Social Shopping: Make the Most of Your Online Customer Communities

In a previous blog post we talked about making the most of your socially active customers. But what about the groups of people shopping on your website right now who have interests in common with your brand and each other? How can you help these customers connect socially and at the same time enhance the power of your online community?

The truth is that in today’s digital marketing environment your customers are already social. But if your website is not social, you are forcing your customers to migrate elsewhere in order to be part of a community. What you lose is the ability to provide customers with a way to connect with each other on your website and essentially integrate a sense of community within their shopping experience. After all, people have always liked being able to shop together as a social activity. Why should that be any different on your site?


Bringing back the social shopping experience

How many of you remember making trips to the mall with a group of friends? What made shopping with them special? It was the experience to browse and shop with people who are familiar with your interests and tastes. Trusted peers can give you advice and help you find just the right television or some other product you’re looking for.

It’s that experience that can sometimes be missing when we shop online. It helps you find the right products for you based on the input of others: reviews, past purchases, products viewed, recommendations, and more. For instance, Evergage Tribes, a web personalization solution for socially enhanced shopping, creates that group shopping experience online by helping visitors make the social connection to like-minded shoppers on your website and using that connection to help visitors discover new products.

The key is to help visitors find people just like them without interrupting their purpose on your website. As you learn more about them, your website can subtly guide them to content and products that reflect the interests of similar shoppers. For example, activity indicators can highlight products other visitors are viewing right now or have just purchased. And these recommendations can be based on the groups they belong to — shoppers they are socially connected to.

 Shopping builds communities

Just as group shopping creates lasting experiences, customers who discover communities on your website will also experience great benefits. Product reviews from other members of a visitor’s group will help them find just the right fit more quickly and easily, and with confidence. And customers can share with their groups and discover new content, expand their communities, and expand shopping experiences beyond generic product recommendations.

Shoppers can browse by persona, interests or life stages, such as #CookingMom, #NewHomeOwner or #ITGuy, and be instantly referred to products best suited to them based on behaviors and actions of shoppers with common interests. This interactive and engaging way to shop online enables the consumer to receive unprecedented personalized shopping assistance right on the site – without having to provide personal data or profile information or leave the site for Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter, to be part of a beneficial online community.

Shopping yields real insight and profitable results

For retailers like you, this type of a shopping experience yields valuable insight into shopping behavior, both at the individual and community level. You can continuously improve online experiences and make them more personal with more immediate results based on your understanding of like-minded shoppers. It can provide the best recommendations for your visitors, just as shoppers will value the opinion of a best friend more than a store clerk.

What matters most is that your website benefits from the sales generated by your community of advocates. You’re able to learn about their customers and merchandise based on what groups emerge and trend, which helps create a 360 degree customer profile and more insight into shopping behavior – allowing you to create highly personalized experienced, driving more conversions and revenues from your website.


About the Author

karl wirthKarl Wirth is the CEO and Co-Founder of Evergage. He is passionate about helping businesses improve their conversion through relevant, in-context communication. Karl is a software executive who has led product and marketing functions at Red Hat, Sentillion, and RSA Security. He graduated from Harvard with a degree in Physics.

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