How-to Guide

The Retailer's Guide to E-Commerce Marketing on Social

This year, for the first time, e-commerce sales will account for one-tenth of total retail sales worldwide.1 Social is heavily influencing those online sales with nearly a third of shoppers saying they use social channels to browse new items to buy.2 According to Marketing Week, these “social shoppers” are inspired to purchase everything from food to clothing based on the images they see on social media.3

Online sales are estimated to account for 17% of total retail sales by 2022.4 – Forrester’s Online Retail Forecast

For retail brands, the potential benefits of e-commerce marketing on social are hard to beat. Social offers lower acquisition costs, more buzz and greater reach through targeted ads. The impact that social has on the way people shop gets stronger year after year. In fact, new estimates predict that in the next two years the value that social media offers to retail will more than double.

New estimates predict that in the next two years the value that social media offers to retail will more than double.

Win Customers’ Attention

Your goal is to beat your competition by winning the attention of your ideal buyers and influencing them to check out what you have to say. Try experimenting with one or more of the latest trends in retail social advertising to spread awareness and grow interest for your products.

  • If you sell a product that is visually appealing, Instagram’s dynamic ads may be the most effective type of social advertising for brand awareness. Through retargeting, advertisers can promote relevant products to shoppers who have browsed items on their website or mobile app. According to Entrepreneur, “for the many Instagram users who log in to stimulate and grab ideas, these advertisements prove to be widely successful.”5
  • When most people think of LinkedIn, they think B2B. However, retail brands have been using this popular networking platform to extend audience reach. Swiss luxury watchmaker Baume & Mercier launched a Sponsored InMail campaign inviting young professionals to private events. The campaign delivered a 50% response rate and grew their CRM database by 1,200 new members.
  • Snapchat is expanding its Snap to Store product to help brands track when ads drive people to store or restaurant locations. When a user goes to a store and applies a sponsored geofilter, that snap is posted in the user’s story or can be sent directly to his or her friends in the app. The Snap to Store product then tracks if friends who see the snap visit the store or if friends who didn’t see the original snap visit anyway. Those figures are then compared to see if the ad provided a boost to the store’s visits.6

Sell Directly from Social Sites

In just a few taps, your customers can be on their way to ordering your products. Most major social platforms now make mobile shopping easier than ever before with e-commerce marketing tools.

  • Buyable Pins let people buy your products without ever leaving Pinterest. As a bonus, Pinterest doesn’t take a cut from your sales.
  • Tap to View Product tags on Instagram posts makes them more shoppable than ever. Once a business has a product catalog connected to their account, tagging a product is as simple as tagging a person in a post.
  • Sell your products on Facebook by adding a shop section to your Page. Let your customers check out on your Page, or send customers to your website to complete their purchase.
  • YouTube’s Click to Shopping allows retailers to run shopping ads on their own videos as well as run contextually relevant ads on other product-related videos across YouTube.

We've packaged up three great white papers about getting the most out of social media, specifically for retailers. Download the three-pack Hey Retail! Get Serious About Social.


1 eMarketer - "Worldwide Retail and Ecommerce Sales: eMarketer's Estimates for 2016–2021"

2 Marketing Week - "Social commerce: How willing are consumers to buy through social media?"

3 Marketing Week - "Social commerce: How willing are consumers to buy through social media?"

4 Business Insider - "E-Commerce will make up 17% of all US retail sales by 2022 – and one company is the main reason"

5 Entrepreneur - "Is Instagram Ear Hustling Your Conversation to Create Targeted Ads?"

6 The Wall Street Journal - "Snap Wants to Help Brands Track When Ads Drive People to Locations"

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