eCommerce in 2017: Thinking like an Influencer

5 min read
Watb Team
A website on a tablet

Being able to search and access products online is just another one of the life hacks that’s transformed how we shop in the last decade. Ordering a pizza used to be a novelty – now you can surround yourself with all manner of shiny trinkets (while eating pizza).

Online marketplaces let you search, compare, purchase and review and they’ve muscled their way into the traditional retailer’s space, with giants like Amazon leading the way. eCommerce – propped up by digital marketing has changed the way consumers shop and behave, giving a new meaning to the word ‘convenience’. Purchasing decisions are being made without even entering a physical store.

eCommerce is rapidly changing; retailers are capturing more consumer data and insight, so that customer journeys can be personalised according to the platform or device someone’s using and their online behaviours. Whereas selling started out as designing a product and bringing it to market, learning more about customers means that the focus has flipped. We now see more and more audiences being built and nurtured – working out what to sell to them is coming afterwards.

Social Influencers show what audiences value

Instagram on iPhone
Instagram, a powerful influencer in online shopping

With the amount of avenues open to consumers, high ROI marketing ideas are more important than ever. Building consumer trust and loyalty can lead to more traffic, leads and sales. Influencer marketing is a way of tapping into this and utilising new ways to build an audience and it perfectly captures the shift to building an audience first and foremost and then selling a product.

Becoming a social influencer is now a legitimate way of making money online. Attracting a strong, core audience and using direct social channels to vlog, blog and chat can give influencers a way of meaningfully interacting with people.  They can shape their content and authentically engage with their audience in a way that brands struggle with.

Zoella
Zoella, a hugely successful influencer!

Take Zoella for example, she’s probably the most well-known, pioneering Vlogger in the UK who made her name on Youtube. She’s built a humungous following based on make-up tutorials, but also her day-to-day life too. Now she has a book deal, a beauty range and a homeware range. All of the products in her ranges are linked to the persona she puts out on her channels, from the colours and slogans to specific items. The products have been designed around her personality and not the other way around.

Or Joe Wicks and his super successful Instagram-born Body Coach brand, which is popular because of what he’s saying, but also how he’s saying it. They’ve both built personal brands that are driven by their likeability.

The relationships influencers have with followers are because their audience have bought into their personality and lifestyle, instead of a product. They’ve secured loyalty and trust because they’re a relatable person and not a faceless brand. There’s a confessional aspect to being an influencer that makes an audience feel like they’re really getting to know them.

When they’ve built up a following through unique insight, pure personality and savvy content – that’s when influencers can create products to match the identity and lifestyle they’ve shaped.

Brands + Influencers = more authentic marketing

Covering lucrative industries like beauty, gaming, health and electronics – influencers that position themselves as trustworthy personalities that have something worthwhile to say can forge strong collaborations with brands. And eCommerce is standing up and listening, popular platform Shopify teamed up with FameBit, which matches influencers and brands, to create an infrastructure for positive partnerships.

Shopify logo

Brands can benefit from the trust that influencers have built up. They can find influencers who match the lifestyle and identity they feel their products complement and then piggyback off their already existing audience. This can be with sponsored branded content and contextual, personalised messaging.

Getting on board with an influencer or ideas that influencers use to grow their base can show brands the type of online experiences audiences want and actively look for.

Targeted, personalised Customer Experiences

Customers don’t want to feel as if they are being aggressively advertised to. Building an audience with valuable, useful content that relates to their lifestyle is important and this is what influencers have highlighted. Learning more and more about the type of customers your brand wants to sell to is a way of being able to produce aspirational and emotive content that taps into their interests.

Creating personalised messaging helps to make an audience feel special. This can be through personalised emails, chat bots, loyalty programmes or targeted content that caters to the specific social channel or entry point they’re using. There are all sorts of ways to focus in on specific customers and their needs.

Think like an Influencer

Influencers have shown the popularity of personality-driven, relatable content and it’s this type of customer behaviour that brands should be picking up on. Building an audience and working on providing them with personalised, valuable messages can create more loyalty and a better relationship with them. Audiences value trustworthiness and authenticity.

