How Social Media Helps Businesses Increase Website Traffic

Web Design
Kristen Herhold
1/31/2019

Contacting businesses digitally through social media, email, and contact forms has become the norm. This means more people are likely to click through to a business’s website from social media. Our survey of 537 social media users found that more than 80% of people click through to a website from social media, making it important for businesses to have a consistent strategy for both their website and social media.

Social media and websites are the top two digital marketing channels for businesses – 81% of businesses use social media, and 78% have a website.

Most businesses see the importance of using both social media and websites to reach and appeal to customers. The two channels, however, should have a cohesive strategy, and businesses’ social media profiles should make it easy for customers to contact the business and visit its website.

Visual Objects surveyed 537 social media users to learn how they prefer to contact businesses and how social media influences them to visit a business’s website.

Businesses can use this report to learn how customers want to contact them and how they can best persuade people to click through to their website from social media.

Our Findings

  • When contacting a company for a general inquiry, people are most likely to use email (31%), social media (21%), and a contact form on a company’s website (19%). Nine percent (9%) of people use chatbots, but that number is increasing.
  • How people prefer to contact a company differs by generation: Millennials are more likely to use social media (26%) to contact a company, and baby boomers are more likely to use a contact form on the company’s website (30%).
  • Most people (81%) click through to a business’s website from social media, including 21% who click through at least once per day.
  • Millennials (90%) are more likely to click through to a business’s website from social media than Generation Xers (80%) and baby boomers (61%).
  • Offers/promotions (27%) and images (25%) are most likely to persuade people to visit a company’s website from social media.
  • Images play a bigger role in millennials’ decision to click through to a business’s website from social media (33%) than Generation Xers (21%) and baby boomers (12%).
  • Offers/promotions are particularly important for driving baby boomers (38%) to visit a business’s website from social media – more so than millennials (22%) and Generation Xers (29%).

People Most Likely to Contact Businesses Online

People use a variety of channels to contact a business for a general inquiry, but the three most popular are all online:

  • Email (31%)
  • Social media (21%)
  • Contact form on a company’s website (19%)

Graph 2 - Top 5 Channels People Use to Contact Businesses

Contacting a company online is more popular than calling a company, which only 16% of people say they prefer.

“People are more accustomed to digital channels,” said Jeremy Durant, business principal at B2B agency Bop Design. “People don’t use the phone anymore. Placing a phone call has become inherently disrespectful of someone’s time because you’re basically saying, ‘Hey, I want to talk to you right now. Interrupt what you’re doing.’”

People find contacting a company through email, social media, and on a business’s website more respectful than calling.

Only 9% of people are likely to use a chatbot to contact a company, but the popularity of chatbots may increase, unlike phone calls.

“Live chat is a great option to add to a business website,” said Mikel Bruce, CEO and founder of TinyFrog Technologies, a web design and development agency in San Diego. “Live chat provides a fast and easy way for people to get a quick answer to a question about a service or product. It is less daunting than a phone call.”

Experts expect consumers to reach out to businesses on chatbots and other digital contact methods more and calling’s popularity to continue to decline.

For example, LegalAdvice.com, a website that addresses people’s legal questions and concerns, only interacts with customers online.

LegalAdvice.com

LegalAdvice.com’s website makes it easy for customers to contact it via chatbot and a contact form.

“We have a telephone number on our website, but the recording just says to submit your query online,” LegalAdvice.com CEO David Reischer said. “All communications with our customers are 100% over the internet.”

Customers increasingly will prefer to contact businesses digitally – through emails, social media, contact forms, and, eventually, chatbots – and more businesses, like LegalAdvice.com, will decrease the time they spend talking to customers on the phone.

Businesses need to make it easy for people to contact them online.

Millennials More Likely to Contact a Business on Social Media

Each generation prefers a different method of contacting businesses for general inquiries.

All generations are likely to use email to contact a company, but millennials, ages 18 to 34, prefer to contact a business on social media, while baby boomers, ages 55 and older, prefer a contact form on the business’s website.

Graph 1

More than one-fourth of millennials (26%) use social media to contact a business, compared to 20% of Generation Xers, ages 35 to 54, and 11% of baby boomers.

Callout card 1

Younger generations are likely to use social media to contact a business because they are more familiar with social media.

“Millennials have grown up with social media,” said Paul Regensburg, president and creative director of RainCastle Communications, a Boston-based branding and website design firm. “It’s a more comfortable space for them. Social media is how [they] get information.”

Millennials use social media more often than older generations, which makes sense why they are more likely to contact a company on social media.

Baby Boomers Prefer to Contact Businesses on Contact Forms

Baby boomers prefer to go directly to a business’s website when looking to contact a business.

Thirty percent (30%) of baby boomers are most likely to use a contact form on a company’s website, compared to 20% of Generation Xers and 15% of millennials.

