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How Mobile Ads Are Powering a Social Commerce Surge This Holiday Season

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Shopping on social media is set to surge this holiday season as consumers are given additional ways to buy things on their smartphones, experts say. Meanwhile, newer technologies that integrate phones with TV shopping will be less prevalent, but still show promise for cross-channel commerce platforms as video and interactive media converge for more seamless browsing and buying experiences for TV viewers.

Mobile platforms are the biggest driver of social commerce, with the percentage of people saying they’ve used a smartphone or tablet to buy a product through social media rising to 57% in Q3 from 53% two years earlier, according to GlobalWebIndex. Mobile’s growth has contrasted with the decline in social shopping on desktop computers and laptops.

Those trends are forecast to continue through this year’s holiday shopping season as social sites like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube double down with fresh e-commerce features. Even newcomer TikTok, the social video app that’s popular with Generation Z and teens, has begun testing shopping ads to capitalize on this burgeoning consumer interest.

“Shopping through social platforms will see a good amount of traction this holiday season,” said Darin Archer, chief strategy officer at Elastic Path, a provider of e-commerce software. “Social commerce allows brands to reach people when their attention is already on an item of value — even when the transaction isn’t happening fully in the app.”

A boom in online shopping in recent years, including mobile and social, has pushed Cyber Monday to become more important than Black Friday for every age group, a Deloitte survey found. The consulting firm reports that 53% of people have increased their focus on the Monday after Thanksgiving for shopping, compared with only 44% who said the same about Black Friday.

Thanksgiving day also is emerging as a key shopping moment as people get an earlier start with their mobile devices.


“Across Facebook’s products, the company has brought commerce into areas typically dominated by advertising rather than purchasing. The gap between promotion and purchase is closing and making the experience more seamless.”

Darin Archer

Elastic Path, chief strategy officer


“There are more people than ever before shopping on their smartphones — they are sitting at their Thanksgiving dinner tables, and they are shopping,” said Julie Van Ullen, U.S. managing director at Rakuten Marketing. Last year, her company saw a 59% jump in purchases on Thanksgiving day, outpacing growth for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Seamless experiences

While plenty of social ads direct users to retailer websites for further browsing and purchasing, social media companies are working to make shopping a more seamless part of the in-app experience. Instagram, the image-sharing app whose U.S. user base is forecast to lift 6.7% to 107.2 million this year, this year introduced a checkout feature to keep people locked into its platform while adding a new revenue stream that could strengthen the appeal of its advertising. About 60% of Instagram users have followed a new brand on the app after seeing an appealing ad in its vertical feed or in Stories, per a study by video technology startup VidMob.

“Instagram’s move earlier this year to embed the transaction in the app was a big step toward reducing friction in the consumer’s purchase journey,” Archer told Mobile Marketer. “Brands are navigating the challenges of integrating the social commerce experience with mobile and web commerce touchpoints.”

Instagram is a key part of parent company Facebook’s broader push into social commerce amid a growing threat from Amazon, which has a fast-growing ad business. Facebook’s WhatsApp and Messenger messaging apps are adding social commerce features that broaden their capabilities, similar to Tencent’s WeChat app in China that acts like a complete lifestyle hub.

“WhatsApp’s launch of product catalogs is another example of how mobile advertising and commerce are coming together,” Archer said. “Across Facebook’s products, the company has brought commerce into areas typically dominated by advertising rather than purchasing. The gap between promotion and purchase is closing and making the experience more seamless.”

That power to keep consumers engaged is a key advantage for marketers seeking to drive online sales through social media advertising.

“As a consumer, your guard is down and you are looking for ‘shopper-tainment’,” said Brian Walker, chief strategy officer at Bloomreach, a maker of digital personalization software. “Really, this is a threat for large retailers. Consumer brands of all types need to pay attention. TikTok and Instagram may not be making a big dent yet, but it is a threat.”

Social shopping strategies

The growing significance of social shopping during this year’s key holiday season and into 2020 means that marketers need to adapt their strategies with the right mix of customer experience (CX), ad creative and even newer technologies like augmented reality (AR) that can help to demonstrate products and give shoppers ways to better visualize how they’ll look in real life.

