Online marketing tactics are constantly evolving. Changes are driven by advances in technology, the introduction of new marketing channels and, most importantly, consumer sentiment. From the first AOL instant messages in 1993 to the introduction of Google AdWords in 2000 to the emergence of social networks including Instagram and Pinterest, marketers are engaged in an ongoing game of whack-a-mole. New opportunities to reach and engage consumers constantly pop up, and marketers rush to exploit them until the consumer becomes fatigued and our tactics prove ineffective.
We have reached just such a point in online retail marketing as evidenced by the lack of trust expressed by consumers across every demographic.
Today’s consumer doesn’t trust advertising. Case in point, 96 percent of people believe that advertisers do not act with integrity—69 percent of these people attribute their lack of trust to the advertisers’ motive to sell more efficiently. Technology is solving this problem by giving consumers the ability to block online advertisements.
Consumers are weary of online reviews. If consumers smell a rat, a site may lose more than a sale—they also may lose a customer for good. That’s why online retailers like Amazon sue people who are “misleading Amazon’s customers” by selling “fake reviews of products.”
Organic search results used to be the top driver of quality direct traffic to e-commerce sites. Now the best converting traffic comes from social sites, in particular Instagram. More than a third of Instagram users have purchased a product online using their mobile, making them 70 percent more likely to do so than non-users.
So if ads, online reviews and searches are losing their effectiveness, what is working to drive traffic and online sales?
Contextual lifestyle marketing, influencer marketing and user-generated content all contribute to the establishment of trust, giving consumers the confidence to buy online.
Contextual Lifestyle Marketing: Consumers have so many choices when it comes to what products to buy and where to buy them online. They need visual cues to help them navigate the overwhelming world of online retail. When brands use lifestyle photos in the marketing mix, consumers are better able to see products within the context of their lives or what they aspire to be. One way to tie lifestyle photos to sales is through an Instagram shop such as Pixelshop’s Instashop.
Online retailers are investing time and resources into their Instagram channels, and they are seeing results. Instagram delivers traffic that is highly engaged and therefore spends more time and money on e-commerce sites. But many retailers are missing the opportunity to directly link Instagram engagement to product sales. Instagrammers are almost 60 percent more likely to say that the chance to buy something on a social network would increase the likelihood of them buying a product.
Using the Pixelshop platform, we are able to connect our clients’ followers to the products they love.
Stone & Leigh is the newly launched youth furniture brand of Stanley Furniture. Next month, we are launching a campaign with an influencer who has 500,000-plus followers. Instead of a brand awareness campaign, we’ve set up an Instagram shop that will convert Instagram engagement into sales.
Currently, Instagram only allows for a link in the profile. Posts can’t include links to product pages. Many brands put the link to their website home page in their profile, which means that when a consumer sees something they want to buy in the brand’s Instagram feed, they are expected to go to the website and search for the product. Consumers just aren’t willing to put in that level of work. As a result, sales are lost.
54 connected Stone & Leigh’s Instagram feed to its product inventory using Pixelshop. We are now able to link products to Instagram posts and feature them in Stone & Leigh’s Instagram shop.
Additionally, Stone & Leigh has a link to their Instagram shop in their profile. They let people know to click on the link to shop their Instagram.
Customers can click on an Instagram photo to view product information. By clicking “shop now,” consumers are taken directly to the product page on Stone & Leigh’s e-commerce site where they can easily make a purchase.
UGC Feeds on E-commerce Sites: 54 recommends adding user-generated content (UGC) on e-commerce sites to validate the brand and product. Consumers are more likely to buy when they see other people using, and loving, products.
Instagram feeds on websites act as a trust signal for consumers particularly when they feature real-life customers and the products they love. Consumers see products within context, feel validated by photos of actual consumers using the products and in turn are inspired to buy. While the feeds are nothing new, 54 uses Pixelshop to make these feeds shoppable. Consumers can browse the feed and click on the image to get product details and a link to the product page to buy.
Influencer Marketing: Working with trusted influencers is one of the most powerful ways to impact buying decisions. Forty percent of people say they’ve purchased an item online after seeing it used by an influencer on Instagram, Twitter, Vine or YouTube (Twitter and Annalect, 2016). Successful influencer marketing campaigns require finding the right influencer and leveraging their influence in a meaningful way for a brand. The holy grail of influencer marketing is to tie campaigns directly to product sales.
Stone & Leigh’s objective is to raise brand awareness among consumers, mostly mothers of school-age children, to sell youth furniture and accessories. Since the brand is new, 54 understood that trust is going to be a major issue. While the brand will build trust over time as consumers share their positive buying experiences, we didn’t want to sit around and wait. The 54 team proposed an influencer relations campaign. We identified and interviewed numerous influencers who aligned with the Stone & Leigh brand before deciding to work with Angie Keiser of Fashions by Mayhem.
We selected Angie for a number of reasons. She has a large following of women, mostly mothers. She and her daughter are trusted and loved by their follower base. Angie’s family just moved, and her daughter has never had a “big girl room.” She has been talking about the move and her new house. The timing was right. Angie’s followers are very interested in her family’s life, including what her home looks like. With such highly engaged fans, Angie’s posts receive thousands of likes and hundreds of comments.
The contest is titled #Mybigkidroom. Stone & Leigh gave Angie all of the furniture and accessories to do a complete room makeover. One lucky follower will also win a kid room makeover. Angie will share photos of the makeover and talk about the Stone & Leigh brand. Followers can enter to win by following Stone & Leigh on Instagram and tagging a friend. Angie will change the link in her profile to the Stone & Leigh Instagram shop.
Her followers will be able to buy the products Angie picked out for her daughter along with other Stone & Leigh designs. 54 expects the contest to result in increased brand awareness, growth of the follower base, website traffic, product sales and trust as we leverage the content created by Angie on all of Stone & Leigh’s online channels. The contest kicks off on October 18, 2016. You can follow Stone & Leigh to see the results. Contact us to talk about how social commerce and influencer marketing can help grow your business.