In the brick and mortar world, they call it foot traffic. It’s a proven path to increased sales, and most of a retailer’s marketing efforts are applied to maintaining consistently high traffic.
The undeniable link between high traffic and high sales that exists in physical stores applies to online businesses too. An eCommerce company that engages with customers using social media will get more traffic, and in turn, more sales.
In this article, we’ll go over seven factors that are critical in attracting more traffic to your online store through the use of social media. But first, let’s drill down on how incredibly important it is for eCommerce site owners to engage their customers with social media.
Social Media’s Effect on eCommerce
Historically, the cornerstone of website traffic acquisition has been SEO. A high ranking in search results gets a lot of people to visit your site, but in a way, SEO has leveled the playing field. It’s becoming a staple of every online business’ marketing strategy. That means business owners have had to employ other methods to gain a competitive advantage regarding traffic generation.
Business owners have learned to capture their audience’s attention using social media with a specific goal in mind: to drive people to their online store. The more visitors an eCommerce website gets, the more sales that site is likely to make.
One reason social media is so useful in driving traffic to eCommerce sites is the massive number of people that make social media part of their everyday lives. A recent survey delving into the social media usage of U.S. adults shows that 68% use Facebook, 35% use Instagram, 29% use Pinterest, and 27% use Snapchat.
Getting eyes on your brand is Step One in any marketing effort, and Facebook usage alone represents two billion monthly users!
That’s four billion eyes!
It would be a shame to miss out on such a massive marketing opportunity.
When you also consider the fact that customers spend 20-40% more with businesses that have engaged them on social media, it’s plain to see that social media networks are a gold mine offering not only massive exposure but very high-quality prospects.
7 Keys to Increasing Traffic to Your eCommerce Site Using Social Media
Here are seven important considerations for any eCommerce site owner who is seeking to increase traffic to their online store using social media.
1. Establish Traffic Expectations & Sales-Increase Goals
For any online store, there are key performance indicators, or KPIs. These are measurable statistics like the number of web visitors over a period of time, the percentage of those visitors that bought something, the level of engagement (i.e., page visits and time spent), etc.
If you capture KPIs before you begin a social media campaign, it will be easy to measure how effective your efforts are.
Right after you start a new campaign, the results will be Pass/Fail. You’ll either see an increase in traffic or you won’t. The problem is if it looks like a post has caused a sudden uptick in traffic, but you never captured any KPIs that reflect your site’s normal traffic, it will be difficult to know for sure that the traffic resulted from your social media campaign.
When you can be positive that new traffic came from your social media outreach, that’s when it’s helpful to use KPI data regarding the number of users that normally buy something when visiting your site. If customers coming in from social media are more likely than usual to make a purchase, you can be confident that your efforts are on track. If people you’ve engaged with via social media prove less likely to buy, you’ll know you should take a different approach in your posts.
The broad takeaway here is, you should capture some baseline KPIs so you’ll have something to compare to the stats you get after your campaign starts.
2. Encourage Social Media Sharing and Reviews to Get More Online Shoppers
One of the main reasons social media is so effective in increasing the performance of an eCommerce website is that social media users share information with each other.
In fact, that sharing is the whole reason social media networks exist!
You can use this sharing behavior as a growth catalyst for your online business. Each time one of your posts gets shared, you have the potential to increase your customer count by one.
So, how do you get your followers to share your posts with their friends? The answer is to know your audience so thoroughly that your posts tap into exactly what they’ll find compelling.
As a business owner, you’re probably already aware of how important it is to understand your audience. It’s common to conceptualize the ideal or typical customer, factoring in age, gender, interests, location, and other demographic details.
On the topic of earning social media shares, the importance of audience awareness cannot be overstated. It’s how you’ll be able to create posts that are relevant in your niche, plus it helps you to know what sort of content will draw the most attention.
In addition to creating posts that get shared, you should also include social media buttons on your eCommerce website. When someone who’s on your site clicks the Facebook icon, for example, and then shares with their friends, you’ll have new potential visitors.
Getting positive reviews on social media sites is also vitally important. People believe other customers more than they believe your value proposition, no matter how earnestly you express it. Reading a post by one of your followers in which they favorably review your product can help eliminate any reservations a prospect may have about visiting your site.
3. Choose the Right Social Media Networks for Your Business
Social media networks don’t reach the same kinds of audiences.
The age of the average Facebook user is skewing older these days, whereas Instagram is used predominantly by young adults.
Pinterest is used by more women than men. Twitter users tend to be college graduates.
The demographics of your audience should be the primary factor in choosing which social media platforms you’ll use, and unless you have a huge amount of time to spend on social media marketing, you should limit the number of platforms to two.
The type of post content that’s supported by the different social media networks varies greatly, so selecting the platforms you’ll use is a big step. That decision will allow you to narrow down what your posts will consist of.
