Categories
CRO Customer Engagement News Paid Media Reaching New Customers SEO Uncategorized

The rise of social shopping: How your feed becomes your marketplace

The way consumers interact with brands has undergone a significant transformation with the growing popularity of social ecommerce. This emerging form of shopping allows consumers to explore products and complete transactions through social media while creating a more engaging consumer journey and presenting new opportunities for brands to capture consumer interest. What once served as platforms for sharing photos, connecting with friends, and staying updated on the latest trends have now transformed into dynamic marketplaces where users can seamlessly transition from liking a product to making a purchase, all within the same app.

The emergence of social ecommerce

Online shopping has seen substantial growth thanks to the swift expansion of social ecommerce.  Global regions like China are setting the social ecommerce bar high for all brands by hosting 2-hour live shopping experiences on Tik Tok, and by creating augmented reality (AR) lenses on Snapchat that allow social shoppers to “try-on” items and share with friends. These sales-generating trends have illuminated a social shopping opportunity that the US has begun to emulate, leading to an increase of social shopping. McKinsey estimates that by 2025, social commerce in the US will have generated about $80 billion in sales (up from $37 billion in 2021) and global sales will have exceeded $2 trillion.

Social platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter, and Snapchat have integrated social ecommerce capabilities into their user experiences. Instagram’s ecommerce shop feature is essentially a storefront housed inside of the platform, making it easier for consumers to find and buy things featured in their feeds by enabling businesses to tag products in their posts and stories. In a similar vein, TikTok has debuted shoppable livestreams, which enable brands to showcase their goods in real time and enable instant transactions. This in turn allows customers to communicate with content creators directly during the live streams so they can ask questions about the featured products. This convenience creates a better customer experience that drives incremental sales. 

Customer behavior and mobile-first shopping 

The popularity of mobile shopping is another element fueling the expansion of social ecommerce. Through the use of mobile phones, consumers can link directly and immediately to brands, which in turn enables personalized recommendations as well as targeted ads and real-time promotions. Social media platforms are internet marketplaces where users can explore products, read reviews, or even interact with different brands in a single interface. Basically, social media apps have made it very easy for people to browse, share, and buy products, making shopping more accessible and convenient than ever before thereby completely changing the retail landscape. With social media platforms evolving to become more mobile-friendly and creating mobile-first experiences through their apps, the influence of mobile shopping is expected to further accelerate, shaping the future of ecommerce.

Blurring boundaries: Content and social ecommerce strategy 

In the contemporary digital world, remarkable social media content is critical in creating interest, user engagement, and subsequent purchases. Top-tier content incorporates helpful visuals, enlightening videos, and captivating product stories that go beyond basic product descriptions and feature lists to forge emotional bonds with customers. This blend is crucial for grabbing user attention and fostering trust. Leveraging targeted messaging, product tagging, and in-app showcases, brands can bring their offerings to life, highlighting their distinctive value propositions while tackling consumer concerns head-on. Additionally, user-generated content, plus real-life testimonials, helps boost credibility and influence purchasing choices made by consumers. Great social media contents enable brands to develop close relationships with customers, thus enhancing brand loyalty as well as conversion rates all through the immersive world of social ecommerce.

Know your customers: Social shopping by generation 

It is important to note that each generation views and utilizes social media shopping differently. Hubspot compiled data on generational shopping habits over a three-month period and unveiled how each generation shops on social media platforms, which can be used to inform marketing strategies. According to Hubspot, Gen Z, Millennials, and Gen X exhibit more enthusiasm for shopping via social media platforms compared to Baby Boomers. Gen Z takes the lead with 23%, closely followed by Millennials at 21%. In contrast, Gen X accounts for 13%, while Baby Boomers lag significantly behind at 3%. Among those interested in online shopping, 28% of Gen Z and Millennials have made direct purchases through social media, with 18% of Gen X also participating, whereas only 4% of Boomers engage in social shopping.

Gen Z is dominating the realm of social shopping. This is probably in part because they grew up in such a technologically advanced era. This generation is using social media platforms as search engines in order to discover brands and their shopping behavior indicates that though they are buying fewer items, they are buying items with a high value. For all generations, posting high quality content on organic and paid social media channels, setting up social media storefronts, and tagging products are great ways to build trust, especially with the Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers who browse but do not always commit to making a purchase on social platforms. It’s important to remember that even if social ecommerce isn’t the preferred channel for transacting purchases, it can be an important part of the path to purchase in other channels. So a good social ecommerce strategy is cross-generational.

