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How to Use Social Listening in E-commerce (and Why You Should)

A woman engaged in social listening while sitting at a desk with boxes.

It’s no secret that the degree to which a business is attuned to its customers’ feelings and needs can make or break them, and this is even more valid for an e-commerce venture.

But you don’t get to meet your customers as an online business. So, how can you know how they feel and what their pain points are? Through social listening.

So, what is social listening, and why is there so much hype around it? This article will explore the benefits of the strategy, its relevance in e-commerce, and how to implement it effectively.

What is social listening?

Have you ever wanted to be a fly on the wall? What if we said there was a strategy that allowed you to listen to distant conversations?

Social listening sees you track, analyze, and respond to discussions about your brand or industry across various social media platforms. It’s about “listening to” or monitoring online conversations to understand what consumers say about your brand.

It all starts with tracking. You monitor virtual conversations for specific keywords, phrases, or brand mentions. These words don’t have to be limited to your brand name or products; they can also include your competitors, industry, and other relevant terms. The keywords you choose will depend on your goal.

Analyzing the collected data, you can then evaluate the sentiment behind positive, negative, or neutral conversations and gain insights into brand perception. 

You can also figure out what’s trending and going viral in your industry. You can then use this to stay ahead of the curve and effectively respond to customer needs and market changes. 

Why use social listening?

Today’s consumers are more empowered (and demanding) than ever. On top of this, competition is tough, and competitors are becoming increasingly savvy. But just as the digital world presents various challenges for online businesses, it also offers distinct solutions, social listening being one of them.

The main draw of social listening is its power to provide real-time insights. In the vast ocean of online chatter, valuable information about your brand, products, or services can get lost. Social listening helps you to mine these valuable insights. That means you can meaningfully engage with your audience, deliver a great customer experience, and foster a positive relationship with consumers.

Moreover, if you use social listening correctly, you can keep a finger on the pulse of emerging trends. This gives you the perfect chance to respond and cater to consumers’ needs and expectations in a way that your competitors may not have thought to. 

Benefits of social listening in e-commerce

So, you understand the importance of a well-thought-out social listening strategy. But how can an e-commerce brand specifically stand to benefit? Here are five crucial advantages for your business.

Enhance the customer service experience

One of the primary benefits of social listening? It can significantly enhance the customer service experience. Monitoring conversations means you can be proactive rather than reactive. That means you can identify common queries or complaints before they escalate. 

This can completely change the way people see your brand. You foster loyalty and improve satisfaction by showing how committed you are to delivering a superior customer experience.

For instance, you may encounter a recurring complaint that calls to your customer service department often need to be answered. You catch this before it deals any real damage to your reputation. 

You may decide to implement a solution, such as using Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP phone services, so you can forward and route calls to the right department or agent. Or consider hiring more staff to increase the number of incoming calls you can take in a particular time period.

Understand customer sentiments and preferences

As mentioned, online businesses like e-commerce may need help to connect with customers they will never interact with face-to-face. Social listening breaks that barrier.

Rather than analyzing direct feedback one customer at a time, you can uncover mass customers’ sentiments and preferences. With this information, you can better understand their likes, dislikes, desires, or needs. This will inform many future decisions, from product development to your marketing strategy. 

For instance, a UAE-based business may find through social listening that its target consumers trust a local website more than a global one. They can then decide to have a .ae domain name with OnlyDomains. This establishes brand position, fosters trust and can improve the business’s local SEO.

Gain a competitive edge

Every business should keep an eye on its competitors. But social listening makes this significantly easier. 

You can uncover positive elements you want to emulate in your own strategy, such as effective customer service phrases. In addition, you can figure out what to avoid or change in your customer interactions to maintain a competitive edge.

Avoid potential crises

As mentioned above, social listening can serve as an early warning system for potential issues, allowing you to take preventative action. Whether it's a product defect, damaging review, or unfavorable viral post, swiftly identifying and responding can help you get ahead of the issue and avoid potential damage to your brand's reputation. 

