Whether you are selling physical or digital products, or solutions and services, there’s no denying that the competition is getting fiercer every year across industries and sectors. In a hyper-competitive market, businesses need to find innovative ways to retain their competitive edge, be it through better branding and marketing or better pre and post sales experiences.
There is a lot you can do to improve your sales and build your brand nowadays, especially when you consider all the tools, platforms, and talent that are available online. The problem becomes apparent when business leaders start to think of sales and marketing one-dimensionally.
Instead of focusing on one main sales touchpoint and approach, you need to open new, efficient sales touchpoints to reduce customer effort and simply make it easier for people to buy. This is where social commerce becomes relevant.
Let’s take a look at why social commerce is the future of sales and the best practices you can employ right now to improve sales and grow your business.
How social commerce enhances the sales funnel
Social platforms of all kinds are invaluable assets for effective sales funnel management. Social efforts are typically focused on top-of-funnel actions like building awareness or developing audience interest for your brand and its offering, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, these platforms can and should be geared towards bottom-of-funnel actions as well.
It is especially important to prioritize bottom-of-funnel actions for closing the sale and renewing interest for a repeat purchase as a part of the post-sales process. In a nutshell, social platforms enhance all stages of the sales funnel.
It is crucial to view social channels as a way to sell and inspire people to keep coming back for more, whether you are focused on an Ecommerce sales funnel or a SaaS sales funnel with a focus on customer retention.
Make sure to:
Revise your social strategy with your sales team
Brainstorm sales-oriented messaging for your social audience
Organize your social advertisement strategy around valuable incentives
Identify the key pain points that prevent your followers from buying on social
Identify ways to sell to your social followers without asking them to leave the platform
Optimize all links and landing pages to facilitate quick sales when they do leave the platform to check out your products or services
Capitalizing on affiliate marketing through social platforms
Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways for brands to expand their reach and tap into new audience pools, as well as an amazing opportunity for influencers, bloggers, and brand affiliates to create another revenue stream. Affiliate marketing, in both B2B and B2C, is another way for you to boost your social media presence and win over entire audience groups through influencers and authority pages.
The key to long-term affiliate marketing success lies in your ability to nurture your relationship with your influencers and keep delivering valuable incentives to their audiences. After all, why would anyone check out your brand if there’s no discount code or special deal waiting for them?
With that in mind, boost social commerce by expanding your affiliate program with a focus on customer acquisition. To do this, consider:
Researching potential influencers and quality affiliates
Review affiliate requests carefully and ensure brand compatibility
Come up with new incentives like bundles, one-off deals, and discounts
Develop a loyalty program you can offer immediately after the sale
Train your sales staff to take over communication and nurturing when someone reaches out through an affiliate. Consider using a project communication plan to ensure that your team is consistent in their messaging
Building brand authority and trust on social channels
We’ve mentioned incentives and a sales-oriented approach to social management, but for all that’s worth, it’s important to remember that powerful brands are the ones that sell the most and retain the highest number of customers. We cannot overstate the importance of having a powerful brand presence on social media; a powerful brand shortens the sales cycle and builds a loyal customer base.
The purpose of social media marketing and branding is to improve sales, but all these efforts will be in vain if you don’t offer a seamless shopping experience. It is crucial, therefore, to weave sales into the overall brand experience on your brand’s social media.
Bring your sales experts in on your social branding strategy to uncover the brand elements that directly inspire people to buy a product. Create a seamless brand experience by integrating brand messaging and visuals with the ability for customers to place orders directly via chat.
Opening all direct communication channels
There are a host of different ways you can generate a sale on social channels without customers reaching out to you directly. Social commerce is a multi-faceted process with several potential touchpoints, including direct and indirect conversion, driven by everything from your style guide to your messaging and the tools you use to facilitate conversions.
A direct conversion on a social channel is any sale you generate without the customer ever leaving the platform. An indirect social sale would be any action a customer takes through social media that ends up in a sale, whether they go to a landing page, or if they reach out via phone, email, or video.
In the B2B sector in particular, potential customers and partners book one-on-one video calls to get in touch and get a more personalized shopping experience, demonstrating the need to open all methods of direct communication with your social audience.
