When talking about online business promotion and engagement, it's hard not to mention social media. It has become a vital component of any marketing campaign. Avoidance of social media is a major handicap for an entrepreneurial venture. To ensure that you get the desirable kind of engagement for your e-commerce operations, consider the following tips.
1. Offer giveaways and freebies.
Giveaways are such a common method of stimulating customer engagement that some think they're overused. However, they remain highly effective at attracting customers' attention.
These giveaways can take a variety of forms:
- Discounts or special coupons
- Free shipping
- Freebie physical products (raffled away)
- Free consultations
- Bonuses with a purchase
- Points (that can be redeemed in cash or discounts) obtained for buying something or other actions
- Free desktop software and mobile apps
Freebies or giveaways help generate positive engagement and create buzz for a business. They also promote web traffic, hook customers and create the desired brand associations. Customers may not remember your store as the one that offers the lowest prices, but they will remember that they got something for free or a positive experience that may convince them to buy from your store.
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2. Hold contests.
You could say that contests are a more efficient form of giving freebies. They let current and potential customers know that you are giving something away for free and create even greater hype, while you give freebies to only a few recipients.
With giveaways, you have to give to as many customers as possible. If you hold contests, you only have to hype up the contest and award the prizes to a few winners, but the buzz still reaches those who have not received giveaways. You will have to offer prizes that are considerably more valuable than giveaway items, but the cost is usually lower than what you would spend for the latter, taking the impact into account.
Arguably, the most common and one of the most effective ways to hold engaging contests on social media is by calling on customers to post something about your product or brand (usually with a hashtag or a mention of your brand). The winner is then determined by holding a raffle or by determining the most interesting or the highest number of posts made. (With both contests and giveaways, though, make sure you follow the rules.)
3. Encourage customers to review your products or business.
Another way to get customers involved with your brand is encouraging them to write reviews. The goal is to get positive reviews, but less-than-positive ones should also be welcome. Comments or feedback from customers provide excellent opportunities for you to correct mistakes, clarify misunderstandings and build a good reputation for your brand. Reviews also generate ideas for changes or new products you can introduce to generate more sales.
If you are targeting customers in a foreign market, it helps to localize your e-commerce site and marketing content. After all, how will prospective customers in a new market interact with your business if it doesn't use the language they are accustomed to? Even in countries known to speak English, for example, American companies still exert the effort to localize their marketing to better connect with potential customers.
Basic localization makes a significant difference, but for the best outcomes, you can get e-commerce localization from an experienced language service provider. Localization does not mean the simple translation of texts in your online store and marketing materials. There are expressions, idioms, cultural references, humor and technical terms that can only be appropriately translated by someone who has the proficiency of a native speaker or has been professionally localizing content for a long time.
5. Feature games, challenges and other interesting content.
Make your potential customers stay longer on your e-commerce site or official social media page by featuring games, brain teasers, trivia, galleries of interesting photos, videos or blog posts. Just make sure that they don't slow down your page's loading time. Optimize the size and position of these elements for the best impact. It's advisable to perform A/B testing for this content.
6. Offer apps.
You can also provide free mobile apps to customers. These apps can be designed to make it easy to contact your support and customer care team, send inquiries, get updates on your latest products, or place online orders. Apps can also make it easy for customers to lodge complaints or feedback.
7. Present video demos and other videos relevant to your brand.
There's a reason YouTube is one of the most popular websites worldwide. Internet users undeniably love watching videos. It just makes sense to reach out to potential customers through videos. Publish video demonstrations on YouTube, Facebook and other video-sharing sites (and embed them in your e-commerce site or blog) to provide more engaging sources of information about your product.
Videos, especially well-produced ones, appear prominently in search engine results for common search terms, such as "how to troubleshoot ..." and "how to use ..." If you create good videos about your products, you are not only attracting more traffic to your e-commerce site – you are also creating an avenue for you to respond to comments from customers or for customers to interact with each other (through the comments section in videos).
8. Produce potentially viral content.
Come up with interesting videos, collages, photo manipulations, comic strips, memes and other interesting pieces of content that have the potential to go viral. When purposefully made, viral social media posts are effective in spreading brand awareness. When they are covered by traditional media, particularly on TV, your products or brand name may also be mentioned and brought to the attention of more potential customers.
When trying to make a viral post, remember the following:
- Your product or brand name should prominently feature in the video and audio.
- The content should be related to or associated with your product. Otherwise, your brand will be sidestepped or totally ignored as the post zooms into popularity.
- Get involved as the viral content spreads. It's a waste letting your social media post gain hundreds of thousands of likes and comments if you don't do anything to insert your brand name into the picture. If possible, create related content that will promote your brand further.
9. Feature content from or about your customers.
This is one of the most direct ways to engage your customers. Ask them to submit content (photos, videos, articles, memes, GIFs or audio) to be featured on your site or official social media page. The content can be something that promotes your business, a testimonial for your product or success stories about using your products.
10. Actively respond to customers' comments and inquiries.
You don't have to respond to all inquiries and comments. What's important is to address the critical issues and make it clear that you have read or heard what your customers wanted to say. In many cases, likes, upvotes, retweets and other positive non-text responses to social media posts are enough.
It would be advantageous to have a dedicated social media manager. The social media landscape can open a lot of opportunities for promotion, so someone has to keep watch so they can jump on these chances. Conversely, social media also poses risks of committing gaffes or serious blunders. The social media manager should be quick to address these problems and prevent them from escalating.
Positive engagement is not extremely difficult to attain. You don't need technical skills and extensive customer care experience for it. Take note of the pointers above to start improving the ways you reach out to and engage your current and prospective customers.