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The key to retail on social media is not yet revealed

Many retailers still maintain a lackluster performance on social media applications, even though the strategy remains relatively cost effective and it garners the most attention from audiences, according to a new report from BDO.

About 59 percent of chief marketing executives from retailers claimed to be leveraging mobile into their holiday strategy and about 87 percent with social media. However, only about a third of retailers are planning to focus on social media apps, missing out on a huge revenue source, as social channels are primarily access through smartphones.

“It’s a bit surprising to see that although more than half of retailers are looking to leverage mobile as part of their holiday marketing strategy, less than one third of those using mobile are focusing on social media apps,” said Natalie Kotlyar, national leader of BDO’s Consumer Business practice. “Most consumers use social apps on their smartphones, and it’s a relatively affordable strategy to reach a targeted customer base.

“We’d expect to see those numbers rise in the coming years,” she said.

Mobile and social
While digital and mobile continue to furiously grow in terms of retail and sales, nothing can beat the immediacy and physical interaction experience that comes from a visit to a bricks-and-mortar location. BDO’s 21016 Retail Compass Survey of CMOs noted that another survey found that 91 percent of consumers plan to spend at a bricks-and-mortar location this holiday season.

The onslaught of consumers visiting retail stores does not mean that digital will be any less important. On the contrary, consumers are greatly influenced by social media, mobile and digital, especially now that they can research while they are walking through the aisles.

Social influencers
About two-thirds of retailers will be tapping popular influencers on social media to help drive actionable sales and awareness this holiday. Consumers are heavily impacted by peer recommendations, especially from highly trusted YouTube stars and Instafamous personalities.

Retailers have seen direct results from brand ambassador programs, despite tighter FTC regulations, with many products selling out after a popular blogger sharing content including the item. However, social media buy buttons still remain an experimental tool, as only 18 percent of retailers are using them.

Executives from TapInfluence during a Luxury Daily webinar, emphasized that social influencers have a dramatic effect compared to traditional ads, but marketers should be valuing transparency, authenticity and audience targeting.

During the webinar, “10 Key Influencer Marketing Predictions,” the executive explained that celebrities, bloggers and other individuals on social media are having a direct impact on sales and campaign results for marketers by leveraging their bond with followers. However, brands need to pay attention to performance data, influencer data and audience data to see the right results (see more).

Advertising deals and discounts are the leading tool retailers leverage on social media at 93 percent. Influencers and ambassadors are trailing behind at 66 percent, congruent with exclusive promotions.

“The majority of retail CMOs surveyed plan to leverage mobile in their holiday marketing plans this season,” Ms. Kotlyar said. “While the use of mobile shopping isn’t truly ubiquitous, retailers are realizing that connecting with consumers on their mobile devices is the key to creating convenience and an effective omnichannel offering that consumers crave.

“Consumers of all ages are tethered to their smartphones,” she said. “They rely on mobile devices to collect information and communicate on-the-go–from researching products and comparing prices to making purchases and soliciting feedback from peers.

“A majority of retailers are adapting by leveraging mobile to deliver targeted ads, growing their presence on social media apps and making their own branded apps appealing and convenient. Leading retailers are also being smart about data collected through mobile to better understand and respond to their target customer’s shopping preferences.”