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How to make a business case for social commerce

How to make a business case for social commerce

By Frank Lord, EMEA managing director of ATG

Social site elements, in particular user-generated content, are top of every marketer’s wish list at the moment. But, while some of the most successful and respected brands are making effective use of social commerce, many marketers still find it difficult to sell the concept internally. Below are some top tips to get you started.

1.Define it:

Much of the internal and senior management resistance surrounding social media steams from a lack of understanding. The first step to success is to really explain in detail what social commerce is internally and how it will benefit your organisation, using real brand examples. It’s important to appreciate that each tool from tweeting to digging, Facebook to collaborative portals, can have a different role, so make sure you understand the differences between each and how they can combine to a greater effect. Then, communicate it clearly.

2.Forget about channels:

Customers don't think about shopping in terms of 'channels' when dealing with a retailer. They merely think about their engagement with a company as a whole. Illustrate how multi-channel customer touch points, whether it’s in-store, online, mobile or social, create more opportunities for the customer to buy, increasing conversion rates. Think of when online shopping first emerged and many retailers were hesitant to take the plunge. Now almost every big retailer in the world has an e-commerce site. It’s the same with social commerce. Just because it’s a new channel, doesn’t mean it’s less effective.

3.Show how social integrates with other channels:

Your web site may not be the first place a shopper heads to when looking to buy – with so much content out there it's likely a customer will have been to multiple destinations before visiting you.  It's crucial therefore to give shoppers a reason to stay and ultimately buy. Explain the role of social software and how it can ‘lure’ customers to your site. Once they are there, intelligent technologies can work alongside social elements. For example "Click to Call" that allows visitors to interact with retailers over the phone for information, advice and support once they get there can seal a deal, particularly when serving customers that prefer to speak to someone rather than relying purely on what’s posted on a site.

4.Show a cost analysis:

The wonderful thing about user-generated content is that is it doesn’t require any additional resources. Because your customers are creating the content for you, you don’t have to do much of the work! Reviews and forums can be set up easily and cost effectively.

5.Put controls in place:

Every marketer knows that word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing. Demonstrate that social commerce gives your customers an online voice. Show how loyal customers can act as brand ambassadors to spread the good word about your products or services. For those customers who are not as satisfied, social commerce can quickly alert marketing so that problems can be quashed by feeding it back into the product teams and not allowed to spin out of control online.

It’s clear that social commerce is here to stay and not just a passing trend. Social elements can form an important part of a powerful e-commerce strategy to give customers a truly seamless, personalised multi-channel experience.

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