Challenges and considerations for brands

Social ecommerce, the amalgamation of social media and ecommerce, represents a dynamic frontier for brands seeking innovative ways to connect with consumers and optimize their marketing strategies. As with any new frontier, there will be both opportunities and bumpy roads ahead. 

Through data analytics and tracking tools embedded in social platforms, social ecommerce provides valuable insights into consumer behavior and preferences for brands. This information includes user interactions and engagement patterns as well as purchasing history that can help companies identify opportunities for improvement. Effective businesses will often use this data to segment their target audience so they can deliver content that has been personalized to meet individual tastes and wants. As a result, businesses develop stronger customer relationships resulting in brand loyalty.

However, despite its promises, social ecommerce also presents a range of challenges. One significant hurdle is the saturation and competitiveness of social media platforms, which makes it difficult for brands to cut through noise and attract consumer attention. One way for brands to do this is by doubling down on personalization to ensure relevance and increase the likelihood of grabbing consumers’ attention. Additionally, ever-changing algorithms adopted by different networks together with rules governing advertising create another, requiring companies to continuously realign their tactics. One potential solution is for brands to focus on building a strong foundation for their marketing strategy. This may include: 

  • Diversifying advertising on social platforms: This can help mitigate the impact of sudden algorithm changes on any single platform.
  • Audience engagement: Actively engaging with the audience on social media can help brands build a strong community that will continue to engage with their content regardless of algorithm changes, mitigating the impact.
  • Analytics and data: Regularly analyze advertising data and performance by conducting A/B testing to understand what strategies are most effective. This data-driven approach can help you optimize your tactics in response to algorithm changes.

Moreover, privacy concerns and data security issues are paramount considerations in the realm of social ecommerce. When collecting consumer information for personalization purposes, transparency, consent, and data protection must be observed to maintain consumer trust and compliance with regulatory requirements. If not properly addressed, these issues can not only damage the reputation of a brand but also lead to legal implications. Brands that wish to use social ecommerce should therefore put in place strong data governance practices and ethical principles so that they may protect consumer privacy while enhancing trust with consumers. 

Read more: Is SEO the secret to social media success? It could be.

Even though there are numerous opportunities for brands to foster engagement and sales through social ecommerce, marketers must exercise strategic, holistic approaches that consider both opportunities and potential obstacles.

Embrace the social media shopping revolution

The emergence of social ecommerce signifies a paradigm change in the way companies interact with customers and conduct online sales. Marketers can turn their feeds into dynamic markets that increase engagement, encourage loyalty, and increase revenue by utilizing social media’s power and embracing social shopping technologies. With the boundaries between social media and ecommerce becoming increasingly hazy, the future of shopping is in our hands as our feeds transform into virtual marketplaces.

Are you ready to grow your strategy for marketing? Get in contact with us, and together, we can begin converting your social feed into a dynamic marketplace that drives results. 

Categories
CRO Customer Engagement Paid Media Reaching New Customers SEO

The road to victory: Paid media strategies in an election and Olympic year

For a few months every four years, the U.S. presidential election and Summer Olympics dominate the media landscape and create major challenges for advertisers trying to establish reach, maintain ad frequency, and meet cost per acquisition (CPA) goals. From roughly mid-July to early November, election campaigns and Olympic promotions overtake ad inventory, limiting supply and driving up costs for other advertisers. 

In 2020, the Tokyo Olympics attracted $2.25 billion in U.S. ad revenue and the U.S. election cycle totaled an unprecedented $2.5 billion of ad revenue. And that’s just for TV ads! With all of that extra competition in the market, breaking through the clutter and maintaining effective reach and frequency without breaking the bank becomes a major challenge for most advertisers.

Let’s explore how a thoughtful election- and Olympic-year paid media strategy can help you emerge victorious from this quagmire. After all, who doesn’t love a good underdog story?

Politics and pentathlons: The negative impacts on marketing

Before we discuss strategy, it’s important to understand what is at risk during these quadrennial events. Here are some of the ways your current paid media plan might feel the impact of the election/Olympic year:

Limited inventory

Channels like traditional broadcast, out-of-home (billboards, transit, airport advertising, etc.), and even CTV, have a finite amount of ad inventory. As politicians, advocacy groups, super PACs, the Olympic Games, and the likes buy up ad inventory, it becomes a challenge for other advertisers to secure inventory for themselves. 

