How Consumers Use Social Media in Purchase Decisions

March 8, 2013

online search How Consumers Use Social Media in Purchase DecisionsMost brand marketers still invest more of their marketing budgets in traditional marketing activities than they do on social media marketing activities. Even digital marketing budgets are skewed more heavily towards traditional online marketing activities than they are towards social media marketing activities. According to new research from Radius Global Market Research, this is a good strategy.

The study found that consumers are much more likely to get information and share information via traditional online channels than social media channels. In fact, traditional online channels were used 50% of the time or more depending on the category of the product or service being researched for possible purchase.

Don’t count social media out though. The study found that social media influences anywhere from 9% to 39% of purchase decisions depending on the category of the product or service being researched.

As you might expect, big ticket purchases and emotional purchases are the ones that drive consumers to seek out online information before they make their purchase decisions. Consumers seek out online information most frequently for:

  1. Travel purchases = 76%
  2. Electronics purchases = 73%
  3. Automobile purchases = 67%
  4. Baby care equipment purchases = 66%
  5. Household appliances purchases = 64%

Social networking sites were consulted most often for:

  1. Baby care equipment purchases (39%)
  2. Electronics purchases = 35%
  3. Automobile purchases = 28%
  4. Toys and games purchases = 25%
  5. Household appliances purchases = 23%

Also as you might expect, the survey found that consumers of all products and services across all categories are more likely to search for information online before they make a purchase than they are to share information about their purchase or their experience with the product or service after they’ve purchased it.

However, Radius Global Market Research found two categories where consumers are more likely to seek out information and share information after they’ve made a purchase than they are to gather information before they make the purchase — personal care and makeup products. Also, people who purchase smartphones are nearly as likely to share and search for information after they make their purchase as they are to seek information online before or during the purchase process.

The Radius Global Market Research study results are based on a survey of a sample of its internet panel of consumers from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Europe, Australia, and Scandinavia.

What do you think? Any surprises in this data that will affect your brand marketing spending?

Image: Carl Dwyer

Yes, Your Customers Are Using Social Networking

February 28, 2013

social networking mobile icons Yes, Your Customers Are Using Social NetworkingUnless your target consumer audience is over the age of 64, the majority of them are using social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. In fact, 67% of online adults use social networking sites according to a December 2012 study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, so there are few (if any) businesses, brands, or industries that can claim their customers aren’t online and active in social media.

Brands need to follow consumers. When consumers shifted from listening to the radio to watching television, brands had to follow them by shifting marketing budgets away from radio and toward television. The same thing is happening now, and budgets need to shift from television and other media to online advertising and social media marketing.

Research shows that shifting 15% of the marketing budget to online drives significant results in terms of brand awareness, recall, and reach. Couple those statistics with the data from Pew Internet, and it’s hard to justify not prioritizing social media ad spending. Take a look at the breakdown of social media penetration by age below:

  • 18-29 = 83%
  • 30-49 = 77%
  • 50-64 = 52%
  • 65+ = 32%

It also doesn’t matter how much education a person has. The likelihood that they use social networking sites is similar across the board:

  • Less than high school graduate = 66%
  • Some college = 69%
  • College+ = 65%

Furthermore, household income makes little difference in social networking usage:

  • Less than $30,000 per year = 72%
  • $30,000-$49,000 = 65%
  • $50,000-$74,999 = 66%
  • $75,000+ = 66%

The only demographic characteristics that showed a significant difference in social networking penetration were urbanity where 70% of people who live in urban areas and 67% of people who live in suburban areas use social networking sites versus just 61% in rural areas. Of course, rural areas have less internet connectivity, so this statistic really isn’t surprising. The one area that might surprise you is gender. According to the Pew Internet research report, 71% of women use social networking sites but only 62% of men use social networking sites.

