There is little evidence that, in 2006, the founders of Twitter fully understood what an incredible resource their site would become for businesses. The irony is, Twitter is a marketer's dream . Overhead is nearly non-existent. The medium is literally in the palm of their hands. All they need to do is come up with an effective approach and time it correctly.
Here's how ecommerce marketers, and you, can do just that:
1. Raise Interest Before Promoting Sales
Whether you are new to Twitter or trying to build your presence, you need to start by giving potential followers something to which they can relate. Retweeting interesting tweets is a good start, and perusing trending hashtags can also allow you to jump in and appeal to potential followers by indirectly interacting with them.
2. Before Launching the Effort, Know Your Baseline
First, check your number of followers. But don't stop there. Take a peek at your website's traffic report and see how many of those visitors are coming from Twitter and which tweets drew them to your site. Quality traffic-monitoring software can tell you bounce rates and conversion rates for Twitter-generated traffic so you can pin down your baseline numbers according to quality and quantity.
Continue to track these numbers throughout the engagement effort to see what works and how you can improve.
3. Understand Your Network
Since you can't physically see customers as they 'walk' into your online store, you have to do your best to understand them in other ways. Do not assume your network is all young people who have smartphones just because that is the stereotypical Twitter user. Instead, visit as many pages as you have time to visit and note what they tweet, where they shop, and what people say to them.
This can give you a fairly accurate picture of what will appeal to your followers, and it will also trigger some creative ideas you may not have considered by showing you what has worked for other companies.
4. Reach Users Outside Your Network
Understanding hashtags is the easiest way to reach more users. Do a little research to see which hashtags are both popular and related to your products. Then begin adding those hashtags to your tweets so a new audience has access to you.
Promoting other users' material (e.g. retweeting interesting tweets or linking to other accounts) can be extremely beneficial. Other Twitter users will usually return the favor and share your posts, too when they find them interesting.
5. Intrigue Your Followers; Don't Give Them Everything
The long term goal is to convert these Twitter followers to devoted customers at your online store. In order to do this, you have to actually get them from Twitter to your store by enticing them. Make a conscious effort to write teasers as tweets that make your network think, "I really have to see what this is about."
In other words, don't always just come out and say, "20% off Red Sox jerseys today!" Rather, try something like, "Click the link and tell me which athlete's last name belongs on this jersey. Prizes for correct answers!" Then track the number of answers and the number of users who stay on the site and purchase the jersey.
If you follow these steps and constantly return to your metrics to check progress, you will grow your Twitter reach drastically. Then you can expand these same tactics to other sites, using Twitter to promote your other social networks just as you would market a product. As I said in the opening paragraph, Twitter is a marketer's dream. But only if you use it correctly.
Are you using Twitter and other social networks to effectively market your ecommerce website?
Originally published Oct 3, 2011 5:00:00 PM, updated July 28 2017