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Social Commerce Guide: 10 Tips to Convert Customers at Scale

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Here’s your mind-blowing social-commerce stat for the day: a reported three quarters of retailers have gotten the memo that social selling is the future of e-commerce. They’ve each put in place options for their customers to make purchases on their favorite social media platforms. 

With so many companies having taken that first step into the age of social commerce—and so many who will soon follow their lead—how are the brands to beat separating themselves from the pack? 

Well, they’re getting to know their customers, one message at a time. Sending a message to a brand is the digital equivalent to getting in-store service. The challenge for brands is offering personalized 1:1 service at scale, while staying available 24/7 across all touchpoints.

That’s how conversational AI unlocks success at social commerce, but it’s more than just having the tool on your belt—it’s knowing how to use it. Here are 10 tips to become an expert:

 

Meet Customers on Their Favorite Social Platforms

The pandemic shifted the balance of power. Brands are expected to bring the in-store experience online to meet customers. It’s a must in this day and age for retail brands: if you want to sell, you’ve got to be on social, with 8 in 10 US businesses set to use the channel in the next three years. It’s simple: to compete, you’ve got to be where the competition is.

More than that though, you’ve got to be where customers are—and 54% of Gen Zers (58% of Millennials) say social is better than simple online searches to discover products. According to eMarketer, Facebook is the top social commerce platform around (followed by Instagram). It’s used by 88% of the survey’s respondents, with a third of adult social-media users having bought something on the platform.

You’re probably already on these platforms (and several others, just like you need to be), but that’s just one part of the equation. You’ve also got to take the time to build up and maintain your profiles. Just like you’d want your brick-and-mortar stores to be inviting, the same goes for social, your biggest storefront. No exaggeration either, considering its reach and e-commerce possibilities. 

Social is now a megaphone and marketplace for brands. The ones who are most successful are moving away from an “advertising” model to an “advising” model, as customers expect more of a modern-day customer experience (CX), where brands act as guides along their personal shopping journey.

 

Automate What Can Be Automated (like FAQs)

As a bigger window into how much brands stand to gain by embracing social, 77% of web users in the world bought something online in 2020. That same year, 80 million people in the US alone bought something on social media, a number that’s expected to surpass 90 million in 2021 and 101 million by 2023. 

In other words the floodgates are opening. That’s a lot of customers… and a lot of customer questions to expect your teammates to handle on their own. So, brands should look into automating what can be automated, starting with responses to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). 

True, automating FAQs speaks more to a feature of five-star customer care than an essential e-commerce tip, but there’s a trickle-down effect. If your conversational AI is handling upwards of 80% of your customer FAQS (like Heyday by Hootsuite does), your human teammates can focus on selling more—and who doesn’t want that?

One conversational AI myth that’s already been busted: instead of replacing your teammates, conversational AI complements them. Your virtual assistant is just another part of the team, who works alongside your best brand ambassadors, boosting their productivity and empowering them to close more sales as they leave the easily automated work to the automated AI-powered chatbot. Makes sense, right?

 

Deliver Personalized CX by First Pre-Qualifying Leads

Conversational AI is more than just about automating FAQs. AI-powered chatbots also gather context from customers before they seamlessly get transferred to a teammate when asked. Social is all about getting to know one another, and conversational AI takes full advantage, talking to—and learning from—your customers.

Teammates then pick up the conversation where the AI-powered chatbot left off with all the info they need. They continue to deliver personalized service, which 80% of customers expect from retailers, according to McKinsey

Teammates also get access to customer profiles through the Heyday platform, complete with their browsing path and chat metrics. Personalized CX doesn’t stop there, though. It’s only the beginning.

 

Treat Chats like Conversational Landing Pages

Brands should look at a chat window with an AI-powered virtual assistant as a conversational landing page. After all, Click-to-Messenger ads in Facebook and Instagram trigger automated conversations with customers, just like an ad leads a customer to a landing page. This type of landing page has special powers, though.