Higher visitor traffic from mobile users is a key time to make a good first impression through ads and AR-powered virtual try-ons, with the goal of converting new shoppers into loyal customers.

“The key to securing their loyalty is a faultless CX — and that starts on the landing page,” said Jonathan Cherki, CEO of ContentSquare, a tech company focused on consumer connections with retailers. “Making sure whatever page visitors land on is consistent with the message in your ad, and makes customers feel that they’ve landed in the right place, is key.”


“Really, this is a threat for large retailers. Consumer brands of all types need to pay attention. TikTok and Instagram may not be making a big dent yet, but it is a threat.”

Brian Walker

Bloomreach, chief strategy officer


Capturing the attention of mobile shoppers who are likely scrolling through their social media news feeds is the first step, which requires a strong “thumb-stopping” creative pull.

“Ads need to be relevant and engaging for mobile, not just desktop ads resized for smaller screens,” Elastic Path’s Archer said. “Your mobile shoppable experience should recognize fingers, for example, and create a checkout experience that is relevant for that context rather than desktop.”

While AR technology has mostly been a novelty for marketers, social media companies are working to boost its adoption by integrating more tools to give users immersive shopping experiences within their respective platforms. Facebook and Snapchat stand out as notable examples boosting AR capabilities as they vie for consumer attention.

“The power that AR gives brands to virtually place their product into the hands of consumers delivers a compelling and visually engaging way for consumers to experience products that were never before possible,” said Robert Rothschild, VP and global head of marketing at Smartly.io, a social media ad platform. He predicts AR is on the cusp of mainstream adoption following Facebook’s introduction of interactive AR ads this fall.

Snapchat, on the other hand, has made AR a key part of its user experience for several years, and this holiday season has showcased its Portal Lens that lets mobile users step into immersive, computer-generated worlds. Italian luxury brand Gucci, department store chain Kohl’s and Toys ‘R’ Us Canada this fall have sponsored Portal Lenses as part of the holiday-themed promotions to stand out on social media.

Shoppable TV

Popularized by QVC, shopping directly from traditional TV has been around for years, but mostly required viewers to call a toll-free number or to visit website to purchase. Interactive TV also has been promised since Time Warner Cable experimented with its now-defunct Full Service Network in the 1990s. It had promised on-demand video, shopping and gaming, but didn’t deliver a positive experience for consumers. The technology is seeing renewed interest as more households have broadband service and connect their TVs directly to the internet to gain access to streaming platforms. The popularity of smartphones also is helping to give consumers more flexibility in interacting with TVs, and voice-powered technology may enhance that further as users increasingly look to link their various devices throughout their smart home.

NBCUniversal last month introduced Shoppable TV ads that let viewers use their smartphones to buy products featured in shows by scanning QR codes that pop up to indicate when a product is available. The technology is unlikely to have a profound effect on consumers shopping behavior this year, but may see more traction in the future.

“New shopping experiences will only become truly significant if they make shoppers’ lives easier and more seamless,” Elastic Path’s Archer said. “I don’t know that shoppable TV is quite there yet, but QR codes are definitely having a resurgence. If consumers find these shoppable TV experiences valuable and convenient we could definitely see an uptick in adoption as players like NBC roll out shoppable TV.”

Socialmediatoday.com

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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

You ask the head of marketing how the team is doing and get a giant thumbs up. 👍

“Our MQLs are up!”

“Website conversion rates are at an all-time high!”

“Email click rates have never been this good!”

But when you ask the head of sales the same question, you get the response that echoes across sales desks worldwide — the leads from marketing suck. 

If you’re in this boat, you’re not alone. The issue of “leads from marketing suck” is a common situation in most organizations. In a HubSpot survey, only 9.1% of salespeople said leads they received from marketing were of very high quality.

Why do sales teams hate marketing-generated leads? And how can marketers help their sales peers fall in love with their leads? 

Let’s dive into the answers to these questions. Then, I’ll give you my secret lead gen kung-fu to ensure your sales team loves their marketing leads. 

Marketers Must Take Ownership

“I’ve hit the lead goal. If sales can’t close them, it’s their problem.”

How many times have you heard one of your marketers say something like this? When your teams are heavily siloed, it’s not hard to see how they get to this mindset — after all, if your marketing metrics look strong, they’ve done their part, right?