A few more interesting statistics from the Pew Internet study follow:

  • 40% of cell phone owners use social networking sites on their phones.
  • 67% of online adults use Facebook.
  • 20% of online adults use LinkedIn.
  • 16% of online adults use Twitter.
  • 15% of online adults use Pinterest.
  • 13% of online adults use Instagram.
  • 6% of online adults use Tumblr.

It’s hard to believe in 2013 that some brand marketers still have to fight to gain social media marketing budget dollars against executives who claim, “Our customers aren’t using social networking sites.” Next time you face that road block, cite some of these statistics. The question in 2013 shouldn’t be, “Who is using social networking sites,” but rather, “Who isn’t using social networking sites?” Unless your target audience is part of that 33% minority, your customers are using social networking sites, and your brand should be there, too.

Image: Social Media HQ

3 out of 4 of the Top 100 Brands Have Active Google+ Pages

February 15, 2013

google plus circles 300x160 3 out of 4 of the Top 100 Brands Have Active Google+ PagesGoogle+ has finally secured its foothold in top brands’ social media marketing strategies, and when coupled with Google’s YouTube, Google has become a strong player in the world of social media.

That’s according to the January 2013 SocialShare report from BrightEdge which tracks social adoption and trends among the Brandz top 100 global brands.

Brands and Google+

The SocialShare report reveals that Google+ has experienced a 94% growth rate among the top 100 brands during 2012, and today, 75% of the top 100 brands have active Google+ profiles with a total of 20.9 million followers. However, it’s important to point out that 78% of those fans (16.3 million followers) are following the top 10 brands. The top 10 breakdown includes four car brands, two technology brands, one retail brand, and two food and beverage brands as follows:

  1. H&M = 2.49 million followers
  2. BMW = 2.22 million followers
  3. Mercedes-Benz = 2.04 million followers
  4. Nissan = 1.95 million followers
  5. Google = 1.90 million followers
  6. Porsche = 1.79 million followers
  7. Red Bull = 1.53 million followers
  8. Samsung = 913,000 followers
  9. Starbucks = 843,000 followers
  10. Coca-Cola= 724,000 followers

One of the most important takeaways for brand marketers to learn from this report is that 25% of brands link to Google+ on their website home pages, and 20% of brands have their Google+ pages show up in search engine results (up from zero in 2011). The report authors explain, “As brands continue to attract Google+ followers, these [brand Google+] pages look set to become a mainstay of search results.”

The importance of becoming active on Google+ and linking your content via Google properties, particularly Google+, cannot be understated in 2013. As more and more Google+ pages turn up at the top of search results pages, consumers will start to expect to see them there. Brands that aren’t there and fail to meet consumers’ expectations could lose opportunities.

Brands and YouTube

The SocialShare report also shows an 87% brand adoption rate for Google’s YouTube among the top 100 brands. In total, those brands’ videos received 3.15 billion views in 2012 and have a total of 5.1 million subscribers. Google has made changes in recent months that link Google search, Google+, and YouTube even more closely together, so YouTube should be high on every brand’s social media priority list in 2013.

Two brands are really leading the way on YouTube — Google with 718,000 views and 1.12 subscribers and Red Bull with 535,000 views and 1.41 subscribers. Far behind in third place based on video views is Samsung with 160,000 views. In terms of subscribers, Apple takes the third spot with 964,000 subscribers, but subscribers nosedive after that. Nintendo ranks fourth for YouTube subscribers but has just 190,000 subscribers.

Of the top 100 brands, following are the 10 with the most YouTube views:

  1. Google = 718.4 million views
  2. Red Bull = 535.5 million views
  3. Samsung = 160.2 million views
  4. Nokia = 139.2 million views
  5. Coca-Cola = 135.0 million views
  6. Apple = 103.3 million views
  7. Disney = 83.6 million views
  8. Nintendo = 78.6 million views
  9. Pepsi = 66.2 million views
  10. VISA = 66.2 million views

Consistent growth for Google+ throughout 2012 and Google’s efforts to fully integrate its products to benefit search results ( as well as its social search initiatives) make it clear that Google+ has become a strategic imperative for brands.

