2015 was one of the biggest years for eCommerce around the world, and social media had a big part in it. Out of the total global eCommerce sales, more than $30 billion were generated directly from different social networks, an increase of $10 billion from 2014, and more than $25 billion from 2011. Few other industries can demonstrate such staggering growth in just over five years. And it’s only getting bigger.
2016, however, promises to be an even bigger year for eCommerce in general and social commerce in particular. More than 59% of marketers believe that social commerce will be the fastest growing trend in the coming year. Leading social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are introducing different eCommerce features to help their users take advantage of this trend.
If you run an eCommerce business or depend heavily on different online channels for generating sales, you need to be prepared for the social commerce boom we’re likely to witness in the next 12 months.
Here are some of the trends you need to stay in line with in order to take advantage
1. Customer Reviews Will Make or Break Your Sales
Social networks have had a huge impact on the way people purchase things online. A study by Hubspot shows that people are 75% more likely to purchase a product when referred by a friend on a social network. In general, over 90% of people take brand recommendations from friends and 70% trust consumer reviews more than advertisements.
With such an overwhelming number of people trusting the opinion of their social networks, customer referrals and reviews can prove to be the game changer for your business.
To ensure that your customers refer your brand to their friends on different social networks, you need to provide them incentives like check-in discounts, and engage with them regularly.
The higher your engagement level with your target customers, the greater chance you have of generating positive word of mouth for your brand.
2. A Memorable Buying Experience Will Win You Loyal Customers
With every other brand offering discounts, exclusive offers and value added services to attract customers, customer experience and the simplicity of your buying process are two factors that can help you stand out and be noticed.
The rewards of providing exceptional user experience are huge. According to Salesforce, consumers are willing to spend almost 54% more for a better purchase experience. On the other hand, research also indicates that it takes a brand almost 12 exceptional purchase experiences to overcome the damage of one bad experience.
For an eCommerce website, some of the key user experience factors are website speed, a mobile friendly design, a quick checkout phase and multiple payment options.
An alternate approach, which several leading brands and entrepreneurs have adopted, is to sell directly on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social networks using different social media store apps.
This allows your followers to purchase products while staying on their preferred social network. Getting rid of the additional step of routing users from a social network to your online store improves the user experience and makes the buying process more convenient.
A good example of an effective online store that offers a delightful customer experience is Selz, a digital selling and online store app. By adding a Facebook store to your fan page, you can sell directly to your followers in an environment they trust. From product selection to checkout, the complete process takes place on Facebook. Plus, your buyers can pay in a secure manner using PayPal and Credit/Debit Card.
In the age of social commerce, selling digital products like eBooks or physical products to your followers and prospects on a social network is a great way to offer a memorable user experience and get your buyers to share your brand with their friends.
3. Facebook Ads Will Take Your Business to the Next Level
2015 was the year when Facebook ads made huge strides as compared to the previous years. Marketers invested heavily in Facebook advertising due to which Facebook’s ad revenue increased by more than 42% from 2014, and is expected to reach almost $27 billion dollars by the end of 2017.
The audience targeting and if/then features of Facebook ads make it ideal for your eCommerce business. A study by Invesp shows that nearly 92% of marketers in the US are using Facebook ads to prom ote their brand and special offers.
But creating effective Facebook ads requires detailed competitor analysis and an accurate understating of your target audience.
If you want to invest heavily in Facebook advertising (which you should), this step by step guide by Neil Patel will help you get started.
4. The Timing and Frequency of Your Posts Still Counts
No matter how much you invest in paid advertisements, organic reach and engagement on social networks is still important for your business.
Facebook, and some of the other leading social networks, have significantly cut down the organic reach of user generated content, but there are still ways you can get more eyeballs on you posts without spending money.
Two key factors in this regard are the timing and the frequency of your posts. Posting at the right times, and with the right frequency, will not only help you reach more people, but also increase your chances of generating user engagement and driving action.
For example, according to research, the best times to post on Instagram is between 2PM – 5PM on Wednesdays, while the worst time is between 6AM – 9AM on any day. Similarly, Tweeting on weekends can get you almost 300% more engagement that weekdays. You can find out the peak times and ideal posting frequency of the top social networks in this detailed infographic.
5. Stop ignoring Pinterest, Instagram and WhatsApp
While Facebook is clearly the leader when it comes to generating eCommerce sales, you can’t ignore Pinterest, WhatsApp and Instagram because of the huge business potential they offer.
In fact, according to Statista, the average per order value for Instagram ($65) and Pinterest ($58.95) is higher than the average per order value of Facebook ($55). Both Pinterest and Instagram are primarily visual based social networks with a huge user base.
Even fewer marketers are using WhatsApp to its full potential. WhatsApp is not just a messaging app anymore. Around the world, more than 50 billion messages are sent every day on WhatsApp. Research show that more than 90% of text messages are read within 3 minutes, and mobile users are 4x-5x more likely to take action on a sales offer as compared to desktop users.
Are you getting any ideas?
Several leading brands are already using WhatsApp to reach their clients for relationship building and exclusive offers. 2016 might just see the rise of direct eCommerce marketing through WhatsApp as well.
With technology and communication channels evolving quicker than ever before, it’s hard to predict with certainty what the next 12 months might have on offer. However, past data and current trends strongly suggest that 2016 will be a major year for eCommerce, with social media playing a key role in it. The data backed trends I’ve in this post are likely to dominate the coming year. If you stay on top of them, you can have a year of unprecedented success with social commerce.