Not necessarily. 

The job of a marketer is not to drive traffic or even leads. The job of the marketer is to create messaging and offers that lead to revenue. Marketing is not a 100-meter sprint — it’s a relay race. The marketing team runs the first leg and hands the baton to sales to sprint to the finish.

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via GIPHY

To make leads valuable beyond the vanity metric of watching your MQLs tick up, you need to segment and nurture them. Screen the leads to see if they meet the parameters of your ideal customer profile. If yes, nurture them to find out how close their intent is to a sale. Only then should you pass the leads to sales. 

Lead Quality Control is a Bitter Pill that Works

Tighter quality control might reduce your overall MQLs. Still, it will ensure only the relevant leads go to sales, which is a win for your team and your organization.

This shift will require a mindset shift for your marketing team: instead of living and dying by the sheer number of MQLs, you need to create a collaborative culture between sales and marketing. Reinforce that “strong” marketing metrics that result in poor leads going to sales aren’t really strong at all.  

When you foster this culture of collaboration and accountability, it will be easier for the marketing team to receive feedback from sales about lead quality without getting defensive. 

Remember, the sales team is only holding marketing accountable so the entire organization can achieve the right results. It’s not sales vs marketing — it’s sales and marketing working together to get a great result. Nothing more, nothing less. 

We’ve identified the problem and where we need to go. So, how you do you get there?

Fix #1: Focus On High ROI Marketing Activities First

What is more valuable to you:

  • One more blog post for a few more views? 
  • One great review that prospective buyers strongly relate to?

Hopefully, you’ll choose the latter. After all, talking to customers and getting a solid testimonial can help your sales team close leads today.  Current customers talking about their previous issues, the other solutions they tried, why they chose you, and the results you helped them achieve is marketing gold.

On the other hand, even the best blog content will take months to gain enough traction to impact your revenue.

Still, many marketers who say they want to prioritize customer reviews focus all their efforts on blog content and other “top of the funnel” (Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation) efforts. 

The bottom half of the growth marketing funnel (Retention, Reputation, and Revenue) often gets ignored, even though it’s where you’ll find some of the highest ROI activities.

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Most marketers know retaining a customer is easier than acquiring a new one. But knowing this and working with sales on retention and account expansion are two different things. 

When you start focusing on retention, upselling, and expansion, your entire organization will feel it, from sales to customer success. These happier customers will increase your average account value and drive awareness through strong word of mouth, giving you one heck of a win/win.

Winning the Retention, Reputation, and Referral game also helps feed your Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation activities:

  • Increasing customer retention means more dollars stay within your organization to help achieve revenue goals and fund lead gen initiatives.
  • A fully functioning referral system lowers your customer acquisition cost (CAC) because these leads are already warm coming in the door.
  • Case studies and reviews are powerful marketing assets for lead gen and nurture activities as they demonstrate how you’ve solved identical issues for other companies.

Remember that the bottom half of your marketing and sales funnel is just as important as the top half. After all, there’s no point pouring leads into a leaky funnel. Instead, you want to build a frictionless, powerful growth engine that brings in the right leads, nurtures them into customers, and then delights those customers to the point that they can’t help but rave about you.

So, build a strong foundation and start from the bottom up. You’ll find a better return on your investment. 

Fix #2: Join Sales Calls to Better Understand Your Target Audience

You can’t market well what you don’t know how to sell.

Your sales team speaks directly to customers, understands their pain points, and knows the language they use to talk about those pains. Your marketing team needs this information to craft the perfect marketing messaging your target audience will identify with.

When marketers join sales calls or speak to existing customers, they get firsthand introductions to these pain points. Often, marketers realize that customers’ pain points and reservations are very different from those they address in their messaging. 

Once you understand your ideal customers’ objections, anxieties, and pressing questions, you can create content and messaging to remove some of these reservations before the sales call. This effort removes a barrier for your sales team, resulting in more SQLs.

Fix #3: Create Collateral That Closes Deals

One-pagers, landing pages, PDFs, decks — sales collateral could be anything that helps increase the chance of closing a deal. Let me share an example from Lean Labs. 

