Retail's BIG Show: Retail Traffic from Instagram Surges 311%, Leads to First-Ever Drop in Organic Search

Attention retailers: if you're not tapping into conversations about your brand on social media, it's time to jump on board.

That was the resounding message at Retail's BIG Show among store executives who have had to devise all new marketing strategies that put online community management at the forefront.

"Traffic from Instagram is up 311%," revealed Bill Tancer, head of global research at Experian Marketing Services. "Customers are seeing this conversation happening on social media and are coming right to the site from there."

With so much e-commerce traffic coming from online "friends" and "followers," Tancer says that for the first time ever, organic search traffic is beginning to decrease. As such, it becomes even more essential for retailers to juggle multiple platforms, which is not always an easy task for cash-strapped and short-staffed marketing departments.

Despite these challenges, retailers are encouraged to get creative and think from the customer's point of view. Erica Dudash, director of marketing at American Eagle Outfitters, noted that for her store's teen-targeted business, the absence of an online or mobile strategy would be a "deal breaker."

"With 15-year-old consumers, mobile and social media has taken over," said Dudash. "It's really affected how we engage with the brand. We now have a whole staff that's solely dedicated to online. With everything we do, we make sure to ask ourselves, 'How does this work on mobile?'"

Dudash also explains that for retailers incorporating social media and mobile strategies, it's important to make sure the messages online are the same messages being distributed in stores.

"Don't make your e-comm, email, and texts all different," advises Dudash. "Make sure it all plays together and that the customer understands that the message online is the same experience they will have in stores. That's what the customer expects."

Click here for more FierceRetail coverage from Retail's BIG Show hosted by the NRF!

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