Over the years, consumer decision making process has transformed rapidly. With social media becoming more mainstream and being incorporated as an important element of today’s marketing mix. The question that is increasingly becoming a matter of board room discussion is, “Does social media really influence sales?”, “How to make consumers look at videos, blogs and social media ads to influence a purchase?”
You could easily find a lot of case studies and articles online which talk about increase in sales, increased affinity, revisits and more. You also must have read research data like 4 in 10 social media users have purchased an item online or in-store after sharing or favouriting it on Twitter. Half of the social media-related purchasing takes place within 1 week of sharing or favouriting that item and many more.
What’s interesting is to understand the science that goes behind driving consumers from a “Website Visit to Purchase”. Let’s look at the most important factors that control or influence the Path to Purchase from social media to your website to finally hitting the checkout button.
Using social media to get your message out there:
Before making purchase decisions, consumers consider an initial set of brands. Based on brand perceptions and exposure to recent touch points, they then shortlist the ones which interests them the most. The next step is to rank them on parameters like price, efficiency, durability and other product specific factors influencing the final decision.
Social media plays a vital role through each of the phases of “Path to Purchase”. One of the most commonly used roles of social media in the purchase journey is during the awareness and consideration phase. Through a single social media post and a decent media budget, marketers can expand their outreach to millions of consumers, or target a very niche demographic of their choosing. Packaged content (Read “Content Marketing” How to Make It Work), relevance, correct targeting work in tandem to get your brand message right.
Using social media to be a real problem solver:
Successful social sellers have one thing in common, they are problem solvers. You could easily create tons of leads and sales if you stick to this thumb rule of becoming the real problem solver. People will love your brand, will tell more people about it and will keep coming back.
The core lies in creating a sense of self-confidence in your consumers by showing that you really care for them and are trying to address their problem. Use your blogs, video and other forms of content to create experiences and stories around how you were able to solve the problem for others. How your product or service could make their lives easier. Identify story angles that will touch them and make them interested in you and then package them into interesting content pieces.
Using social media to show clear ways to take action:
Even if you do all of these, but are still struggling to get responses and leads. You probably aren’t creating clear call to action for your consumers. A lot of this depends on the type of message you are publishing. Does your content include ways to avoid risks your consumers don’t need to take? Does it tell them about faster ways to do something important and is linked with a clear action on your website?
Technology and design also plays a vital role in the whole process of decision making, is your website fast, is it responsive, does the page load properly, do the images render properly, is it easy to find information on your website, does it contain reviews from others who have used your product or service, is the UX/UI good, are the transactional pages fast enough and so many more. These questions will help you determine if a consumer, after visiting your website is going to make a purchase or not.
The bottom line is that you need to create an ecosystem which is robust enough to drive people to your website and then make them purchase from you. And yes, social media does influence sales!