February 25, 2018
A local business group asked me to present for half a day. It was a typical group of small and medium-sized businesses who sold everything from clothing and sporting goods to banking services, insurance, and technology.
They had been focusing heavily on social media for a year, but their members didn’t see much value in it and didn’t use it.
Those retailers struggled because they kept to their pre-2018 marketing ways and failed to see how social media and better website design would help them grow their sales.
Why is social media so important for business?
Recommendations from friends and family remain the most credible form of advertising for 83% of today’s consumers said the Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Report .
And where do those shoppers turn when they want recommendations?
More than half of consumers (51%) turn to Facebook, ranking it above any other source.. And while 1 in 4 consumers turn to Instagram, the number increases to 35% for Millennials.
Why does having a presence on social media take more than just having a fan page? Because if you aren’t engaging your tribe of followers to comment, like, and share, none of their friends will be exposed to your brand.
Recommendations from friends and family are the number one way people find your store.
Branded websites are the second most-trusted marketing format. People are using search engines to discover where the best stores are in their local area, and Google prioritizes those in the results it delivers.
Why do Google reviews and Facebook reviews matter to your business? Because people are actually typing Best ___ store in their search boxes, and Google looks at those reviews to determine who to show first.
With no reviews or few reviews and rotten reviews, you’re virtually invisible back on page three of search results.
What is the number three most trusted way shoppers choose one product or business over another? Two-thirds trust online consumer reviews, again pointing up your need to actively solicit them. One company I’ve found to help you with this is Podium.
But social media isn’t done in a vacuum.
Let’s back up a moment…
When I wrote my book, The Retail Doctor’s Guide To Growing Your Business (Wiley), I included this graphic at the back to explain how the web worked.
Back then marketing on the web was all about keywords as that was the primary way Google and other search engines worked. (If you don’t understand me so far, you can search the web for a ton of information about keywords.)
Nowadays, keywords are still important, but Google and other search engines have evolved to understand topics just as much as keywords.
Does that make keywords dead? No because you still need to understand exactly what people are searching for in your niche and the keywords they use to find you.
Here’s How To Improve Your Store Sales Via Your Website And Social Media
1) Take note of the keywords that shoppers use when they talk to you. You will notice your keywords in things like a social media question, a submitted Contact Us form or when they email you. Any time you see something like I’m looking for a ___ or Can you help me with my ____ or How do I _____, the words used to fill in the blanks are probably a match for the words they used in their search queries. Write them down. The more you validate your own keyword research with actual data from customers, the more you can fine-tune your marketing. Use those keywords on your homepage, your online store, your About Us page, and your Contact Us page. They should also be on your social media profiles for Facebook and the rest.
2) Create topic clusters. Topic clusters are a relatively new idea. A topic cluster tells search engines that you have a real depth and understanding of your content and gives you more authority on that topic. Say you have a housewares store in Idaho. You might have a web page on pans, another on recipes, and another on herbs and oils. What you want to do is find a broad subject that could hold all three of those pages. Your topic or cluster might be How To Cook Fish or Best Way To Cook Trout, and you would write enough new content and link to your other three pages to form more of a topic page than a keyword page. Those internal links keep visitors on your site longer, they use your total website rather than one piece of it, and search engines love to see that deeper engagement with your content.
3) Pay for a website overhaul. 90% of your shoppers start their search online. You can’t afford to have your website built by your friend’s daughter’s boyfriend’s buddy who builds them for free. A beautiful but poorly built site is invisible online. Your website should be redone every three years to remain competitive, and the person responsible must understand the architecture that runs your site. You don’t just change it willy-nilly, you have to be strategic.
4) Be social on social. Take the best of what your store is and does and find ways through polls and videos to engage your online community on Facebook and the rest. So many retailers think posting a picture with 20% off is the ticket for social media. It isn’t. That’s just a different way to give a coupon. Or they only show their crew having fun. I have news for you, that doesn’t work either. Viewers want to see things aimed at their needs and wants.
5) Be responsive. The number one way to build respect and devotion from your online tribe is to be responsive. You’ll discover your own statistics of how quickly you respond to inquiries on your Facebook site in the right hand margin of your fan page - and so can your followers. Here is how to set up a Facebook auto-responder to at let them know you received their message. The key though is you try to reply to every comment or message within minutes, not hours or worse... weeks. You can see from my own page that even I have to respond more quickly.
6) Provide educational content. This is true for both your website and social media. Followers want you to show them how to address some of the common problems they face with your products. Facebook Live is a great way to do that. I teach a 21-day Facebook Live intensive program about once a month to help retailers master this. (If you want in on the next one, contact me.) One intimate apparel store showed how to properly wash a bra, another clothing retailer showed how to refresh a denim jacket, you get the idea. They follow you for insights, not just pictures.
7) Provide behind-the-scenes content. Unboxing videos are popular on YouTube, so why not show your Facebook and Instagram Fans what you just got in? Putting up a trade booth somewhere? Show them how it’s done. Doing a charity event? Tell them why and how they can get involved. The goal is to make your fans feel like they are part of something and getting the inside scoop. It adds emotion and human connection; that doesn’t happen with a product picture.
How to improve the performance of your social media marketing? Be authentic, responsive, a trusted resource for information, and cluster your information to gain search engine mojo.
What is the importance of social media in getting more sales? Simple, your posts put a face to your business that a website or a coupon cannot.
So many retailers think the web and social media are like foreign countries where only Millennials can understand the language. They are not. These sources are where we all gather information before we buy online or venture into our cars for a special trip to your brick and mortar store.
Your goal for social media is really no different than it should be in your store, the number one priority is engagement.
I’ve only scratched the surface of how to market your business better to grow your store sales. But you know what?
It’s no good to be social online if you aren’t social in-store.
You need to commit to the hard work of creating an exceptional experience for every person who walks in your door. That takes much more than letting your employees fake engagement or perform at a minimum level dusting your merchandise or standing sullen behind your counter.
You have to have a retail selling process that takes a visitor from A to B to C just as easily and thoughtfully as you would online. I suggest you checkout my SalesRX.com program which starts at $195 a month.
You might have fun on social media as you take these tips and use them, but don’t forget marketing only gets them to your door; the best way to make more sales is by controlling the customer experience within your own four walls.