Global e-commerce is turning hypercompetitive – and fast. In 2019, it is expected to rise by 20.7%, for a tidy sum of $3.535 trillion.
As more e-retailers enter the fray, marketers need to explore every available channel, in order to reach their target consumers. And social media is likely to top the list, now that some 3.48 billion people worldwide are actively sharing, engaging, and more recently, some making direct purchases on sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and so on.
This article explores how businesses can leverage their social media presence for new customer acquisition, word-of-mouth marketing, and advertising optimisation.
Today, around one in three online shoppers who are planning to buy will turn to social media for product research. And now that direct purchase is already possible, social sites may soon become viable alternatives to marketplaces and other e-commerce sites. In fact, Bluepay reports that Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter alone already generate $40,000 in revenue every 60 seconds.
These figures highlight the growing power of social engagement in driving sales and building brand power, and how it has forever changed the traditional customer acquisition process. For example, if the goal of digital marketing is to show potential customers the right offer at the right time, social media platforms already possess this intrinsic capability.
Social media analytics displays real-time data that enables content marketers to direct highly relevant and personalised messages at their target audience. From there, they can design acquisition campaigns to target very finely defined customer profiles; the more data there is on hand, the more accurate the segmentation strategy.
The power of word of mouth on social media is quite extraordinary. Because of their built-in ability to facilitate direct engagement between individuals and their peers, between consumers and businesses, or even between businesses, social sites are an ideal channel for putting out brand messages in a highly organic manner.
User testimonials and authentic product reviews are particularly useful. Both wield great influence on potential customers and can make or break a sale. If there is a lot of positive chatter about your brand, your products, your customer service, drive digital users towards your social wall and encourage them to leave feedback about you.
Influencer marketing is another tactic that brands use widely on social media, wherein they spend thousands of dollars for endorsements, product shots, unboxing videos, and the like. Because influencers have a large following, one post about you serves as a broadcast to thousands of engaged social users, and potentially millions, and can do wonders for your online reputation, by building trust and confidence.
Online shoppers trust their peers more than brands, to help them sort out their buying decision. Amplify your brand authenticity by incentivising and utilising user-generated content, to complement your owned media.
Generating fresh content is part and parcel of successful social media marketing; but marketers need to do more, in order to reach their target audience and, in time, start generating sales. Good content is able to cut through all the noise, outperform the competition, and ensure extensive audience reach.
Most businesses already prioritise search engine optimisation (SEO), creating content and campaigns around specific keywords. You might use the same key terms on your social posts and time the release to maximise impact, but use more visuals. Social posts tend to perform better, if accompanied by images, videos, or graphic content.
The hashtag (#) is one SEO device practically invented on social media. It facilitates social search, helps increase impressions and views, and can be used in branding, too. There’s a balance to be struck here, between jumping on a hashtag bandwagon and crafting a custom hashtag albeit with limited following. However, what’s important to remember is not to use unrelated hashtags that don’t align with the brand, to avoid any conflicts with the social media algorithms.
Paid Ad Campaigns
Organic marketing can be quite effective, but only to a point. This is why most social sites now offer paid services to generate new leads and also incentivise future previous customers.
Paid ads provide marketers with targeting options, to finetune the target audience, down to their demographics, location, interests, and behaviours. You can even factor in additional criteria like competitor activity, seasonality, and trending events.
One thing to watch out for in paid campaigns is budget management. For example, if you don’t bid right, either you end up paying more than you should or your bids are so low that your ads don’t get delivered or even restricted.
Measuring Campaign Performance
It’s important not to wait until the end of your campaign to look at the results. Generate reports at certain milestones, so that you can tweak the plan at critical points and implement any changes before it’s too late.
Follow these steps for tracking your campaign at every stage, and determine whether you’re getting a proper bang for your buck.
- Define your goals
Identify what you’re trying to get out of the campaign. Do you want to spread awareness? Increase brand exposure? Do you want to generate quick leads or build long-term relationships with existing customers?
- Identify your metrics
What criteria do you want to measure? Go back to your goal-setting step and use it as a guide. For example, if you’re looking to gain more exposure, use metrics like reach or amplification. If you’re trying to gauge engagement, you can use the number of comments, retweets, and so on.
- Measure performance
Based on your metrics, find the tools that you can use to capture your data. You can use the social network’s own reporting facility or integrate with a third-party analytics tool, to measure your performance against the targets you set in the previous stage.
- Adjust and repeat
If your objectives and metrics match and your campaign turns out to be successful or falls just short of your targets, use your findings to tweak your plan and improve on your strategy.
Using the techniques detailed in this article, you can better utilise social media to acquire new customers, spread messages through word-of-mouth marketing, and maximise ad performance. But whatever mix of approaches you end up implementing, remember: Always start by identifying the appropriate measures to evaluate your results, right from the concept stage. Plan with the end in mind.
Struggling with social media? At Digital Excellence, our work process uses your desired outcomes to drive your marketing strategy from Day 1. If you want to present every customer the right offer at the right time, we can help start conversations around your brand and put the right metrics in place. Let’s chat about how you can execute on best-in-class strategies to turn that social engagement into sales.