Social selling has changed how online consumers are interacting with and buying from e-commerce businesses. Why? Because it’s had a huge impact on the buyer’s journey as a whole.
Today, we live in a digital world, and this means the consumer has the upper hand, thanks to the growth in e-commerce and the Internet of Things (IoT). The modern buyer does more research upfront and online prior to getting in touch with a business by giving it a call.
E-commerce businesses that speak to modern buyers on their terms can gain a competitive advantage.
Traditional marketing tactics and tools — such as cold calling, emailing, and directories — are losing effectiveness rapidly. Consumers don’t like the feeling of being sold to and are switching off overt marketing.
Modern buyers actively seek information online, and it’s important that e-commerce businesses are visible in and around their ecosystems to be seen by their target audiences.
Social selling provides a solution, allowing companies to utilize social media channels to build valuable, lasting relationships with buyers.
What Is Social Selling?
Social selling allows salespeople to laser-target prospects, establish rapport with their networks, and ultimately push prospects down their sales funnel. It often takes place via social networks and focuses on a salesperson or business building relationships with targets and engaging them with high-value content that shares insights.
It helps you to demonstrate that you’re taking an interest in your prospects and shows that you are taking the time to understand them by offering value through content and interactions.
It helps you engage with audiences on their terms and to position yourself as an industry expert, authentic and trustworthy. Naturally, this will encourage your prospects to show an interest in you and to see you as the go-to person for their problems or challenges.
Why Is Social Selling Important?
Following are some of the key benefits you can gain by taking advantage of social selling.
Getting in Front of the Right People
Today’s buyers have 12 to 18 nonhuman and human interactions along their journey. It’s vital that this behavior is central to your sales and marketing efforts. You can do this by building content to address specific pain points and challenges.
Furthermore, 68 percent of buyers prefer to research on their own online, and 62 percent develop selection criteria or finalize a vendor list based solely on digital content. So, when you create content that follows your buyers’ journeys, you are influencing their research process. This is how you appeal to the modern buyer.
Engaging With Social Buyers
You can use social listening and other social research strategies to find prospects and contacts that are engaged with social media and are using it to find potential vendors and perform independent research.
Seventy-five percent of people admit to buying something just because they saw it on social media, and 90 percent say that they will turn to social media if they need help with a buying decision, meaning that social media has the power to influence consumer purchasing decisions.
Added to this, research indicates that by 2021 e-commerce is expected to generate US$4.5 trillion in sales per year.
Using the Mere Exposure Effect
The Mere Exposure Effect was discovered in 1968 by social psychologist Robert Zajonc. According to this social phenomenon, the more people are exposed to something, the more they develop a preference for that thing over time.
Social selling allows you to take advantage of this principle by maximizing social media and drip-feeding your messages across multiple platforms.
The social platforms available today — from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn — make it possible for you to share content and have touchpoints with your target audience numerous times per day, which in turn increases your visibility online and boosts your brand presence.
Social Media Tactics for E-Commerce Businesses
Following are some key tactics to help you succeed with social selling:
Set Your Goals
Every action you take when it comes to your sales and marketing activity should be geared toward helping you achieve your overall business objectives and goals, so make sure you outline what you want to achieve from the outset.
This will enable you to gear all your activities toward your end goal. It will give you something to focus on, and it will mean that your time is utilized to its full impact.
A key part of social selling is a focus on providing value to your targets through content.
This could be through sharing your own knowledge and learnings on specific subjects, commenting on key topics within your and your targets’ industries, or simply answering existing customer questions and sharing your findings with your wider audience.
All of this activity will help you build your own personal brand and following, and it will give you a competitive advantage over other businesses.
Use Listening Tools
Social media listening tools can help you understand the topics that your audiences are talking about and the language and terminology they use. You then can begin to weave this language into your comments.
This will enable you to build up a stronger rapport with your targets and will help your content and activity resonate.
Optimize Your Posts
In order for your posts on social media to be seen by your targeted audience, you must optimize them correctly. You can do this by using hashtags on the channels that use them and using the keywords and terms that your audience follows.
Create your content with social channel algorithms in mind. For example, on LinkedIn, the channel gives prominence to unique, rich content — which is content that is visually-led and never has been seen online before.
Let your customers do the talking! Positive reviews are the best marketing you can ask for, as nothing sells and promotes a product or service more than a happy customer.
As human beings, we’re often swayed to trusting a third-party review or recommendation, and research has shown that 88 percent of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Interact With Your Audience and Followers
To open the dialogue with your prospects, start to engage with their online content. You can do this simply by showing you’re there by liking and resharing their posts. When you’ve built up your confidence online, begin to comment on their posts when they ask questions and share insight and valuable information to teach them something they may not already know.
Interact With Influencers
Industry influencers are a great way to expand your network, and you’ll be able to tap into their existing network. When choosing an influencer to engage with, make sure their following and content resonate with and complement your business offering to make your engagement successful.
You can look into influencer partnerships and contact influencers to see if there are any ways you can work together to really utilize their connections.
You need to show up daily and invest the time on your social channels to have the desired impact and break through the online noise. You can’t post now and then and expect to get any return.
Instead, you need to be consistent and post useful content on a regular basis if you want to improve your online engagement and reach and see real returns and results from your activity. This regular interaction online will show your audiences that you’re committed to sharing information and helping them.
Success doesn’t happen by accident on social media, no matter what you’re selling, and to make an impact, you have to start, and fail, then succeed and realize the value of building a brand and adapting to your community.
Many e-commerce companies make the mistake of assuming that just because you’re on social media means you’re giving your consumers what they want. The reality is that there are millions of options for consumers now, so why should they care about you?
Take the time to find the online channels and forums your prospects are using, identify the content that they engage with the most, and aim to create more insightful and useful content that will help you gain their attention.
Remember to continue to refine your content and approach moving forward, so you can develop your style even more and turn your prospects into customers.
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In this digital age, I do wonder how much of the upper hand the consumer actually has? Yes, they have data at their fingertips to help self propel their buying journey and in many cases, they’ve researched the products and services so much that they often know more about the product specs than the professional sales reps they eventually engage with.
According to The Challenger Sale, consumers are close to 60% through their buying journey when they make contact with a business that offers the products and services they’ve been researching. Therefore it is important not to simply roll over when a potential customer reaches out to a professional sales rep and says they’re ready to buy. If the rep does roll over, they only have about a 25% chance of closing the sale, according to Corporate Visions.
So what can be done? As the consumer takes themselves through the marketing/sales funnel during their buying journey and comes out the bottom of the funnel ready to take action, this is when businesses and their teams on the receiving end must be prepared.
They must be prepared with a defined sales process to then take the prospective customer through when they engage. One process to consider is that of AIDINC by Integrity Solutions.