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 Chuck Schaeffer The Future of Retail—Social Media For Retailers


Social Media for Retailers

Social Listening

I think most retailers grasp social listening and engagement, and I’ve written about social listening quite a bit so I'm not going to dive into this again here, other than to say that any retail social media strategy should begin with social listening. With all things social, it's critical to listen before you talk or engage. Each social network and social circle has its own norms and protocols and violating those customs for blatant self-serving interests will turn a retail revenue opportunity into a retail nightmare.

Social Media Advertising

Word of mouth advertising is the most effective form of advertising, and social media offers retailers a scalable opportunity to engage a single consumer online or in-store and see that consumer then advocate the retailer in his or her social circles thereby delivering an immediate, unbiased and exponential reach that could never be matched with paid advertising.

But the sad truth is that most retailers create lackluster social properties that are not integrated with their CRM, marketing and loyalty systems and therefore lack the ability to segment, nurture, engage and capitalize on the tremendous social media business opportunity. Exacerbating the problem, retailers tend to approach social media marketing and advertising with broad spray and pay campaigns. These are proven money losers.

Social ads by themselves deliver disappointing results — generally achieving conversions of .05-1% as compared to 2-3% for search and 3.5-4.5% for email. However, when targeting social ads to known prospects, loyalty members, social networks or anonymous visitors that have previously perused your website, the conversion rates rise exponentially.

For example, by placing a pixel or a cookie on a webpage you can begin tracking how anonymous visitors are checking out various products or other information. If you're using a marketing automation system you can take this visitor tracking to a much higher level. You can then take these digital footprints from your CRM or marketing system and use a social network API so that your brand or the particular products an anonymous visitor perused then show up in that anonymous visitors social media sites.

I recently created a CRM integration to Facebook that delivered a 3.3% social media conversion rate for a fashion retailer. This may not sound particularly high, but when you consider we're working with unknown visitors and turning these anonymous visitors into named customers, and further consider the extremely large volume of website and social network traffic available to work with, even a small conversion rate offers the potential to boost top line revenues in a big way.

In this case, I created the integration to export the anonymous digital footprints to the Facebook Exchange (FBX) custom audiences. This is Facebook's API and it then matches the visitor with their social network account and inserts your messaging, be it your brand or the products the visitor was previously checking out, into the users news/page feed and/or right side ad displays.

As you may expect, when delivering relevant, targeted and contextual ads social media conversion rates rise by a factor of 3 to 5. While this is a form of retargeting, don’t confuse it with search engine retargeting. Social media marketing using social network integration doesn't require Google Adwords, pay per click (PPC) or search engine results tagging. My experience suggests there's definitely a place for PPC retargeting, however, retargeting based on your own website visitors, instead of search retargeting which is based on SERP and dependent upon Google Ads network advertising, delivers a higher conversion and a lower cost per sale.

Next - Omni-Channel Retailing >>

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Word of mouth advertising is the most effective form of advertising, and social media offers retailers a scalable opportunity for consumers to sing their praises with a reach that could never be matched by paid advertising.


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