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11 Social Media Marketing Strategies for Ecommerce Websites

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Social media is one of those things, like high waisted shorts or people still using the hashtag #nomnoms, that you either love or really hate.

But, if you’re an ecommerce company, it can be kind of cringe-worthy.

Between Facebook, Instagram, and new social networks like Vero and Steemit, where do you start?

As Brent Csutoras, co-owner and adviser of Search Engine Journal, puts it:

“In 2019, businesses need to really take the time to understand their customers and how they interact with the brand on each social media site, and then engage with them in the right tone, with the right medium, and in their communities.”

So to help get your ecommerce website one hell of a social media strategy, I’ve picked out 11 tips to share on four top social networks to drive sales.

Facebook

Tip 1: Go Live

Stop scheduling your promoted posts, put your content calendars away – Facebook is testing a new ecommerce tool for Facebook Live that allows Pages to display products in their stream.

Then, viewers can purchase through screenshots.

Jeff Higgins saw the first sighting:

Think of this like a QVC or Home Shopping Network.

I know, I know, just another Facebook feature. But it works.

Emily Ley sold 2.28x more planners in May 2018 launch compared to the previous year’s launch with help from Facebook Live video and ads.

Tip 2: Link to Facebook Messenger from Your Website

Facebook Messenger has more than 1.3 billion monthly active users.

However, it’s still a huge sales channel that ecommerce brands are missing.

Once you get your Facebook Messenger set up, you need to link it to your site.

After you link it to your site, Facebook Messenger will show product updates, price changes, and give you the ability to provide customer support.

Want proof?

In one day, this brand generated 254 orders and $23,987.64 in revenue with Facebook Messenger.

And, you better get on this soon. Facebook has a patent that allows users to pay for products through Messenger.

Tip 3: Invest in Facebook Ads

As the old saying goes, “you’ve got to pay to play.” And, that’s true with Facebook.

The good news is that Facebook offers a variety of ads for ecommerce websites.

For example, PupSocks spent $1 million in 30 days to gain $4 million in sales.

How did they do it?

They started with boosted posts then turned the top performing post into an ongoing ad campaign.

Whereas MVMT tested multiple Facebook ad formats like video and carousel to help them grow from zero to $90 million in less than 5 years.

Instagram

Tip 4: Start Using Shoppable Posts

It may still be the reign of Facebook (pause for a united ughhh!), but I’m detecting the rise of Instagram.

Enter: Shoppable Posts.

This functionality originated in 2018 and unintentionally changed the ecommerce social media landscape.

Spearmint LOVE, an eco-friendly children’s clothing company, saw a 25% increase in traffic and an 8% increase in revenue after using Instagram’s shoppable posts.

Lulus, a womenswear brand, received over 100,000 visits to their website and 1,200 product orders after using shoppable posts.

Shoppable posts give brands the opportunity to showcase their storefront within the social network.

Businesses can use shoppable posts in standard image posts and Stories.

Tip 5: Grow Your Followers

While growing your followers on Instagram may seem like common sense for any business, there are additional perks.

When an Instagram account gets more than 10,000 subscribers, you have the opportunity to add direct links into Stories. This will take a user to your website with one swipe.

Ecommerce brands can also create multiple folders for their Stories.

These folders can be used as categories of your website like “Semi-Annual Sale” or “Best Sellers.”

Tip 6: Start Thinking about IGTV

IGTV hasn’t taken off yet for ecommerce brands like the other Instagram features. However, Instagram’s Collections may be the starting point.

The new IGTV layout resembles Pinterest, especially with their Collections.

If you wanted to showcase an outfit from clothes from your store, brands could add a collection of items you wore. This includes shoppable posts. This will likely take shape further in 2019.

And, IGTV isn’t the only new feature for ecommerce brands that Instagram is rolling out.

Word on the street is that Instagram developers are building native payment options.

Soon, Instagram users will be able to book movie tickets, restaurants, or potentially buy without being redirected to the website.

Pinterest

Tip 7: Add Shop the Look to Your Pins

With new updates from Facebook and Instagram hitting the scene on what feels like a daily basis, it can be easy to forget about social networks like Pinterest.

But, with the announcement of Pinterest’s IPO, this changes the game for ecommerce brands.

