If you’re a small business you’ve probably come across the term ‘omnichannel’ whilst building your business strategy. Even if you haven’t, you’re likely already implementing it.
The world of ecommerce is constantly expanding, and it’s more important than ever to make your mark as an online seller. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused online shopping’s popularity to increase even further as global ecommerce sales grew by 27.6% in 2020 and are expected to have risen further throughout 2021.
If you want to make sure your business stands out then it’s important to harness all resources, and one of the most powerful at your disposal is the juggernaut that is social media.
In a 2021 survey 54% of consumers in the US said they had discovered a new small ecommerce retailer via social media in the last year, with 78% citing Facebook as the primary service they find such retailers through. By creatively making social media work for you, you’ll be able to boost both your brand reach and sales potential.
Conversational commerce, first coined by Uber’s Chris Messina in 2015, refers to the integration of messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp into the selling process. Data collected by eMarketer predicts 2022 will see 3.21 billion users across mobile phone messaging apps, and with that figure set to continue to grow it’s important for sellers to meet users where they are.
Figures show 76% of consumers interact with brands online for support both prior to and following their purchase, and it’s this that should drive your decision in how you can make use of conversational commerce for your business. The immediate nature of a conversational commerce approach also simplifies collecting feedback, as customers can immediately contact you should they have any issues or queries.
The two main approaches to commercial commerce are live chat and chatbots, both of which can be integrated into a dedicated website or through your business’s social media channels.
Chatbots can be extremely helpful; they remove the need to employ additional staff whilst also being a great way to automate a key element of your online selling operations. 40% of consumers have no preference regarding how their concerns are addressed, and the fast response time of chatbots can help keep customer satisfaction high. The range of queries a chatbot can handle may be very limited however.
Live chat is certainly the more popular option amongst potential consumers, with 41% preferring live chat over chatbots. Through a live chat service, customers will be able to have more complex and multi-stage queries answered. Live chat services also boast a 73% satisfaction rate in comparison to other customer support channels. If you already sell through Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter then you may already be employing a live chat service, but it’s important to prioritise these channels and set meaningful objectives in order to best meet the needs of your customers.
In years past, sourcing customer testimonials and employing popular figures to promote your product used to be the sole purview of high fliers like Nike, Coca Cola, and McDonalds. The widespread integration of social media into the modern business world however has meant this process is now open to even the smallest online seller, particularly with the rise of influencer culture.
Influencers are individuals present across social media channels such as Youtube or Instagram who can work with brands to promote products to their audience. Instagram is the most popular of these channels, with users of the platform expected to hit 1.3 billion by 2023. These audiences can be extremely broad, or an active and dedicated following within a specific niche.
One of the benefit of utilising influencers for promotion is one of trust. Influencers build their audiences on their authenticity, transparency, and honesty, and their audiences trust recommendations from them because of this. This also helps to create deeper relationships between you and your customers.
Another benefit of utilising influencers are the reach they can bring to you as an online seller. Traditional marketing techniques are proving less effective, and even online advertising’s reach is limited given 40% of customers on laptops now utilise ad blocking technology.
Finally, it’s important to consider the return on investment influencer marketing can offer to you as an online seller. A Tomoson survey found businesses make $6.50 to every $1 spent on influencer marketing, whilst research from the International Scientific Conference on Economic and Social Development revealed 87% of participants will choose products recommended by an influencer when making a purchase.
Whilst influencer marketing offers businesses an opportunity to utilise their marketing budget for gains across social media, not every online seller may have access to such funds. This is where user-generated content (UGC) comes in.
User-generated content refers to any unpaid or unsponsored content created by individuals outside of your brand. This can range from an Instagram post featuring your products, a Tweet raving about what great service you offered, or even a TikTok video about how they found your page. Ultimately however it’s up to you to utilise UGC in order to promote yourself.
A primary advantage of UGC is that it’s instantly relatable for customers who often want to see evidence of the product or service they’re paying for prior to purchase. 92% of customers trust recommendations through UGC over paid content, and should the individual be someone they know through social media channels this can help further increase trust in your brand. User-generated content is also easily accessible to online sellers.
A crucial step in sourcing UGC is ensuring you establish a two-way relationship between yourself and the content creator. Seeking permission to use the content is not only a morally correct move, but can also help further increase trust in you as a seller.
Whilst promotion remains a key cornerstone of promoting yourself as an online seller, it’s clear that best utilising strategies such as user-generated content and influencer marketing require a detailed knowledge of how your customer base operates online. Enter Social Listening.
Social listening refers to the process of analysing conversations related to your business, what those conversations are about, who is taking part in them, and what trends you can make use of to further promote yourself. These conversations can include mentions of your business, your products, your competitors, and the state of the marketplace you operate within.
Additionally, these conversations can be both positive and negative. If a customer takes to Twitter to complain about poor service, correct use of social listening can enable you to both address that individual’s concern and sure up your brand’s image. Engaging with customers can also help to boost sales, with individuals contacted directly on social media spending 40% more than other customers.
It’s important for social listening to be used as a qualitative process rather than a quantitative one. Whilst a process like social monitoring can tell you the precise amount of hashtags or posts made in relation to your company, social listening is about understanding why these interactions are taking place. Utilising such an approach requires setting clear and definable objectives however, otherwise you run a real risk of becoming hyper-focused on one interaction type. Goals to focus on can include the following:
What are prospective and current customers saying about my business?
What trends do you want to monitor in your industry?
Who are your competitors? What are your customer saying about them, and what are their customers saying about you?
What content works best for you?
In order to increase your sales potential as an online seller it’s become ever more important to utilise social media in new and creative ways.
Conversational commerce can help you to meet customers where they are through the integration of social media messaging services and your business. You’re able to make sales, answer customer queries, and react to feedback organically through you pre-existing social media channels.
Working with influencers can help greatly extend your businesses’ reach and help you to make inroads into new audiences. The nature of the relationship between influencers and their audience also helps in marketing your products, as a strong recommendation from the right influencer could see a boost to your sales. The return on investment for influencer is also high, meaning even a small business can reap the benefits.
Similar to influencer marketing, the use of user-generated content (UGC) can also help to drive sales through trust in your brand. By making use of content derived from real customers, you’re able to show prospective customers your product or service in the real world. With many individuals happy for brands to make use of their content, UGC also promises a high return on investment.
Finally, the use of social listening can greatly increase your awareness of how your business is perceived by current customers, potential customers, and your competitors. It’s reliance on a qualitative rather quantitative approach allows you to more organically identify trends in the marketplace too, allowing you to tailor your content to best boost sales.
Currencies Direct is one of Europe's leading non-bank providers of currency exchange and international payment services. Since we were formed in 1996, we've maintained our focus on providing innovative foreign exchange and international currency transfer services to corporations of all sizes, online sellers and private individuals. We have also expanded our services to provide dynamic and pioneering "business to business" solutions to help companies, tier 2/3 banks and other non-bank financial institutions to process their international payments. Our headquarters are in the City of London (United Kingdom) and we have operations in continental Europe, Africa, Asia, and the United States. Currencies Direct is jointly owned by private equity firms Palamon Capital Partners and Corsair Capital.