With the holidays rapidly approaching sales and marketing become increasingly competitive and dramatic. Early reports have shown that eCommerce sales alone are expected to be up by nearly 15% higher over last year! While standing out in the mass of online retailers during the holiday season can seem overwhelming and intimidating, social media provides a solution for business owners.

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One thing contributing to that exponential growth is what is called “contextual commerce” – shopping that is done on channels like Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram, outside of a traditional shopping website.

Contextual commerce is promising for retailers and entrepreneurs, because it leverages the great power of data. Retailers now have data on consumer’s interests, product browsing history, purchase behaviors and sales trends. For example, small businesses can now precisely capture consumer behavior and use the information to present options that are more likely to be purchased by that particular buyer. Advertisers can get increasingly specific, and therefore much more relevant, as they market to consumers.

Contextual commerce makes shopping even easier as consumers can make a purchase directly from their smart phone, with just a few taps, rather than having to go through the entire shopping cart and checking out process on a website. A transaction that previously took 3 minutes, can now take 15 seconds. The time saved is even more significant when consumers are busy and stressed out, as they often are during the holidays!

As a small business owner who wants to take advantage of contextual commerce, you must have a strategic plan for navigating this new, broader digital world. Our virtual assistant team has compiled some Top Tips for maximizing contextual commerce:

  • Use the Power of “Group Think” and Group Buyer Behavior: Facebook is the perfect tool for users to comment, rate and share reviews with their friends. This drives trust with customers when they see what their friends are buying. It’s engaging, it’s powerful, and by encouraging these types of shareable content, you can distribute your product across your customers’ entire social networks.
  • Spread the Love: One of the simplest ways to harness the power of social media is to introduce loyalty programs. Gone are the conventional and somewhat outdated “punch cards” presented at each transaction! This is a new, unique way of encouraging loyalty – request that your buyers share purchases with their friends to earn points towards incentives. Be sure to display social media sharing links prominently, to make it as easy as possible for your customers.
  • Make Sure Your Checkout is Seamless: When a user sees a product online, it’s really a matter of “micro-moment” in which the decision is made to purchase a product or perhaps move on to another option. In your social media marketing, make sure your “buy” button is prominent, and supplement it with meaningful details about your products. PayPal’sOne Touch checkout is a powerful example of how friction can be removed from checkout in any context, including on your own eCommerce or mobile-commerce site.

Utilizing the tips above will provide your business with what it needs to keep up with the holiday consumers. Taking advantage of contextual commerce can spread your product into markets that would have previously been untapped, and fortunately, your own customers are doing most of the work by using their own social networks! As a business owner, setting up the systems described above will create a larger base of consumers for your product, while the customer experience will be increasingly personalized and much more effortless. And hopefully, with your social media marketing taken care of, your holiday season will run a bit more smoothly as well. Happy Holidays!