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ECommerceTimes.com

Social Media Ads, Chat Apps Pegged to Power Summer Sales

By Jack M. Germain
Jun 18, 2021 4:00 AM PT
social media and chat apps driving post-pandemic retail e-commerce

Consumers will spend more money shopping online this summer in response to ads they see on social media if deals are offered by vendors. Shoppers also are more receptive to chat commerce, a potential new trend.

Smartly.io, a social advertising automation platform for creative and performance marketers, on April 29 announced new research underscoring the role social media plays in influencing shoppers in a world changed by the pandemic.

Now more than ever, brands are seeking ways to stay relevant. Marketers must be prepared for every possible scenario as they face varying stages of reopening across regions. They also must be keenly aware of a range of preferences from consumers, noted Smartly researchers.

The Smartly survey found that consumers are still relying on social media to stay in touch. Specifically, more than half (56 percent) of global respondents and 64 percent of those in the UK said they are using social media to connect with friends and family.

Dynata conducted the global survey of 1,000 consumers in the U.S., UK, Germany, and Australia. The research explored consumer sentiment around social media today. The results offer eye-opening insights for brands to consider for their advertising strategies.

Consumers anticipate a return to normalcy. That, in turn, reflects their eagerness to spend, said Robert Rothschild, CMO, vice president and global head of marketing at Smartly.io.

"For brands, social media provides an opportunity to reach targeted consumers in an impactful way. To be successful, marketing teams must balance their strategy to current consumer preferences across platforms, formats, and audiences. Relevant, localized, and timely content will be key to winning share in a competitive marketplace." he told the E-Commerce Times.

Chatting Trending

Recent research by chat commerce provider Clickatell shows a growing interest among consumers in using the chat apps they use to talk to friends and family -- to make purchases. This could be a supplement to social media ads that influence consumers.

Although the report primarily focuses on the use of chat apps to deal with banks, it also shows increasing appeal for using chat apps to buy merchandise.

Clickatell's first Chat Commerce Trends Report finds that 70 percent of respondents would use a chat app with banks and retail vendors as a communications channel. The report also revealed that 77 percent are open to purchases via their chat apps.

The survey results released March 30 of over 1,000 U.S. banking consumers conducted by Dimensional Research in partnership with Clickatell suggest that chat is the next big thing for customer service, marketing, and payments. U.S. consumers show an interest in extending the use of chat from friends and family conversations to commerce.

Almost nine in 10 consumers already use chat apps, such as WhatsApp, Apple's iMessage, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, and Instagram chat on mobile devices, the research shows. It also demonstrates that 54 percent have used a chat app to talk to a business, with younger generations doing so at even higher rates.

Consumers have moved to chat in mass. It is becoming the number-one preferred digital engagement platform, according to Pieter de Villiers, CEO and co-founder of Clickatell.

"This research reveals that they are now ready to do business with the brands they love on their favorite chat apps," he said. "Banks and other brands need to meet consumers where they are, which is on chat, or risk losing mindshare."

Basic New Marketing Tool

Social media is becoming a fundamental part of the marketing stack, suggested Robert Rothschild in a Smartly blog discussing the "2021 Retail Social Advertising Forecast."

Retail has been well ahead of other industries with incorporating social media advertising in their marketing mix. The accelerated shift to e-commerce in 2020, driven by a global pandemic, further underscored the value of this strategy, according to Rothschild.

"It became clear that social advertising is essential to engaging the right consumers," he wrote in his Nov. 19, 2020 entry.

Facebook First

Facebook remains the most popular social media platform, according to the survey results, followed by YouTube and Instagram. More than one-third of global consumers (38 percent) said they have used Facebook the most in the month leading up to the survey.

YouTube polled at 18 percent, and Instagram came in at 15 percent. Additionally, global consumers are most open to receiving video ads on social media right now (27 percent), followed by photo carousels (23 percent), and Stories (19 percent).

One year and counting into the varying waves of Covid-19, pandemic fatigue has not hit consumers yet. More than half of global consumers (51percent) said they still want brands to acknowledge the pandemic in their ads. For example, they want to see how brands relate to safety measures and updated store hours.

Consumers are opening their wallets more as the pandemic continues to evolve. For instance, 35 percent of global consumers said the social media ads they encountered recently have spurred them to make a purchase online. That spending trend is up from 26 percent in August 2020 when Smartly.io previously surveyed consumers.

Additionally, 38 percent of global consumers said they would be most open to purchasing clothing/apparel via social media in the next 30 days. But they want added inducements such as deals and discounts.

Also, 45 percent of global respondents said they would like to see ads with deals and discounts from travel brands. This is particularly high in Australia, where 59 percent of respondents said they are looking for deals and discounts from travel brands' advertising.

Lastly, 55 percent of global respondents said they would like to see deals and discounts in advertising from grocery stores, followed by local offers from nearby stores (42 percent).

About the Study

Smartley.io commissioned Dynata to survey 1,000 adult consumers to understand their preferences and attitudes towards social media, including channel use, engagement with ads, and purchasing decisions.

Respondents were located in the U.S., UK, Germany, and Australia. All respondents were over the age of 18. The survey was conducted in March 2021.


Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open-source technologies. He is an esteemed reviewer of Linux distros and other open-source software. In addition, Jack extensively covers business technology and privacy issues, as well as developments in e-commerce and consumer electronics. Email Jack.


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