Five ways to maximise your social commerce ROI

Jim Wehmann of ecommerce solutions company Digital River provides five top tips to ensure social commerce campaigns deliver ROI. They will help you optimise your social media activities by tracking sales and order performance

If you’re engaged in online marketing efforts, over the past two to three years you’ve probably launched several social media and social commerce initiatives. Next, you wanted to better understand their performance, so you implemented basic tracking of your social media campaigns. Then, you set goals around social media engagement, which often include measuring the number of fans, followers, impressions, comments, reviews, brand mentions, posts and reposts and other variables. However, if you’re still wondering whether you are getting all you can out of social media and social commerce activities, you’re not alone.

Taking social media campaigns to the next level requires tools that are not only able to track posts and reposts, but can also track all the way through to clicks, orders and sales. As soon as you do this, you’re ready to start fully optimising the social commerce channel. Here are five tips to maximise your social commerce ROI:

1. Establish a base line

Many of the social commerce key performance metrics are the same as other direct marketing or online channels: traffic, conversion rates, ROAS (return on ad spend), RPV (revenue per visitor), AOV (average order value), order frequency, and ROI (return on investment), etc. As you begin to track and report these metrics, you should establish a baseline that you can use to compare your social commerce metrics to your other channels, as well as track your performance over time. This will allow you to understand the impact of your marketing campaigns and other tactics as they are implemented.

2. Strengthen the call-to-action

Traditionally, marketers have thought of social media as primarily a customer relationship management initiative rather than a commerce opportunity. Brands have been focused on feedback, customer service and community through forums, ratings and reviews, Facebook walls, and Twitter posts. So, the voice and messaging has been strictly informational and non-selling. However, the focus on ecommerce is growing. It started with promotional messaging, then progressed to flash deals and has finally arrived at fully integrated social commerce “stores”. As brands progress through this evolution, it’s important to revisit the “call-to-action”. Generally, these have been infrequent and weak – a “learn more” link here and there. But, it’s become increasingly acceptable to be more direct in the call-to-action, such as “buy this here”, “buy now” and, even, “limited quantities, buy now”.

3. Integrate social commerce and social media more fully into the online marketing strategy

Just like in the early days of the web, when companies managed their dotcoms separately from their other channels, too many people are managing social commerce and social media separately from their web stores and other direct marketing channels. Social commerce should be more fully integrated into the overall promotional calendar, merchandising strategy, communications plan, etc. As an obvious example, email and social commerce can be fully integrated to create synergies around name capture, message reinforcement, brand consistency, customer lifecycle management and other areas.

4. Leverage the uniqueness of the channel and audience

Novelty and unique content, promotions, and other messaging resonate well in the social channels. Now, this may sound like a conflict with the advice to integrate social commerce into your other online marketing as mentioned above, but it’s not. You will generally manage your search marketing, affiliate marketing and email under one cohesive strategy, such as one master promotional calendar. But that doesn’t mean you don’t take advantage of the unique characteristics of each online channel when optimising the approach. The same is true of the social commerce channel. It helps to reinforce and leverage the stronger loyalty of your fans and followers – studies have shown they have a much higher propensity to recommend and buy your products as compared to non-fans and followers – by giving them access to merchandise or sales early, pre-release information, unique merchandise and other unique content.

5. Target your social commerce audience

Unlike more targeted forms of online advertising, it is difficult to target social media viewers by their purchase cycle. So, an alternative strategy would be to first gain the consumer as a fan and then retarget them with different messages. This can be accomplished through “like-gating” your Facebook page or running a Tweet-to-Win contest through Twitter. You can then use the information captured from these social media leads to move them further down the sales funnel. For example, using your integrated online channel management as mentioned above, you can target them with specific email promotions and messaging.

By tracking sales and order performance, marketers can optimise their social media activities based on ROI and traditional direct marketing principles. As best practices are identified and implemented, results improve and the time and resources spent on social media get even easier to justify.