7 Tips for Improving Online Sales Using Social Media

#1: Provide Sales Support With Native Chat

Native chatting (or “conversational ecommerce”) is using the messaging services within each social network to automate, customize, and personalize your communication.

With higher retention and engagement rates, these apps have quickly become the go-to choices for customers who want to connect more directly with businesses. In other words, if you’re not using chat apps to automate confirmations (and yes, even to sell), you’re missing a huge social ecommerce opportunity.

However, approach automated chat apps (like Facebook Messenger Bots) with caution. It’s too easy to cross over from the human to the inhuman side of conversational commerce.

For instance, using native chat for blatant marketing (as if it’s the newest and coolest email list) is a huge no-no. Likewise, so is relying on it to automate front-end sales.

Don't rely on native chat to automate the sales process.

Don’t rely on native chat to automate the sales process.

But used by humans for humans, the benefits can be massive.

Take Bontact, for example. It’s a multi-channel, real-time support service that allows you to manage native chatting on any network or device. Being able to respond to questions and problems natively (meaning within the natural channels your customers already communicate on) helps you provide better customer service, increase customer retention, and build a positive brand image.

Bontact's dashboard lets you manage all user conversations from a single place. This helps you tailor assistance (and even move toward upselling and cross-selling) based on consumer history.

Bontact’s dashboard lets you manage all user conversations from a single place. This helps you tailor assistance (and even move toward upselling and cross-selling) based on consumer history.

#2: Monitor Conversations About Your Business

Social media is a goldmine for listening to and participating in customer conversations. However, the constant onslaught makes it difficult to identify the information that really matters. Brand listening is the art of deriving valuable insights by observing, compiling, and analyzing conversations about your brand, industry, and competitors.

Keeping a finger on the pulse of your online audience helps you salvage tricky situations, reward brand advocates, generate new leads, mine creative marketing techniques, identify customer pain points, track sentiments, and gauge motivations. On top of that, the keenest companies track their competition, too, ready to swoop in and help any dissatisfied customers.

All of this requires you to go beyond monitoring your official social media mentions. That’s where Talkwalker comes in. It’s a social media analytics and reporting platform that will examine both text and visual content.

The social listening functionality taps into the complete spectrum of conversations across 150 million websites, social networks, print outlets, and media broadcasts. The tool’s analytics will benchmark your performance against competitors, pinpoint conversational themes, trace viral hashtags, and identify relevant influencers.

Monitoring your explicit brand mentions on social only tells you half of the story. Talkwalker pulls in comprehensive data, even when you're not tagged.

Monitoring your explicit brand mentions on social only tells you half of the story. Talkwalker pulls in comprehensive data, even when you’re not tagged.

#3: Encourage People to Share Their Customer Journey

Success on social media depends less on how much you talk about yourself and more on how much your customers talk about you. Similar to UGC, purchase-process sharing means encouraging consumers to share their favorite items before, during, and after a purchase.

As evidence, nearly 1 in 3 Facebook users has made a purchase after “sharing, favoriting, or commenting” on the product themselves.

AddShoppers is an on-site ecommerce platform that makes word-of-mouth marketing easy via incentivized purchase-sharing techniques like social rewards and refer-a-friend campaigns. You can leverage customer satisfaction to interact with audiences you otherwise might have missed or ignored, and strike while the (ecommerce) iron is hot.

Incentivize purchase-process sharing using AddShoppers. Your customers are far better salespeople than you'll ever be.

Incentivize purchase-process sharing using AddShoppers. Your customers are far better salespeople than you’ll ever be.

#4: Make It Easy to Buy on Your Social Channels

Social-driven retail sales are growing at a faster rate than all other online channels, and buy buttons play a starring role in this growth. Buy buttons let users make seamless and secure purchases from within social networks themselves. They reduce what’s normally a multi-step process to a single click. Let’s look at two options.

Facebook Buy Button

In June 2014, Facebook unveiled their first buy button to the public. This September, they launched a buy button for Messenger. If you host a Facebook store, you can showcase your best products, hold special Facebook sales events, display exclusive merchandise, and have a dialogue with customers.

Whether on your fan page, in your Facebook store, through paid ads, or even in Messenger itself, Facebook offers a host of direct buying options.

Whether on your fan page, in your Facebook store, through paid ads, or even in Messenger itself, Facebook offers a host of direct buying options.

Pinterest Buyable Pins

Pinterest rolled out buyable pins in mid-2015 to a select group of retailers, and now the option is available to everyone. The extended shelf life of pins, the enormous reach of repins, and the appealing aesthetics positioned Pinterest as a powerhouse of social ecommerce. A mixture of “aspirational and actionable” pins will stimulate purchases, increase product reach, and maximize revenue.

