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5 ways to convert social media followers into sales

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Having a social media following can be a cost-effective marketing strategy, but there are best practices to follow if you hope those posts will lead to paying customers. Here’s how to turn your social media audience into customers, according to Kristen Gramigna, CMO, BluePay

Focus your efforts strategically. The “best” social media channels for your business are those used most frequently by your target audience, but data indicates that some social media channels tend to be more conducive to turning followers into paying customers than others. For example, statistics indicate that 72 percent of Twitter followers are likely to buy from a business they’ve engaged with on Twitter; 30 percent of them are likely to recommend a business they follow on Twitter to others. Shopify reports the bulk of traffic for its online shops is driven by Facebook. In fact, 85 percent of all social media-generated purchases come from the social network. What you sell correlates to how likely it is that your social media followers will convert into paying customers, too. Shopify’s data reveals that businesses related to photography, sports and recreation, pet supplies, jewelry, clothing and apparel are among those most likely to successfully turn social media fans into customers.

Start a conversation, not a marketing campaign. Social media is founded on the idea of two-way communication. At least once a week, post questions that invite your audience to respond and share ideas. Acknowledge all feedback thoughtfully, personally and respectfully. Establish a social media “voice” that’s representative of your brand and business. There are plenty of tools that “auto-respond” to social media posts, but they won’t build the customer relationships that lead to purchases. To do that, you need to let your fans know you’ve heard what they had to say — and value their relationship enough to take time to personally respond.

Let fans know their feedback matters. Social media provides informal market research that you can harness to make more informed business decisions. Listen to what your social media followers have to say, instead of telling them about you. When their feedback is taken into account and changes your operations in some way — which may mean stocking additional products, changing store hours or altering a return or exchange policy — let them know their voice was heard, valued and drove change.

Make your audience the stars. A consistent presence is important on social media, but all posts should be relevant to your target audience — whether they’re humorous, inspirational, educational or informative. Can’t think of relevant posts to share? Put your social media audience in the driver’s seat. That strategy made GoPro, the maker of action cameras, into a social media marketing legend. By simply inviting its social media audience to capture GoPro footage and share it on social media (with “GoPro” tagged in the posts), the brand now reports that more than 6,000 GoPro-related videos are uploaded to YouTube each day. It turned what could have been a passive social media strategy into one that drives purchases and product use — and has built a community of brand ambassadors.

Integrate tools that encourage them to buy. The number of steps your customers must take in order to buy something they see on social media should be minimal, and include a seamless checkout process. Posts should direct customers to the appropriate website page that’s equipped to function appropriately on both mobile and desktop devices. Give customers the option to validate credentials from social media with the click of a button, or purchase as a guest. (According to a study by VWO eCommerce, more than 20 percent of potential customers abandon a purchase when they’re forced to register with a site to buy.) If you offer social media fans a discount, auto-populate the discount field when they click from social media to your site. Assure customers that their sensitive payment information is processed securely, according to payment card industry security standards.

Social media is a low-cost channel all small business owners can leverage to build business, but it takes some strategy to post in such a way that drives purchase behavior. Try these tips to boost the return on investment that your social media efforts deliver.

 

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