Social and Search Work Together to Influence Purchase Decisions

Bing Google Facebook

The effectiveness of your overall online marketing strategy depends not just on which tactics you use, but also on which tactics work well together. As Nathan Linnel at reported, a new study illustrates how search engine marketing and social media marketing play a vital role in the consumer purchase decision – independently and together. Some of the findings in this study might even change the way you use each to promote your local business today.

Consumers have historically searched online first and foremost as a way to discover local businesses. According to the study, 58% of purchase decisions still begin on search engines, while 18% originate on social media.

But where people look first isn’t the only nugget of note in this report. Interestingly, 51% of purchase decisions were conducted exclusively on search engines – but 48% included a mix of search and social media.

However, this isn’t meant to imply that the search-engine-only consumers aren’t getting a significant dose of social media. Search engines like Google have already begun recognizing how certain social media elements are part of what consumers are looking for when searching for local businesses online, as demonstrated by the new Google feature, +1. And consider the way reviews are featured prominently in Google Place pages – yet another example of Google’s latest evolutions to incorporate more consumer-generated content in search results.

The report also noted that several important web presence factors that affect the consumer purchase decision:

  • Reviews – 30%
  • Facebook – 17%
  • Video sharing – 14%
  • Twitter – 9%

Overall, the findings in this study underscore the power of establishing a dynamic web presence that can help your business with search discovery – and social media – to make sure your brand is well represented to consumers who are using search and social in their decision-making process.

Are you directing enough of your online marketing resources to both search and social? After seeing stats like these, are you thinking of shifting more resources to one, the other – or both? Let us know your thoughts in a comment.

Angela Epley writes about online advertising & web presence for the ReachLocal blog, which focuses on small business online marketing strategies.


The ReachLocal online marketing blog shares practical tips and advice for those who want to reach local customers online. Learn about online marketing from our in-house experts and thought leaders.

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