Facebook and Twitter just got spanked by what?!?

According to one study, social media has been spanked crimson by the hairbrush of reality.

According to one study, social media has been spanked crimson by the hairbrush of reality.

Even though Facebook still has crazy amounts of users, there is the distantly faint, ever-so-slight dong of a death bell. According to what blogs or studies you read, the kids are leaving Facebook in droves, opting for Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest instead. When my 74-year-old aunt got on Facebook, I have to admit the thought that passed through my brain was: OK, is this over?

And all the while, Justin Timberlake is desperately trying to revive MySpace.

In the midst of all this cyber drama, a software company called Custora released an interesting study, comparing different methods of acquiring e-commerce customers. The study included Facebook, Twitter, organic search and email, among others. The report was aptly titled, E-commerce Customer Acquisition Snapshot.

Now, we’re all study weary, I know. But Custora may have a unique perspective here. The company makes software that, according to its website, “analyzes data to predict how customers will behave in the future.” They’re a sort-of big data Magic 8 Ball—except more accurate and a little less fun.

Custora’s conclusion? Organic search and email are superior to Facebook and Twitter when it comes to acquiring a new e-commerce customer.

Here are the details of the study. Custora examined data from 72 million customers from 86 retailers across 14 industries over a selected quarter. The study had some startling conclusions, including:

  • Getting e-commerce customers via email has quadrupled over the past four years
  • Customers acquired via Twitter are worth 23% less in value than average customers
  • Most online shoppers are in more rural states, except when it comes to fashion. There, the cities dominate.

Hands down, organic search was the most powerful channel for getting customers… more than 15% of customers come that way. Cost-per-click took second place, at just under 10%.

Are you surprised by that? I was, a little. Organic search makes sense, but pay-per-click was a little out of left field.

But, here’s the kicker. Email came in third with 6.8%.

Yes, quaint, old-timey little email took down the Facebook and Twitter behemoths. In retail, the report claims, marketers are collecting email addresses, building communities and engaging them. And that turns into sales online.

Facebook only helped acquire 0.2 customers, Twitter less than 0.01. Ouch! In retail marketing, these social sites won’t be sitting for a while.

Even if you’re not a marketer in retail, there are some important lessons here. First of all, the shiniest toy doesn’t always have to win. You don’t need to be on every social media platform—especially the latest crazes—just the ones that make sense. On the other hand, don’t fully discount any channel, either, until you’ve explored it and know where your customers are hanging out. When you find something that works, use it, without driving people crazy. No channel is immune to annoyance.

Next, organic search matters for every business. Every customer Googles—whether they’re shopping for a marketing firm, shoes or boat propellers. If you aren’t easily found online, you might as well not exist to most customers. But of course, social media can help a lot with SEO. Oh, the irony.

– Andy Badalamenti is the creative director for CI-Group

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