If you’re in retail, the next 5 weeks is your Superbowl, Final Four and World Series all rolled up into one – because it’s “Money Time” – literally. But how can you extend Money Time beyond the holiday season and create ongoing relationships with shoppers?
Jon West, Cofounder and CEO of AddShoppers, a social marketing and analytics platform used by more than 10,000 eCommerce companies, shares his thoughts on how detailed measurement of sharing can help turn shoppers into customers. (This transcript has been edited for publication. To hear audio of the full interview, click on the audio player at the end of this article.)
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Small Business Trends: Can you tell us a little bit about your personal background?
Jon West: I started my first eCommerce company when I was in college in 2005. My buddy and I would go door to door selling socks. We wanted to earn some money while we were actually in school, so we put that online and created our first sock website. We grew that into 45 different niche dot coms, bootstrapped that company for seven years or so, then sold it in 2011, I believe.
Prior to selling that company, we went through a redesign of our website and really focused on our product pages and optimizing those. We started putting social sharing buttons across our product pages and realized we had no idea why we were doing this. So that was the original idea for AddShoppers – just getting some transparency behind social sharing and seeing if we could turn that into a measurable marketing channel.
We built the first version of AddShoppers in early 2012 with about 25 retailers in a private beta, grew it to almost 1,000 people that first year and now we have over 10,000 merchants. It’s actually the largest social commerce or e-commerce widget in the world.
Small Business Trends: I had a recent conversation with Brennan Loh at Shopify who said Facebook is responsible for about two-thirds of visits to their customers’ sites coming from social networks – and 85% of orders. What are you seeing from AddShopper customers?
Jon West: Social is more of a soft-selling environment, and so you may post something that drives a customer to your website fourteen days before they actually purchase, and you need to measure that. We measure both last click and assisted revenue attribution. What most people do is last click revenue attribution. That’s someone that came from Facebook to a website, added to a cart, checked out immediately. But the more accurate way to look at it is on an assisted revenue attribution model, so tracking someone over a 30-day period to see which social networks they interacted with and how those affected the sale.
If you go to addshoppers.com/stats, we have it broken down per category, the revenue that each social network’s driving. You can look across our 10,000+ websites and see the percent of sharing, clicks, sales, revenue, etcetera per social network – but then you can actually drill down into clothing, home and garden, medical, whatever you want, and see in the different categories that it really varies. And so that’s kind of a bit of our pitch to people: we can tell you what’s happening across your vertical, but it’s really going to be specific to your site, so you have to get analytics in place and start measuring this stuff before you really know.
Small Business Trends: From an eCommerce perspective, what do small businesses need to focus on to make the most out of this holiday season from a social sharing perspective?
Jon West: Most people aren’t tracking this stuff, so it’s really hard to improve if you have no idea what’s going on. So step one is always get analytics in place and start measuring these things. Let’s get some sharing buttons in place, figure out where people are sharing, what’s driving sales, then we can start running campaigns and doing some other things to improve those numbers.
Small Business Trends: How does an eCommerce based small business leverage the excitement, traffic and hopefully sales that come during the holiday season to build longer lasting relationships after the holiday season?
Jon West: You have to nurture the relationship with your customers, so it’s really all in the follow up and staying top of mind. It’s very brand specific how they interact with people. We help identify the people that are influential, so we’ll tell you in a really easy report, these are the people that are sharing, that actually generated sales from that sharing, that are influential in general on the Internet, and you need to be really connecting with and treating them a little differently.
Small Business Trends: And if you had to guess, what percentages of businesses doing these things are already seeing benefits?
Jon West: There’s a super long tail. It’s very top heavy. So there’s a really small percentage of business that are really getting it. Everyone has room to be more sophisticated about how they do things, but it’s a lot of the bigger brands. Not traditional big brands, but guys like Warby Parker – new brands like that. Dollar Shave Club is awesome – those kinds of guys really do a good job with social and engaging with their customers.
Small Business Trends: Where can people learn more?
This is part of the One-on-One Interview series with thought leaders. The transcript has been edited for publication. If it's an audio or video interview, click on the embedded player above, or subscribe via iTunes or via Stitcher.