Boost sales and conversions

Social listening can significantly impact your bottom line by driving sales and conversions. Today, a crucial key to this puzzle is personalization. By understanding customers' needs and preferences, you can tailor marketing messages in a way that resonates with them so you can ensure your campaigns are effective. A 2023 study found that most respondents use social data for marketing-focused use cases.

Social listening also allows you to perfect customer-brand interactions. For example, collecting specific feedback about every touchpoint of your omnichannel customer journey map means you can regularly implement solutions to problems that arise. You’ll eventually create a journey as close to ideal as possible.

As a result, this smooth experience is likely to result in increased conversions and sales, among other benefits.

How to implement social listening in your e-commerce strategy

1. Select the best social listening tools

The first step in implementing social listening is selecting the right tools for the job. 

Various platforms offer a range of features, from keyword tracking to sentiment analysis. 

Your business size, goals, and budget should dictate your choice. A simple, low-cost tool for small businesses might give you enough features to deliver results. However, as your business grows, you could benefit from a platform that can handle higher volumes of data and provide more extensive features.

2. Monitor the right keywords

Once you've chosen your tool, the next thing to do is set up the relevant keywords, hashtags, and phrases you want to monitor. These should include brand-specific terms, product-related words, and industry jargon. Could you make sure to select terms that are in line with your goals?

For instance, let’s say that Apple wants to hone in on issues their consumers struggle with so they can create SEO-friendly content that supports their e-commerce offering. They search for the phrase remote access to iPhone and discover it has a high search volume. As a result, they created a blog post on how to access your iPhone remotely. 

This not only helps their customers solve a common problem, but it’s also material that a customer service rep can direct consumers to when the query pops up, plus it drives traffic to their page. 

Please regularly revise these terms to ensure you're not missing crucial conversations or letting trends pass you by. 

3. Integrate social listening with your customer service

Customer service teams can’t operate in silos. It’s essential that whoever is managing your social listening strategy shares real-time conversations and long-term insights. 

Your customer service team can then proactively address concerns and queries, whether about product offerings or loyalty programs, which will go a long way toward significantly improving customer satisfaction. 

A customer service strategy that includes social listening can also benefit from a VoIP platform. Many options exist, including essential providers like eVoice or a more versatile alternative like Dialpad

Such a platform enables representatives to address issues they encounter swiftly and effectively, improving communication between staff and customers. Moreover, you can use built-in call analytics to monitor customer calls and feed this info back to the social listening team, thus closing the feedback loop.

4. Regularly review and adjust your strategy

Though this is the last step on this list, it is just as crucial as the others. Make sure you regularly review and adjust your social listening strategy. Meet regularly with your team and other departments to discuss your learning. Decide how effective current strategies are and if you need to make any adjustments. To keep everyone on track, automatically send recurring emails regularly to ensure everyone is held accountable.

Your social listening approach should also adapt as you collect more data and your business evolves. This could mean adding new keywords, refining the sentiment analysis, or changing your tools. Regularly sharing feedback among team members will be key to this adaptability.

To commit to this, consider using a conference call app, especially if some of your team works remotely. This flexibility makes it easier for everyone to attend review sessions so everyone is on the same page.

Harness the power of social listening

Social listening can play a pivotal role in helping e-commerce stand out. Tracking online conversations gives businesses a genuine glimpse into people’s thoughts, allowing them to be more proactive. That means they can improve customer service, maintain a competitive edge, manage their online reputation, and boost sales.

Successfully implementing a social listening strategy requires the right tools and careful planning. It’s worth it, though, as it can yield long-term benefits for your customers, employees, and the overall health of your e-commerce business.

Bio:

Jessica True – Senior Director, Marketing Strategy, Dialpad

Jessica True is the Senior Director for Marketing Strategy at Dialpad, a small business phone service provider and modern business communications platform that takes every conversation to the next level—turning conversations into opportunities. Jessica is an expert in collaborating with multifunctional teams to execute and optimize marketing efforts for company and client campaigns. Jessica has also written for domains such as HostPapa and Crystal Knows. Here is her LinkedIn.

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