Retailers are always in search of new customers, and social media is an untapped gold mine for customer acquisition. Research by CeBIT shows that 74 percent of consumers rely on social media to influence their purchasing decisions.
One of the secrets to milking social media of buyers is social referrals, as 81 percent of consumers are influenced by their friends’ posts on social media when making purchasing decisions.
How do you influence buyers and win social referrals without breaking a sweat?
Use exclusivity or scarcity
At the top of the hierarchy of human needs is self-importance. Humans generally feel the need to belong to something, command respect from others and be part of something exclusive, and retailers can exploit this.
One of Robert Cialdini’s principles of persuasion includes scarcity. Using scarcity in retail marketing can skyrocket sales and social referrals, as no one wants to lose out on something limited. In fundamental economics, the less there is of something, the more valuable it is.
In application, retailers can install countdown timers on their websites or create graphics offering discounts or limited-time deals. Also, offering discounts to specific social media platforms followers sparks exclusivity and increases engagement, sales, and referrals on that platform.
Bear in mind that seasonal or limited products influence consumers, increase revenue and referrals during the set period. A perfect example is pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks, which is offered only during the fall.
Coupons and refer to gain discounts
Seasoned marketing managers constantly use coupons as a tool to increase purchases and referrals and influence purchase intention. Research by NCH reveals that 315 billion coupons were issued in the U.S. in 2013. Peter King, Founder of coupon search engine Mamma, said 81 percent of consumers search and use coupons regularly including for dining deals.
Interestingly, 83 percent of shoppers have made unplanned purchases based on coupons and referrals from friends on social media. Offering coupons or referrals to gain points on shipping or discounts is a proven tactic in creating positive experiences and earning loyal buyers who make referrals.
To effectively harness the power of coupons and discounts, they should be included in mobile wallets and newsletters and have share buttons to claim them.
Educative content optimized for smartphones
Nearly two-thirds of Americans are smartphone owners, and 62 percent of shoppers research expensive items in-store before buying online. Retailers are required to create educative content on their products to aid shoppers in making a purchase decision.
Since most users are on their smartphones, retailers are expected to create mobile-ready content and media in forms of reviews, case studies and product descriptions, as 50 percent of consumers compare prices and check for promotions, product reviews and information before or while shopping.
Having mobile-optimized content on your webpage and social media profile aids consumers in making informed purchases and increases referrals as you establish authority as a thought leader in your market.
Having a great product is not enough to compel shoppers to buy. Take Amazon, for example: For every product on the e-commerce giant’s webpage, there are product details, reviews, similar items and informative content to educate consumers on the product and its availability.
Referrals would flow in via content shares on social media and word of mouth from consumer to consumer due to the seamless and informative content available on the business’ webpage or social profile.
Offer free shipping
Right after considering the quality and pricing of your product, the next thought of consumers when making purchases will be shipping costs, but removing the elephant in the room will coerce buyers into making purchases for free shipping.
Offering free shipping to customers makes them feel they win or have gotten a bargain.
A perfect example of this can be found in Dan Ariely’s book, Predictably Irrational: Amazon launched a free shipping promotion once customers purchased a second book, and this led sales to skyrocket in most countries except for France. This is because Amazon.fr changed the promotion and charged one franc (10 cents) for shipping instead of making it free.
Research by UPS proves that 93 percent of shoppers will take action to qualify for free shipping, so offering it yields better customer satisfaction, more sales and an increased chance that they tell other consumers about making a purchase.
In summary, influencing buyers and gaining social referrals can be achieved using the above tactics, but customer service and the target customer base play a major role in the success of any business.
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