You’ll then be able to gain more insight into the type of content an audience is interested in and what that says about their interests and lifestyles – products can then be designed with this in mind, instead of creating a product and building an audience around it.

The way in which entrepreneurs sell online has been flipped on its head thanks to influencer marketing. Zoella is the perfect example of building an audience before deciding what products to sell.

Social Media Management Software

In order to promote your business and reach consumers that spend an entire 24 hours a week online, you need to make sure that you have a viable social media strategy in place.

By posting unique and interesting content on your social media platforms, and by actively engaging with followers, you can start to turn this into a funnel for generating leads.

In order to stay on top of your social media strategy, it’s important to have some form of social media management software to do some of the heavy lifting. Software such as this is imperative for scheduling, tracking and monitoring social media content.

At its best, social media management software can help you not only plan your content months in advance, but also remain reactive by letting you tune into ongoing news stories or trending topics.

Screenshot of Hootsuite's homepage

We recommend: Hootsuite

There are a whole bunch of social media management companies out there and all of them offer roughly the same sort of package but Hootsuite is the only one that offers an actually free service (as opposed to just a free trial period).

They do try to hide it on their website though so make sure you follow this link in order to get to the right page.

The free version of this software lets you:

  • Manage up to three social media profiles from a choice of channels including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn
  • Schedule up to 30 posts in advance at any point in time
  • Track follower growth, likes and comments
  • Integrate two RSS feeds in order to find and share compelling content
  • Access Hootsuite’s online help center and community forum

Of course, there’s also a number of paid-for packages that you can buy from Hootsuite that give you access to a great number of services including higher ad spend budgets, automated post scheduling and custom analytics.

But if you’re a small business looking to get started, the free version of the software should be comprehensive enough to allow you to get your social media strategy in motion.

Website Tracking Software

We’ve said before that the secret to a successful lead generation strategy is to keep analysing and refining your methods. Well, website tracking software is the best way to conduct this analysis.

By digging into the analytics of your visitors’ actions, you can start to gain a better picture of why people come to your site, what they want from it, what they dislike about it and how you can improve upon their experience next time.

There are a wide variety of services that can fall into the category of website tracking software, including heatmaps, funnels, user polls, surveys, visitor recordings and more.

Basically, any kind of software that collects data about the ways in which your visitors interact with your site can be considered website tracking software.

Screenshot of Hotjar's homepage

We recommend: Hotjar

Whereas there are a multitude of smaller software companies that focus in on just one website tracking service, Hotjar offers an array of useful tools.

Hotjar tools include:

  • Click, move, scroll, download and share heatmaps that can also be split by device type
  • Visitor recordings that allow you to replay sessions of real site visitors
  • Conversion funnels that identify on which page and at which step the most visitors are leaving your site
  • Form analysis that can help you to discover which fields take too long to fill, which are left blank and why your visitors abandon your form and page
  • A customizable widget that allows you to create pop-up feedback polls
  • Responsive surveys that can be distributed through web links and emails, or featured your site just before your visitors abandon the page in order to discover what their concerns are
  • The ability to recruit test users in order to get instant feedback on your site

Hotjar’s free service is able to collect data from 2000 page views a day and will give you access to up to 300 visitor recordings and 3 heatmaps, forms, funnels, polls and surveys. Unlimited users can be added to your account and Hotjar will also store your data for a full year.

While we’d normally recommend free services when possible, it’s probably worth paying for Hotjar’s Plus plan to begin with.

For just under £25 a month you can collect data from 10,000 page views a day and have unlimited services and reports. Plus there’s even a 15-day free trial for you to test out whether you like their software or not.

Remember

Lead generation doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavour.

What’s important is that you put real effort into all of your interactions with potential leads - whether that’s through educational and informative blog posts, social media interactions or even just a chat on the phone.

If you believe in your business’ ability to help its customers then all you have to do is let that shine through.

Ultimately, these tools are just there to help you meet potential leads on their level. The rest is up to you.

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