Businesses looking to drive sales via social channels may want to save their time and money. New research has found that social networks drive very little traffic to retail websites.
Overall, social sites accounted for just 2.4 percent of referrals to retail websites, a new eMarketer report found. Search and direct traffic, on the other hand, combined to account for more than two-thirds of the visits to retail sites. Referrals led to nearly 20 percent of retail visits, while emails led to 9 percent of visits to retail sites.
Those stats are not deterring companies from turning to social networks, however. Ninety-nine percent of respondents say they are using Facebook and YouTube, while 90 percent are on Pinterest and Instagram. Fifty-one percent of workers use Google+ and 44 percent are on Tumblr. Additionally, 38 percent of respondents use Vine. The only site that saw a decrease was foursquare, used by just 10 percent of specialty retailers.
Though social networks do not drive a ton of traffic to sites as a whole, certain sites are more effective as specialty destinations for consumers. For example, the researchers found that Facebook was very influential in driving visitors to jewelry sites. YouTube, on the other hand, was most effective in driving consumers to makeup and skincare websites. Pinterest drove users to home and gift sites, the researchers found.
"Different social media platforms have had varying levels of success leading traffic to retailers, depending in large part on how various social media are used by shoppers in different retail categories," the eMarketer report said.