By Neil Patel
The ecommerce industry has become a very competitive space over the last several years.
In fact, more than half of Internet users across the globe made a purchase online in the last year. Younger generations with a strong purchasing power lead the way in this trend.
In fact, 67% of Millennials would rather shop online as opposed to going to a physical store. This is great news for your ecommerce brand.
Yes, obviously you’ve got lots of competition when it comes to selling products online. But if you have the right tools and marketing strategy, you can do a lot of things to gain an edge over your competitors.
You should know how to design a homepage that converts. It’s also important for you to know which elements add credibility to your website.
While all of this is necessary, it’s not enough. In addition to your website, you need to be taking advantage of as many platforms as possible to effectively sell your products.
That’s because you can’t always rely on consumers navigating to your website. You need to make sure your products are readily available for purchase in places where your customers spend lots of time.
Enter social media networks.
Just like ecommerce, social media continues to be a growing trend. There are nearly 2.5 billion social media users across the globe.
Experts predict that this number will reach 3 billion by 2021.
Your ecommerce brand may already have an active presence on social media. It’s a crucial marketing strategy, but you can take this approach one step further.
Use social media to sell your products.
If you’ve never done this before, you may not know where to start. Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place. I’ll tell you everything you need to know about how social commerce can boost the revenue stream of your ecommerce shop.
What is social commerce?
Let’s start with the basics.
Social commerce is a relatively new concept. The term was first used in 2005. But since then, its meaning and application have evolved.
With social commerce, you can sell your products through a third-party platform. More specifically, the platform you’re selling through is a social media network.
For example, if a Facebook user sees something they want to buy, they can do that directly through Facebook’s interface as opposed to having to navigate to the seller’s website.
This is great news for your ecommerce store. If you’re relying on consumers to visit your website after seeing an ad that promotes your products, it’s hurting your conversion rates.
It’s too many steps. Sure, you’ll still see some conversions. But simplifying the steps in the purchasing process will boost your conversion rates.
Take a look at the impact social media has on buying decisions:
The majority of consumers say they rely on social media to guide their purchasing decisions. When a consumer sees a product on social media, the chances of them buying it go up.
An additional 31% of people say they use social media to browse for products they are interested in buying.
For ecommerce businesses, it’s a no-brainer to implement a social commerce strategy.
Make your products available on Facebook
If you’re new to social commerce, Facebook is the most logical place to start. Eventually, you’ll add this feature to your other social media pages as well, but this is the best place for you to get your feet wet.
As I said earlier, social commerce is still new. Not every consumer has jumped on board with it yet.
But the majority people who have made purchases through social media platforms are doing so via Facebook:
As you can see, roughly 35% of social media users say they have never bought something through social media. But nearly 50% of social media users say they have used Facebook to make a purchase.
This makes sense. Facebook has always been a trendsetter in the social media world.
Their platform is extremely friendly for both everyday users as well as brands.
Facebook business pages have the ability to leverage this platform in several ways to drive sales.
First, they can list products directly on their page.
This feature mimics the appearance of a standard ecommerce shop we’ve all grown accustomed to.
Second, Facebook also implemented a “Shop Now” button that brings users directly to the brand’s website.
Check out this example from the DressLily Facebook page so you can see what I’m referring to:
On their Facebook page, you can see the “Shop” button on the left menu. This brings their customers to the screen you’re looking at now.
But if customers click the “Shop Now” button on the top of the screen, they will get brought to the brand’s website.
It’s important you take advantage of both of these buttons. As we previously saw, not all consumers have adapted to the social commerce trends. You don’t want to turn their business away. Some people may not be comfortable yet buying directly through Facebook, so giving them the option to visit your website is necessary.
To set up purchases directly through Facebook, you’ll need to associate a Stripe or PayPal account with your page.
Each of these charges 2.9% of the purchase plus an additional $0.30 per transaction.
I realize that these fees may be higher than the credit card fees on your website, but it’s just something you’ll have to accept.
Even though the payments get processed through third-party companies, you won’t need to use those platforms for collections. All your orders can be managed directly from your Facebook shop.
You’ll have real-time information and access to your current, pending, and past orders purchased through Facebook.
