Tap Into the Power of Social Commerce, Part 1
Social shopping has taken off thanks to millennials and Generation Z’s preference for using their mobile devices for everything. Mobile e-commerce is booming, and being able to shop directly through social media-based ads is no exception. Social media is the most relevant advertising channel for 50 percent of Gen Z and 42 percent of millennial consumers. Retailers need to keep pace with this new e-commerce channel by developing a shoppable ads strategy.
E-commerce marketing leaders face infinite variables for refining their shoppable ads strategy, starting with the kind of user experience each platform serves. Here are some key questions (not even close to an exhaustive list) to keep in mind when selecting the platforms to display your e-commerce shoppable ads:
- Audience and demographics: Who is on these platforms? Whose gaze do you want to capture? Think gender and age bracket at the very least.
- Verticals: What does the average user on each platform care about? Which products are essential to the average user?
- User experience: What’s the expected user experience for each platform? Will they sit through a 30-second video, or are pictures enough to hook them into clicking on an ad?
- Location: Is your product available regionally, nationwide or globally? Are you promoting sales for locals only?
- Content type: Which platforms’ ads serve your products best? Are static images enough to engage the typical user per platform, or do you need to mix in video as well?
And it’s not just about the ads. Merchants need to know how to target their key demographic and how to execute on a best-in-category customer experience. They also must keep in mind how new channels and ways of shopping (think buy online, pick up in-store) can contribute to fraud risk. The last thing retailers want to do after embracing a format that capitalizes on convenience is build barriers inspired by the fear of fraud.
The winners in the shoppable ads derby are retailers that can access the data to know, understand and serve their customers — no matter how they choose to shop.
Great Customer Experience Starts With UX
Each social media platform features some form of shoppable ad functionality. The best place for retailers to start is understanding how ads work on the platforms they want to use. Each vertical and product category has its own right platform fit. Your shoppable ads strategy has a lot of moving parts, in case you haven’t picked up on that already.
User experience (UX) is key for successful shoppable advertising deployment. Since your target audiences spend a lot of time on their preferred social media platforms, you need to meet them on their digital turf if you expect a meaningful return on investment.
Even when you have all the other pieces right — the perfect call to action, focus-group-tested and approved images, metrics to prove that Instagram is better for your product than Pinterest, etc. — a shoppable ads marketing plan will fail without a clear understanding of how UX works per each platform you want to use.
Let’s step into the mind of an everyday social media user to get an idea of the shoppable ad experience.
When Ads Take Away From the Experience
Social media is the front door for your brand in almost every scenario: advertising, customer service and now e-commerce. In fact, Sprout Social reports that 88 percent of social marketers said that it’s important for their brands to provide customer service through social media.
Think of what can go wrong when customers come up to your front door and can’t get through. That’s why the success of shoppable ads hinges on customer experience in such a crucial way.
Instagram and Google set the standard for great UX for shoppable ads. The key to their success is providing a quick, clear pathway for the user to complete the purchase without interrupting their browsing experience. This seamless flow stands out even more among some of the less exciting UX choices for other shoppable ads platforms.
Pinterest’s heavy reliance on visual content is among its strengths. However, Pinterest adds an extra step to complete a purchase from a shoppable pin — a brief video or other bit of interactive media connected to the theme of the shoppable pin. The video includes the product page URL, but the extra media prelude can take more than a few seconds to load. Think of your target audience and if waiting a few extra seconds for a somewhat-related diversion could negatively impact their shopping experience.
Indy Guha is senior vice president of marketing and alliances at Signifyd, a fraud protection company.
Related story: 5 Ways to Optimize Sales With Instagram