If you’re going to use YouTube, you’ll need to dust off your director’s cap, if Instagram or Pinterest, your photographer cap. If Twitter posts are your plan for driving eCommerce traffic, you’ll have to fine-tune your marketing copy.
One pitfall you should avoid is using the same content in posts across all your social media outlets. It may be tempting to create a generic post and blast it to multiple social media channels. Such posts will never capitalize on the unique capability to support rich content that the various networks have.
It’s important that you choose social media outlets that align with the demographics of your target audience and then exploit the strengths of those networks with the kind of posts you create.
4. Keep the “Social” in Social Media
Making your social media posts translate to increased traffic requires that you engage with your audience. You have to form a connection with them.
Just remember this: It’s Social Media, not Sales Media.
When followers have positive and compelling interactions with your business via social media, they’ll be much more likely to recommend your products to others. But if every post you create is selling, your prospects will balk and your social media marketing efforts will fail to increase the website traffic.
Make the majority of your posts about general topics related to your niche. If it’s something your customers and prospects would find interesting, it’s a good subject for your non-sales social media posts.
Not only will this approach contribute to relationship-building, it also trains followers to consume your posts. When you finally post something a little more sales-y, they’ll read that post too.
If a follower posts about a purchase or chimes in about one of your posts, respond with a comment. That person will feel included in a dialog, and other followers will see that you’re interested in your customers.
The main point of this section is that you need to create most of your posts about topics that are relevant to your audience’s interests. Shoot for making only about 20% of your posts overtly sales-oriented.
5. Use Well-Timed Posts to Increase Traffic and Sales
There’s very useful data available about the time of day that a post is more likely to result in engagement, and the time differs across social media outlets. For example, Facebook posts are most effective between 9:00 AM and 3:00 PM during the middle of the workweek. Most days, Twitter engagement tapers off after lunchtime.
There are also studies indicating that it’s not productive to post more than once per day on Facebook, but two posts per day can be effective on LinkedIn and Instagram. On Twitter, your campaign will have the greatest impact if you post a lot—creating as many as 10 to 15 posts per day has proven to be an effective approach.
If you take into account the most productive post time for your chosen platforms and limit the number of posts as advised, you’ll engage with more followers and see increased traffic to your online store.
6. Capture More Attention with Images and Video
Video, then images, and text in the last place—that’s the current power ranking for those three content types. People find rich media much more compelling than straight text. Tweets, Facebook posts, and other social media messages get shared a lot more if they include images or videos.
Each social media platform has its strengths when it comes to supporting the various types of media you can use to engage with your customers. Familiarize yourself with the available post formats and the recommended image sizes and resolutions. Choose images with bold colors that catch the eye, and if there’s text in the image, make sure people will be able to read it in a small size.
Video has become the most effective media by far, with video posts driving much more traffic than those with images or text. One popular type of video post is an unboxing video, which can trigger viewers to visit your site and buy the product in the video.
Another commonly used type of video is more about building a relationship with customers than about generating sales—the instructional video. As discussed above, the idea of posting useful information, with little to no sales-pitch included, fits perfectly into an effective social media campaign strategy. When your sales pitch finally does show up in their feed, a customer who’s grateful for the helpful posts you provided will readily click into your site.
7. Get a Traffic Boost from Paid Advertising
Earlier, we discussed knowing your audience as a way to better target them as potential customers. It’s possible to optimize your targeted marketing communication using paid social media ads.
Facebook ads and Promoted Tweets, for example, can give your social media efforts a major boost, driving more traffic to your site. There are paid advertising opportunities on all the major social media platforms, and some are more sophisticated than others.
Facebook offers the most ad formats, including photos, videos, carousel, slideshow, and canvas, so you can tailor your ad content to the format that shows it off best. The ad platforms of Facebook, Twitter, and other networks let you define your target audience based on age, gender, location, and other demographic criteria, then your ads will only be shown to users that fit the audience profile you specified.
After you’ve determined which platforms fit your audience and marketing goals the best, look into the paid advertising options available on those platforms.
Social Media Engagement: The First Step on the Path to Increased Online Sales
For the owner of an eCommerce website, there’s a three-way connection between social media engagement, increased website traffic, and higher sales that cannot be ignored. An online store will perform better if the owner engages with customers using social media, primarily because it will increase the number of visitors to the site.
We hope you follow the advice provided in this article and that your social media campaign leads to increased traffic and sales. When your campaign has been running long enough that you have some measurable results, you’ll be glad you captured pre-campaign KPIs. That data will help you know if your efforts are working.
If you pay attention to the seven key factors we’ve presented here, you’re sure to mount a social media marketing campaign that gets more traffic to your online store and earns you a hefty increase in sales.
Are you using social media to bring people to your website?