Social Media Commerce: Let Your Customers to Do Business Online

By Marsha Collier

Today’s customers aren’t going to search the web and social media too hard to find your business. If your listing doesn’t show up on the first or perhaps the second page of search results or on social media, they’ll click elsewhere.

If your web pages don’t load fast enough — bam! — they’re off to the next guy. If your online customer service ratings aren’t sterling or you charge shipping but your competition doesn’t, guess where customers will go?

If you’re so busy managing your customers and studying statistics and reports, you won’t realize where your potential customers are hanging out. Personalizing your web offerings based on stats is a good idea, but don’t get buried in the science of numbers. Fulfill your customers’ needs on your website, your Facebook page, and any other place where the social media customer will find you.

Time is of the essence when it comes to capturing the attention of today’s consumer. Let your landing pages do some of the work for you by adding some of these features:

  • Forms: If you need paperwork filled out before an appointment, why not replicate the form as a clickable link from a New Clients information page on your website? You can make an editable PDF form for your customers to fill out.

  • Let your clients fill out the forms at their leisure online before they come in. Then let them upload the forms directly to your office or print the forms and bring them to the appointment.

  • Wish lists: Depending on your business, a wish list can be as simple as customers clicking items or services to add to an online list. You can use the list to learn more about your customers, or offer them the option to receive more information by e-mail.

  • Gift certificates: If your business sells gift certificates, why not let your website visitor click to buy one as a gift? Embeddable widgets can help you enable this, as shown.

    Make appointments and buy gift certificates online from Carabella Cosmetics.
    Make appointments and buy gift certificates online from Carabella Cosmetics.
  • Location and mapping: Want to make it easier for your customers to find you? Are you a real estate agent with several homes for sale? Embed a map with optional driving directions on your pages. Doing so is easy.

    1. Locate your business on Google Maps, and then click the link icon in the top-left panel.

    2. Select Customize and Preview Embedded Map, and then find the best size map for your web page.

    3. Copy the HTML that appears in the bottom of the window and paste it into your web page.

      For more detailed information, go to Google Maps.

    Allen’s Retail Liquor’s site (based on the Blogger platform) has the location map shown. If you don’t want to mess with code to embed a widget, at the very least add a link to a Google map and driving directions page.

    Clicking this map takes you to a Google map page with driving directions.
    Clicking this map takes you to a Google map page with driving directions.
  • Transportation: A customer may need transportation to your place of business. A restaurant may want to offer a car service as a sideline to a dinner reservation. A doctor’s office may want to give patients the option to get transportation by taxi or another service before or after a procedure. Make an arrangement with a local company and put their widget on your website.

Extending access to your products and services in a self-serve fashion gives your consumers a sense of exclusivity with your brand. Adding these features to your website also shows your clients that you respect their time and pocketbook. Your website hosting provider may have widgets for your site, or a web search may bring up premade widgets. Adding web-enabled niceties increases your bottom line.