While brick-and-mortar shopping still has skin in the retail game, the truth is, today’s customers shop very differently than they did even just a few years ago. The expansion and ease of online shopping have revolutionized the way modern consumers—consumers of all ages, mind you—approach and execute their shopping habits.
Today there are more than 2 billion digital buyers worldwide, and the data projects 3 million of them in the U.S. alone by 2025. Rapid national and global growth in e-commerce has altered the traditional buyer’s journey. And, as online retail continues to soar, social media is becoming increasingly influential all along that journey.
How influential, you ask? A couple of recent studies showed that:
- Nearly half (47%) of U.S. consumers have made a purchase through social media.
- 58% of these consumers say they are interested in doing it again.
- In 2022, social commerce made up approximately 5% of U.S. e-commerce sales, a number expected to grow to 7% by 2025.
- 81% of consumers’ buying decisions are influenced by friends’ posts on social.
- 78% of consumers say their purchases are influenced by brands’ social media posts.
This last one bears repeating—according to Forbes, “78% of consumers state their purchases are influenced by posts on the social media pages of brands.” What you do on your social media pages to support the buyer’s journey can have a significant impact on sales of products and/or services.
The four stages of the buyer’s journey have remained the same for generations—awareness, consideration, decision making and retention. The revolution comes in how today’s digital world impacts the buyer differently at every stage. And in that how, businesses of all shapes and sizes will find opportunities.
Building your social content for the journey
To leverage these opportunities for selling products and services you your website, it’s critical you produce content to address every stage of the buyer’s journey with effective communications—providing the right messages and answers at the right time. Here are some questions you should ask about your social content.
- Awareness—Are you educating consumers about your product/service? Does your content show that you understand their pain points and can help address them? Do you provide a solution they can act on today?
- Consideration—Are you providing content that establishes trust without making a hard sell just yet? Are you building a relationship that will extend beyond a one-off sale?
- Decision making—Have you made a strong case as to why your product or service is better? Do you give consumers a clear, direct way to convert them from “considerers” to paying customers?
- Retention—How are you staying engaged with your customers? Are you taking care to remain connected without overdoing it or seeming too invasive?
The bottom line is, the better you understand and react to consumers’ needs, the more you can effectively cater to those needs and, hopefully, secure a sale as well as customer loyalty.
A Buyer’s Journey Scenario—Pug Pleasures Creates a Loyal Customer.
(Partially based on a true story, names have been changed to protect the curly-tailed and wet-nosed!)
Debbie, “Proudest Pug Mom on Earth,” was beside herself when Franklin, her 5-year-old vivacious pug, started losing his fur—a side effect of a necessary medication. With a nearly bald underbelly, Franklin was getting bruises and abrasions from his harness every time they took a walk. Knowing that Franklin loved his walks, and that they kept him fit, Debbie needed something other than the style and brand of harness she’d been using since Franklin was a pup. And she needed it fast!
Debbie searched online first at the big-box pet stores and the biggest e-commerce pet supplier. But they didn’t give her a great vibe. How could these mammoth retailers possibly understand her problem? They surely were out of touch with Franklin’s unique needs. She continued her search through social media, friend recommendations and googling, “We care for your pug like family.” During this process she discovered several possibilities. But she landed on “So Soft Sherpa Products for Dogs” (SSSPD). Unlike the others, this company had pug-specific harnesses and shared videos to demonstrate them in action.
During her time on the SSSPD website, a window popped up asking Debbie if she’d like to share a little more about her pug. After filling out the questionnaire, Debbie received a text linking to several customer testimonials about a harness SSSPD recommended for Franklin. Wow, she thought, they really do understand and care about Franklin’s health and happiness.
Debbie purchased her first SSSPD super-soft harness and tried it out, much to Franklin’s pleasure. A few days later, SSSPD DM’ed her to see how Franklin was doing with his new harness. The message offered suggestions for just-as-soft harnesses that may not be so hot for Franklin during the summer and linked to a 25% off coupon. SSSPD had two friends—one with four legs, one with two—for life!