Business Blog

HOW to use social media to drive Ecommerce


Ask any savvy advertising or marketing professional who was punching the clock 25 years ago and they will tell you this: Life, and specifically the outdoors business, was a lot simpler before the Internet. Back in those days, hunting, fishing and overall outdoors-related businesses only had a few options for delivering their marketing message to potential customers, but they worked. Although it is still viable today, print advertising was king mostly because the demographics are niche-specific and usually comprise the upper 10 percent of the guys and gals who actually spend money. Depending on what you were selling, television, was frequently another good option.


The game is changing. Today you can take your message straight to the customer by linking your ecommerce efforts with your daily social media activity. A good approach will allow you to:


1.       Build your brand’s online identity.

2.       Discover new customers and engage them as part of a larger community.

3.       Market directly to returning customers.


There’s no hard and fast rule on this, but your ecommerce strategy shouldn’t account for more than 20 percent of your weekly social media posts. Instead, build your strategy around engaging your fan base, then subtly marketing your ecommerce “goods” (be that a physical product or service) to them in an unobtrusive manner.


With all of this in mind, here are 5 of the best ways to use social media to bolster your ecommerce bottom line.


1. Find Them on Facebook

Facebook is still the best option for any type of social media advertising. The platform is currently driving more than 2 billion users every month. That might seem too big. It’s not. Look at the pages that you interact with; chances are they’re all-unique and have their own niches within the outdoors community. Further, Facebook is the hands-down champ when it comes to lead generation. You can buy these straight through Facebook at about $1 a pop for email addresses, or you can partner with someone in your category by advertising on their page, sponsoring their content (posts, videos, events) or teaming up on a sweepstake or giveaway. Sponsored content is hard to beat these days, but it does require precise planning and execution.


2. Tap into YouTube

Surprised this is No. 2 on the list? That’s because this video platform has done a complete 180 in the past year or so. YouTube TV has certainly helped propel the renewed interest, but it seems as though Millennials and GenZ’ers are especially fond of the varied content that’s so readily available here. How can it help you drive more ecommerce sales? There are several ways, actually.


First, straight-up advertising has proven very effective on this visual platform. YouTube Search Ads can be built and deployed much in the same way that you would run a print ad. You pick the audience you want to target, craft the message and then deliver it straight to them while they are consuming content on YouTube. A second, and equally effective method is through YouTube Instream ads. These ads can bring people to your ecommerce site (or offer) after they are fed your message through an automated play feature embedded within a video.


Production integration is another productive avenue.  Through product integration, how-to tutorials, testimonials, field-tests, you name it. Does this mean you should run out and become a video producer? No. If you aren’t already doing it, research your space within the industry and find a good partner to either produce videos for you or market your products/services within their videos.


When it comes to sponsored content, the YouTube platform is highly versatile and intuitive. You can include direct links to your ecommerce site within the videos themselves, within the text descriptions and, best of all; they will live there forever (well, as long as you have your site).


The best YouTube/ecommerce strategy is going to be one that involves a lot of “how to” content. More than 70 percent of all YouTube searches involve those two little words. Caution: Be sure to constantly upgrade outdated links, sales and offers. This might mean that you will need to think more ubiquitously when creating new content (i.e. use third-party services as traffic drivers rather than point-of-sale offers). Also, always be experimenting with how you work your ecommerce strategy into the video mix.


3. Make Friends with Chatbots

These include Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat and, to a much lesser extent, Snapchat, but there’s an entire universe of support systems you’ve never heard of but probably use on a weekly (even daily) basis in business.


Chatbots save time and efforts by automating customer support. Technology giant Gartner forecasts that by 2020, more than 85 percent of customer interactions will be handled without human interaction. Customer service automation is huge, but chatbots are used for myriad other business tasks, including collecting information about users and then extrapolating that data for marketing and advertising campaigns. It doesn’t take much imagination to envision a scenario where chatbots can help drive more visits and business to your ecommerce store.


One point worth remembering: According to Buffer.com, 63 percent of retail customers said they view businesses more positively if the business directly responds to their social media messages. Nearly the same two-thirds majority say they believe the business cares about them if it has direct interaction via social media messaging, and 55 percent said they are more likely to trust the business. These numbers in and of themselves speak volumes to the importance of DMs.


If you’re new to chatbots, check out my Realtree blog from December 2018. This will help get you started on where to find free, template services that can help drive more ecommerce traffic.


4. Identify What Instagram Is … and Is Not

Everyone is on Instagram these days, and you would think it would rate higher as a viable ecommerce tool. I’m not seeing it, and I’m especially not buying it. Not to burst any bubbles, but the amount of self-proclaimed influencers on Instagram is beyond the realm of ridiculous these days. Of all the social media platforms, this one has perfected the science of preying on an individual’s insecurities. But from a business perspective, it’s hard to argue with the perceived success of having fan bases that measure in the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands.


However, that’s only part of the story. What’s most revolting is the amount of marketing dollars that are being haphazardly spent trying to drive traffic from Instagram pages to ecommerce sites. According to Nanigan’s Instagram Advertising Performance, the average cost-per-click (CPC) of an Instagram ad last year was 61 cents. But that study took into consideration all ads placed on Instagram. Prices varied widely depending on the industry. The average CPC for ecommerce sites was 73 cents.


In the end, Instagram’s advertising conversion rate is a pitiful 3 percent, according to Forbes. That’s only half as good as Facebook, and only one-third as good as Google (SEO). But that’s only part of the story. If you’re reliant on ecommerce, a 3 percent ad conversion rate looks even worse when you realize the ecommerce rate is just a fraction of that percentage.


Does this mean you should completely abandon Instagram? No. Just be really smart with how you use this platform. Brand extension has its time and place in all of this, but if it’s not moving the needle, do you really want to be dumping a ton of resources into it?


5. Seal the Deal

Once you have the leads, then what? To use another brick-and-mortar analogy, you have to find out how to get these folks to “walk through your doorway.” Some ecommerce stores use free digital downloads, while others use coupons, discounts (30% or higher is typically the trigger point) and, the always-enticing free shipping on first order offer.


Lead generation is time consuming. Don’t waste all that effort by ignoring the shoppers after they exit that first session. Make sure you have a built-in response mechanism that can follow up on sales, empty carts and overall shopping experiences.


Final Thoughts

Success will not come overnight. In fact, social media advertising is almost identical to traditional advertising in that aspect. Consistent, targeted messaging – spread out over time – is the key to converting social media “fans” into ecommerce customers. You have to build that trust. There’s really no way around it.



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