Pinterest will now compete with Google as it looks to increase ad revenue through direct response, on-platform purchases, and better contextual discovery with its ‘Shop the Look’ Pins.

You can see brands like Timberland already using the new tool with the help of Pinterest partner Olapic.

pinterest-shop the look

Want more good news? Kunlong Gu, Engineer for Pinterest, announced it would be automating this ‘Shop the Look’ process.

Tip 8: Dedicate a Budget to Promoted Carousel Ads

Before you use up your ad budget with Facebook and Instagram, set aside a small portion to test Pinterest’s Promoted Carousel ads.

Brands like Toyota, REI, Everlane, Away, etc. can already be seen using these.

Check out Cheerios.

pinterest promoted carousel ads

This campaign saw an 11.4 point lift in ad awareness and an 8.6 point lift in message association.

Tip 9: Activate Product Pins

In October 2018, Pinterest announced that Product Pins would be replacing Buyable Pins.

pinterest product pins

These Product Pins display pricing, stock information, and the ability to go to the product to buy in just a few clicks.

In the past quarter, Pinterest saw a 40% increase in clicks on products to retail sites.

Once you have Product Pins in place, it will also direct users to a shoppable feed like this:

pinterest product pins shoppable feed

Others to Keep Your Eye On

Tip 10: Test Collection Ads on Snapchat

Snapchat partnered with Amazon in 2018 to test visual search shopping which led to the launch of Collection Ads.

According to a company blog post, eBay saw a 5x higher engagement rate with Collection Ads compared to standard Snap Ads.

The company is working with 40 new partners to grow their ecommerce offerings so I’d recommend stalking Snapchat if you’re looking to explore new channels.

Tip 11: Create a Video Strategy for YouTube

Nearly two-thirds of social media users report they use YouTube (63%) and Instagram (61%) more in 2018 than 2017, compared to 52% who say they use Facebook more this year.

That’s why we’re seeing ecommerce brands start to take to YouTube to sell.

Luxyhair.com grew to a 7-figure business with YouTube.

And, Zagg utilized YouTube ads to increase conversions by 75%.

Social Media Is More Than a Sales Channel

Success doesn’t happen by accident on social media, no matter what you’re selling.

You have to start, and fail, then succeed. You have to realize the value of building a brand, then adapt to your community.

Many ecommerce companies make the mistake of assuming that just because you’re on social media means you’re giving your consumers what you want.

But, the reality is, there are millions of options for consumers now. How can your ecommerce product be different?

A study by Sprout Social found that a whopping 84.9% of customers won’t purchase an item until they’ve seen it multiple times.

You have to find the channel your customers are listening to and talk to them there to develop a connection. It’s a continuous circle of testing.


Image Credits

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita
All screenshots taken by author



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Google Search Console unparsable structured data report data issue

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Google has informed us that you may see a spike in errors in the unparsable structured data report within Google Search Console. This is a bug in the reporting system and you do not need to worry. The issue happened between January 13, 2020 and January 16, 2020.

The bug. Google wrote on the data anomalies page “Some users may see a spike in unparsable structured data errors. This was due to an internal misconfiguration that will be fixed soon, and can be ignored.” This was dated January 13, 2020 through January 16, 2020.

To be fixed. Google said they will fix the issue with the internal misconfiguration. It is, however, unclear if the data will be fixed or if you will see a spike in those errors between those date ranges.

Unparsable structured data report. The unparsable structured data report is accessible within Google Search Console by clicking here. The report aggregates structured data syntax errors. It puts all the parsing issues, including structured data syntax errors, that specifically prevented Google from identifying the feature type.

Why we care. The main thing here is that if you see a spike in errors in that report between January 13th and 16th, do not worry. It is a bug with the report and not an issue with your web site. Go back to the report in a few days and make sure that you do not see errors occurring after the 17th of January to be sure you have no technical issues.


About The Author

Barry Schwartz a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land and a member of the programming team for SMX events. He owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry’s personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here.



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Google rolls out organic ‘Popular Products’ listings in mobile search results

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Several years ago now, Google made the significant move to turn product search listings into an entirely paid product. Shopping campaigns, as they’re now called, have accounted for an increasing share of retail search budgets ever since. More recently, however, Google has been augmenting organic search results with product listings. It’s in a product search battle with Amazon, after all. On Thursday, the company announced the official rollout of “Popular Products” for apparel, shoe and similar searches in mobile results.