Our webinar page has a CTA form that allows visitors to talk to our team. Instead of a simple “get in touch” form, we created a drop-down segmentation based on the user’s challenge and need. This step helps the reader feel seen, gives them hope that they’ll receive real value from the interaction, and provides unique content to users based on their selection.

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So, if they select I need help with crushing it on HubSpot, they’ll get a landing page with HubSpot-specific content (including a video) and a meeting scheduler. 

Speaking directly to your audience’s needs and pain points through these steps dramatically increases the chances of them booking a call. Why? Because instead of trusting that a generic “expert” will be able to help them with their highly specific problem, they can see through our content and our form design that Lean Labs can solve their most pressing pain point. 

Fix #4: Focus On Reviews and Create an Impact Loop

A lot of people think good marketing is expensive. You know what’s even more expensive? Bad marketing

To get the best ROI on your marketing efforts, you need to create a marketing machine that pays for itself. When you create this machine, you need to think about two loops: the growth loop and the impact loop.

1716755163 789 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 789 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To
  • Growth loop — Awareness ➡ Acquisition ➡ Activation ➡ Revenue ➡ Awareness: This is where most marketers start. 
  • Impact loop — Results ➡ Reviews ➡ Retention ➡ Referrals ➡ Results: This is where great marketers start. 

Most marketers start with their growth loop and then hope that traction feeds into their impact loop. However, the reality is that starting with your impact loop is going to be far more likely to set your marketing engine up for success

Let me share a client story to show you what this looks like in real life.

Client Story: 4X Website Leads In A Single Quarter

We partnered with a health tech startup looking to grow their website leads. One way to grow website leads is to boost organic traffic, of course, but any organic play is going to take time. If you’re playing the SEO game alone, quadrupling conversions can take up to a year or longer.

But we did it in a single quarter. Here’s how.

We realized that the startup’s demos were converting lower than industry standards. A little more digging showed us why: our client was new enough to the market that the average person didn’t trust them enough yet to want to invest in checking out a demo. So, what did we do?

We prioritized the last part of the funnel: reputation.

We ran a 5-star reputation campaign to collect reviews. Once we had the reviews we needed, we showcased them at critical parts of the website and then made sure those same reviews were posted and shown on other third-party review platforms. 

Remember that reputation plays are vital, and they’re one of the plays startups often neglect at best and ignore at worst. What others say about your business is ten times more important than what you say about yourself

By providing customer validation at critical points in the buyer journey, we were able to 4X the website leads in a single quarter!

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So, when you talk to customers, always look for opportunities to drive review/referral conversations and use them in marketing collateral throughout the buyer journey. 

Fix #5: Launch Phantom Offers for Higher Quality Leads 

You may be reading this post thinking, okay, my lead magnets and offers might be way off the mark, but how will I get the budget to create a new one that might not even work?

It’s an age-old issue: marketing teams invest way too much time and resources into creating lead magnets that fail to generate quality leads

One way to improve your chances of success, remain nimble, and stay aligned with your audience without breaking the bank is to create phantom offers, i.e., gauge the audience interest in your lead magnet before you create them.

For example, if you want to create a “World Security Report” for Chief Security Officers, don’t do all the research and complete the report as Step One. Instead, tease the offer to your audience before you spend time making it. Put an offer on your site asking visitors to join the waitlist for this report. Then wait and see how that phantom offer converts. 

This is precisely what we did for a report by Allied Universal that ended up generating 80 conversions before its release.

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The best thing about a phantom offer is that it’s a win/win scenario: 

  • Best case: You get conversions even before you create your lead magnet.
  • Worst case: You save resources by not creating a lead magnet no one wants.  

Remember, You’re On The Same Team 

We’ve talked a lot about the reasons your marketing leads might suck. However, remember that it’s not all on marketers, either. At the end of the day, marketing and sales professionals are on the same team. They are not in competition with each other. They are allies working together toward a common goal. 

Smaller companies — or anyone under $10M in net new revenue — shouldn’t even separate sales and marketing into different departments. These teams need to be so in sync with one another that your best bet is to align them into a single growth team, one cohesive front with a single goal: profitable customer acquisition.

Interested in learning more about the growth marketing mindset? Check out the Lean Labs Growth Playbook that’s helped 25+ B2B SaaS marketing teams plan, budget, and accelerate growth.


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