Online retail sales are predicted to increase to $25 billion by 2015; if you are a smaller retailer how can you best maximise your sales and profit leading into the holiday season.

Australian users are one of the highest users of social media world wide. For every hour an Australian spends online 14 minutes are spent on social sites,  9 on entertainment and 4 shopping. And those stats are growing.

Figures published by Hubspot reveal that social media lead conversion rates are 13% higher than the average lead conversion rate and are producing almost double the marketing leads of telemarketing or direct mail.

Having a Plan

It’s been said many times but it’s worth repeating. Good planning is essential, if you haven’t already, develop a sales and marketing plan that includes online. Online doesn’t necessarily mean an ecommerce website; it could be a Facebook page but it is imperative to have online presence.  How can the small retailer convert online engagement into sales?

The proper and effective use of social media builds a sense of community and conversations build relationships with your consumer. Incorporate social media into your marketing activities to drive consumer engagement and generate new business.

Facebook is the more well-known of the social media platforms and in Australia has over 12 million so it makes sense to start your online marketing plan here, your customers would expect you to be on Facebook.

On Facebook you can engage with your customers. Sure “likes” won’t pay the bills but if you provide content that they will “like”, share and comment on, the more fans and friends of fans see of your posts. You can measure the success of your posts by looking at the “talking about this” section on your page. “talking about this “refers to the number of people who have created a story from your page post.

Don’t be afraid to prompt them with a “click here” or a “share this”. The liking, sharing and commenting build trust,  but when you can get them to “click here” and take them off Facebook to your site or through your doors, you need to reward them for “trusting” you,  presenting them with an offer, competition or information, not a link to purchase.

Set Goals, SMART goals and set time aside to review. Tie the review to something that you will definately do – like paying tax or super/ end of month routine. Add it into this list of end of month items.

Goals could be to reach new customers, increase customer loyalty or simply to reduce customer calls. By having downloadable files  & PDF documents ie offers, product information, brochure requests, quotes requests, subscription signups even a mail link all these can be tracked in google analytics so you can measure the success of your goals.


Do you know who your target market is?

Do you know which social media sites are popular with your existing customers? What about potential customers?

There are many social media platforms to choose from, you do not need to be on all of them, but don’t be afraid to experiment, and equally don’t be afraid to walk away if it is not working for you.

According to Hubspot’s  2013 State of Inbound Marketing  report based upon a survey of over  3300 participants from 128 different countries, including CEOs, agencies, and marketers asked the question; where do customers come from? the results found that  Facebook leads social media customer sources; more than 52% of marketers will find a customer on Facebook this year. The company blog and LinkedIn tie for second place, with 43% of marketers breeding customers in each of these respective channels.

Twitter also records strong customer delivery potential, with more than 36% of marketers producing a customer by regularly tweeting this year. Rounding out the social media customer resources are Google+, with 15% of marketers finding a customer on this relatively new channel, and 9% of Pinterest fans identifying a customer via pin boards.

Be aware that different social media platforms have had varying levels of success leading traffic to retailers, this is in large dependent upon how shoppers use social media for different retail categories, for instance, You Tube is popular for make-up and skincare due to the “how to” videos.

If your social media strategy is to drive traffic to your online store, then you will need to ensure that your site can handle the traffic and you have web analytics to tell you how much traffic you are getting from social media and which ones are not only driving it but converting into sales.

Publish & Engage

Content is King.

Tell your ‘story’; use this to build rapport with your customers. Show the personality and people behind your business.

Take time to ensure content is presented in a thoughtful manner and is free of errors. Be consistent with your business image, voice and tone. Keep your business goals in mind when creating content.

Use images such as “behind the scenes” and new product arrivals, back in stocks.

Test the timing and frequency of your social media updates with your audience to determine what works best. There may be a particular time or day that you find they engage more, but use common sense, just because you are ‘quiet’ it may not be in your best interests to bombard them with updates.

Responding and engaging with your customers build relationships and that is in the good times and the bad times.  Admit mistakes when you need to, and share how you’re going to address any issues. Bear in mind to “pick your battles” some negative comments are simply meant to get a rise out of you but by allowing people to comment you can gain invaluable insight into how your customer is feeling and thinking about your business, think of it as an opportunity to ‘turn that frown upside down’.

Lastly look at peers what do they do well? Learn from them. “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”.