Organic product listings. Google has been experimenting with ways to surface product listings in organic search results, including Popular Products, which has been spotted for several months now. The section is powered by those organic feeds. Google says it identifies popular products from merchants to show them in a single spot, allowing users to filter by style, department and size type. The listings link to the retailers’ websites.

Popular Products is now live in Google mobile search results.

Why we care. This is part of a broader effort by Google to enhance product search experiences as it faces increasing competition from Amazon and other marketplaces as well as social platforms. Earlier this week, Google announced it has acquired Pointy, a hardware solution for capturing product and inventory data from small local merchants that can then be used in search results (and ads).

In the past few years, Google has also prompted retailers to adopt product schema markup on their sites by adding support for it in Search and Image search results. Then last spring, Google opened up Merchant Center to all retailers, regardless if they were running Shopping campaigns. Any retailer can submit their feed in real-time to Google to make their products eligible in search results.

Ad revenue was certainly at the heart of the shift to paid product listings, but prior to the move, product search on Google was often a terrible user experience with search listings often not matching what was on the landing page, from availability to pricing to even the very product. The move to a paid solution imposed quality standards that forced merchants to clean up their product data and provide it to Google in a structured manner in the form of product feeds through Google Merchant Center.


About The Author

Ginny Marvin is Third Door Media’s Editor-in-Chief, running the day to day editorial operations across all publications and overseeing paid media coverage. Ginny Marvin writes about paid digital advertising and analytics news and trends for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and MarTech Today. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, Ginny has held both in-house and agency management positions. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.



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Google buys Pointy to bring SMB store inventory online

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Google is acquiring Irish startup Pointy, the companies announced Tuesday. Pointy has solved a problem that vexed startups for more than a decade: how to bring small, independent retailer inventory online.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Pointy had raised less than $20 million so it probably wasn’t an expensive buy for Google. But it could have a significant impact for the future of product search.

Complements local inventory feeds. This acquisition will help Google offer more local inventory data in Google My Business (GMB) listings, knowledge panels and ads especially. It complements Google Shopping Campaigns’ local inventory ads, which are largely utilized by enterprise merchants and first launched in 2013.

Numerous companies over the last decade tried to solve the challenge of how to bring small business product inventory online. However, most failed because the majority of SMB retailers lack sophisticated inventory management systems that can generate product feeds and integrate with APIs.

Pointy POS hardware

Source: Pointy

How Pointy works. The company created a simple way to get local store inventory online and then showcase that inventory in organic search results or paid search ads. It utilizes a low-cost hardware device that attaches to a point-of-sale barcode scanner (see image above). It’s compatible with multiple other POS systems, including Square.

Once the device is installed, it captures every product sold by the merchant and then creates a digital record of products, which can be pushed out in paid or organic results. (The company also helps small retailers set up local inventory ads using the data.) Pointy also creates local inventory pages for each store and product, which are optimized and can rank for product searches.

Pointy doesn’t actually understand real-time inventory. Cleverly, however, it uses machine learning algorithms to estimate this by measuring product purchase frequency. The system assumes local retailers are going to stock frequently purchased items. That’s an oversimplification, but is essentially how it works.

Pointy said it a blog post that it “serve[s] local retailers in almost every city and every town in the U.S. and throughout Ireland.”

Why we care. The Pointy acquisition will likely help Google in at least three ways:

  • Provide more structured, local inventory data for consumers to find in Search.
  • Generate more advertising revenue over time from independent retailers.
  • Help Google more effectively compete with Amazon in product search.

Notwithstanding the fact that e-commerce outperformed traditional retail over the holidays, most people spend the bulk of their shopping budgets offline and prefer to shop locally. Indeed, Generation Z prefers to shop in stores, according to an A.T. Kearney survey.

One of the reasons that people shop at Amazon is because they can find products they’re looking for. They often don’t know where to find a particular product locally. But if more inventory data becomes available, the more people may opt to buy from local stores instead.


About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes about the connections between digital and offline commerce. He previously held leadership roles at LSA, The Kelsey Group and TechTV. Follow him Twitter or find him on LinkedIn.



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