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How Social Selling Changed the Buyer's Journey

By Sudhir Kumar E-Commerce Times ECT News Network
Feb 27, 2020 12:16 PM PT
e-commerce businesses can build sales by adopting some proven social selling tactics

Social selling has changed how online consumers are interacting with and buying from e-commerce businesses. Why? Because it's had a huge impact on the buyer's journey as a whole.

Today, we live in a digital world, and this means the consumer has the upper hand, thanks to the growth in e-commerce and the Internet of Things (IoT). The modern buyer does more research up front and online prior to getting in touch with a business by giving it a call.

E-commerce businesses that speak to modern buyers on their terms can gain a competitive advantage.

Traditional marketing tactics and tools -- such as cold calling, emailing and directories -- are losing effectiveness rapidly. Consumers don't like the feeling of being sold to and are switching off overt marketing.

Modern buyers actively seek information online, and it's important that e-commerce businesses are visible in and around their ecosystems to be seen by their target audiences.

Social selling provides a solution, allowing companies to utilize social media channels to build valuable, lasting relationships with buyers.

What Is Social Selling?

Social selling allows salespeople to laser-target prospects, establish rapport with their networks, and ultimately push prospects down their sales funnel. It often takes place via social networks and focuses on a salesperson or business building relationships with targets and engaging them with high-value content that shares insights.

It helps you to demonstrate that you're taking an interest in your prospects and shows that you are taking the time to understand them by offering value through content and interactions.

It helps you engage with audiences on their terms, and to position yourself as an industry expert, authentic and trustworthy. Naturally this will encourage your prospects to show an interest in you, and to see you as the go-to person for their problems or challenges.

Why Is Social Selling Important?

Following are some of the key benefits you can gain by taking advantage of social selling.

  1. Getting in Front of the Right People

    Today's buyers have 12 to 18 nonhuman and human interactions along their journey. It's vital that this behavior is central to your sales and marketing efforts. You can do this by building content to address specific pain points and challenges.

    Furthermore, 68 percent of buyers prefer to research on their own online, and 62 percent develop selection criteria or finalize a vendor list based solely on digital content. So, when you create content that follows your buyers' journeys, you are influencing their research process. This is how you appeal to the modern buyer.

  2. Engaging With Social Buyers

    You can use social listening and other social research strategies to find prospects and contacts that are engaged with social media and are using it to find potential vendors and perform independent research.

    Seventy-five percent of people admit to buying something just because they saw it on social media, and 90 percent say that they will turn to social media if they need help on a buying decision, meaning that social media has the power to influence consumer purchasing decisions.

    Added to this, research indicates that by 2021 e-commerce is expected to generate US$4.5 trillion in sales per year.

  3. Using the Mere Exposure Effect

    The Mere Exposure Effect was discovered in 1968 by social psychologist Robert Zajonc. According to this social phenomenon, the more people are exposed to something, the more they develop a preference for that thing over time.

    Social selling allows you to take advantage of this principle by maximizing social media, and drip feeding your messages across multiple platforms.

    The social platforms available today -- from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn -- make it possible for you to share content and have touchpoints with your target audience numerous times per day, which in turn increases your visibility online and boosts your brand presence.

Social Media Tactics for E-Commerce Businesses

Following are some key tactics to help you succeed with social selling:

  • Set Your Goals

    Every action you take when it comes to your sales and marketing activity should be geared toward helping you achieve your overall business objectives and goals, so make sure you outline what you want to achieve from the outset.

    This will enable you to gear all your activities toward your end goal. It will give you something to focus on, and it will mean that your time is utilized to its full impact.

  • Provide Value

    A key part of social selling is a focus ond providing value to your targets through content.

    This could be through sharing your own knowledge and learnings on specific subjects, by commenting on key topics within yours and your targets' industries, or simply answering existing customer questions and sharing your findings with your wider audience.

    All of this activity will help you build your own personal brand and following, and it will give you a competitive advantage over other businesses.

  • Use Listening Tools

    Social media listening tools can help you understand the topics that your audiences are taking about, and the language and terminology they use. You then can begin to weave this language into your comments.

    This will enable you to build up a stronger rapport with your targets and will help your content and activity resonate.

  • Optimize Your Posts

    In order for your posts on social media to be seen by your targeted audience you must optimize them correctly. You can do this by using hashtags on the channels that use them and using the keywords and terms that your audience follows.

    Create your content with social channel algorithms in mind. For example, on LinkedIn, the channel gives prominence to unique, rich content -- which is content that is visually-led and never has been seen online before.

  • Share Reviews

    Let your customers do the talking! Positive reviews are the best marketing you can ask for, as nothing sells and promotes a product or service more than a happy customer.

    As human beings we're often swayed to trusting a third-party review or recommendation, and research has shown that 88 percent of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

  • Interact With Your Audience and Followers

    To open the dialogue with your prospects, start to engage with their online content. You can do this simply by showing you're there, by liking and resharing their posts. When you've built up your confidence online, begin to comment on their posts when they ask questions, and share insight and valuable information to teach them something they may not already know.

  • Interact With Influencers

    Industry influencers are a great way to expand your network, and you'll be able to tap into their existing network. When choosing an influencer to engage with, make sure their following and content resonates with and complements your business offering, to make your engagement successful.

    You can look into influencer partnerships and contact influencers to see if there are any ways you can work together to really utilize their connections.

  • Be Consistent

    You need to show up daily and invest the time on your social channels to have the desired impact and break through the online noise. You can't post now and then and expect to get any return.

    Instead, you need to be consistent and post useful content on a regular basis if you want to improve your online engagement and reach, and see real return and results from your activity. This regular interaction online will show your audiences that you're committed to sharing information and helping them.

Final Takeaway

Success doesn't happen by accident on social media, no matter what you're selling, and to make an impact you have to start, and fail, then succeed, and realize the value of building a brand and adapting to your community.

Many e-commerce companies make the mistake of assuming that just because you're on social media means you're giving your consumers what they want. The reality is that there are millions of options for consumers now, so why should they care about you?

Take the time to find the online channels and forums your prospects are using, identify the content that they engage with the most, and aim to create more insightful and useful content that will help you gain their attention.

Remember to continue to refine your content and approach moving forward, so you can develop your style even more, and turn your prospects into customers.


Sudhir Kumar is marketing director at digital marketing agency Origin.


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Which technology has the strongest positive or negative impact on race relations?
Smartphone cameras, by holding people accountable.
Twitter, by reporting news as it happens.
Facebook, by providing a platform for discussing the issues.
YouTube, by exposing viewers to other cultures.
Twitter, by fueling antagonisms.
Facebook, by spreading fake news.