For election candidate advertising specifically, the FCC requires broadcast stations and cable systems to charge legally qualified candidates the lowest unit prices, making TV advertising more affordable, and increasing the likelihood of those candidates purchasing a lot of inventory. Additionally, because candidates are guaranteed the lowest unit price that other customers receive, this means that you likely won’t be able to secure any zero-cost added value spots during this time.

In an effort to treat competing candidates fairly, the FCC also requires broadcast stations to abide by the “equal time” rule. This means that if one candidate gets a spot in the 6p news, the other candidates must also be able to receive a similar spot. As such, many non-political advertisers get preempted (“bumped”) during this time and may not receive makegoods during the desired window. This rule makes it especially challenging for advertisers who are operating within very specific promotional windows.

With political and Olympic ads taking over the airwaves, it becomes difficult for other advertisers to secure any ad inventory at all, yet alone enough to maintain an effective reach and frequency that will grow brand awareness or compel action from potential customers.

Cluttered ad space

As politics and Olympic promotion overtake traditional advertising outlets, many non-political and Olympic advertisers will move into the digital realm to secure inventory and lock in flat rates. The political and Olympic advertisers will be here too by the way. As you can imagine (or have experienced first hand in years past), the digital marketplace becomes inundated with heated political messaging and inspirational (usually sports-themed) stories, on top of all the normal ad clutter. 

It can be extremely challenging to break through all this noise. Consumers often get overwhelmed by excessive advertising, making it less likely that they will engage with or be influenced by ads.

Increased costs

While broadcast stations are required to keep costs low for advertisers, digital channels are not. Costs on Google, Meta, and other auction-based platforms will surge as competition increases. Cost per clicks (CPCs) and cost per conversions (CPAs) will increase as advertisers bid against each other to win ad space. Target CPAs are going to take more work to hit as each impression becomes significantly more expensive to secure. While you can still serve ads within a set budget, your paid media dollars won’t go nearly as far in auction-based platforms as they normally would outside the election and Olympic seasons.

Taking the podium: Overcome obstacles with a winning strategy

While the challenges that exist during an election and Olympic year may seem daunting, it’s not too late to implement a winning strategy. Strategically planning ahead can help mitigate these challenges:

Adapt your channel strategy

Perhaps the most obvious response to the challenges highlighted above would be to adjust your paid media channel strategy. The limited inventory on traditional broadcast channels will make it difficult to maintain an effective reach and frequency and auction-based digital platforms will experience increased costs. While you may not want to exclude these channels altogether, consider countering those challenges by:

  • Secure broadcast sponsorships and packages: These often guarantee a minimum number of impressions without the possibility of being preempted.
  • Extend your broadcast impressions with digital video and streaming audio: These channels have more inventory and often allow you to negotiate flat CPM rates.
  • Invest in podcasts: Podcasts break through the clutter by speaking to highly engaged listeners.
  • Incorporate flat-rate digital platforms: Plan ahead and collaborate with digital partners that will guarantee flat CPM/CPC pricing to avoid the increased bidding costs.

Understand your audience

As inventory shrinks and costs rise, efficiency is key. Don’t let your advertising dollars go to waste serving impressions to people outside your audience. 

Many marketers use demographics to define their target audience, but demographics have little to do with why a person takes a particular action. Well ahead of the Opening Ceremonies and primary elections, consider investing in values-based persona research to more clearly define who your audience is and what motivates them so that you can tailor your messaging and creative accordingly. Effective ad messaging and creative that resonates with your audience will help break through the ad clutter and drive action during a time when consumers are faced with significant distractions.

Additionally, make sure you’re investing in your first-party data to understand consumer behavior. Today, marketers collect more data than ever before, but often struggle to harness the power of that data in a way that yields actionable insights. Effective data quality management enables you to analyze the right data points that help you understand your customer, enhance their experiences, and optimize campaigns for more efficient and effective results.

Invest in Conversion Rate Optimization

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) strategy is the insurance policy for any paid media plan. A strong paid media strategy can drive significant traffic to a landing page, but if users are met with a poor website experience, they might leave without converting, thus creating a leaky bucket situation. A strategic CRO program systematically tests various iterations of website design and functionality to weed out points of friction and increase conversion rates. 

By investing in CRO strategy ahead of the election and Olympic year, you can help prevent valuable paid media traffic from trickling away pre-conversion during that time when paid media traffic is more expensive and harder to come by. During election and Olympic years, when digital costs increase and consumer attention is being directed elsewhere, decreases in conversion rates are almost guaranteed. An effective CRO strategy will help offset the anticipated decrease in conversion rates.

Learn more about CRO and other Integrated Digital Marketing Services from Tallwave.

