Do you currently feel like your marketing efforts are stuck in neutral? Are you interested in learning about a powerful way to take your marketing to an entirely new level that is very easy to do and affordable? If so, social commerce could be the answer.
eCommerce businesses are already creating and using social pages for their company to interact with people by regularly posting comments and questions to encourage discussions. But why stop there. Why not start to sell directly through these channels too.
What is social commerce?
“Social commerce” is basically selling directly through social media networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Even blogs are considered a ‘social channel’. Blog posts by influencers and thought leaders are where many consumers find inspiration and reviews for products they’re considering purchasing.
Up until recently, brands and retailers have been able to promote products via their social feeds but have not been able to let customers transact there and then. The experience was clunky, with customers being taken out of their native environment when they find a product they like to actually purchase within another browser window or application. But now, it is possible, and becoming increasingly popular to actually purchase direct from the social media channel or blog.
With the rise of new technology that allows retailers to make almost any digital space like a browser, email, or a social media post or photo shoppable, it is just a matter of choosing the best-fitted solution.
The rise of the influencer
A new wave purchase inspiration comes from social media influencers. A social influencer is someone who has built up a large following on a social media platform, like Instagram. These are people who work for specific brands and retailers and are paid to promote products by wearing them, taking pictures of them and then pushing out on their social channels to attract those consumers who aspire to be like them.
And with many people trusting other people rather than a voice behind a logo, influencers are becoming more and more popular in getting consumers behind a particular product or service.
But what does all this mean for your business?
There are many advantages of focusing on social commerce in your marketing strategy. Here are just a few…
1. It builds trust
Social commerce can be used to build trust in the eyes of potential customers. For example, although above we said that people trust other people rather than a company, many people do believe that a company that frequently interacts with its customers is a company they can trust to do business with. If they have a question about something, they know they can post it on the company’s social media platform or contact the company directly to get a response.
A company that doesn’t interact with people or takes a long time to respond to inquiries may be perceived as a company that doesn’t care about its customers. Frequent interaction with people through social media, however, “humanizes” a company. It makes it more approachable and more trustworthy.
So for social commerce, promoting products through social media can be a fantastic way to generate interaction not only between you and the customer, but also customers with other customers. You open up a world of friends tagging each other to get an opinion on a particular product they want to buy or even suggesting products or services to others who may be interested. With social commerce, it doesn’t have to just stop at sharing images and then taking people away to a website, now you’re able to utilize cart and checkout functionality within social sites themselves to directly sell those products you or your influencers are promoting on social media.
2. It positions your business as an expert
When people see you posting regularly to social media platforms or your blog, it positions you as an expert in your field. In some cases, your social media followers may not have a lot of knowledge in the products or services you offer. By engaging people in conversation about subjects of interest, many will view your company as an authority.
People prefer to buy from companies they trust. Trust is essentially won by transparency. We’re not talking about spilling all trade secrets, but rather sharing all possible details on a product or a service, so that a customer can make an informed decision. Transparency is also gained by open and frequent communication. And there’s no better place for frequent updates than social media!
3. It builds brand awareness
One of the primary goals of all marketing campaigns is to build brand awareness. Just as people think of Nike when they think of shoes or the Ford F150 when they think of trucks, you want people to automatically think of your company whenever they need to buy the product or service you sell.
Brand awareness can be built in a number of ways, but using social media influencers is a very easy and inexpensive way to do it. These people are called influencers for a very good reason. They have a strong influence over people’s buying decisions.
When people see an influencer promoting a product, they tend to associate that product with the influencer. This association is a very powerful form of marketing that uses the psychology of persuasion. It can really drive sales. There are even some who will buy something an influencer is promoting even if they weren’t in the market for that product.
If you promote your company through a social influencer with a large following, you can very easily reach tens of thousands of people. The more eyeballs you get on your company and the products you sell, the more your brand awareness grows.
Elastic Path offers an affiliate application which allows influencers to create API-based microsites on-the-fly using the Elastic Path catalog, cart, and checkout to make user-generated content shoppable.
4. It can improve your search engine rankings
Content is becoming an increasingly influencing factor in persuading and aspiring consumers to purchase.
Publishing a blog on your eCommerce website and updating it regularly with in-depth articles can help your company rank in the search engines for many different keywords. The more articles you publish, the more likely it is that people will discover your company when searching for information on things in your niche.
Search engines have improved a lot in recent years, and the key to getting your posts to rank is to provide high-quality content that thoroughly covers the things people are searching for. A very easy way to determine your chances of ranking is to do an internet search for a keyword you would like to rank for, and then analyze the content of the first 10 search results. If you believe you can write an article that does a better job of answering the search query than other websites, you’ve got a good chance of ranking for that term.
At Elastic Path, we’re also working on a solution which allows you to embed a cart and checkout directly into your blog or existing website enabling you to sell directly where the consumer is inspired by a product or a service. Stay tuned for announcements to come on that!
5. It increases your inbound traffic
If you are not engaged in social commerce marketing, the inbound traffic to your eCommerce website is going to be limited to those who are already familiar with your company and those who are searching for terms that you already rank for. Engaging people through social media gives you an additional way to drive traffic to your store.
Every single post you make on a social media platform could potentially lead people to your website. If you post often enough, it could result in a flood of new traffic – and it could also increase the number of sales you make, including turning non-customers into repeat customers.
6. It’s affordable
One of the best things about adding social commerce to your marketing strategy is that it is a very affordable form of marketing. It doesn’t cost anything to start a company Facebook page, create a Twitter account, or to post content to those platforms.
While it is possible to purchase ads on Facebook and Instagram, the ads are surprisingly affordable when compared to other popular ways to market your website, like PPC ads. It may not stay that way forever, of course. Things do change over time. But for now, it’s a very inexpensive way to promote your company.
7. It can improve your conversion rate
The primary purpose of all advertising campaigns is to sell more of your products and services. It’s to increase your conversion rate and make more money. By using social media to increase your company’s visibility, build trust, and position your company as an expert in your field, you can dramatically increase the number of sales you make.
A recent study showed that businesses that use social media have a 100% higher conversion rate than those that rely solely on outbound marketing. That’s a dramatic difference!
A powerful marketing tool
Social commerce is an ideal form of marketing for many eCommerce companies. It’s easy to do, inexpensive, and it gets incredible results.
Social commerce is such a powerful marketing tool that you can’t afford to leave it out of your marketing strategy. If your competition isn’t using this strategy to promote their products and services, you could very easily take advantage of it to position your eCommerce company as the market leader in your niche.