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Francesca Heath Global Director of Communications Wayin

How can retailers effectively link CRM with social media?

Social media is a critical route via which retailers can effectively engage with existing customers to drive sales

A robust presence for retailers in the social media space is more pressing than ever with strong growth in smartphone and tablet ownership, the proliferation of new social media networks, as well as the spread of 4G. This enables customers to easily share huge amounts of new social content, with 1.8 billion pictures being shared everyday along with 500 million Tweets.

Yet many retailers are still relying on communicating with their customers through the main social media networks. And while there’s nothing wrong per se with this it’s just not best practice. 

Surely it’s much better to drive customer conversations on your brand website and not via a third party? After all, by doing so, you are making it easier for people to engage with you and ultimately make a purchase.

Savvy retailers are increasingly embracing social content on their digital properties and moving away from engaging with their customers inside a social network. They are using credible and authentic user generated content (UGC) to transform their websites into ‘social hubs’.

Indeed, research from the JunGroup between 2012 and 2013 revealed Facebook and YouTube accounted for a combined 69 per cent of all next actions taken after marketing campaigns in 2012, by the end of 2013 the corresponding figure was 30 per cent. The focus had clearly shifted from trying to encourage ‘likes’ to ‘clicks’ back to the brand’s website.

What’s driving this?

Evolving algorithms, promoting friends’ posts over that of brands and increased content on social media – which has always struggled to drive the last click – have played a role.

Also, developments in new technology and social media platforms, combined with greater awareness of the value of UGC and its important role in the customer journey, has seen retailers take a different approach to using social media. After all, recent research has highlighted 84 per cent of millennials state that UGC influences what they buy, and using social content increases click-throughs on a call to action by 22 per cent.

Retailers who aren't already doing so should use social content as part of their CRM efforts more cleverly to build their brand and drive sales.

Francesca Heath, Engage Sciences




What should retailers do?

To effectively convert their web properties into social hubs, retailers need to run connected cross-network CRM campaigns that link to all their marketing channels with a hashtag as the mechanism to group the conversation. The next step is to challenge customers and consumers with tactics like a hashtag competition to get them to create social content.

You can then select the best of this content to feature on your website and make it ‘shopable’. For example, as a clothes retailer, this could be getting customers to share pictures of themselves wearing recent purchases of a new range. Then the best images from Instagram and Twitter could be featured on your website and clickable to where web visitors can buy that product. This helps you benefit directly from the increased reach and higher levels of engagement you generate when you make your website fit for the social consumer.

In our experience, this approach will deliver on average 11 per cent more traffic to your site, 300 per cent increase in dwell time on pages featuring social content and a 10 per cent decrease in the bounce rate. More importantly, featuring UGC at the point of purchase can increase sales conversions by seven per cent.

Retailers who aren’t already doing so should use social content as part of their CRM efforts more cleverly to build their brand and drive sales, which means turning them into powerful social hubs.