Conversions are the goal, even though you’re unlikely to convert every customer in the chat. But each and every conversation is still important. It’s a chance to gather data. Remember conversations are not only the new conversions, but also the new cookies in an increasingly cookieless world

A survey of 800 marketing, analytics, and tech execs found more than half of respondents are prioritizing digital experiences to collect first-party data in the face of stricter privacy laws. On top of that, social media earned the most responses (34%) when execs were asked on which channel customers are most likely to receive a resolution from their brand, leading to a clear solution to address their needs: a network of customer touchpoints spread across a social media-centric digital ecosystem. Conversational AI is just the only way to oversee them all.

 

MAKE UP FOR EVER influencer

Now instead of a landing page, think of a chatbot as a short URL. The AI can be used as a link in a call-to-action just about anywhere. For example, cosmetics retailer Make Up For Ever leveraged referral links in the Instagram bios of influencers to drive traffic to, you guessed it, their chatbot. And, as an LVMH brand, Make Up For Ever knows a thing or two about finding success on social. Turning influencer engagement into personalized conversions is just another way to leverage conversational AI as a play in your social commerce gameplan.


Make Your Social Commerce Strategy Omnichannel

It’s a balancing act. You’ve got all these social platforms and your e-commerce store to worry about now, but your brick-and-mortar stores are also a focus. And they should be too, because, even though 96% of Americans shop online, 65% of their shopping budget is still spent in stores. It’s not e-commerce vs. brick-and-mortar, but e-commerce and brick-and-mortar. Modern-day CX consists of interactions over different touchpoints, including in-store and online.

So, as a social-savvy brand, what’s the best way you can marry the two? Take a page out of Decathlon’s playbook. The leading sporting goods retailer used their Heyday-powered chatbot to route customers to the opening of a new flagship store in Canada, achieving a 41% conversion rate, which is impressive enough. The kicker is 10% of their customers on chat made an in-store purchase the first week the store was open.

How did Decathlon do it? One winning strategy was click-and-collect functionality (or buy online, pickup in store; BOPIS), where customers could select items online, but pick them up in store, bypassing the shipping process. It boosted foot traffic, getting customers in the store where they could make other purchases.

Decathlon’s omnichannel strategy here may have put online front and center, but it also made the brand available to customers across all their channels. It’s a win-win for both Decathlon and its customers. The key takeaway is Decathlon removed friction at every step of the customer journey to create a unified and personalized CX across multiple touchpoints.


Make Personalized Product Recommendations

Your social media profiles can be integrated with Heyday, but so can your e-commerce platform, to create a frictionless, personalized customer journey start to finish.

So, the conversational AI you rely on to answer customer FAQs as your teammates focus on higher-value interactions? If your customers are game, it guides them from chat to checkout all on its own, even going so far as to make automated product recommendations when synced with your product catalog.

Popeye’s Supplements, Canada’s largest sports nutrition retailer, took advantage of this Heyday feature to successfully match 60% of customers to the right products. Talk about giving AI superstrength to a sales team. Maybe you can too.


Use Notifications to Recover Abandoned Carts

Abandoned carts are a big problem in e-commerce, to the point that the average cart abandonment rate is 70%. So, 7 out of 10 customers don’t complete the checkout process, which is an issue, but it’s much more troubling in the world of social commerce, as mobile traffic has an even higher abandonment rate of over 85%—the highest abandonment rate of all mediums.

Not only does mobile account for over half of all e-commerce traffic; there’s also around 4 billion active social media users on mobile worldwide. So, chances are good if you’re on social media you’re also on your phone, with the higher abandonment rate attributed to the smaller screen size. On the bright side, according to Baymard Institute, $260 billion worth of lost orders are recoverable (for a 35.26% conversion-rate boost).

