The rise of social networks has allowed retailers to translate consumer insights into a relevant and engaging customer experience, writes Josh Frith.
Gone are the days when customers would walk into a shop, be greeted by an assistant before browsing the shelves to find the ever elusive perfect pair of jeans. Nowadays, the trend has moved towards customers being able to find what they want with a few clicks of a mouse. More and more people are using online platforms to find what they want at the best quality and price.
So as the ABS reports another drop in retail spending and a recent Commonwealth Bank report shows that of the $9.5 billion spent on online shopping in 2010, only $5.3 billion was spent in Australia, how can retailers make their products stand out from the rest? This is an ever increasing challenge as brands no longer just have to contend with the store next door but are now competing on a global platform.
Companies need to harness social networking sites such as blogs, Facebook and Twitter to maximise sales opportunities. The sites are the perfect place to gain instant feedback from customers, advertise and create opportunities for customer engagement. There is a growing trend for consumers to interact with retailers through social networking sites, with most of them using them to find out about promotions and to browse products.
Giving potential customers something, or someone, to relate to can draw them in and hopefully turn interest into purchase. So how can your retail business best take advantage of this growing trend?
Start a story that your customers can engage with
Tailor the story to the people you are trying to attract to your site/page. We recently created “The Buddies,” a branded content series for weight loss company Tony Ferguson about two people who completed the program and shared their experiences on the brand’s Facebook page. New content was uploaded onto the Facebook page each day, along with a weekly video showcasing their trials and triumphs each week. The campaign was a success, with more than 3500 active viewers and an average 5000 views per post.
Use a measurable platform to monitor the campaign
Being able to monitor how many hits your site receives or how many people are viewing certain content is a must. You need to know if your content is producing the results you need to influence sales. Take a look at Google news alerts, use Twitter Search, tweetmeme, trendpedia, howsociable or buzz numbers to track online and offline conversations and listen and respond to both positive and negative conversations.
Spend time making sure you understand your customer and what they want
Read and take on board the consumer’s feedback and remember the people visiting your site are the ones you are trying to engage with your product. Research showed that many ING Direct customers were using iPhones to do their online banking, The Dubs helped create an ING Direct iPhone Application which includes access to accounts, a borrowing power calculator, up-to-date information on interest rates and the ability to transfer money using BPay.
Keep on top of the latest technology and trends (or find someone who is)
It takes a professional to stay on top of the newest information and use it in a positive way to advance your business. If you choose to start on this path there is no point making a half-hearted effort and wasting the original effort made. Consumers will turn away in droves if you don’t keep on top of the latest trends and information. Make sure all of your sites are regularly updated and interact with followers as much as possible.
Continuously update the content as consumers have a short attention span
If you don’t have new content on your social networking site then there is no incentive for consumers to continuously check it. But, in saying that, putting up content for the sake of something new is not the right way either. Make sure it is something your audience is interested in.
Also make sure not to overload them with too much at once. There is nothing more annoying than someone constantly updating a Facebook or Twitter account – especially if it’s about something your audience doesn’t care about.