Callout card 2

Older generations prefer a contact form because they tend to be less skeptical of sharing information than millennials.

“Younger generations are more skeptical and less trusting of what’s going to happen with their data,” Regensburg said. “They’re not as willing to give their name and information. [Baby] boomers generally come from that more traditional kind of marketing and advertising world where sharing their information was just the way to get what they wanted. This is starting to change with data security becoming such a major issue.”

Baby boomers are less hesitant to share their personal information, which stems from traditional marketing and advertising, where they were used to sharing information, such as their address for direct mail or catalogs.

As millennials earn more buying power, it will be more important for businesses to be reachable on social media and other digital channels that appeal to every generation.

For example, Mattress Cleaning Melbourne has customers across all generations, so its website appeals to all ages.

“My website is designed for older people to click straight through to a phone number in large text and high-tech enough for any teenager to book me online without even having to say hello,” owner Steve Stoward said.

Mattress Cleaning Melbourne’s website makes it easy for people of all generations to contact the company and schedule an appointment – through email, a contact form, phone number, and chatbot. It also offers a chatbot on its Facebook page.

Mattress Cleaning Melbourne

Businesses should follow Mattress Cleaning Melbourne’s example and make it easy for customers of any generation to contact the business in the method they prefer.

Most People Click Through to Businesses’ Websites From Social Media

It’s important for businesses to integrate their websites with their social media accounts – most consumers click through to a business’s website from social media.

Eighty-one percent (81%) of people visit a business’s website from social media.

Callout card 3

One-tenth of people (11%) click through to a business’s website multiple times per day and 21% at least once per day.

Graph 5

Social media helps businesses spread brand awareness and increase traffic to their website.

“One of the primary goals for most websites is to build brand awareness, and social media does this well,” said Mike Sayenko, owner of Sayenko Design, a web design agency in Seattle. “It keeps you on top of customers’ minds.”

Publishing content on social media pushes consumers to visit a company’s website and reaches more people than simply posting on a website.

“What you’re typically trying to do with social media is taking blog and news content that you’re regularly creating for your website and amplifying that to a new audience,” Durant said. “Social media gets your thought leadership content in front of the right audience and drives them back to the website.”

Social media is essentially an extension of a business’s website, and businesses should use it to promote content, which encourages followers to click through to their website.

For example, On Location Tours, a company that provides tours of places where popular TV shows and movies were filmed, uses social media to influence its audience to visit its website.

On Location Tours

Social media is another way for people to discover On Location Tours.

“Since we ultimately need tickets sold to run our small business, everything has to link back to our website,” Digital Marketing Coordinator Jake Sussman said. “Whether you find us on Google by searching ‘what’s filming in New York’ or on Instagram by following the hashtag #SexandtheCity, it’s important to show potential customers that we offer interactive tours of the topics that they’re stumbling upon.”

On Location Tours uses social media as way of reaching new, interested customers who can then visit its website for more information.

Businesses should make it easy for customers to click through to their website on social media.

Millennials Are More Likely to Click Through to a Business’s Website From Social Media

More millennials than older generations visit a website by clicking a link on social media.

Nearly all millennials (90%) click through to a business’s website from social media, compared to 80% of Generation Xers and 61% of baby boomers.

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Millennials also click through to a business’s website more often than older generations – 61% do so at least once per week, significantly more than both Generation Xers (39%) and baby boomers (22%).

Graph 4

Younger generations tend to click through to a company’s website from social media because millennials use social media more often than older generations in general.

“Millennials are more used to being targeted on social media,” Durant said. “They’re comfortable with being targeted by businesses, while there’s still many people of an older generation who are very uncomfortable with getting targeted ads and are much more unlikely to click on them.”

Millennials hesitate less when clicking to a website from an advertisement or other business content on social media.

Promotions and Images Persuade People to Click Through to a Business’s Website on Social Media

Different types of content influence people to click through to a business’s website from social media, but offers/promotions and images are most popular.

Offers/promotions (27%) and images (25%) are most likely to encourage people to visit a website from social media.

Graph 3

People generally feel happier when they receive an offer or promotion. People who received a $10 coupon experienced a 38% rise in oxytocin levels and were 11% happier than those who did not receive a coupon.

“People like a deal and are more motivated to make a purchase when there’s some sort of cost savings and imposed deadline,” Durant said. “It’s a way to get people to make a purchasing decision quickly because there’s a sense of urgency with a limited-time deal.”

Offers and promotions appeal to people’s interest in saving money and push them to make a purchase on a company’s website.

Images influence other people to click onto a company’s website from social media because they are eye-catching.

“Images persuade consumers more because they are visually engaging,” Bruce said “It is difficult to create an emotional response to content with just text. Also, consumers are very used to scrolling and scanning content, so you need strong imagery to capture their attention.”

