The thriving online business sector is composed of hundreds of thousands of e-commerce businesses. It is led by brands such as Amazon and Alibaba globally and Amazon and Flipkart in India. Worldwide, retail e-commerce sales amounted to US$3.53 trillion in 2019 according to Statista, a leading provider of market and consumer data. However, competition is strong and every e-commerce brand is working hard to grow its business and retain its customers. Some have had to merge with others, while some have fallen along the way.
It is important to state here that marketing plays a critical role in the business’s success. A great marketing strategy is paramount to its growth and survival. The basic principles of demand generation are at play in terms of acquiring new customers, retaining them and encouraging them to buy more. Managing competitive threats is a part and parcel of this business. Garnering a share of the customer’s wallet is a key objective of all e-commerce marketing.
Marketing teams of e-commerce companies are always on their toes: sifting through data; formulating strategies, tactics and promotional ideas. Implementing and monitoring these strategies and promotions, both online and offline, takes up much of their brain power. Generating and increasing traffic to the site, as well as leading customers to purchases (i.e. conversions), are matters of life and death. This is closely followed by the site’s ability to retain customers and generate repeat purchases.
The success of these broad objectives depends on meeting several smaller objectives:
- identifying customers;
- engaging customers to keep them interested in the product they intend to purchase;
- collecting customer feedback on the product purchased and the purchase process;
- checking on post-purchase satisfaction levels;
- encouraging customers to share their experiences;
- resolving customer complaints;
- building brand reputation, which includes the e-commerce site’s overall reputation and that of specific products.
This is where social media and social media analytics are of immense value to e-commerce. Online shopping (now, e-commerce) owes much of its success to social media. As social media is a melting-pot of consumers, conversations between consumers, and consumer behaviour, brands and businesses love to listen in and watch. Unless specifically asked, customers are reluctant to share their shopping and product experiences through ratings and reviews on e-commerce sites. But they share their opinions and experiences on social media openly and very often.
Social media, by virtue of being social, encourages dialogue and conversations between people. It is where customers, among other discussions, share their opinions and emotions on their purchases, experiences, satisfaction, sentiments and plans for future purchases. These comments and conversations, in turn, influence other customers. In short, social media offers a self-generating universe of customers and customer data. For brands and businesses with the right social media analytics tools, this is a gold mine of information and intelligence.
Social media analytics is the science and mechanism of data collection from social media sites and analysis of that data leading to better understanding of customers, customer intentions, sentiments and behaviour. This leads to formulating better marketing strategies and campaigns, designing and executing better customer service, and better business decision making at every level. To e-commerce companies always on their toes to outrun their competition, this kind of social listening is simply unavoidable.
Broadly speaking, benefits of social listening include:
- improving customer knowledge;
- identifying product and service delivery needs;
- improving and facilitating product and service design, development and marketing;
- reducing costs of reach and marketing to customers;
- engaging customers in happy and profitable ways;
- increasing sales and sales revenue;
- increasing brand awareness and salience;
- building brand reputation.
It is a technology upon which the success of e-commerce marketing, customer engagement and business rests. How can e-commerce companies not take advantage of this!
Statista global retail e-commerce sales