The New Customer Journey: Why Social Media is the Most Important & Authentic Marketing Platform for Retailers
The customer journey isn’t a new concept, it’s just shifted from the physical to the metaphorical.
When your parents were kids (or maybe when you were), the customer journey began and ended on Main Street. Customers would stroll down the street and window-shop; storefront windows were decked in their best wares, curated to appeal to passerby and draw them in for the shopping experience.
Today, that concept still exists, but Main Street has been replaced by social media, strolling swapped for scrolling, and storefronts replaced by Instagram-worthy imagery. The customer journey has transitioned from offline to on, and it’s time for retailers to make the most of it.
An omnichannel social media marketing campaign is the foundation of specialty retailers’ customer journey and almost inarguably the most important aspect of your marketing presence.
Don’t take our word for it—it’s been proven time and time again across dozens of research projects that social media is incredibly effective at instigating profitable interactions with brands. According to a 2019 study on how followers interact with the brands they follow on social media, 87% will visit the brand’s website or app, 78% will visit the brand’s physical store, 78% will talk about and recommend the brand to friends and family, 77% will buy from that brand over a competitor, and 67% will increase their spending with that brand.
Let those stats sink in. There is no other form of marketing that can deliver that kind of traceable engagement. And there’s no other kind of marketing that can integrate so seamlessly with your brand story and customer journey.
Unlike more traditional forms of marketing, social media is all about authentic engagement with your customers. You can’t ask customer’s opinions in a newspaper ad or repost their content in a radio segment or address their product queries on a billboard. With traditional marketing, retailers are often selling, but with social media, you’re building relationships that lead to sales.
On social media, retailers can guide followers through the first steps of their customer journey with intentionality and authenticity.
Ask for their opinions. Whether you want to know what they think of a new product or what they’d like to see on your shelves, asking questions encourages engagement (which tends to multiply on itself) and also shows your customers you care—the foundation of all good relationships.
Use social media as a customer service platform. If you’re active on social media, you’re going to get some responses from customers about their experience, and they’re not all going to positive (when consumers reach out to brands on social media, 40% of the time it’s because they had a bad experience). But this is your opportunity to turn lemons into lemonade: your response should be quick and friendly in order to salvage the relationship.
Utilize User Generated Content. Studies have shown that brands that employ User Generated Content (UGC) on their social platforms have increased engagement and conversions among their followers. Create a branded hashtag or ask your followers to tag posts @yourbrand and repost on your own channels. It makes those users feel loved and encourages connection within your community.
Adapt content from traditional marketing campaigns. Pushing sales and discounts on social media doesn’t compromise the authenticity of your engagement on these platforms, instead it justifies that follow and encourages impulse buys.
Employ targeted ads. Organic content is king of social media, but paying for ads is a goldmine too. As social media evolves, so does its advertising strategy, and you can get really niche and specific with your ad campaigns and who they reach, and therefore how you design them to appeal to individuals.
The customer journey has always represented a combination of appealing visuals and relationship building, but on social media that concept is amplified and incredibly effective. Savvy modern retailers of all sizes are implementing cohesive and targeted campaigns across platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest to engage with customers new and old and guide them down a figurative Main Street and through their doors. It’s these retailers who will continue to see success in brick and mortar by engaging with customers online in a way that builds long-term relationships authentically.
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