Retailers: if you’re not using social media as a marketing avenue, you’re missing out.

In recent years, social media has become both a source of retail inspiration and a catalyst for driving sales and website traffic. Many ecommerce sites are reporting “higher conversion rates” from customers referred by social networks.

Whilst chasing sales shouldn’t be the main focus of your social media strategy, your campaign must certainly be aiding the overall (and often) complex path to purchase.

Social media provides value for all stages of the purchasing funnel. From increasing brand awareness, helping you to connect with your audience and creating hype around your products, social media fills gaps in the sales cycle in a way that other digital channels cannot.

So if you want to ensure that you’re social strategy is playing it’s part in the sales cycle, you’ll need to be monitoring your campaigns – and the only way to do this is through social media analytics.

Here are my top seven important social media analytics tools for retailers. These tools will aid the smooth running of your campaigns from telling you which products and content your audience engage with, where to find your target market and how you can include your products in online conversations.

Social Media Management Tools: Sendible and Hootsuite Free

Whether you’re a small, local, retailer or a large national brand, social media management tools are your first stop to starting and monitoring an effective and profitable social media campaign.

Our two favourite tools which work well for a range of our clients are Sendible and Hootsuite Free. Both are affordable and suite every type of business. .

Sendible

Sendible is a simple scheduling and reporting management tool, with a monthly cost starting  from just under £50 a month.

It’s got great keyword monitoring functionality and currently supports the image upload functions for all of the major social networks. Adding visuals to your updates and posts is incredibly important for social shopping because it helps to tell a story about your product, and the more exciting and inviting your visuals are, the more likely your customers are going to click-through to the product page.

They have just released their BETA dashboard that looks a lot better than their old one. This management tool is great if you’re working to a strict budget, but you will need other tools to work with alongside Sendible.

sendible dashboard

Networks supported:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • FourSquare
  • Plurk
  • FriendFeed
  • Bebo

Benefits

Using any social media management tool will save you time. Sendible’s report functions will also provide you with enough data to review your social media strategy monthly, which in turn will increase the likelihood that your updates will be engaged with. As a retailer, we know your time is precious, so using anything that can save you time and establishes a solid social networking presence is a good investment.

Hootsuite Free

Hootsuite is still, in our humble opinion, one of the best products out there to manage your core social networks and is perfect for retailers working to a tight budget because, you guessed it, it’s totally free!

Its keyword search function for Twitter, teamed with the information streams for each network connected makes this a great network if you’re using Twitter to find and interact with your customers.

social measurement in hootsuite

HootSuite’s powerful analytics do more than just measure; the metrics helps you to efficiently gauge how efficient and popular your brand is over a period of time. It also helps you to measure the reach and effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.

As a business, it always helps if you keep in touch with your influencers and brand evangelists. HootSuite helps you to maintain that engagement with your brand’s key influencers and followers.

As for the other social networks, (e.g Facebook, Pinterest and Google+)you’ll find that you will need to access their individual analytics to assess your brand’s effectiveness and market rather than rely on this as a management suite for everything as reports can get quite costly.

hootsuite dashboard

Networks supported:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • WordPress
  • Mixi
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • FourSquare

Benefits

Using Hootsuite’s Twitter search data is a great way to build followers by following accounts who are relevant to your business.. It’s also a great way to establish what your audience is saying, how they are saying it, and how they feel about specific keywords or competitors. The fact this tool is free is a major bonus too, as it means you can still access usable data without having to spend a lot of money. When you know your customers online, interacting with them comes naturally so use Hootsuite as a way to start building relationships.

Link Shortener and Interaction Tracker: Bitly

For us, there is only one link shortener that we use and recommend at the moment and that is Bitly.

Bitly links are trackable links, which means the app can provide statistics about who clicks the links we share. Data such as location, where the link was clicked from and times the link was clicked are all aggregated.

The data Bitly provides is perfect for retailers; demographics of your online audience tell retailers so much more than who their audience is, where these people are and what social networks they favour.

Here are the statistics from a particular link we shared:

bitly link stats

 

As you can see, we know that are audience are more engaged on Twitter.

Benefits

Bitly’s data provides actionable insights, allowing retailers to know when their audience is online, what content is working, the approximate ages of who is reading your content (if you combine this data with your social network data), if your email marketing is working and if your content is more popular in one country than another. Phew!

Find what’s hot using TrendsMap and Google Trends

Retailers need to know what’s ‘hot’ when posting on social media because using the right hashtags, keywords and phrases, will propel your post further and is likely to increase engagement.

The best thing about social media is that it’s not always about pleasing search engines; it’s about listening to real people and understanding what they are interested in. This makes social media marketing both fun and effective for retailers when done right.

