Category Archives: E-commerce

Selling through social media

instagram-tumblr-pinterest

So how many real dollars is that Facebook referral worth? Or that tweet from user with many followers?

Since 2012, my girlfriend has been running a crafts website where she sells premium patterns and links to free patterns. Because of the nature of her business, the primary focus for both traffic and conversion has been social media. So which channel has been the most important?

Above you can see the top 10 social networks with regards to traffic sent. It might form no surprise that Facebook leads the way, with Stumbleupon and Pinterest coming in for silver and bronze medals. Negative outliers are YouTube and Twitter. For YouTube it is important to note that she only ever made 1 YouTube video because of the additional workload. Twitter on the other hand never really worked for our niche.

Ok, that’s all mildly interesting. But which channel led to the most sales?


note: data has been scaled to avoid handing out competitive data. Ratio’s are correct.

Just for comparison, you can also view the results for Google’s organic search below.

Adding e-commerce transactions changes the importance of each channel. The top performers in traffic quality are Ravelry (a competitor), YouTube (we obviously underestimated this channel) and Naver (a Korean search engine) but they bring in too little traffic to pay much attention to. Then comes Facebook which has been the center of our marketing efforts and has a more than decent conversion rate. After Facebook it is Tumblr, Pinterest, Blogger/Blogspot, WordPress, Twitter and in last position StumbleUpon.

Should these results surprise you? If you take into account visitor’s state of mind of each channel, maybe not that much. StumbleUpon performs so bad because it is in essence a discovery channel sending you mass visitors. Similar story for Pinterest where users are bombarded by hundreds of interesting items. When people are discovering, they are not necessarily buying.

The main lesson we learned from this is to treat each social media channel visitor differently. Especially for StumbleUpon and Pinterest, direct sales have appeared to be a bridge too far for most the visitors. This is why we are currently making the move towards micro-converting (Facebook like for our page, share on their social network, …) visitors from these channels rather than trying to push them into buying. A different strategy for each different traffic source.