The presence of social media in a purchase path proves to drive higher value orders, in terms of revenue per order, than natural and paid search combined, according to [download page] a study released in February 2012 by ClearSaleing. Examining more than 56 billion impressions, 2.7 billion clicks, and $13 billion in revenue through an array of channels from January 1, 2010 to August 31, 2011, the study found that a conversion occurring after social media exposure delivered more than $280 per order, compared to less than $100 per order for natural search, and more than double the average order size across all digital channels, of $135.37.
The study also showed that when a display ad was included in a conversion path, the average revenue per order increased to roughly $206, more than 50% higher than the overall average of $135.57.
Social Tops in Revenue Per Click
Data from “A Guide to Market Leadership in 2012” indicates that purchase intent is high for social traffic. When social media was present in a click path, the social media click accounted for $5.24 in revenue, representing an 8% increase over the digital channels average. By comparison, revenue per click for email was $3.18, while revenue per click present through comparison shopping engines was lowest.
Paid search showed a relatively high intent factor, although still below social media, at an average of $4.38 per click. According to a Kenshoo report released in January 2012, lower paid search costs helped drive up return on ad spend (ROAS) to a total of $6.54 during the 2011 holiday season, meaning that for every dollar retailers invested in paid search during the 2011 holidays, they generated $6.54 in online sales revenue.
Premium Publishers Outdo DSPs
Meanwhile, according to the ClearSaleing report, publishers belonging to the Online Publisher Association (“premium publishers”) preformed best in starting new customer conversations, the first step along the consumer conversion journey. Examining the data gleaned from its system, ClearSaleing found that premium publishers displayed twice the ability of ad networks, and four times the ability of demand side platforms (DSPs) to introduce and start new customer conversations. This meant that within the realm of online display, 8.4% of all premium publisher advertising interactions were the beginning of new purchase paths.
Downstream Channels Contribute to Gains
The report also looked at the performance of channels historically seen as downstream due to their last ad performance, discovering that all channels, with the exception of affiliate marketing, saw a lift in order credit when analyzed through an attribution lens. ClearSaleing notes that while affiliate marketing appears devalued in the attribution-based analysis, it performed strongly as an influencer (the steps between the first touchpoint and final step) in the purchase path.
About the Data: ClearSaleing (CS) analyzed advertisers across multiple verticals, including retail, luxury retail, travel, healthcare, education and financial services, using its platform between January 1, 2010 and August 31, 2011. ClearSaleing studied more than 56 billion impressions, 2.7 billion clicks and $13 billion in revenue tracked through the CS system, as well as channels across the spectrum of online marketing, including intensive display advertising, social media channels, paid search, natural search, email marketing, affiliates, and comparison shopping engines.