There's hardly any online transaction these days that is not directly or indirectly influenced by social media. What your friends and trusted contacts say about a certain product or service often influences your purchase decisions. In fact, several studies suggest that social media impacts more than 50% of online transactions.
Naturally, entrepreneurs and ecommerce companies around the world have converted their social media profiles into online shops to help them acquire customers directly from their profiles. Others route leads from their social pages to sales landing pages for conversion (the latter, in my opinion is the better option).
However, there are certain components that separate the most successful social commerce campaigns form the average ones. Your tactics may vary according to your particular industry and the nature of your product, but these fundamentals would remain the same for most social commerce campaigns. Here's a quick look at some of them.
1. Having Realistic Expectations
The most successful social commerce campaigns do not aim for immediate lead conversion. In fact, they do not consider social media as a direct sales platform. Instead, they use it as a platform for attracting, engaging, nurturing and then routing qualified leads to their landing pages. While it's true that social media influences purchase decisions, a lot of those purchase do not actually take place on social media.
So you need to be clear about the role of social media in your overall strategy. Trying to sell directly from your social profiles can often hurt your overall brand image and portray you as someone only interested in taking money from the customers. The direct selling approach also influences the kind of content you share with your followers and often makes it look like direct sales pitches. This is particularly true if you have a new profile that does not already have a highly engaged following.
2. Creating Engagement Through Quality Content
The key to driving sales through social media is user engagement. Without an engaged and vibrant following, there's little chance of getting anything out of your social media efforts. Every successful social commerce campaign keeps engagement at the center of its overall strategy.
But engagement requires quality content (apart from a lot of patience). It's not something that can be triggered overnight. You need to consistently share different forms of high value content that address the key needs of your audience. This can be in the form of memes, videos, info graphics, quotes and blog posts.
With each update, however, you need to have a clear call to action that somehow relates with your social commerce objectives.
3. Generating Word of Mouth
Social commerce relies heavily on how much your product or service is being talked about in the immediate circles of your potential customers. The more influential people in a user's network talk about your product, the greater your chances are of triggering an action from the user.
There are different kinds of internet users. There are those who influence people's opinions. They are the niche leaders, the trend setters. Then there are those who follow everything the niche leaders do. They want themselves to be associated with successful people and the things that they use.
A small mention or endorsement by an influential niche leader often proves to be the defining factor in an online sale. For this, you need to engage influencers directly and indirectly.
You can do that by:
- Approaching the niche leaders directly and offering them a free trial of your product. You can then ask them for an endorsement or even a neutral review.
- Use guest blogging to get your product features o influential blogs. Top industry blogs are followed by the influencers in that niche, which means your product or service will get direct and relevant exposure.
- Mention influencers in your social media updates and blog posts.
4. Using Social Proof for Credibility
Different indirect social signals and elements related to your social media profile, your posts and your brand that show other people's trust in your services are known as social proofs. Social proof helps you make a strong first impression on new visitors and makes your services look trustworthy.
There are a number of ways you can use social proof for your social commerce strategy.
- Use user generated reviews about your product on your social media page.
- Use the logos of some of your leading and well-known customers.
- Use testimonials from existing customers.
- Get additional paid exposure to your Tweets, Facebook or Google+ posts. This would give you Like, RTs or +1 (depending on your social network) and show people that your posts are well followed.
- Embed Tweets from influencers into your website or landing page.
5. Creating a Carefully Designed Landing Page
As I said at the start, selling directly from social media profiles is often the wrong strategy. Social media profiles help you nurture leads by building relationships with them. However, in order to close the sale, you need to create a separate purpose-built landing page that is optimized for conversions.
There are several tools that can help you do that, but my personal recommendation is Lead Pages. They are well-known service and offer some of the best landing page designs on the internet.
Here are a few other things that you should keep in mind:
- Keep your landing page clutter free. No sidebar, no navigation menu, no additional or unnecessary text.
- Focus on opt-ins.
- Use multiple CTA on different prominent places of the page.
- Add credibility to your landing page by using client testimonials, logos of existing clients, logos of anti-virus and secure payment companies.
6. A Hassle Free Payment Process
Apart from the landing page, the selection of your payment service can also play a critical role in determining your sales performance. For a start, use a payment service that allows easy web page and social media integration so that you can use it wherever and whenever required. Also, make sure that there are minimum distractions in the payment process (redirections, excessive information requirements etc.). Needless to say that adding a shopping cart would also boost your chances of making multiple sales.
However, a surprising figure that I recently came across was that almost 80% of buyers who use shopping cart go away before completing the purchase. 50% of them never return. A lot of it is down to poor user experience as well. Many shopping carts are still not designed for mobile commerce. Modern payment services like Selz handle these issues quite well. It is a complete payment processing and management service that includes a modern shopping cart as well.
An effective social commerce strategy requires careful linking between your social media content and the route that you devise for lead generation and sales closure. The pillars of this strategy are high quality content, user engagement, credibility and a convenient payment process. If you get this combination right, you can drive massive sales through your social media profiles.