Over the last few years, the ‘holy grail’ of social media ROI has been engagement.
Not how many followers on your page, but how engaged they are with your brand (as seen through likes, comments and shares on your posts).
In reality, brands and digital marketers have been struggling for a long time to work out what the most meaningful metrics are for social media. The question remains – “are the people who engage with you on social media your customers or prospective customers?”
Is raising brand awareness and humanising your brand through social channels ultimately helping you to sell more widgets? (If that is your primary reason for being on social.)
After years of floundering around and hoping for the best, a few things have happened:
- Facebook has made it almost impossible for brands to generate high levels of engagement on social content without paying for reach,
- A new wave of affordable digital marketing tools and platforms have been launched, designed to convert and track engaged users from content (on social or your website) through to eventual conversions.
What does that mean?
What it means is that brands can take back control of their customers and prospects by bringing them back into their own websites, capturing more detailed information about their preferences and requirements than ever before, and pro-actively engage with customers while they are browsing on a website.
Tools like Lucky Orange and intercom.io make it possible to engage inside your website with customers and prospects just as we have become accustomed to doing on our social media channels.
Think of it like adding the interactivity of Facebook to your website: never mind getting clients to fill in an enquiry form that’s sent via email … which gives them no indication of when a response might arrive. Use today’s tools so customers can ask questions as they browse, get an answer and make a purchase, or carry on with their research.
Customer service staff can be available online to respond immediately to customer questions, help guide people through your website and your product or service offerings, and dramatically increase the chance of making a sale. (And btw, there is no reason you can’t have remote customer service or sales staff based in different time zones so you can easily cover your retail store 24/7.)
“Up until now, far too many e-commerce websites have effectively acted as a store with no sales staff on duty.”
These new generation tools go far beyond old school live chat to effectively put sales staff into the online environment with shoppers in real time.
I believe that it is only a very short matter of time before customers come to expect this level of online service from every ecommerce site they visit, and the ones that don’t will lose business fast.
Some are already doing it very well, but now a new more sophisticated form of the technology is accessible to smaller businesses.
The challenge (which is easily overcome) will be to make those customer approaches as appropriately nuanced as a well trained shop assistant, recognising that frequently site visitors will be in “just looking mode”, not always ready to buy straight away.
And one of the most frequent questions you are likely to be asked is “if I order this now, when will it arrive, or can I get it by xxx date?”
The key is ensuring that customer service is not creepy and invasive, but is offered as a genuine intention to help customers navigate to the products they are looking for, while also answering any other questions they might have.