Pinterest recommends creating variations of buyable pins to address each stage of the social purchase journey: just looking, maybe I could, I'm narrowing it down, and I know what I want.

Pinterest recommends creating variations of buyable pins to address each stage of the social purchase journey: “just looking, maybe I could, I’m narrowing it down, and I know what I want.”

#5: Curate and Feature User-generated Content

User-generated content (UGC) is content created and shared by your fans, followers, and customers on social platforms, either spontaneously or through contests or giveaways.

Does curating UGC work for ecommerce? Absolutely. According to Business Insider, consumers who come across UGC are 97% more likely to convert than those who don’t.

User-generated images (images created by customers featuring your products) are especially powerful. In fact, when online shoppers were asked to choose between UGC (like people post to Instagram) and professional images on product description pages, the overwhelming preference was for Instagram photos: 77% to 22%.

Those kinds of findings are why Yotpo created their social curation tool for Instagram. Using authentic visuals will demonstrate social proof, drive high-intent users from Instagram to product pages, increase on-site conversions, and improve ad performance.

Yotpo lets you collect, curate, tag, and feature Instagram photos on social and your ecommerce site.

Yotpo lets you collect, curate, tag, and feature Instagram photos on social and your ecommerce site.

#6: Produce Seasonal, Topical, and Event-related Content

Nearly all ecommerce businesses operate on a seasonal calendar, and for the most part, they do a great job of creating sales, discounts, emails, and incentives. They’re also outstanding at stocking their social streams with announcements about all of those seasonal ecommerce activities.

Where most stores fall short, however, is with creating seasonal content that isn’t overtly promotional. Why is that a bad thing? Because dominating your seasonal activity with one pitch after another comes off as thoroughly disingenuous … and even antisocial.

The answer is to get organized with a social content-creation platform like PromoRepublic.

With a library of thousands of seasonal, topical, and thematic templates (including celebrations as specific as Hugh Laurie’s and other celebrities’ birthdays), PromoRepublic makes it easy to craft genuinely social posts related to the events your audience cares about. Plus, the content calendar lets you load and schedule those date-sensitive posts.

With PromoRepublic, you can create seasonal, topical, and event-related updates without being too salesy.

With PromoRepublic, you can create seasonal, topical, and event-related updates without being too salesy.

#7: Create Social-friendly Images

You’d be hard-pressed to find any kind of social content without visuals. As users get more discerning, however, they’re shunning generic stock images. A Chute Digiday study on the state of visual marketing determined that more than 70% of respondents find images at least twice as effective as text content alone.

The problem is what do you do if you’re not a designer and can’t afford to hire one? Two tools stand out.

For true-to-life photos, Buffer’s Pablo lets you select from over 600,000 royalty-free photos and/or upload your own, which is perfect for product pictures. Choose from network-specific image templates, 10 filters, 6 use-case templates, and 3 font arrangements: headline, body, and caption. No registration is required.

Add text to high-quality and royalty-free images using Pablo. Plus automatically create images sized correctly for each social network.

Add text to high-quality and royalty-free images using Pablo. Plus, automatically create images sized correctly for each social network.

For graphics and infographics, Venngage offers hundreds of templates to quickly create detailed visuals even if you have no design skills. The templates are categorized into Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced to accommodate your level of expertise and experience with the product.

Design shareable social media graphics or infographics with Venngage (even if you're not a designer yourself).

Design shareable social media graphics or infographics with Venngage (even if you’re not a designer yourself).

Conclusion

Do the words “social selling” conjure up sleazy images of unsolicited and heavy-handed pitches instead of conversations, the very thing social media is supposed to be about?

Ads on social media are far from ineffective, but if they’re the only tactic you rely on, the odds of your ecommerce business coming off as decidedly antisocial are high. Instead, it’s vital to add in one or more of these seven “musts” to your ecommerce social media mix.

We can help

Here are a few online store software and service we provided to help grow your sales and marketing. Give them a shot and see what they could do for you.

12 Ways to Increase Online Sales

One of the core values at my company is “Test everything; assume nothing!” That’s because we know that after all these years on the internet, you just never know what strategy or angle is going to work best for you…until you test it. This applies even to your star-performing strategies, because there’s always room for improvement.

The bottom line is, testing is the only way to discover what works–and what doesn’t–on your website, and it’s the best way to start increasing your sales exponentially. And if you take the plunge and use just one of the following tests, you’ll learn just how true this is, especially when you start seeing a dramatic improvement to your bottom line.

Test #1: Offer just one product or service on your home page.

