Adam T. Sutton

Social Marketing Lifts Organic Conversions

I’ve been digging through MarketingSherpa’s new 2011 Search Marketing Benchmark Report: SEO Edition and finding very interesting data describing social media’s impact on SEO performance.

The most interested stat I came across noted that marketers working in social media reported an average 27% conversion rate for organic search traffic. Those not working in social media reported 17%. That is a 58.8% difference — which is huge.

What could cause this disparity?

Possible explanations are found in a second chart. Marketers were asked whether social media or SEO were effective marketing tactics for achieving a list of objectives.

More marketers said SEO, rather than social media, was a “very effective” way to:
o Increase brand or product awareness (42% vs. 37%)
o Increase website traffic (57% vs. 33%)
o Increase lead generation (35% vs. 18%)
o Increase offline sales revenue (17% vs. 10%)
o Increase online sales revenue (26% vs. 9%)

On the flipside, more marketers said social media was a “very effective” way to:
o Improve brand or product reputation (37% vs. 29%)
o Improve public relations (36% vs. 27%)

Clearly, SEO is more effective at attracting attention and ultimately converting people. However, social media is more likely to increase positive thinking around a product and brand.

This leads me to a hypothesis: marketers who engage in SEO and social media have 58.8% higher conversion rates for organic traffic because their social media work has increased trust in their brands and products.

But that might not be the whole story.

As pointed out in the benchmark report’s analysis, working in social media provides additional benefits. Social profiles and content are indexed by search engines and added to results pages. These additional results can push down a brand’s competition, increasing its organic conversion rates. Also, the social results can broaden the variety of content on a SERP and help brands appeal to more people.

The data are very interesting. If your team has well established SEO and social media strategies, take a look at your stats and look for similar trends. It just might make you smile.

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Search Marketing, Social Networking Evangelism Community



  1. Angela Harrington
    August 9th, 2010 at 10:53 | #1

    If SEO drives web leads, and social enhances perception, I think brands need to better understand just how they should engage in social spaces to secure their SEO benefits. If negative online perception is left to fester online (tweets that repeatedly say ‘stop sending me emails for product X,you horrible spammer!’), then all the SEO work budgets can buy will do little to improve brand reputation.

    A bad social rep will definitely adversely affect leads and impair sales. It all goes hand-in-hand. Brands need to be smart about social engagement and use it expediently!

  2. August 10th, 2010 at 08:16 | #2

    As a long time search marketers, I would be careful about attributing causality. Yes, social media and organic traffic are intimately linked but there are alot of factors that influence conversion. I engaged in social media very early (2004) and my reasons for doing it are the same today..helps drive organic traffic and is a terrific tool for link building.

    And in the pit of my stomach, I can honestly say, even though there are alot of other benefits with the brand, interaction with prospects and customers, the advent of universal search via Google’s paradigm shift in the search algorithm in 2007, its really gets down to it being an important part of the link building strategy.

  3. August 10th, 2010 at 19:42 | #3

    Interesting, but not too surprising … social media permits the know, like and trust relationship to develop, and people much prefer buying from someone they have a relationship with on some level. And that relationship also helps referrals and repeat business.

  4. August 13th, 2010 at 15:49 | #4

    I suspect that the wrong tools are being employed in the wrong way by people using social media. I’ve been “studying” socialCRM lately and there’s much more integration necessary. If you look at a product like Flowtown, for example, which takes email marketing lists and shows you where your customers are on the major social networks, I bet you would get a better conversion rate than just doing it haphazardly.

  1. April 27th, 2011 at 09:01 | #1