November 25, 2014 / Social Media

Social media advertising is an important and evolving facet of digital marketing, and especially valuable in the E-commerce buying cycle. Because the E-commerce buying experience is less defined than the experience of shopping at a brick-and-mortar business, there are unique opportunities for digital marketers to reach out to consumers at various points in the buying cycle.

At retail locations, attention-grabbing signs, sales information, and other elements can be employed to influence consumers. The avenues of influence are less obvious in the digital space, so it’s important for marketers to leverage social media advertising as part of an integrated marketing mix to drive traffic and sales.shoppping cart icons on tablet 492 x 348 px  6.83 x 4.83 in  72 dpi

At brick-and-mortar businesses, consumers engage in “Search & Discover” by walking through the aisles, picking up products, reading labels, or asking questions. In E-commerce, there is no direct interaction between the product and the consumer, so marketers use other tools to achieve the same benefit as physical interaction with the product, bright signs, sales people, and displays found in stores.

With targeted social media advertising, marketers can reach consumers who are already in the Search & Discover process of the buying cycle, which means they may be more likely to ultimately purchase a product. A study performed by AOL Platforms found that using paid social media advertising leads to a 25% increase in conversions compared to organic social media.

Every piece of social media content is a chance to convert, so it is imperative to capture consumers who are already searching for the product.

Although investing in social media advertising is important, content does not always gain the level of organic traction marketers were able to capitalize upon in the past due to Facebook’s algorithm changes. With social media advertising, businesses can reach and influence consumers in the buying cycle.

Promoted Posts, a subset of social media advertising, can also be utilized to increase brand awareness. Unlike social advertising which has a lot to do with an individual user’s search behavior, promoted posts help reach consumers whose extended social networks (i.e. their “friends” on Facebook) are already connected to your brand. Although marketers should not expect a promoted post to have a direct influence on E-commerce, the tool can be used as part of an aggregate digital marketing strategy.

Promoted posts can raise awareness for a product or brand outside the Search & Discover process as well. Because there are fewer clear distinctions between the different steps of the buying cycle in the digital space, marketers can take advantage of the rich data left over by consumers who have completed the buyer’s journey or aren’t even in it yet.

Even after consumers complete purchases, they remain connected to social channels. Marketers can use social advertising to connect to consumers and foster brand loyalty even when they aren’t actively looking to purchase something. Consumers who frequently purchase products online may visit other E-commerce sites for similar products, and they may potentially purchase those kinds of products again. Social advertising can be used to target those consumers and attract others in their extended networks.

There are many avenues of influence marketers can use to drive consumers to a particular destination or goal. In the case of E-commerce, social advertising is an effective way to communicate with consumers at various points in the buying cycle. It can be an important component of a targeted digital marketing campaign and an overall aggregate strategy to drive sales. Social advertising can help marketers fill the strategic gaps that arise from the absence of a physical connection between the consumer and the product.

How is your business using social media advertising to drive E-commerce?


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