Twitter Tools and Tips for Online Retailers

Posted on June 9, 2009

Twitter buzz is reaching epidemic proportion as I write this post and many of us are experimenting with using it for a variety of marketing purposes.  But what about online retailing — do we simply blurt out great deals, or are there more appropriate ways to use Twitter in the Awareness phase of the sales funnel?

Here are a few ways Twitter is being used by online retailers:

  • Selling: announce arrival or “end of line” on inventory items
  • Selling: broadcast “did you know?” tweets that remind people of savings opportunities such as “Clearance” sections or discount codes
  • Selling: broadcast tweets with exclusive deals (this requires tact as to not be perceived as spam); using unique URL’s for track back validates Twitter as the traffic source
  • Research: post questions to Followers for comment (on Twitter) or direct them to poll on main website
  • Branding: tweet about topics that the brand is passionate about to emotionally connect with Followers
  • Trust Building: offer helpful advice/tips in areas where the merchant is trying to establish thought leadership
  • Product Awareness: post tweets about useful product features or new ways to solve old problems

Internet Retailer magazine notes that merchants using Twitter find it still a small percentage of their overall website traffic source, but that the conversion rates can be 15% higher and the average order size can be 20% or more than other website traffic sources (organic, PPC, affiliate, etc.)

Tools like TweetLater can be used to schedule tweets in advance and stage the communications for distribution.  Using enables retailers to track references to their brand or to products they carry.  Here’s an even bigger list of cool Twitter tools.

So, while “the jury is out” on exactly how well Twitter will perform over the long-term as a marketing communications channel– it might just be one more low-cost way to create Awareness, establish Consideration, and convert interest to Purchase that doesn’t require a big advertising budget!

1 Reply to "Twitter Tools and Tips for Online Retailers"

  • Ryan Kelly
    June 14, 2009 (11:01 pm)

    Steve, I think you are right on when you say “the jury is still out” on how to use Twitter and the carriage industry of endless tools.

    However, one insight I can add is that one of my large, international clients said that every time they posted a promo or special Twitter-only offer, they would actually lose followers that way. They did make some sales, but nothing significant.

    Companies need to be careful that they don’t pollute the social networks with promos and advertising, and focus more on the conversation and engagement.

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