Do you sell a number of products or services on your website? If so, I’d strongly recommend you test whether or not this is the best strategy for you. We’ve found that offering fewer products in one place with more copy describing those products always translates into higher sales.

It’s all about focus. Instead of trying to please everyone who visits your site by offering a large range of products with minimal detail about each one, if you offer just one product–or one set of related products–you can really focus on one key set of benefits and answer all the possible questions and doubts your visitors might have about your product. And you don’t have to stop selling your other products–you can always offer them to your customers from other web pages or by using follow-up offers ( see Test #12 )

Of course, the only way to find out for sure if this will work with your target audience is to test it! Write a sales letter for your lead product, and put it on your home page. Then run the test for a week or two to see how it increases your sales.

Test #2: Reposition your opt-in offer to boost your opt-ins and build a bigger list of loyal subscribers.

Your opt-in offer is your tool for gathering your customers’ e-mail addresses and building your e-mail list, which allows you to regularly keep in touch with your subscribers, build relationships of trust and loyalty, and sell them your products or services.

But did you know that where your opt-in offer appears on your site can have a huge impact on how many subscribers you attract?

If you don’t use a long sales letter, test placing your opt-in offer in as prominent a position as possible on your home page–the top left of a page is where visitors’ eyes are often drawn first. At the very least, test placing your opt-in in the “top fold” of your home page–the area of screen first visible to a visitor before they scroll down the page.

If you have a long sales letter, you should test placing your opt-in offer within your second “page” of text–after you’ve grabbed your visitors’ attention by identifying a problem they have and established your credibility by impressing them with your credentials, experience and glowing testimonials from happy customers.

You should also test placing your opt-in offer on every page of your site so it’s always in front of your visitors, and try placing it in a “hover ad” (see below). The more sign-up opportunities you provide, the more subscribers you’re likely to get. Test it and see.

Test #3: Add impact to your promotions with hover ads.

I’m sure everyone’s familiar with pop-ups: They’re the small windows containing a special offer or other information that sometimes “pop up” when you visit a website. Love ’em or hate ’em, pop-ups have been a very useful, online marketing tool for years. However, because a percentage of internet users disliked them, Google, AOL, Netscape and others developed pop-up blocking software to combat them.

Of course, internet users should be able to choose whether or not they want to view pop-ups. However, much of this software automatically blocked pop-ups, meaning visitors to a site started missing out on valuable information that could benefit them.

But that was before we discovered a very impressive technology that actually lets you use ads that behave like pop-ups but that aren’t pop-ups–so they don’t get blocked. They’re called hover ads, and they’re well worth testing on your site.

In fact, when we tested adding a hover ad to our site, sales increased by 162 percent! These ads are effective because they put important information, such as your opt-in offer or a special limited-time promotion, right in front of your targeted visitors.

You can test placing your opt-in offer in your hover ad to see if that boosts subscription numbers. When we did this, 86 percent more people subscribed to our newsletter. You can also test how many more people click through to a special offer page on your site through a hover ad vs. through a regular link on your home page.

Test #4: Feature different benefits in your headline.

Your headline has a huge impact on your sales. It’s often the first thing visitors to your site see so it must grab their attention and compel them to read your sales letter.

A successful headline should highlight a problem your target audience faces and stress the main benefit of your product or service in solving this problem. Let’s look at an example that illustrates how a headline can be changed for maximum impact.

One of our clients was using the following headline on his site: “Box4Blox–The Amazing Toy Storage Box For Lego.” The problem with this headline is that it tells you what the product is, but not what it does for you. It doesn’t give a visitor any good reason to continue reading the rest of the page.

Contrast that one with this: “Finally! Discover the Secret That’s Got More Than 50,000 LEGO-Crazy Kids Worldwide Actually LOVING Clean-Up Time!” This headline presents a major benefit of the product and a solution to a problem–in this case, how to get kids to clean up after themselves and actually enjoy it.

Test #5:

Establish a problem in your copy and show how you can solve it. In the first few paragraphs that appear on your home page, you need to go into more detail about the problem you introduced in your headline–showing your audience that you relate to them. (Only when your audience feels you understand their problem will they feel confident that you can solve it.)

Once the problem is established, you can then begin introducing your product or service as the solution to this problem. By emphasizing exactly how your product or service will solve your reader’s problem, you’re guaranteed to see a boost in sales.

Test #6: Add credibility to your copy–and enhance your visitors’ trust in you.

It’s vital that your sales copy establishes your credibility: It’s through this process that your visitors come to trust you and feel comfortable enough to buy from you. There are several ways you can do this effectively and we’ll talk about two of the quickest and easiest ones here. If you’re not already using these techniques, revamp your copy and test it against what you’re using now. You’ll be surprised by the difference.