From video and audio calls to DMs and chat, your social accounts and posts need to make it easy for people to get in touch. This includes your ads, which can lead to product pages and, depending on your customers’ needs and preferences, can also open an instant communication channel - like an instant phone call.
Talent requirements for successful social commerce
What does it take to run a successful social commerce strategy through all its different stages and processes? For one, keep in mind that social commerce requires a dedicated team of professionals. Many business leaders think this can be handled by one social manager or a dedicated social media strategist, due to the words “social media” being typically associated with marketing and lead generation.
In reality, when it comes to selling, you need talent from different areas. Involve sales experts and strategists and ensure you get marketing help from digital marketers, community managers, support and communications staff.
This dedicated unit will ensure that you’re working towards social commerce and not just social marketing goals, which tend to become the sole focus without the input of specialized sales experts. Additionally, build a trained customer service staff that maintains communication with potential and existing customers to incentivize purchases.
When it comes to eCommerce merchandising on various platforms such as your website and social channels, you want to be able to sync all sales operations to your central system to avoid costly mistakes and delays. This allows you to keep your product pages updated by replacing ads for out of stock items with ads for in stock products.
Direct social sales, such as orders via social media direct message, must be logged into your sales and inventory sheets and placed in order processing. This is how to get social media for eCommerce up and running efficiently with minimal risk of error or order mismanagement. If your online store is powered by the Shopify platform, you can continue your learning path with a Shopify expert at eCommerce Fastlane. They are the web's largest source of truth for Shopify store marketing strategy.
Leveraging click-to-call CTAs on social channels
We mentioned briefly the importance of being available for your customers to get in touch with you through social channels. They can do this via direct messaging, of course, but they should also be able to get in touch through other forms of communication, like phone calls, email, and other.
Now let’s discuss how to make these features available to customers in a streamlined, UX-friendly way. Many social platforms nowadays allow businesses to set up a CTA button on their page that allows their followers and customers to instantly complete a certain task, such as booking a table at a restaurant, for example. It can also take the form of a click-to-call CTA that, when clicked, immediately connects the customer to a sales or support representative via phone call.
When it comes to designing these CTAs, they need to:
Be clear and concise
Use brand messaging and tone of voice
Use brand design guidelines in terms of typography, graphics, and color selection
Boosting sales with user generated content
You probably already know by now that user generated content is a valuable piece in any comprehensive digital marketing strategy, but what you might not have considered is that you can leverage user generated content to inspire social sales and improve social commerce as a whole. In fact, promoting user generated content to inspire conversions across your social accounts is one of the top tactics to employ when focusing on social commerce.
UGC inherently builds social proof for a brand and improves word of mouth marketing, which is your opportunity to weave in a much-needed sales element into the mix. People trust the actions of other customers, making user generated content the perfect strategy to inspire them to buy.
With that in mind, use customer reviews in marketing and sales activities as well as other forms of UGC like customer testimonials, videos, images, tags and shoutouts, blog posts, announcements, and anything else the customer creates to boost your brand’s image. To add a sales element that targets social commerce directly, revisit the incentives we talked about earlier to motivate customers to mention your brand in their content.
Schedule promotional posts consistently
Consistency is the key to social media success and sales growth. You not only need to remain relevant in the hearts and minds of your audience, but also extend your reach to new audiences over time. To achieve this, post regularly with a heavy emphasis on sales and why potential customers should decide to buy something from you.
One of the most effective digital marketing practices includes social media consistency. This doesn’t mean spamming your audience with deals, discounts, and sales CTAs, but it does mean delivering consistent, value-driven messaging and incentivizing them to complete any action that leads to a sale.
When we say consistency, we mean having a consistent presence and visibility on your social channels through organic posts in addition to paid advertising.
Over to you
Social commerce is not only a great opportunity for businesses to expand their sales capabilities and open another sales channel, it has become a necessity in the oversaturated online world. While emphasis on social commerce is necessary to keep up with and surpass your competitors, it has also become vital in meeting the demands of the modern consumer.
Everyone is on social media nowadays, and modern customers expect a smooth and straightforward shopping experience without leaving the platform.
By optimizing customer experience on social media and your website, you’ll bring in new customers from your most lucrative social channels.