The number of online shoppers who convert to paying customers after being referred to a site from social media on their mobile devices is dropping, despite the fact that socially driven shopping visits are on the up. A new report from Branding Brand, a company that powers mobile commerce for major US retailers, analysed visits to its five biggest clients and found that while traffic from sites such as Facebook is increasing, conversions are not. In May this year, traffic from Facebook was up 21% since January, but conversion rates were down a huge 45%. Overall, Branding Brand found that social media drives just 1% of mobile retail traffic, with Facebook bringing in 95% of those visits.
Although Branding Brand’s information covers only a limited number of clients and cannot be regarded as comprehensive, the stats pour cold water on much of the hype around social media as an e-commerce driver. Separate statistics from RichRelevance earlier this year showed that Google alone accounted for 80% of e-commerce referrals on the web. With mobile e-commerce still a relatively developing market, statistics are few and far between, but the picture is likely to resemble desktop.
Despite the hype around the potential of Pinterest for retailers, the site’s contribution to traffic and actual conversions is debatable. Pinterest was responsible for 4.88% of social media-driven referrals to Branding Brand’s biggest retailers in May, up 49% since January, but its conversion rate actually dropped “dramatically” to just 0.07% - a 73% decline over the period. This puts it some way behind Facebook’s 0.2% conversion rate. It is performing better than Twitter, however, which brought in just 0.2% of all social media referral traffic in May, down 80% from the beginning of the year.
The decline might be understandable if mobile conversions were overall going down, but it appears social media conversions are not rising despite a backdrop of wider growth. Mobile conversions were up 14% between January and May, and Branding Brand says that social may be driving the quantity of traffic, but not its quality. “Many retailers are flooding social media and jumping on the bandwagon, but are they attracting someone who will actually buy?” CIO Joey Rahmini tells TechCrunch.