Emerge victorious

Strategically planning ahead is key to ensuring strong paid media performance during election and Olympic years. Ready to get started? Let Tallwave help you get the most out of your paid media budget this election and Olympic year.

Categories
Customer Engagement News Paid Media Product Design Reaching New Customers SEO Strategy

Building a business-ready website: Beyond the surface of your website strategy

In the fast-evolving digital landscape, a website is more than a digital brand extension— it’s a dynamic tool that can either advance or inhibit business. Creating a high-performing website requires moving beyond surface-level aesthetics to consider the functionality required to meet business goals effectively.

A website is arguably the most persistent external expression of a brand and one of the hardest working tools in the digital marketing arsenal. It’s the digital front door of your business and a frequent destination for customers at multiple points in their journeys. And yet, website strategy is often only skin deep, focused heavily on how a website looks rather than on how it functions. And it’s often short-term, considering the roles your website plays for your customers and your business today and note how it will need to evolve to meet needs in the future. When it comes to creating high-performing websites built to go the distance for both brands and customers, three is the magic number. 

The magic triangle: Role, goals, and audience

A triangulated approach that considers roles, goals, and audience can help you plan for successful and sustainable websites. This interconnected approach ensures that the website is not only visually appealing but also aligned with the broader business objectives. Let’s break down the elements:

Role: The purpose of your website

Understanding the role your website plays in your business is the first consideration in this website strategy power trio. At a basic level, websites can play two roles: business-enabling and revenue-driving. 

Business-enabling websites can support your business in a number of ways, including:

  • Acting as a support system for external revenue channels: Business-enabling websites act as a powerful support system for your existing revenue channels, such as your sales force. They don’t directly generate revenue themselves, but they play a critical role in nurturing leads, building brand awareness, and ultimately driving conversions through those external channels.
  • Encouraging high-value microconversions: While not the final sale, business-enabling websites excel at capturing high-value microconversions. These actions represent significant steps forward in the customer journey, indicating a prospect’s growing interest in your brand. Examples include lead capture forms, content downloads (e.g., white papers, ebooks), and newsletter signups.
  • Fueling the customer journey: Business-enabling websites are instrumental in moving potential customers through the buyer’s journey and down the sales funnel. By providing valuable content, educational resources, and clear calls to action, these websites nurture leads, build trust, and position your brand as a leader in your industry.

On the other hand, revenue-driving websites support transactions and encourage conversion, directly contributing to a brand’s bottom line. Consider how revenue-driving websites can support your business:

  • Acting as a revenue generating powerhouse platform: Revenue-driving websites are the engines that directly power your business’s revenue generation. These websites are transactional in nature, facilitating online purchases and financial transactions. Examples include traditional e-commerce stores selling physical goods, food delivery platforms where customers can order meals, travel booking websites where users can reserve flights and accommodations, and service-oriented e-commerce sites.
  • Encouraging transactions: The primary function of revenue-driving websites is to facilitate secure and seamless online transactions. This includes features like shopping carts, secure payment gateways, and clear order fulfillment processes.
  • Suiting your needs: Revenue-driving websites encompass a wide range of e-commerce models. From traditional product sales through an online store to service-based transactions, these websites cater to a variety of industries and customer needs.

Clearly defining whether your website plays a business-enabling or revenue-driving role for your business sets the foundation for the subsequent decisions in your strategy, from critical KPIs to key features and functionality, necessary integrations, and more. It also sets the stage for the expectations users will have when visiting your website.

Goals: What you seek to accomplish with your website

Now that you understand the role your website plays in your business, it’s time to define your website goals. You might consider setting these objectives with SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

Website goals will vary depending on your website’s role and your overall business objectives. 

Consider the following examples:

  • Business-enabling website goals:
    • Generate a set number of qualified leads per month
    • Increase brand awareness and website traffic
    • Drive event registrations or webinar signups
    • Improve content engagement through downloads or shares
  • Revenue-driving website goals:
    • Increase online sales by a specific percentage
    • Grow average order value
    • Reduce cart abandonment rates
    • Improve customer lifetime value

Establishing clear and measurable website goals can help you track progress, identify areas for improvement, and ensure that your website strategy aligns directly with your business objectives.

