One of the fastest growing industries in the world now is eCommerce. Just to paint you a picture, e-commerce is reaching up to $2.304 trillion in sales last year, with a 24,8% YoY Growth, eMarketer says. Specifically, direct to consumer eCommerce brands are alone contributing significantly to the U.S. GDP. An IAB report claims that the industry accounts for 6% of the U.S. GDP.
It’s an amazing industry to dive in and start your first company and it’s not even very complicated. There are multiple platforms such as Shopify, Big Commerce, Magento, and Square Space to get started on in a few hours. If you already have decided what product will you sell online, connect your bank account, customize your eCommerce page and start selling. An equally good Shopify alternative is A Better Lemonade Stand. With A Better Lemonade Stand, readers get actionable marketing advice that feels equal parts friendly, helpful, and approachable.
But it’s obviously not all a simple slide. When the selling starts, multiple struggles appear for an entrepreneur in e-commerce, such as
- Competitor Analysis
- Customer Loyalty
- Product Return and Refunds
- Package tracking
- Price competition on price with other retailers
- Safe customer data keeping
- Promoting your products online
When looking for your first sale, you’ll search everywhere for a first customer and start sharing the links online all-the-time, including your friends, network, and family. You should stop right there.
Problem with that process is that it’s chaos. Complete chaos. You need to adopt a systematic approach to promoting your company online, with a strategy, execution, analytics and making sure to quantify this into better results.
We’ll start from social media, as social commerce is one of the primary drivers of sales online, thanks to mobile. You need to get more knowledge on how to sell products on social media and see what can really help your company.
It’s not about what you sell online, it’s about how you sell and why people should buy it. Social media is all about emotions and connections, and you should keep that in mind.
Let’s see what we’ll cover in this piece:
- How to Integrate Facebook Messenger With Your Ecommerce
- People Ask Questions? Then You Should Get Back to Them ASAP!
- Instagram Has to Become Your Friend
- Planning, Feedback and Engagement is The Key of Social Media
Social media platforms are all different from one another – audiences are and behave network-specific and content works in multiple ways. It’s natural, but when it comes to ROI, some platforms may improve your chances for building a more successful company. We all know that Facebook is dominating the social landscape with more than 2B worldwide users and it may be driving the most traffic to your eCommerce shop. Question is – will it drive any sales? It depends a lot on your audience and who your perfect customer is. It means that you need to understand how each platform talks and use it as your own strength. Let’s take them one by one, with their best benefits.
- Biggest audience with a lot of engaged users
- Massive amount of tools for Advertising
- Source of traffic & easy to use
- Mobile version is dominant (more than 54% of users)
- Great platform for Advertising
- Real-time communication with other users
- Opportunities to get into trending topics with hashtags
- Good platform for customer support
- Best for B2B companies
- Focused on connection and communication, not sales
- Good for staying up to date with business landscape
- Great for finding partners & employees
- It’s all about visual, needs beautiful images
- Instagram Stories drive traffic to your website
- Great for eCommerce websites
- More than 25M business advertise their products on Instagram
- Popular among teens
- Growing platform YoY
- Attracts massive brands
- Has a specific language
- Visually appealing platform
- Audience is mostly about women in US
- Multiple SEO angles you can approach to drive traffic
Integrate Facebook Messenger With Your Ecommerce
You don’t have to pay a lot of money for Intercom or Drift when you’re just at the beginning of your online shop. You can use some of the already available Facebook marketing tools for free. One thing you should definitely have is the Facebook Messenger snippet on your website to easily interact with your potential customers. You don’t even need a developer account.
Facebook launched last year a Messenger customer chat plugin to allow people to chat with businesses on their website. Customers can easily communicate with the online brand anytime, and keep track of all the conversations. All the instructions are available right here (with the official Facebook instructions) or using an alternative tool – Chatfuel and Socialbot.
Almost everyone is using Intercom, Drift or any other similar tools. You’ll probably think about using them in the future, but you don’t need that now. I recommend it only if you have hundreds of customers and conversations every week in order to manage them easier.
People Ask Questions? Then You Should Get Back to Them ASAP!
Social customer service means providing customer support through social media channels, for example Facebook or Twitter and quickly answer questions they have. Customers believe that solving a problem very fast is the key of a good service, which makes customer support an important pillar that you can’t neglect. Facebook & Twitter are already offering a lot of tools to help you provide better customer support.
