Social Media, Search and Savings Required [Research]

Social Media Rules But You Still Need Search for Shopping

Savings were the driving force behind sales in 2012, based on research from a variety of sources.

While customers did their pre-purchase research using a combination of search and social media, they always checked for better prices before they closed the deal. Understanding how customers shop now can help you plan for a more effective 2013.

Here are four trends in social media, search and savings that reveal how we shop now. 

1. Show me where to look. Search is our map to the Internet. Navigational searches dominate the top search results, according to research by Experian Hitwise. In other words, participants use search to get to their favorite websites rather than typing the web address into their browser’s URL address bar.

  • Single-word searches increased 16% in 2012 due to reliance on suggested search engine results.
  • The top 50 search terms accounted for one eighth of all US Internet searches in 2012; a 30% increase over 2011.
  • Almost two-thirds of shoppers use search to find out about new products. Further, about half used social media and a third used email based on research by Moosylvania. (Note: Multiple answers were given.) 

2. Show me that you care about me. Being active on social media is important to building customer trust. These findings are consistent with other research on consumers. From a marketing perspective, this makes sense because consumers trust other consumers. In addition to a brand’s presence on social media platforms, they also seek customer reviews. [Here’s more research on this topic: Social Media: What Works and What Doesn’t.]

  • Roughly six out of ten respondents are more likely to trust brands that interact on social media according to research by Mass Relevance.
  • About two thirds of respondents seek social comments and feedback on their purchase intentions based on the Mass Relevance research. This proportion is higher for shoppers aged 18 to 34. For marketers, this translates to not only having a presence where your prospects are engaged but also to being open to feedback from the public, not just your followers. 

3. Show me what you’re shopping for.  For consumers, sharing photos is the next best thing to shopping with friends and family. With most mobile phones, snapping views of a product and sending them to family and/or friends is easy. About eight out of ten consumers share shopping photographs while only two out of ten share shopping videos, according to MoosylvaniaThe reason for this is simple: It’s more difficult to send videos via text or email because of their larger file sizes. When do shoppers share shopping images? You guessed it—for purchases that require a second opinion, namely clothing, household goods and gifts.

4. Show me the savings! Want to get your social media followers to buy from you? Coupons and offers are a surefire way to drive quick sales but they’re a double-edged sword for marketers because they train prospects to wait for your best deal. This translates to lower margins. (Here’s other research that shows customers want savings not brands.)

  • One in three respondents made a purchase with an exclusive deal offered via social media according to the Moosylvania research.
  • Three out of four respondents check prices on their smartphone while in a store. About 75 percent of consumers find coupons most helpful when they are already in a store. From a retail perspective, it’s important to offer savings to capture prospects while they’re physically in your (or your competitors’) establishment. 

The bottom line is that you need a combination of search and social media to drive purchase results. Customers are looking for information, feedback and savings from a variety of sources. The challenge for marketers is how to meet these needs while maintaining profit margins.

How do these research results compare with your organization’s experience? Are there changes you have planned for 2013? If so, what do you recommend?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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BTW: You may be interested in the  biggest marketing surprises of 2012 and the biggest marketing #Fails of 2012.

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