Audience: Who your website is speaking to

Your target audience plays a critical role in shaping your website’s design, content, information architecture, and functionality. Here’s why understanding your audience analysis is vital when thinking about website strategy:

  • Tailored user experience: By understanding your audience’s needs, preferences, and online behavior, you can create a user experience (UX) that resonates with them. This translates to a website that’s easy to navigate, informative, and facilitates desired actions, ultimately influencing conversion rates.
  • Content strategy alignment: Knowing your audience empowers you to develop a content strategy that truly connects. This means crafting content that addresses their pain points, interests them, and guides them through the buying journey.
  • Personalization potential: Audience insights can unlock personalization opportunities. This could involve tailoring website elements, product recommendations, or even entire landing pages to specific audience segments, leading to a more relevant and engaging experience.
  • Search engine visibility: Understanding your audience paves the way for essential SEO optimizations fueled by linguistic profiling and search journey analysis. Implementing data-driven optimizations based on these findings can improve search engine rankings and organic visibility for your business.

Learn more about SEO and other Integrated Digital Marketing Services from Tallwave.

Having a clear understanding of your target audience is the bridge that connects your website’s features and functionality with the user experience that drives results. Effective audience analysis involves:

  • Buyer persona development: Create detailed profiles of your ideal customers, including demographics, valuegraphics, needs, challenges, and preferred online behavior.
  • Website analytics review: Utilize website traffic data to understand visitor demographics, interests, and content consumption patterns.
  • Market research: Conduct market research to gain insights into broader industry trends and competitor audience strategies.

By combining these methods, you can create a comprehensive understanding of your target audience and leverage that knowledge to build a website that truly resonates with them.

Evaluating your website’s business readiness: Beyond the surface

While websites serve as prominent brand outposts, often acting as the initial point, their multifaceted nature can pose a challenge. Teams can get caught up in the aesthetics – visuals, interactive elements, and the like – neglecting to truly get under the hood and identify underlying strengths and opportunities.

Before you put your website to work, it’s essential to get down to business and review your site under the following lenses:

  • Technical infrastructure: Is the website’s technical foundation robust enough to support your business goals seamlessly, both today and into the future? This includes aspects like website speed, mobile-friendliness, security measures, and content delivery efficiency.
  • Customer experience (CX): Does the customer journey feel intuitive and cater to your target audience’s needs? Assess whether the website is optimized for high-value conversions aligned with your business objectives.
  • Accessibility: Is your website accessible for users with disabilities? Ensure that your website’s design and content adhere to WCAG guidelines. This means implementing features like alt text for images, keyboard navigation options, and proper headings.
  • Navigation paths and flows: Does your website seamlessly guide visitors toward their next steps, building upon interactions with other digital touchpoints in your brand ecosystem? A well-structured website anticipates user intent and facilitates a smooth journey towards conversions.
  • Design: Does the website effectively reflect your brand identity? Validate your website against your brand guidelines to determine if the visual elements, as well as content, are applied consistently across all pages.
  • Marketing and sales strategy alignment: Is your website an active participant in driving your marketing and sales efforts? It is important to make sure your website integrates with your marketing automation tools, facilitates lead capture, and effectively supports your sales funnel. It’s also critical to ensure the content management system on which your website is built supports the frequency with which updates may need to be made and the level of technical skill of those who will be responsible for making them.

This multifaceted evaluation approach can help uncover hidden roadblocks and optimization opportunities that ensure your website is not just visually appealing but strategically positioned to support your business goals.

Ongoing optimizations: Sustainable website strategy

Your website is a living entity, not a static brochure. Don’t “set it and forget it.” To maintain your website’s strategic effectiveness, you must plan for ongoing and iterative optimizations. Here are some key practices to keep in mind post-launch:

  • A/B testing: Test different website elements, like headlines, call-to-action buttons, or page layouts, to see what resonates best with your audience and drives conversions.
  • Data-driven decision-making: Leverage website analytics and user behavior data to inform website improvements and prioritize resources effectively.
  • SEO optimizations and content enhancements: Regularly update your website content with fresh, keyword-rich, relevant information to maintain user engagement and improve search engine ranking.
  • Mobile-first approach: Even in B2B scenarios, first contact often happens in the palms of your customers’ hands. Ensure your website is responsive and optimized for mobile devices.
  • Security maintenance: Regularly update your website’s security measures to protect user data and website functionality, especially when relying on cloud-based tools and data storage.

A well-defined website strategy is no longer optional – it’s a necessity. By understanding the role your website plays in your business strategy, your target audience, and your desired goals, you can create a website that is not just visually appealing, but strategically designed to drive impactful results.

And you don’t have to go at it alone. Tallwave is eager to create website strategy solutions that align with your consumers and meet them where they are when they need you most. Let’s talk.

Play Video

Bunger Steel

Doing some things and making some impacts