4 Ways to Enhance Retail With Social Media

Picture of Aliza ShermanAliza Sherman is a web pioneer, author, and international speaker. Sherman is the author of 8 books about the Internet including The Everything Blogging Book, Streetwise Ecommerce, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crowdsourcing and Social Media Engagement for Dummies.

4 Ways to Enhance Retail With Social Media

You sell products. You’ve got an ecommerce-enabled site. You’ve got a brick and mortar retail store. Or maybe you have both. Social media marketing can help you wherever you’re trying to reach and serve your customers.

Think of the entire customer journey from first contact. How do they most often find you? Is social media working to drive traffic to your online or retail store? Or is it the email newsletter you send out with specials and deals? Even if you still see a boost of visits and sales from traditional television, radio and print advertising, digital marketing can complement and supplement those campaigns.

Map out a path for your customers. Where are you driving them once they see your online ad or your email newsletter or a post in social media? Are you linking them to your website? An offer they can redeem? A survey they can fill out? How are you capturing their attention and once you have it, what are you getting them to do?

Here are some effective ways to attract more customers and connect with them regularly and meaningfully.

1. Give customers multiple ways to connect with you.

Whether you are selling online or offline, customers want to know how to reach you. Online, your website should provide options – a feedback form, an email address, a phone number, links to your social networks. Offline, you can easily invite customers to connect with you online to streamline customer service processes. QR Codes, similar to bar codes but accessible on any mobile device, can still be used on our in-store signage. Customers can scan the codes and immediately access your social networking accounts or even trigger an email or phone call to customer service.

2. Build and Segment Your Email List

An effective use of social media marketing to eventually lead prospects and customers to buy is to entice them to sign up to receive emails from you. First, make sure they know what you’ll be sending and how frequently. Next, allow them to self select what version of your emails they want to receive to provide them with more targeted content such as geographic location or needs and interests. For example, if you’re a local family dentist, you could provide tips on teeth care based on age as well as reminders for annual checkups. Your emails will be more useful and targeted to the recipient so are more likely to get opened. Make sure there are Calls to Action in your emails to drive traffic to your online or offline store.

3. Make it easy for customers to share your brand.

Understand what is popular in social media and what most people are inclined to share. Also know your customer so well that you are able to develop social media content geared to them that they are compelled to share. Does your brand image include a quirky sense of humor? Humorous social media posts are very popular online. Also popular are quotes over images or even on a colored background. These are easy to read quickly on a fast-moving social media feed and quotes can be selected to be on-brand for you. Add a small version of your logo with your URL at the bottom of these images so as they are passed around, other people can see the source.

Selling online? Add social share buttons to all of your product pages so customers can click a button and immediately share that they are considering buying or have purchased from you. The easier you make it for customers to share what you’re selling, the greater reach you have to an expanded base of prospective customers.

4. Expand Your Customers Service Channels

One of the most effective ways to use social networks are as listening posts to monitor what customers, prospects, the media and the public are saying about your company and products. For customers, you can use social media to not only hear their questions, comments and complaints but address them in a timely manner. Set up monitoring tools such as Google Alerts, Mention or Sprout Social to help you find those mentions. Set up a system to respond and track outcomes.

As you can see, social media marketing can help you connect with your customers and prospects whether you are online or off.