So, how can brands recover those orders? One way is through notifications. Sign customers up for automated reminders and back-in-stock/ price-drop notifications right in the chat with Heyday. It works: using Facebook Messenger alerts, conversational AI delivers open rates 4-5x higher than email, so more customers make return visits to your site.


Engage to Boost Customer Lifetime Value and Loyalty

Social media and customer engagement go together like two peas in a pod. Since so many of your customers are on social, it’s a logical place to engage and re-engage with them, as 80% of customers say they use the channel to interact with brands.

Brands can do this in a variety of ways, like by asking (and answering) questions (see Tip No. 2), sharing content, and selling products. There’s also the opportunity to make offers and incentivize return visits, which can be done directly in the chat with Facebook Messenger, for example.

Meanwhile, Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) is a measure of loyalty and profitability. Heyday partner Shopify suggests starting a loyalty program as a way to boost this key metric. Why not sign up customers right in the chat while you’re at it? Heyday also helps brands check in with customers after they’ve made a purchase with personalized messages, which help build up a lasting relationship over time.

Other strategies are to invest in CX in general. So, provide fast and easy support, remove high-effort tasks, make it easy for customers to provide feedback, and measure success. Kind of reads like a bullet-pointed argument to launch a conversational AI, if you think about it.


Measure the Success of Your Social Commerce Strategy

On top of CLV, you can track plenty of other metrics to measure the success of your social commerce strategy. For example, Facebook and Instagram make detailed analytics readily accessible, giving brands insight into the demographics they’re reaching and how to target future campaigns. 

Heyday tracks other metrics like Customer Satisfaction, average response time, and sales conversions specifically attributed to the chat. Fashion brand Groupe Dynamite (GDI) integrated Heyday with its profiles on platforms like Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp. The impressive results included increases across the board in the number of customers on chat for both its brands… and two times the traffic since GDI integrated Heyday with their Studio app.

According to director client experience Alejandro Reyes Alaluf, GDI took its cues from the data. From the get-go, GDI focused on the need to start small and scale, determining next steps after analyzing the stats. From there, GDI optimized its social commerce strategy and CX:

 

Keep Testing and Improving Your Messaging

Just like Reyes Alaluf hinted at in the above video, the stats and insights gained by Heyday through the launch of a conversational AI are all actionable. Brands are always tweaking their messaging, with GDI going so far as to look at customer responses to make sure the tone it’s striking for each brand is on point.

Every so often, changes need to be made not because of the brand but the calendar, with sales depending on different messaging ahead of events like Black Friday and Back-to-School. The volume of messaging has increased 40% on Facebook Messenger and Instagram since 2020. Brands need to get out in front of the shifting landscape, with 83% of customers worldwide saying they would browse or even buy products in messaging conversations.

Sometimes the conversational AI can adapt on its own, optimizing conversion rates by sending contextual messages based on specific triggers. For example, it could offer free shipping or a promo code to accelerate the checkout process if a customer spends a noticeable amount of time on the page without finalizing the order.

Other times, like Dynamite demonstrates, it’s up to the brand to switch things up, test, and refine. On a large scale, retailers tend to focus on goals like purchases, downloads, and demo bookings. Coupled with the right conversational AI solution, social commerce lets you test for and track micro-conversions all the way through the customer journey too.

 

Conversational AI Removes Friction from Chat all the Way to Checkout

Social’s no longer just a meeting place. It’s the new interface for commerce, empowering brands to connect with customers on a whole new level. It’s now the modern-day shopping mall, with online storefronts getting built up every day. Brands need to stand out head and shoulders above the competition, especially these days.

Conversational AI gives brands a huge leg up, helping them keep their store lights open and keep selling around the clock. If conversations are really the new conversions (they are), followers are your new customers. Get ready to take the lead in the age of social commerce.

Looking for an even bigger e-commerce advantage? We’ve got plenty more conversational AI tips to spare. Book a demo today to find out how Heyday by Hootsuite can make the difference for you and your customers from chat all the way to checkout.

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