Talking Social Media and Silos

By Rob Yoegel

June 13, 2013

The most recent release of the Ecommerce Quarterly (EQ) welcomed Jay Baer and Mitch Joel, two digital marketing thought leaders and published authors, who brought fresh perspectives to EQ social referrer data. Both men have written and spoken extensively about the power of social and its transformative impact on businesses of all types and sizes.

Last week, Joel asked Monetate CEO David Brussin to join him and Baer on an episode of his Six Pixels of Separation podcast. A self-proclaimed marketing nerd, Joel came out firing, asking Brussin if some of the data in the EQ―which once again showed poor conversion rates from social networks―was wrong.

“The data's not wrong, but the conclusions that we naturally jump to when we look at it probably are,” said Brussin. “The data says that very few people come directly from a social activity into a commerce activity. And then when you dig a level deeper, the data says that an even smaller percentage than normal of those folks will actually engage in commerce when they come through that path.“

Brussin was quick to also point out that although the average order value might be lower for consumers when they do engage in commerce directly from social media, the transactions should still be considered valuable based on these customers' ability to promote and share their experiences with a brand.

Baer brought up the need to consider the entire conversion funnel, rather than just direct attribution. In the EQ, he suggested that marketers utilize the “Assisted Conversions” feature of Google Analytics or similar functionality from another analytics program. For social, this often includes a great deal of word of mouth, which according to one published report, is part of 80% of all purchases.

Joel and Baer discussed an example in the EQ of a mutual friend who used Facebook to find a reliable source for contact lenses. The purchase was made from a recommendation on the social network, but Facebook didn’t get the credit for the sale.

“If we think that [social] is going to be like direct response the way that we knew it in other channels, we are crazy,” said Brussin. “I think what we're learning with social is that when we give consumers a different kind of channel where they're a little bit more free to behave the way they naturally want to, then discovery and the transaction are farther apart.”

Baer agreed. “You're interacting with friends. You're interacting with family. And now along comes a brand trying to sell you something. It's a very awkward proposition for brands.”

Brussin cited positive Facebook earnings calls, and brands such as JackThreads and Thrillist that say Facebook advertising has been incredibly effective. He observed that in order to do a better job with social, ecommerce brands must treat every visitor differently by bringing together the people working inside three distinct silos at both big and small companies:

social media_i love lucy1. The folks who are just focused on data. Comparing them to the "I Love Lucy" scene where Lucy and Ethel are trying to take the chocolates off the conveyer belt as fast as they can, Brussin explained that companies are dealing with more data than ever before so the problem seems to get bigger every day.

2. The analytics team. This group, he noted, is tremendously under-resourced, and so gets bogged down looking at what the company did last quarter or whatever questions the CEO asks.

3. The marketers responsible for taking action. “There's a cadence of action in every single organization that happens whether it's connected in any way to the data, whether it's connected in any way to what the organization is trying to learn from that data or not,” Brussin said. “How do we connect those pieces so that every day that action can be a little bit more influenced by what we've learned from the customer and what we're paying attention to about the relationship with the customer?”

Listen to the full 45-minute episode: The Truth About Social Media And Selling Stuff With Jay Baer And David Brussin.

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