You can follow the link at the beginning of the article to download the complete SocialShare January 2013 report from BrightEdge.

Image: Fabrizio Van Marciano

Tweet a Hashtag and Make a Purchase with American Express

February 14, 2013

american express card sync twitter 300x201 Tweet a Hashtag and Make a Purchase with American ExpressThis week, American Express announced an enhancement to its Card Sync technology that attempts to close a gap in social ecommerce for Twitter users.

First, some history: When Card Sync launched in March 2012, American Express cardholders could sync their credit card accounts to receive couponless savings by tweeting specific hashtags from participating merchants. When a hashtag was tweeted by a Twitter member who had synced his American Express card to his Twitter account, the savings would automatically be added to the card account. When the cardholder made the actual purchase tied to the hashtag through a retailer, the savings would be refunded on his next American Express statement.

With the launch of the new Card Sync feature, people can make a purchase by tweeting specific hashtags. For example, an American Express cardholder who has synced his account with Twitter can tweet a special offer hashtag and automatically receive a verification from American Express (via @AmexSync). That verification which will contain a verification hashtag that the user must tweet within 15 minutes to confirm the purchase. Once the purchase is confirmed, the item will be shipped to his home. Shipping typically occurs within two days, and it’s free.

You can see how it works in the video from American Express below:

This is the first time that consumers can make a purchase simply be tweeting a hashtag, and if consumers catch on and start buying with hashtags, you can bet this type of brand promotion and direct marketing will explode in popularity. However, making sales is just one benefit of Card Sync and making purchases via hashtags. American Express also gets free brand promotion every time someone tweets one of the special hashtags or confirms a Card Sync purchase.

Adding the ability to make a purchase to Card Sync is a natural progression for American Express. Will other credit card brands follow? They’d be crazy not to, don’t you think? It’s 2013, and brands that aren’t finding ways to sell via social media are going to fall behind the more tech-savvy brands very quickly.

Image: American Express

Content Marketing Investments Increase for U.K. Brands

February 8, 2013

computer keyboard Content Marketing Investments Increase for U.K. BrandsIt has been proven in recent years that content marketing builds brands, and in 2013, U.K. brand marketers are giving content marketing the attention, resources, and budget it deserves.

According to a November 2012 survey of U.K. marketers by Econsultancy and Responsys, 80% of respondents reported that they would increase content marketing spending in 2013. Just 17% said they would maintain the status quo in 2013 and make no changes to content marketing investments.

In 2012, 78% of respondents to the survey were already spending budget dollars on content marketing. Most of them (55%) created content in-house, but 40% were working with external content creators in 2012. The focus has been on publishing news and blogs which more than half of U.K. marketers who responded to the Econsultancy and Responsys survey have found to be the most shareable content. Other types of content that they report is shared frequently include videos (27%), infographics (18%), and white papers (4%).

Online content consumption shows no signs of slowing down, so U.K. marketers are smart to increase content marketing budgets. The trick is creating useful and meaningful content that engages consumers, increases trust in the brand, and leads to purchases, loyalty, and word-of-mouth marketing. All of these outcomes are at a brand marketers’ fingertips, and those who learn how to create content that their target audiences want and need and deliver it to them where and when they need it will thrive in 2013 and beyond.

Have you made content marketing a strategic marketing priority yet? If not, you’re already falling behind. Content is a catalyst to conversation and is needed to open the doors for social media marketing. It’s just one more piece of a well-integrated marketing plan, but it’s importance in 2013 should not be undervalued.

Use the five essential ingredients of content marketing success, and the returns you receive from your content marketing efforts and investments will grow. In short, segmentation, focus, shareworthiness, integration, and branding should be at the heart of all content you create. Make an effort to marry marketing with publishing and you’ll be on your way to truly connecting with consumers on an emotional level, engaging them, and making them believe in your brand. Once they believe, they’re more likely to buy.

Image: Sureash Kumar

Next Page »

Switch to our mobile site