Having the ability to listen to what customers, competitors and the rest of the social community are saying about a company is essential to getting great results from social media campaigns.

Trendsmap

TrendsMap is our first stop for social media listening; using data from Twitter, TrendsMap shows the largest trends and hashtags across the network and where they are globally.

Trendsmap

Zoom out and you see global topics, trends and hashtags – note the different languages, national days, holidays, religious events and celebrity news. Zoom into a specific country or region and you get a more specific overview of each country’s regions, cities and even towns. Perfect for optimum geographic targeting and helping your brand to join in on conversations.

For example, if one of our online retail clients sells kitchen products or edible products and wants to access a new market, we take a look at TrendsMap to see what relevant topics are trending at the moment within the UK. We can see that the Great British Bake Off is trending at the moment, which is relevant to our retailer.

Here’s the Great British Bake Off Hashtag #GBBO on the map below:

GBBO Trendsmap

Trending using the hashtag #GBBO, we then use the zoom and search function to see which regions it’s most popular in:

map trendsmap

We can then go onto Twitter, use an Advanced Search to find mentions of #GBBO within these regions, and follow and interact with users who are talking about it, we can even take a look at users who have mentioned it recently to ensure we are getting the freshest, most topical data possible.

Here’s the advanced search feature in Twitter:

Advanced Search Twitter

Taking heed of the topics users are talking about and the other keywords they are using such as ‘homemade bread’ I can angle my products towards that audience increasing the likelihood that my update will be seen and read by people who care about it.

Google Trends

Google Trends is a great tool for keyword research and trends alike. Type in an area of interest and you will see a graph displaying interest over term.

For example, in the graph below, you can see the various interests for specific social networks over time:

Google trends social network

You will see this type of graph for any query you type in. But here’s a pro tip: combine the data aggregated on TrendsMap with popular search queries displayed in Google Trends. Use this data for your blog titles, social media updates and link building anchor text and you are well on your way to integrating your digital marketing.

Let’s use our Great British Bake Off example again to show you how retailers can use this tool:

As a UK retailer I would want to know how much the UK is searching for ‘Great British Bake Off’ and what keywords are associated with it to find a way to access this new audience. So, I start by simply entering “Great British Bake Off” as my search term and using Google Trend’s filters to establish UK-based search enquiries within the last month:

great british bake off google trends

I can then use the data I found on Twitter to search for other phrases and keywords that are now trending as a result of the Great British Bake Off; these will mostly relate to the activities the contestants are asked to do during the show. For example, make ice cream, a bread recipe or a good old fashioned Baked Alaska.

related GBBO terms in Google Trends

I can see that the search term ‘bread recipe’ has actually increased slightly over the last 30 days, so as a retailer who sells products that relate to bread I can use this search term within some anchor text in my next blog as well as my social media updates alongside the #GBBO hashtag to increase traffic to that product.

It’s as simple as that!

Internal Network Analytics: Facebook Insights and Google+ Insights

Facebook insights are a great social media tool. In our experience, we have found some stigma attached to the analytics data provided by the social networks themselves. Historically brands don’t use them as their data is limited, spread out and ‘clunky’.

However, Facebook insights and Google+ insights are actually brilliant tools to use for your social media engagement as a retailer as they are free, easy to use, and you can get the information you need in a very short space of time.

Facebook Insights

Since their update in early 2014, Facebook Insights provide a lot more information in an aesthetically pleasing format.

Facebook Insights

Benefits

Facebook Insights is available to anyone who has a page, so it’s free and easy to use. What’s more it allows you to track your competitors’ follower growth and weekly reach. While it won’t provide you with website analytics data, it’s still a great tool to use in combination with your analytics. If you launch a campaign around a specific product or want to raise awareness of a new store opening, Facebook Insights will show you if those posts are hitting their maximum potential.

Google+ Insights

Google+ Insights are a relatively new, and many would say an overdue addition, to the social network. Their data provides us with a limited, yet still useful, overview of how our brand’s Google+ pages are doing.

Since the launch of the Google My Business hub, Google+ has placed more emphasis on Pages and Place Pages for brands, encouraging content and interactions.

Google+ is an important network for search engine results, both aesthetically and technically, so investing some time here if you are a retailer is essential. Their insights will help you start making that time more worthwhile.

google plus insights

Benefits

Google+ is an important network for search engine results, both aesthetically and technically, so investing some time here if you are a retailer is essential if you want to improve your online presence. Google’s Insights will help you start making that time more worthwhile by providing the information you need to improve your current presence on the network. Posting blindly won’t help you sell your products, you need data to know what’s working!

 

If you have an online store and you’re keen to use social media to build your online community and drive traffic to your website, get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to put a plan together for you.