One of the best ways to establish your credibility is to include customer testimonials in your sales letter. These should be excerpts from genuine e-mails or letters from customers expressing how your product or service helped solve the particular problem they faced. This last point is important: A customer testimonial that states how your product benefited them is much more effective than one that just says something like, “Your product is great!”

You can also enhance your credibility by adding a section to your copy that outlines your credentials, experience and any background information that makes you qualified to solve your target audience’s problem. Your aim should be to effectively convince readers that youare the best person to offer them a solution to their problem.

Test #7: Focus on your site visitors–not yourself.

The most successful sales copy focuses on the reader. Too often, business owners neglect this simple golden rule. Look carefully at your sales copy. Is it filled with references to “I,” “me” and “we”? Instead of using sentences like “I designed my time-management software with the busy homeowner in mind,” try “Your new time-management software will free up hours of time for you to spend with your family.” So try searching for “I,” “me” and “our” in your sales copy and replace them with “you” and “your.”

Test #8: Instill urgency in your copy–and convince readers they need to buy now!

It’s very important that your sales copy instill a sense of urgency in your visitors, compelling them to buy now. The best place to do this is toward the end of your sales letter, near the call to action (when you ask for the sale). Here are a few of the most effective ways to create a sense of urgency. Try testing each one against your current copy:

  • Offer a limited-time price discount where visitors must buy before a certain date in order to qualify for the discount.
  • Offer additional bonuses for free if visitors buy within a certain time frame.
  • Offer only a limited quantity of your products or services.
  • Offer a limited quantity bonus.

Test #9: Remove any references to “buying” from the top fold.

People usually go online looking for free information. If you start your sales pitch too early in your copy, you may end up losing them before you’ve had the chance to hook them. You first need to get them interested in what you have to say by relating to a problem they’re facing–as I outlined in Test #5 –and how you can solve it. Once you’ve accomplished that, you can start to sell to them.

Here’s an easy way to improve the tone of your sales letter: Try removing references to “buying,” “cost” and “sale” from the top fold, and compare the results to the copy you’re using now. Remember, don’t mention anything to do with making a purchase or spending money until after your reader is interested in your product and trusts you enough to buy from you.

Test #10: Boost your product’s desirability by adding images.

Images of your products make them seem more tangible and “real” to your visitors and are a powerful sales tool. But sometimes revealing what the product is too early in the sales process can kill the sale–you may need to highlight the product benefits and value before you reveal exactly what it is.

Test placing images near the top of the page vs. placing them near the call to action at the bottom (where you’re asking for the sale). You should also test adding images to your order page, and test the response to using no images at all. By carefully analyzing sales during each test, you’ll learn exactly where to place product images for maximum impact.

Test #11: Grab the attention of “scanners” by changing the formatting and appearance of your copy.

Very few visitors to your site will read every word of your sales copy from start to finish. Most will “scan” your copy as they scroll down the page, reading only certain words and phrases that jump out at them or catch their eye.

That’s why you need to test highlighting your key benefits to find the right combination that will grab the attention of people who scan rather than read online. These include:

  • Using bold, italics and highlighting (sparingly) to emphasize the most important benefits of your offer
  • Varying the length of your paragraphs so the page doesn’t just look like a block of uniformly formatted text
  • Adding sub-headlines that emphasize your key messages and compel your visitors to read the paragraphs that follow
  • Leaving the right-hand side of your text ragged (as that’s easier to read than “justified” text that uses the whole width of the page)
  • Centering important–but short–chunks of text or sub-headlines to further draw them out of the main body of text
  • Using bullet lists (like this one) to emphasize key points

Test #12: Fine-tune your follow-up process to maximize sales and attract more repeat business.

Following up with your customers and subscribers using autoresponders (automated e-mails) is crucial to generating more sales as it often takes several contacts before someone buys from your site.

In your follow-up e-mails to new subscribers who haven’t bought from you yet, you can restate your offer and ask for the sale again. Try sending an immediate follow-up after new subscribers sign up, giving them a reason to return to your site the same day they subscribe. You can test this against sending a follow-up three days after subscribers first visit your site to see which method works best.

Following up with existing customers is just as important. In fact, tests show that 30 percent of customers will buy again if they’re given the chance. It helps you develop profitable, long-term relationships with them and allows you to offer “backend” products relating to their original purchase. You can test sending a backend offer immediately after they make a purchase against sending one three days afterwards to see which approach generates more repeat business.

We can help

Here are a few online store software and service we provided to help grow your sales and marketing. Give them a shot and see what they could do for you.