be data that supports that statement. Where is it? Why wasn’t it included in this study? Why does doing well in social commerce disqualify small businesses from being part of this study? Was the intent of the study to… convince businesses that social channels aren’t effective? I don’t get it.

Second, why would the study not make it clear in its reporting that it only looked at enterprise sized businesses? Where in this language is the general public given the slightest indication that the study’s conclusions only apply to the enterprise? Here it is again:

Social tactics are not meaningful sales drivers. While the hype around social networks as a driver of influence in eCommerce continues to capture the attention of online executives, the truth is that social continues to struggle and registers as a barely negligible source of sales for either new or repeat buyers. In fact, fewer than 1% of transactions for both new and repeat shoppers could be traced back to trackable social links.”

Hmm. “Hype” versus “truth.” Okay… No bias there, obviously.

However, to be fair to the public, should the statement not look more like this instead?…

Social tactics are not meaningful sales drivers for enterprise e-commerce sites. While the hype around social networks as a driver of influence in eCommerce continues to capture the attention of online executives, the truth is that social continues to struggle and registers as a barely negligible source of sales for either new or repeat buyers, at least in the enterprise space. In fact, fewer than 1% of transactions for both new and repeat shoppers for enterprise-class businesses could be traced back to trackable social links.

That would be a more appropriate way to phrase all that.

Furthermore, why was this enterprise distinction not mentioned in the study’s title? “The Purchase Path of Online Buyers in 2012″ isn’t exactly indicative of the study’s focus on large businesses, is it.

If you think that is just a minor detail, see item 7, below. You will understand the full impact of this “oversight.” But first, this:

5. The study fails to understand the relationship between time, discoverability, and trust when it comes to the social customer: The study states that “Forrester partnered with GSI Commerce to examine 77,000 consumer orders made over a period of 14 days in April 2012.”

The study only lasted 14 days.

The nature of social media being what it is (relationship-based), leaving yourself only 14 days to track a social customer’s path from discovery to purchase is not an appropriate, realistic timeframe. This screams of automation and basic linear click attribution fallacies. So much for the development of online relationships, organic social integration, word of mouth, etc.

6. The study fails to take into account overlapping fields of influence in a shopper’s decision-making process: Paths to purchase are typically impacted by multiple, sometimes concurrent experiences. Some may be prompts (like an email promotion or a banner ad – which the study takes into account), but others may be recommendations from friends (online and offline), a preponderance of positive brand or product mentions on social channels, reading user reviews, social validation in the form of product or brand “likes” by trusted friends, and even direct interaction with a brand’s social channels, not to mention offline influences as well.

A study that attempts to understand and map “the purchase path of online buyers in 2012″ cannot ignore those factors. Not if it hopes to be taken seriously. By putting “trackable links” ahead of actual purchase paths, the study completely missed the mark on the role that social media plays in the customer journey – not only when it comes to mapping the path from discovery to first purchase, but also in regards to customer development as well (the path from first purchase to measurable loyalty). Poorly done.

7. Questionable reporting: Although the study is titled ” The Purchase Path of Online Buyers in 2012,” Forrester decided to market it by leading with this headline: “Less than 1% of online purchases come from social channels” (source). How did the most flagrant red flag in the study’s methodology become the study’s principal selling point? Your guess is as good as mine. The best i can come up with is that controversy sells.

The result:

Mashable covered the story using this title: “Social media Influences Less than 1% of Online Purchases. [STUDY]

Business Insider’s Title: “Forrester: Facebook and Twitter do almost nothing to drive sales.

BizReport: “Forrester: Facebook will never be a retail sales channel.

Internet Retailer: “Social media posts don’t lead to sales.

You get the picture. And so we come full circle to Mashable’s article, which gives business executives the following advice:

“Ecommerce businesses should concentrate more of their efforts on traditional online marketing tactics like search and e-mail than social media.”

This kind of nonsense gives me headaches. It really does.

Now don’t get me wrong: at the end of the day, it may very well be that social channels only contribute to 1% of online sales for many businesses. Most of us have seen strong evidence to the contrary in our own ecosystems (mostly double-digits from where I am sitting, except for category leaders in mature markets), and companies like Burberry might even disagree about that, but all right. For the sake of argument, let’s say that for the corners of the business world that we haven’t had any contact with, the number is indeed 1%. But even if that were the case, this study’s methodology would still be wrong in the way it arrived at that number. It’s just bad science, poor analysis and not particularly responsible reporting.

Most of us already know from experience that more often than not, the only thing standing between a company and its success is access to actionable market insights. Bad data or flawed analysis can lead to poor strategic decisions – from bad investments to completely missing the mark with a product or a campaign. Likewise, accurate data and insightful analysis can lead to terrific strategic decisions and score game-changing wins for a challenger or emerging brand. This stuff is important. It’s vital. There is just no room for bad science and poorly managed studies. Not when trust in your studies and market analysis comes with expectations of thorough expertise.

So the lesson here is this: Do your homework. Don’t assume that a “study” is accurate and factual just because it was done by a reputable company. Do your homework. Look for flaws, for red flags, for insights that ring a little wrong. Better yet, go find your own answers. Write your own case studies. Join our growing community of companies for whom social media is responsible for a lot more than just 1% in net new sales revenue. You’ll be glad you did.

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