Leading brand strategist Colin Chow talks about the intersection of brand and customer experience and how a purposeful brand is the foundation for success.
Why Ecommerce Brands Need Instagram Messaging to Thrive This Holiday Season
It’s no surprise that online retail skyrocketed in 2020, with sweeping lockdowns keeping consumers home and businesses closed. A staggering 10 years of ecommerce growth occurred over just 90 days at the height of the pandemic and 84% of consumers did their shopping online.
The biggest buying event of the year, Black Friday/Cyber Monday (BFCM), was also one for the records in 2020. Shopify reported its store owners made an astounding $5.1B in sales that weekend, up 76% from the prior year — and shoppers spent $11.8B on Thanksgiving and Black Friday alone. In 2021, US consumers spent $8.9 billion online during Black Friday.
Over two thirds of holiday purchases are now being made on mobile devices, and global social channel penetration is on the rise, social media platforms have transformed into marketplaces in their own right.
Instagram introduced shopping to its platform last summer as a direct response to the pandemic. Now, instead of clicking a “link in bio” when scrollers spot something they want, they can tap their way through a complete purchase directly from the post, without leaving the app. This is great news for brands because it’s another way for customers to find your store organically, boosting acquisition and sales. But some retailers were not ready for last year’s historic BFCM rush.
The danger of shutting your DM door
Any dramatic spike in sales brings an equally dramatic increase in brand interaction volumes. Savvy shoppers want answers immediately, without having to go anywhere — especially during BFCM, when great deals abound and the shopping stakes are high. For Instagram shoppers, getting help means sliding into your brand’s DMs. Quite literally.
In 2020, and especially during BFCM, ecommerce brands were inundated with Instagram DMs. Some were so overwhelmed that they were unable to keep up and ended up turning the option off as a result. It happened again in 2021.
Think about that for a moment.
You don’t have to be a marketing genius to realize this is bad on many levels. Bad for sales. Bad for acquisition. Bad for brand reputation. Bad for business, period. With one click, these retailers effectively negated every brand investment they had made throughout the year.
Meet your customers where they are
This has been a rallying cry for CX professionals in recent years. 53% of brands are investing in tools that allow them to sell anywhere and social commerce sales are set to nearly triple by 2025. The path is clear: social messaging is where ecommerce brands need to be.
When customers find your store on Instagram, they want to connect with your brand there, too. This is a good thing. Rather than trying to deflect these interactions, you should focus on talking more with your customers. Every exchange is an opportunity to build loyalty, strengthen your brand, or increase conversions. Embrace the onslaught by planning ahead and adding Instagram DMs to your CX strategy.
‘Tis the season to get DM ready — starting now
In studying data from the last three years, we're seeing that certain trends are persisting: digital interaction volumes spike up, around 40% of customers start their holiday shopping before Halloween, and most of the interactions are best suited for automation and self-service. Brands should be ready to start fielding more interactions from the end of October all the way through December.
Hiring seasonal live chat agents is not a cost effective way to scale. Plus, temporary hires who don’t know your brand that well can create CX inconsistencies. What you really need to manage the influx of Instagram messages is an automation-first approach powered by conversational AI.
The automation advantage
With an effective AI-powered brand interaction platform, you can effortlessly scale CX and show customers you value them by personalizing every interaction. Integrate Instagram messaging into your CX strategy to increase engagement and tap into new revenue opportunities. Give shoppers a holistic experience with the ability to turn an Instagram ad into a direct message and deepen the connection by using data-driven insights to tailor the CX.
Whether you are new to Instagram or a seasoned seller, you need to get your CX ducks in a row now to make the most of the upcoming shopping season. It’s a simple and smart way to “influence” your bottom line.
Sarah Fox is a scuba-diving, animal-loving journalist turned content marketer. In her career, she’s covered stories on development, written profiles on notable philanthropists, and interviewed celebrities with a passion for giving back. When she’s not producing content for Ada, Sarah’s likely fawning over her dog somewhere in the woods.