Nonprofits: Steal These Marketing Practices from Tech Startups

If you’re a nonprofit leader who wants to become more efficient, grow your audience, and deepen trust in your organization long term, you should steal a few marketing strategies from startups. 4 Social Media Strategies That Help Our Business Drive More Sales In-Store and Online

Although my brother and I started our womenswear brand KESTAN as an e-commerce company, the real breakthrough for our online presence came when we opened our first brick-and-mortar store. 

Our retail stores succeeded because we were able to deliver an entire brand experience rather than just be content to try and sell products. We were able to create a cohesive visual identity that people loved to surround themselves with. We were able to interact with customers to help them make purchasing decisions, give them styling ideas, and understand more about what they’re looking for to tailor our merchandising and product development in the future. 

After that, we started to see our social media platforms differently—as a chance to bring the retail experience to customers shopping with us from all around the world. Whereas our accounts used to be all about glossy pictures of our products, we started looking for creative ways to make customers feel like they were enjoying a relaxing day shopping IRL. Ultimately, this approach has led to increased traffic and engagement both online and in-store.

Here are four tactics that have helped us create a seamless experience between our retail and online experiences to improve our sales on both channels.  

1. We bring customers into the store via our social channels

When customers walk into our stores, they can immediately feel what KESTAN is all about. Our stores are baby pink and full of light and flowers. Our sales associates are trained to deliver an experience that feels like shopping with your best friend. Everything is tailored to embody our feminine and fun brand ethos.

Sometimes, it can be hard to translate that feeling online, so we looked for ways to create content that literally gives followers a window into our stores.

We started capturing most of our social media content in our retail stores throughout the day. We’d have our store associates do try-on hauls—videos in which they try on a number of items around a particular theme—and store tours, or even just film each other joking around a bit to show the playful, friendly nature of our brand. We’d ask our stylish customers if we could film them picking out some favorite outfits.

Seeing this more authentic side of the brand has really helped drive home what we stand for, make it clear who a KESTAN customer is, and create a consistent experience no matter where people shop with us. And that, in turn, can help drive sales: For example, one Instagram Reel we boosted of a girl in the store picking out dresses received three times our usual likes and shares, and the dresses showcased sold out faster than our typical sell-through rates.

So many new customers discover us for the first time online. When we share a video of a trendy woman who you kind of want to be friends with in a gorgeous pink store, we’re creating this world for viewers who might not have the opportunity to come in person. At the same time, we’re enticing locals who want to experience it for themselves to come in and visit us. It’s an opportunity to double dip with our marketing.

When customers are shopping in-store, we can easily see which products they gravitate toward, hear their reactions and feedback as they try things on, and get a strong sense of which products are going to be popular (meaning we should feature them more).

Social media, Meta specifically, gives us an opportunity to do this on an even larger scale, and we make sure to take full advantage of this. If we see high engagement on a specific post or a flurry of comments about a specific item, then we'll take that as a cue that people are interested in it, and we should create more content around that piece to keep the momentum going. Lately, we’ve started encouraging this even more by asking our social media followers which outfit in a try-on haul they’d choose.

From there, we can create more focused content like ads, Reels, and Stories around these pieces, increasing engagement by spending more time on the clothes followers are excited to see. For example, we love giving examples of different ways to wear our pieces. Not only does this mimic the in-store experience of an associate helping you style an item you’re considering, it also increases our ticket prices, as customers are more likely to buy additional items to create a whole outfit.

3. We keep the transition from browsing online to shopping in-store easy

Even though all of our products are available to purchase online, many of our local customers love discovering an item on our social feeds and then coming in to try it for themselves. The last thing we want is for it to be difficult for them to find what they’re looking for, so we’ve looked for ways to create a seamless transition.

At its most basic, that means ensuring our staff is well-trained on our offerings and aware of the products and promotions we’re posting about on social media. That way, if a customer comes in and says, “Hey, what’s that pink dress I saw on your Instagram recently?” our staff knows what they might have in mind.  

To make this even easier, we’ve started giving each of our styles memorable names and being sure to reference those names again and again when we share products on our social channels. Customers will now come in and directly name-drop items they’re hoping to buy: “I’m looking for the Zola dress,” or “Where can I find the Reagan cardigan?” Not only has it made the transition from online to in-store more seamless, branding each of our items this way has given our most popular ones a bit of a cult following.

4. We use the in-app shop features to remove barriers to buying

We want the transition from seeing a product on our social feed to buying it online to be just as seamless, so we’ve integrated the in-app shop features on Facebook and Instagram and use them as robustly as we can.

It’s shocking how many brands don’t use these features, instead directing customers to their link in bio to find products they’re promoting in posts. That adds so much friction to the shopping experience: Potential customers have to click away from the post, navigate up to the top of your profile, click the link, find the post or product they were looking at (which could be very far down depending how deeply they were exploring your page). That’s too many opportunities to lose people—the more steps they have to take, the less likely they'll make it to checkout.

Yes, Facebook and Instagram take a small percentage of sales that happen through their apps. But we’ve seen such an increase in sales that we easily make up for that cost. We use our posts as the hook to get people interested with entertaining or educational content and then make sure to tag every item included. With just one click, customers are browsing the products in that post, plus seeing other items from our brand. They don’t even realize they’re shopping because they’re just looking at fun content, and then, before they know it, they have the easy option to buy a gorgeous dress.

4 Social Media Strategies That Help Our Business Drive More Sales In-Store and Online

As we think about the future of social media for our brand, we’re continuing to look for more ways to recreate in-person shopping experiences through peoples’ phones. For example, we’d love to explore Instagram Lives to interact with customers in real-time. While these exact tactics might not work for every brand, anything that allows you to authentically show off products and build genuine customer relationships can only benefit brand loyalty and growth.

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