Forrester report looks at the influence of digital marketing on online purchase behaviour

Last April, Forrester  monitored 77,000 consumer orders to measure the influence of different digital tactics on purchase behaviour. The results have been published in ‘The Purchase Path Of Online Buyers In 2012′.

Here are the key findings:

  • The biggest drivers for online purchases overall are email marketing and search (eg Google Adwords
  • 48% of repeat customers & 33% of new customers visit multiple touch points before purchasing – and email has usually been an influencing factor
  • 30% of transactions started with a click on an email marketing campaign.
  • Email is the most important channel for repeat customers. This research is supported by Forrester’s recent anecdotal interviews with retailers.
  • Paid search (e.g. Google AdWords) is vital for new customers. New buyers after a specific brand or product are more receptive to paid search than your loyal customers
  • 39% of transactions from new customers came from search – paid or organic
  • “Direct traffic is critical to sales. While explicit interactive marketing tactics are critical to sales, a significant portion of buyers visit sites directly by typing in the retailer’s URL.”
  • Direct web address input was found to influence a surprising 30% of transactions
  • Perhaps surprisingly, given the recent ‘hype’, social marketing alone, is not a significant driver of online purchases – barely 1% of 77,000 transactions could be traced back to social links. – The only caveat here is that the research was done over a 30 day window, so social may have more of a ‘slow burn’ effect on buying or act as a support for other digital channels.

Forrester’s recommendation for retailers?

  • Continue focusing on improving and testing paid search ( Google Adwords) and optimising email programs
  • Actively promote URLs across channels, wherever possible to maximise brand awareness and recall
  • Use analytics to consider the full path to a completed transaction – so the first touchpoints aren’t underestimated, and are given full credit.