Sell on Instagram
Facebook purchased Instagram in 2012. It’s no surprise Instagram has seen so much success over the past several years.
On an average day, 95 million pictures and videos are published on Instagram. The implementation of their “Shop Now” feature is turning them into a social commerce powerhouse.
Here’s an example of how West Elm implemented this feature with a sponsored Instagram advertisement:
Imagine a user scrolling through their timeline. They’ll see not only the posts from profiles they’re following but some ads as well.
Just like a regular Instagram post, these ads can contain several photos and videos. It’s called a carousel ad. If the first image captures the user’s attention, they may scroll through the others to see what else this brand is selling.
Either way, the “Shop Now” button remains part of the post the entire time. It’s an effective way to increase conversions.
As we discussed earlier, the more steps involved in the purchasing process, the worse your results will be.
If your current Instagram strategy is having a post on your profile with a caption that says “link in bio” to entice purchases, it’s probably not a huge success. There’s too much friction.
But the “Shop Now” button simplifies the process and makes it easier for users to buy products in just a couple of clicks.
In addition to carousel ads, you can advertise using a single photo, single video, and slideshows. The slideshow creates a video by automatically looping up to 10 photos.
You can also change the CTA button of your ad to “Learn More.” Here’s an example from Rumble Boxing:
This button takes users to a landing page where they can get more information about classes and schedules. From here, they’re able to make purchases as well.
Selling through Instagram ads is great because you’re able to decide which users will see your posts.
You can customize your advertisement based on your goals, such as:
- brand awareness
- local awareness
- lead generation
- product catalog sales
- store visits
All these options are available when you build your business on Instagram.
Add buyable pins
As an ecommerce shop, you need to have an active presence on Pinterest as well. If you’re not familiar with Pinterest, I’ll briefly explain how it works.
Many users like to browse through the platform for inspiration, ideas, and products they’re interested in.
For example, someone may use Pinterest for ideas on how to decorate a room in their home. When they like something, they can save the post or “pin” it to one of their boards.
Pinterest is great for businesses because it has a feature allowing the businesses to set up buyable pins for ecommerce shops. Here’s an example of what it looks like:
When a user sees this table when they’re browsing on the platform, they can make a purchase with just a few clicks.
Your customers can pay with their credit cards or Apple Pay. This is great news for shoppers browsing on their mobile devices.
With this feature, buyers can complete the purchase process with just one click, which will increase your conversion rates dramatically.
Recent studies show that 73% of Millennials would like to have the ability to make all their payments from mobile devices.
Apple Pay helped Cocoweb increase conversions on their mobile platform by over 20%. Zin Home also saw a 20% increase in sales after implementing Apple Pay.
It’s important for you to establish your social commerce strategy on mobile applications that process transactions. In addition to Facebook and Instagram, Pinterest needs to be your priority as well.
Leverage social influencers
No social commerce campaign would be complete without the help of social influencers.
Micro influencers increase your product credibility and boost sales revenue. Once you form relationships with these influencers, you’ll have them post content to their personal profiles.
It’s a viable marketing strategy. That’s why the majority of businesses are increasing spending on influencer marketing over the next year:
This strategy is continuing on an upward trend. In the last 12 months, there has been a 325% increase in searches for “influencer marketing” on Google. If you haven’t been researching the topic, it looks like your competitors have.
Another reason why influencer marketing works is because it’s profitable.
Research shows that influencer marketing has a return on investment rate that’s 11 times higher than that of other content marketing campaigns.
Working with social influencers to promote your products will go hand in hand with your social commerce strategy.
It’s tough for ecommerce shops to stay relevant in such a competitive space.
But you should look at these trends as an opportunity as opposed to a struggle. To gain an edge over your competitors and increase sales revenue, make your products available for purchase on as many platforms as possible.
Take advantage of social commerce shops in addition to your traditional ecommerce website.
Start with Facebook. The majority of consumers who have bought products on social commerce platforms have used Facebook to do so.
But you should also leverage other social networks as well, such as Instagram and Pinterest.
Use social influencers in conjunction with your social commerce strategy to maximize your brand exposure.
How is your ecommerce company using social commerce platforms to drive sales?