Some people drastically underestimate the continual, evolving impact of social media on sales. To determine whether social media works for you, you must examine social media’s potential in making a quantitative impact on sales.
Hiring unqualified analysts may prove disastrous for e-commerce companies because their cliched strategies are unlikely to bring success. To make it even worse, the clients will end up believing it’s social media’s fault that their sites are not getting enough leads.
In reality, it’s because the wrong strategies deter success. How many of these strategies do you currently employ?
1. Take a Quality-Driven Approach
The case in point is the 2014 CMO survey on social media’s importance to marketing. The survey results are open to interpretation. Those who see social as less impactful in terms of quantitative differences represent 45% of survey respodents.
Just about 40% of respodnents witnessed a qualitative impact, which, according to them, didn’t affect the quantitative aspects of sales. They might have had visitors, a high retention rate, and even leads. But ultimately the sales figures were not impressive.
The survey findings are pretty straightforward. Among the surveyees, 45% didn’t sense any qualitative impact, and 40% didn’t see qualitative aspects leading up to quantitative success.
What lessons should an e-commerce site administrator learn from the above two findings?
The lessons include making the existing social campaigns more quality focused, and observing the campaign’s impact on sales by tallying each quality measure and its quantitative result.
Almost all e-commerce brands are already posting on their Facebook pages, uploading videos on their YouTube channels, putting new pics to their Instagram accounts and microblogging on Twitter. What more should they do? ... Read on.
2. Explore Alternative Platforms
Many marketers have a skewed approach. They favor the conventional social networks, but don't do sufficient marketing around the online review sites, the C2C networks and the Q&A platforms.
Customer reviews are so powerful that 61% read online reviews before deciding on a product and 88% of consumers rate online reviews as important as personal recommendations. Online customer review sites are inherently social, where users trust each other. Their communication can seriously affect online sales.
A brand can lurk in those networks. It can pretend to be an individual on a C2C site or an asker on a Q&A site. This type of consumer behavior monitoring is manual and it can give the marketer an honest idea of the brand experience that consumers are having. Next, the brand can work on the areas, which it identifies as bottlenecks to impressive brand experience.
3. Remember: M Stands for Mobile AND Millennials
It might appear difficult to connect mobile, e-commerce and millennials. But they do add up and offer marketers enough opportunities to make their campaigns more quality focused.
Ever heard of m-commerce? It’s an abbreviation of mobile commerce. But I like calling it millennial’s social commerce because millennials make up the target audience for e-commerce sites. They also make up a large chunk of mobile traffic, which indicates powerful mobile marketing strategies save e-commerce brands from devising separate strategies to lure millennials, sort of like killing two birds with one stone.
When it comes to strategizing, some e-commerce brands are going app-only. The mobile web outpaces desktop web in all areas including traffic, diversity and media time. So, those brands are sticking only to the apps, and consolidating all marketing activities around them. In case ditching the website sounds too extreme, you can at least deliver your customers the best mobile browsing experience by making the mobile site responsive, and reducing its loading time.
4. Use Offline Leverage
Offline marketing can create a buzz in and around social media, finally leading to more sales. E-commerce brands may find it counter-intuitive because they only have online presence. However, offline events can stoke up online content creation and curation. Remember the tweet record set by Super Bowl last year?
Offline marketing at this scale is uber-expensive. But it's not highly expensive on a small scale. E-commerce brands can tie up with restaurants, cafes and retail outlets and distribute giveaway goodies. They can sponsor live music events, dance shows by small time artists and share the news across social channels.
Groupon did something similar. They approached the local retail outlets and featured group buying deals on their website. The result was a phenomenal success. When the daily-deal site filed for IPO, it was valued at $13 billion. Group buying is not an endorsed model in e-commerce any longer.
However, the point I am trying to put across here is Groupon tied up with local merchants with physical stores and circulated the deal offers all across social networks. This is precisely what other e-commerce brands should do to harness social commerce in a more productive way.
5. Take an Integrated Approach
It’s a surefire way an e-commerce brand can improve its sales performance, lower the selling cost and even monitor customer behavior. Email and search account for better conversion compared to social media marketing.
An integrated approach includes adding social sharing options to the email template, using social media resources to improve the search engine performance, etc.
Quality content plays a role here. When someone opens their mail inbox and finds the title and description of the email interesting, the odds of him clicking on the link attached to the mail increase. For better search engine performance, image optimization may come in handy. Optimizing an image attached with a post on social media amounts to better search engine visibility of the page, and brings more traffic to the site.
6. Use Automated Tools
The benefits of using automation tools are saving time, expanding a social campaign’s reach and tracking the activities of consumers and fans. The functionality of the tools includes auto-update of Twitter photos and Facebook posts, automatically scheduling and sending emails, giving access to content generated by social contacts, etc. Boomerang, Shoeboxed and Rapportive are some of these tools.
According to some, meaningful relationships with fans and leads cannot be formed using automated tools. But that’s not true. The ingredients of a meaningful relationship are quality content, swift communication and most importantly, understanding the consumers. William Johnson beautifully explained how lead generation automation tools can tick all these checkboxes.
Customer review generation tools can assist online reputation management, which is essential for e-commerce brands. Such tools use state-of-the-art algorithms to determine the right product, ask the right customers for reviews, and account for nearly 50% email open and over 10% email response rate.
Quality-oriented social media marketing is more than essential for c-commerce. So are automated tools to track how quality (the marketing efforts) is affecting the quantity (sales). True, there are performance issues, but social media will continue to facilitate online retail in 2016, and the rate of mobile spending will increase owing to mobile marketing performance.
Hence, it’s imperative for e-commerce brands to increase its presence on the handheld domain, in the form of mobile-friendly website and app, and chalk out effective strategies to tap into social commerce for its full potential, both in terms of online and offline activities.
Are you using your social media presence to its fullest potential? Let us know in the comments.