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Why retailers should socialise their websites

Why retailers should socialise their websites

It is critical for retailers to tap into user generated content, writes regional director MENA at Engage Sciences Claudio Esposito-Aiardo

In the Middle East, it is estimated that 88 per cent of internet users use social media sites daily. It’s therefore not a surprise that Instagram and Twitter are both registering their biggest growth in this region. As part of the rise of social networks and the mass adoption of camera-laden smartphones, there has been an explosion of user-generated content, with consumers engaging with and sharing brand experiences like never before.

Every day, consumers create more than two billion pieces of content about brands. As a result, retailers have a golden opportunity to use user-generated content across their own digital channels to engage today’s mobile and social consumer.

The power of user generated content for retailers

User generated content is incredibly important for retails brands. Today’s mobile and socially connected consumers are suspicious of much of the slick, professionally produced marketing content they see. In fact, a plethora of studies have found that consumers trust user-generated content over brand communications:

• 84 per cent of millennials say user-generated content influences what they buy
• 25 per cent increase in conversion rate when Instagram images are used on websites rather than glossy product shots
• 7 per cent increase in sales conversions when user-generated content is used at the point of purchase

The reason is simple: consumers trust their peers more than brands. They are inspired by other people’s experiences, suggestions, ratings and reviews. A brand is now defined by how its community perceives and uses it, rather than by expensively commissioned marketing collateral.

Socialising the retail website

As a result, retail brands are socialising their websites and digital properties to capitalise on user generated content and expertly cater to the mobile and social consumers at different stages of awareness, consideration, purchase, loyalty and advocacy.

The best way to take advantage of the wealth of user-generated content online is to use it to launch impactful social hubs with shoppable call-to-actions and interactive campaigns on your websites and digital channels.

In the old days, marketers used to drive people to the website, then monetise them in a controlled and owned environment. Today’s smart retail website has a more dynamic role, continually feeding and refreshing social channels. Yes, it is still the heart of the brand, setting the tone and standard for the company’s ethos and attitude. But now a great website also smartly syndicates, re-circulates and curates social content.

And, if we are truly entering the era of the owned/paid/earned media mix model, a brand website must filter persuasive consumer content from a range of social channels and mix it with owned content to captivate and convert audiences.

Take advantage of social hubs

Retail brands can streamline the implementation of new user-generated content-driven conversion and merchandising strategies. An enterprise social hub solution enables retail brands to:

• Easily source the best consumer content (via Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, etc) and obtain permissions to use the content with rights management
• Augment social content with shoppable call-to-actions that link directly to specific destinations e.g online store, product pages or specific landing pages
• Publish user-generated content anywhere and measure performance e.g. views, engagement, conversions, and other KPIs
• Seamlessly connect user-generated content with on-site merchandising
• Capture consistent audience data across web, social, mobile and partner channels
• Connect with existing tools, e.g. e-commerce, analytics, CRM and DMPs

Make user-generated content shoppable: visual commerce

Retail brands can also augment social content (e.g a shoe from Instagram) with tailored call-to-actions across their digital properties, providing consumers with the opportunity to click-through to a corresponding product page to make a purchase.

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