It’s important to analyse the volume of your brand’s social media mentions and understand how many of them are for questions, asks, frustrations, feedback or reviews, then quickly act upon them. Time is the most important thing in social customer support and people feel that they deserve a response in the same day.
To become a great company providing excellent customer support on social media, you have to find an answer to the following questions:
How are you tracking comments about your company online?
The answer is simple, you can use multiple tools for social media mentions tracking, such as
Afterward, reply to people directly from your personal or company account.
How to do you go about finding comments and responding to customers?
Ideally, you have to sign up on all these platforms, and make sure you respond to them as soon as you get the notification. Make sure you have a good description of your page, and encourage people to ask more questions, if they have any.
What should you say or not say?
I think it’s a whole science on how you should communicate with your users on social media, and it’s really hard. You have to make sure that your team is on the same page, and everyone from your team speaks the same “voice” on social media. Stay positive and keep it transparent with your customers.
BONUS: I’d recommend you to download “Intercom on Customer Support” book.
How will you measure and report on this effort?
You need to keep track of all these conversations in one single place like customer support software. Learn from the bad ones and share the good ones with your team. Spread the love and quantify your efforts in social media. It’s very important to keep your customers happy with both product and service.
Instagram Has to Become Your Friend
As the giant of social media – Instagram is one of the best places to start promoting your online business. It’s visually appealing, easy to use and with an integrated platform for advertising that suits all your needs. Seems like Instagram is more popular than Facebook, as it grew up to 1B Monthly Users just recently. Who knew that the tables will turn like this from a simple photo sharing app?
It may be really hard to stand out in the beginning with so much competition of more than 25M brands on Instagram alone. However, with a lot of planning and stories that you can build on Instagram you’ll see the amazing results from Instagram very soon.
Use Instagram Stories feature – they are significantly improving traffic and therefore sales. You should use it to show stories from your company, behind-the-scenes and provide a personal experience for your followers. If you have over 10k followers on your brand account, link the product pages with the “Swipe Up” function.
Instagram Stories sell, and you should remember that.
Story Highlights is another feature that you should totally consider for your social media marketing on ecommerce. It could help attract new followers that missed your stories and understand if your content is worth their time.
To be engaging on social media, think like a storyteller. Ask yourself, what kind of content would get attention? It’s all about joy, nostalgia, sympathy – think of ways to amplify these reactions with your audience. If you’re looking for inspiration, I’ll leave you my personal list of brands that stand out on Instagram, see below…
- Sphinx Razors
- Naluu Underwear
- Yves Rocher
- Rifle Paper Co.
- Fresh Beauty
- Marc Jacobs Beauty
Instagram TV – IGTV – is another feature that you should definitely consider. It’s a video platform from Instagram based on long-form vertical videos. It was launched as an alternative to traditional TV and all the other streaming channels available online.
Planning, Feedback and Engagement is The Key of Social Media
You can use social media for ecommerce in many different ways. It can be to drive traffic to your website, make sales, promote eco-friendly shipping, reach brand awareness or interact with your customers. It’s also important to use the most relevant image sizes for all your posts. Social media is all about connections, engagement and relationships that you build. Studies show that customers who experience positive interactions with the brand are more likely to convert to customers and likely to recommend.
At the same time, social media users don’t want to see brands pushing their sales all the way with each post. They hate it. That’s why you have to continuously provide value to them, give them great content, inspire to improve their lifestyle and have a better life, give them something important and only after that – you “hook” with a sales pitch when time comes
Your social media strategy has to be efficient and this means every second of your team’s time is spent doing something important, that moves the needle. It’s best to use a tool to plan your social media calendar, such as Planable – it helps you visually plan and see how the content will look like, collaborate with your teammates and schedule the content to all the social media pages at the same time. It fits best the needs of a visual brand looking to make their own way to social media.
Carousel ads are also giving marketers an opportunity to showcase their products and tell stories in a more visual way. They’re already available on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. And can be used to highlight a feature of a product, variations or colours.
Ask questions and engage with your fans. It will allow you to be more active on social, get more feedback from your customers and get a loyal fanbase that will actively promote and share your posts all over, because they love you!
Dropped out of college, moved to another country with 2 of my friends and built Planable (Techstars London ’17), social media collaboration platform, at 19 y. o. Forbes 30 under 30