Social commerce is the evolution of shopping in a social media-empowered, mobile device-connected world. Social commerce extends across the entire marketing process from product development through to post-purchase fans and brand advocacy.
5 Reasons to Add Social Commerce to Your Marketing Mix
As the focus of a panel I moderated at last week's Social Media Marketing and Monitoring 2011, social commerce isn't just another social media flash in the pan, new technology, or e-commerce add-on. Social commerce provides useful content, support, and purchasing capabilities to consumers when and where they need it. Here are five facts that make the business case for social commerce.
Consumers research purchases online first regardless of where they buy. Seventy percent of consumers research products before purchasing according to Cone Inc. research. About one out of three customers uses their smartphone in a retail location to get more information. As a result, your online and offline competitors are in your store.
Consumers spend their time on social media networks. According to Nielsen, 22.5 percent of time spent online is spent on social media and blogs. Why not make it easy for them to buy there without leaving?
Consumers trust other consumers, not marketers. For consumers, the trust is gone. When they purchase, 60 percent of consumers look for ratings and reviews (see Cone Inc. chart above). Their first choice of information is Amazon, the granddaddy of consumer feedback, but don't overlook third-party sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor.
Consumers look for deals. Sales, coupons, and deals are consistently among the top reasons across research studies for following a brand. Based on Millward Brown-Dynamic Logic research, 55 percent of respondents listed deals as the leading benefit. Consumers often leave the purchase process to check for deals before they buy regardless of whether it's online or in person.
Consumers who are engaged spend more. Bain research showed that socially-engaged customers spend 30 percent more than non-engaged customers.
5 Easy-to-Implement Social Commerce Tactics
Like any other form of marketing, social commerce requires a fully integrated marketing plan. Here are five social commerce tactics that leverage social media engagement to drive measurable results.
Actively participate where the social media conversation about your product is happening. This means training your employees to listen and engage with prospects and customers on your website, third-party sites, and social media. Empower your employees who know your product and brand to respond to issues such as negative comments on Yelp and TripAdvisor and answer product- and purchase-related questions. Your goal is to show that you're listening and engaging to help consumers by providing the best service you can. Remember, by fixing issues, you can create raving fans. Metrics: Track the number of issues in total and how many you responded to. Where possible, track potential PR crises averted.
Provide social sharing and email options for the full array of your products. Encourage shoppers to share information about your offering with family, friends, and social media connections. Use a call-to-action and promotion code. Metrics: Track which products customers share information about and where they share it. This gives you insights as to what consumers want and where they're active. Determine whether they put these products in their shopping carts.
Use QR codes to enable consumers to easily scan your products to get additional product information. This can be particularly useful for manufacturers who sell products through other merchants. Link QR codes to useful content, not rehashed marketing promotions. Give prospects information about the product in plain English. Include ways to allow customers to contact you. Metrics: Track number of QR codes scans.
Offer deal of day. Instead of bombarding prospects with promotional information, create a special daily offer that's time limited like Woot. Only tweet this special offer once or twice per day. Metrics: Measure product sales, average order size, and related cost metrics.
Provide social customer support via social media platforms. Use Facebook, Twitter, or other social media options to extend customer service. Remember, customers use every entry point to get answers to their questions. These customer service representatives may require different skills than other forms of customer service. Your goal is to provide additional support to overcome purchase objections. Metrics: Track the number of customer service inquiries and responses. Also, assess the cost of handling customer service via social media.
Social commerce provides social context for your offering. To this end, you need to be engaged on the social media platforms where your prospects and customers are to provide the information they need whether it's on your website, third-party sites, or social media networks, and enable customers to be able to access this information and purchase capability via a mobile device.
What would you add to this list of social commerce tactics and why?
Heidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies, an interactive marketing consultancy. She has over 20 years' experience helping clients increase profitability by developing innovative marketing programs to acquire and retain customers based on solid analytics. Clients include New York Times Digital, AccuWeather.com, CheapTickets, and the UJA. Additionally, Riverside Marketing Strategies has worked with numerous other online content/media companies and e-tailers.
Prior to starting Riverside Marketing Strategies, Heidi held a number of senior-level marketing positions at The Economist, the Bookspan/Doubleday Direct division of Bertelsmann, and Citibank.