Fostering Brand-Customer Relationships in the Age of Social Checkout and Chatbots
Photo by Tristan Colangelo.
Currently, 74% of consumers visit the social media pages of brands to inspire future purchases. And as evidenced by the popularity of Instagram Checkout, sales tools like Apple Business Chat, and new ad products like Google‘s Shoppable Ads, the industry is rapidly moving towards commerce that removes the friction between inspiration and an actual purchase.
But when the path to purchase is shortened, so is the opportunity for brand and customer to interact, which is probably what attracted your customers in the first place. Especially in the world of social media, brand persona is an enduring element that differentiates your brand and creates fans out of customers.
The good news is, you don’t have to sacrifice brand voice for a social commerce strategy. In fact, with the right tools, you can enhance it.
With chatbot technology and messaging platforms, your brand can have a conversation with your customers at the “cash register.” Similar to how you’d ask an in-store sales associate to treat customers, brands are now using AI to bring brand voice into online sales.
As an example, Marvel translated their family fun persona into an engaging social commerce experience by integrating stills from their films. This campaign, which they ran to sell movie tickets on Facebook Messenger, achieved a 68% conversion rate.
Social shopping that’s actually social
Brick-and-mortar shopping is a classic social activity. In the same way a chatbot mimics a sales associate, social-based commerce has the potential to make online shopping social again. Retailers can bring offline shopping behavior into an online environment by tying new engagement and brand expression opportunities to instant, in-app checkout, or even by creating new shopping experiences altogether.
As an example for the latter, a platform called Dote brings the classic mall experience onto mobile by offering “Shopping Parties” and an opportunity to create a “Dote following.” Experiences like these help online retailers capture the timeless pastime of an afternoon shopping with friends.
For multi-product brands that may have several brand personas and audiences, social commerce technology allows brands to tailor one-touch sales channels to a specific audience segment. Zooming in on the audience that aligns most directly with your product and enabling them to purchase immediately without redirects helps to mitigate brand dilution.
Nike is a great example of how to maintain a product-specific brand image through social commerce. A recent campaign for an unreleased pair of Jordans included a QR activation at the NBA All-Star game.
Attendees of the game’s after-party received a secret QR code, which, when scanned, led the recipients to a social checkout for an unreleased pair of Jordans. This was well-aligned with Nike’s image as a premier basketball apparel provider while reinforcing the exclusivity inherent to the Jordans line.
Shopping preferences & data
Mature brands like Nike have a good sense of which audiences to target with what messages and social commerce campaigns. But for smaller businesses—or even large brands expanding into new verticals—social commerce technology can be incredibly helpful in identifying and categorizing consumer preferences.
Particularly with social commerce platforms that plug into marketing and CRM stacks, the checkout journey can automatically be customized to individual customers based on their previous purchasing preferences, socio-demographic data, customer surveys, or product interest or intent.
To take it even further, pairing social commerce with chatbots could open up additional channels for privacy communication and data transparency with customers.
It’s truly just the beginning of the social commerce revolution. And as more brands adopt the technology, we will witness far more use cases and creative ways to interact with and engage with customers. How does your brand leverage (or plan to leverage) these new tools? We would love to hear your ideas in the comments below.