As per the general theme of 2020, the upcoming Christmas season is going to be looking (and trading) a little differently this year.
Luckily, despite these unprecedented times, there are ways that you can equip your business for a different holiday trading period by utilising your digital presence and social media to market and sell your products and services.
e-Commerce has been a dominant player in the business landscape for a long time now, but with physical distancing and restrictions still in place, it is more important than ever that you ensure your business is set up properly to trade online. With new Facebook and Instagram shop functionality and the growing capabilities of Messenger chatbots, combined with a strong digital strategy and social media presence, you can best equip yourself and your business for a digitally-dependent holiday season.
The Current Climate
What we know for sure is that online shopping rates have spiked dramatically this year.
Reports from Amazon present a sharp jump in sales (40% in the second quarter of 2020 compared with Q1 2019) hitting close to $89 billion (July 2020.) Despite the additional $4 billion the company had to spend in coronavirus-related expenses and the 175,000 new hires that were made to help keep up with demand, the retailer still managed to double its profits.
With this information we can predict that the Christmas season in our local economy will reflect the same shift away from retail towards ecommerce as more and more Christmas shoppers will be relying on online shopping.
Social Media Use
If there ever was a time to prioritise and invest in your social media marketing strategy, it’s now. There are so many benefits of a strong social media presence for effective marketing and reaching your target consumers. It is cost effective, with frequent organic content costing nothing to post, whilst maintaining the messaging of your products and brand. Additionally, this non-paid content establishes an authentic connection between your audience and your business/brand, where paid advertisements are easily identified as just that.
Paid ads should also play a role in your digital marketing, but accompanied with content of value and a strong brand voice, your ad spend could spread a lot further than you think.
Social media is also (fundamentally) a communication tool, so take advantage of that! It can be utilised as a forum for customer care via the use of common engagement functions (commenting, messaging, sharing and liking are all ways for consumers to voice and express any concerns they may have, and equally provide your business with an effective way to address and resolve any uncertainty.) Providing this support equates to a higher level of consumer-confidence and selling-power.
Another offset of this concentrated communication is having a highly engaged audience. This is one of the most valuable aspects of using social media for marketing as your audience’s engagement with your posts creates personal endorsement amongst your target market. This is one of the most effective ways to have your marketing messages heard (and acted upon) online.
Functions to Utilise to Ensure You’re Set Up to Trade Online
With some new additions to the ecommerce functionality of our most used platforms, and some renewed importance of existing features, you have the ability to convert your social media platforms into not just communication tools but fully functioning ecommerce businesses.
If, prior to now, you have 100% relied on brick and mortar trading, and have found yourself stuck between a brick and a hard place (pun intended) these new features are going to help you tremendously in transitioning to a more digitally-dependent business. It is now easier than ever to set up your Instagram and Facebook pages with streamlined and functional online shops.
Instagram & Facebook Shops
Facebook announced and introduced Shops for Instagram and Facebook earlier this year, making it even simpler for business owners to build an online shop. Instagram & Facebook shops provide an immersive full-screen storefront that enables businesses to ‘build their brand story and drive product discovery–all in a native shopping experience’ (Facebook 2020.) This allows shoppers to make purchases through your businesses Instagram page, feed stories or facebook. You will also be able to connect with customers through WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram DM to answer questions and offer support.
This new feature means you no longer have to try and streamline the conversion between your social media pages and your external ecommerce platforms as it is now entirely seamless, allowing your audience to make purchases without having to leave the app.
Providing you are an eligible business, you can use this free feature and have the freedom and ease of presenting a customisable digital shopfront through Instagram and Facebook.
Facebook are also adding features across their apps, such as live shopping and loyalty programs to help shoppers discover and purchase your products.
If building an external ecommerce website was always something that deterred you from shifting to online sales, then perhaps this new feature might be just the thing to make it that little bit easier to set your business up online and reach those customers you otherwise might not be able to with physical retail this year.
Facebook messenger bots are a great way to automate your customer service provisions and can really help to increase your conversions.
By pre-designing high-quality messages to likely customer enquiries you are able to curate a bank of immediate responses to any questions your customers might have, in real time. By utilising this function you are providing the quickest response rate to customer enquiry which gives you the highest likelihood of retaining that customer’s attention and subsequent purchase. In providing this immediate response you are decreasing the likelihood of the customer sourcing another supplier or buying from someone with a quicker response rate.
Another benefit of using Messenger chatbots is that they build brand awareness. If you curate your automatic messages effectively you have the ability to provide extra information and guidance to shoppers, and it gives you another opportunity to convert potentially ‘cold’ audience members into a warm audience and move them down your sales funnel.
Some ways to ensure you are getting the best results from your chatbot messages is to provide a greeting message–an initial greeting of this nature will be the starting point to help warm up your audience. You can then follow up with a prompt for the shopper to head to the product page knowing that their likelihood to respond is higher due to the established rapport from the introductory bot messaging.
Things to keep in mind when writing your automated bot messages is not overdoing the text, using emojis, using breaks between messages and including images or GIF’s. This helps not only to keep the communication simple and clear, but it also pertains to the casual, informal and friendly nature of the chat-bot messaging. Overly formal messaging in this format can make the shopping experience feel stilted and uncomfortable, which is not conducive to sales conversions.
Successful implementation of chatbots alongside your other advertising formats can really help to elevate the success of your ecommerce business.
Are You Prepared?
Now that we’ve equipped you with the starting point to get your business set up for effective online trading, you can feel confident heading into this Christmas season that you have done everything you can to prepare your business for a different holiday trading period.
However, if you still feel uncertain about any element of your social media marketing strategy or wish to strengthen your digital presence, feel free to get in contact with us via a discovery call to see what we can do to help you prepare your business and improve your social media marketing strategy and communications.
This year, more than ever, your social media presence will be the key to getting your message out to your consumers. Don’t leave it to chance! Be prepared, and get your business the Attention it deserves.