*The Next Generation of Buyers – The end of August means it’s time for the Millenials to head back to school. And these Millenials are your future buyers if they’re not your buyers already. In this blog series, we discuss three things that matter to Millenials and how they matter for your website: Privacy, Mobile Devices, and Social Media.
A question on the minds of marketers and sales teams everywhere is how to use social media to gain more customers. Is social media a marketing tool? Is it a sales platform? Does it offer a good ROI? Tons of questions went unanswered in the infancy of the new medium.
With research from Forrester, the verdict is in on social selling. The future of social selling is still your website.
All Roads Lead To Your Webstore
Yep, that stalwart of e-commerce is just as important as ever. According to Forrester, e-businesses see little direct benefit from their Facebook stores. Selling directly from the social marketplace did not correlate to a high quantity of near-term sales. The social media stores also tracked behind other customer acquisition techniques like paid search and email marking when it came to ROI.
Forrester did have positive impressions of social media’s ability to raise awareness though. This means that social media remains an excellent tool to drive people to your pre-existing webstore.
While it’s helpful to get this research from Forrester on social stores, the writing may have been on the wall for social media anyway. The leading Facebook commerce firm Payvment closed down its sales app, leaving behind its 200,000 merchants. And in previous years, large retailers like Gap, JC Penny, Nordstrom, and Gamestop all closed their Facebook stores.
Customers don’t go on social media to buy. They go on social media to interact with friends and family, to learn about new brands, and to post pictures of their cats. When attempting social selling directly on a social media site, you must compete with a lot of distractions.
Another reason is that in selling directly from a social media’s page, you have much less control over the customer journey. Social media sites simply lack functionality that a quality e-commerce site does have, such as personalization. This functionality is what gives you control and the ability to guide your customer towards a sale.
There are even more social media problems when it comes to checkout. Some social media sites demand you use their own checkout service, which are often limited in options. There’s no guarantee that a social media storefront offers all the features you want, such as your own login system, international payments, integration of new payment methods like Square, and integration with your CRM. When a user-friendly eCommerce site is only a click away, why would you subject your visitors to social selling where someone else controls their customer experience?
Furthermore, when you create a storefront on a social media site, you cede control of your branding. The site that your store is embedded in has its own colors and fonts. If your branding visually contrasts with the social media site, you end up with an ugly store. Social media sites also have their own rules about layouts, size and dimensions of images, and other aesthetics.
Social selling is not doom and gloom though. We do have to properly define what social selling is good for. As Forrester mentions in their research, social media is a great tool for awareness. Visitors to your social media pages share experiences with your brand and comment on your products. This interaction drives brand loyalty and ultimately sales.
Social selling, then, becomes a marketing medium where you send customers to your superior website to make their purchase.