Images catch people’s attention as they scroll through social media, encouraging them to visit a company’s website.

Businesses should post a variety of content on social media to encourage people to visit their websites.

Images Influence Younger Generations to Visit a Business’s Website

Different content persuades different age groups to visit a company’s website on social media.

Images influence millennials (33%) more than Generation Xers (21%) and baby boomers (12%).

Callout card 5

Millennials tend to seek information visually.

“Younger audiences are more image-focused,” Regensburg said. “They’re not reading as much and want information very quickly. Images communicate the information they need in a way that’s fast and easy to parse.”

Images allow millennials to learn what a company offers in a quick, easy-to-understand way that encourages them to click to a website to learn more.

Images engage millennials and help them feel connected to a brand.

For example, Sweet Reads Box, a subscription box that includes a novel, tea, treat, and handcrafted item each month, relies heavily on imagery on its social media to reach users.

Sweet Reads Box

Using images on social media draws potential customers into the company’s posts.

“By using clear photography and images, we can showcase our products and catch the viewers’ attention as they scroll through social media,” said Sweet Reads Box founder Kerrie Hansler. “Images also draw people in, and combined with engaging text, [make people] more likely to interact with the posts.”

Sweet Reads Box uses imagery on social media to engage people and encourage them to visit its website to learn more.

People will not visit a business’s website from social media if they don’t notice the business’s content in the first place. Imagery is important for capturing people’s attention on social media – especially millennials.

Offers/Promotions Influence Older Generations to Visit a Business’s Website

Deals are more likely to encourage baby boomers to click through to a business’s website from social media.

Offers/promotions influence baby boomers (38%) more than Generation Xers (29%) and millennials (22%).

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Offers/promotions are least likely to influence millennials to click through to a website because millennials prefer an open, honest pricing strategy.

“Younger generations are a little skeptical with things like promotions and time-sensitive deals,” Durant said. “They want more straightforward, direct ways of doing business where they don’t feel baited-and-switched or taken advantage of. They look at these promotions and think that the price was artificially propped up, and now it’s brought down to manipulate behavior.”

Older generations grew up in a time of traditional advertising, where the main selling point was sales and deals.

“Responding to offers and promotions is a legacy of the way advertising and marketing worked traditionally,” Regensburg said. “Promotions used to be huge in advertising, so that’s what they’re used to.”

Offers and promotions remind older generations of traditional advertising, which they have encountered their whole lives.

For example, Coral Community Federal Credit Union in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., finds that offers and promotions commonly encourage followers to click through to its website from social media.

Coral Community Federal Credit Union

Coral Community Federal Credit Union’s followers appreciate discounts.

“Our most popular posts that get clicks to our website are promotions we are running,” said Christina Disbrow, the credit union’s social media manager. “Promotions are successful because they are something specific that people might be interested in.”

Disbrow makes sure people can find the promotions easily after clicking through to the website.

“We won’t want them to lose interest or momentum in the promotion, so the easier it is to find the information, the better,” she said.

Coral Community Federal Credit Union makes it easy for people to find discounts on social media – something that is important to its customers, who use the discounts to click through to its website.

Businesses Should Listen to Customers When Posting on Social Media

Businesses need to pay attention to their customers when deciding how to promote their websites on social media.

“If you’re going after millennials with promotions, that may not resonate that well versus a much more direct sales approach,” Durant said.

Businesses need to be aware of their customers’ demographics to create a successful social media and website strategy.

Social Media Helps Businesses Create a Successful Website

Businesses need to have a strong digital strategy to make it easy for customers to contact them by their preferred methods: email, social media, and contact forms.

Businesses should create the types of content that influence customers to visit their website from social media. This usually comes in the form of offers/promotions and images, but businesses need to listen to their target audience to publish the content that influences customers most.

People use social media in their everyday lives, and this remains true when contacting and interacting with businesses.

Businesses should have a cohesive website and social media strategy to reach the most customers possible.

About the Survey

Visual Objects surveyed 537 consumers from across the U.S. who have used social media in the past week.

Sixty-four percent (64%) of survey respondents are female; 36% are male.

About 42% of respondents are millennials (ages 18-34), 36% are Generation X (ages 35-54), and 22% are baby boomers or older (ages 55+).

Most survey respondents are employed either full-time (42%) or part-time (13%). Others are homemakers (13%), retired (13%), self-employed (5%), students (4%), unemployed and currently looking for work (5%), or unemployed and not currently looking for work (5%).

Survey respondents’ education levels are 8th grade or lower (1%), some high school (5%), high school graduate or equivalent (23%), some college credit, no degree (25%), associate’s degree (13%), bachelor’s degree (21%), and master’s degree or higher (12%).

Respondents are from the South (38%), Midwest (24%), Northeast (21%), and West (17%).