KPIs for B2B social media

“Not everything that counts can be counted. And not everything that can be counted, counts.” Albert Einstein could have been talking about social media. And in truth, for companies who are not selling products via Facebook or Pinterest measuring the ROI from social media can be problematic.

But even if ROI – in simple terms of pounds and pennies – can be difficult, that doesn’t mean it is impossible to define some strong KPIs from BtoB social media campaigns. After all not all advertising is measured in terms of sales.

Vanity KPIs

Let’s start with vanity KPIs: things like Twitter Followers and Facebook page Likes. These have little, if any, value as KPIs – although they are very visible and thus superficially attractive. The trouble is that most followers and fans don’t do much: the average person will engage once and then have nothing more to do with your brand on social media.

The same is true of “trivial engagements” such as Facebook post Likes or Twitter Favourites: these are easy-to-perform (and easy-to-forget) actions that mean very little to your brand.

If you want to use followers and fans as a useful metric you will have to identify a subset: followers who can be considered to be prospects or customers; you can then track this number over time as a valid KPI.

Indicative KPIs

Indicative KPIs are a little more important because they tell you that things are moving in the right (or wrong) direction. However they don’t tell you much else. Change in numbers of followers/fans over a particular time may be indicative or success or failure, and movement in a positive direction is at least likely to keep the boss happy. Sentiment is another example: Tracking sentiment will rarely give you an accurate picture of how people really feel about your brand. However, if sentiment is steady or slowly becoming more positive over time this should at least give you some comfort even though there isn’t much you can do with this information. More useful is a “blip” in sentiment (a sudden rise or fall in positive or negative sentiment) which may indicate that something of importance has happened that needs investigating.

Other indicative KPIs are the “weak engagement” signals – content sharing such as re-tweets. If these are increasing you will feel that you are doing something right although it will be impossible to know whether this sharing is having an effect on your brand, and even harder put a value on this.

Another popular indicative KPI is website traffic from social media. Again, an increase in traffic looks as though it should be considered to be a positive result. It’s worth tracking but traffic on its own is a poor indicator: after all you don’t know why people have visited and it is perfectly possible that most of your visitors are disappointed when they arrive.

Brand KPIs

KPIs that indicate some sort of brand support or uplift are very important. These are things like positive brand perceptions such as “Brand X is a thought leader” or “Brand X is in my consideration set”. Generally these brand-based KPIs will need to be measured using one-on-one research such as surveys. This inevitably makes them more expensive to measure and many BtoB organisations may feel that this sort of measurement is not worth while.

Another type of branding indicator is the number of your followers and fans who are influencers. There is no set definition of what makes someone influential but you could decide to include people with, say, over 1000 followers. These influencers are likely to be of two types: “direct” influencers who are prospects or existing customers; and “indirect” influencers such as journalists and bloggers; track them separately.Unfortunately you will probably have to do this by hand.

Content effectiveness

If you are spending a lot of money on developing content (as you probably should be) then you will want to track loyalty: the percentage of people who have read your content who then return; and you will also want to track how frequently they return. This will involve setting up some customised reports in your social media analytics tools, for instance tracking the behaviour of people who have visited a particular set of pages or people who have visited your main website from your blog pages.

You may also want to track content engagement. This is hard to do as you cannot know whether people are actively reading your content or drinking a cup of tea while the page is open. The simplest way is to set up your analytics tool to track page scroll depth so that you can see how far down a page people have scrolled. As an alternative you can encourage people to rate content at the end or even divide content into a number of pages and then track each time people click on the link to pages, 2, page 3 etc. Alternatively there are more sophisticated tools (e.g. contently.com’s analysis) that can help with this by using clues such as mouse movements to estimate whether someone is actively engaged on a page and even whether they finished reading the whole article.

Strategic KPIs

Strategic KPIs don’t relate directly to marketing investment or sales success but are nonetheless important to track.

One set of strategic KPIs relates to competitors. Metrics such as social media “Share of Voice” compared with competitors will show you if you are shouting louder than your competitors (of course that is only important if you are shouting the right things.) And an analysis of comparative sentiment will also be useful (with an analysis of any blips giving you some actionable information). In a similar way an analysis of keywords around dissatisfaction with competitors will be useful information, although not strictly a KPI.

Another set of strategic KPIs relates to consumer insights. Here you need to analyse the content of any social media conversations and match the key words you are using to describe your brands with the keywords and topics that are generating engagement. You may find that one set of topics is going well at generating positive consumer reactions but that you are failing with another topic. This knowledge is important for advertising as well as for New Product Development.

Marketing KPIs

Unlike all of the preceding KPIs, some marketing KPIs can have a genuine value in terms of monetary ROI attached to them.

While the volume of website traffic from social media doesn’t in itself have a value, we could attach a value to it by estimating the cost of generating traffic using paid search or advertising. We could also attach a value to non-sales conversions such as product sheet downloads – if we know how many of these are likely to convert into a sale. And similarly we can value leads (such as email addresses) if we know what our conversion rate is likely to be. And finally we could potentially value any back-links that have been achieved from social media if we are able to calculate the cost of a single back link achieved via SEO activity.

Another area where we can potentially attach real value is in social media activity. Qualified followers and fans (i.e. people who have been identified as prospects) will have a quantifiable value if we know the average conversion rate we achieve with prospects. And so will people who are identified as being dissatisfied with a competitor.

Other KPIs worth tracking are the total number of “strong engagements” i.e. comments on your posts, and the numbers of qualified followers and fans who engage weakly or strongly with your content: while it is hard to ascribe an monetary ROI to these KPIs, they are important as they tell you whether your campaigns are succeeding in generating engagement and, importantly, whether they are doing so with the target audience.

Sales KPIs

And finally there is what every BtoB marketer will want to be able to measure: sales generated from social media.

At the soft (i.e. hard-to-value) end there are CRM interactions – the number of contacts with customers or prospects that have been made via social media. This isn’t the same as the number of leads as one customer or prospect may have been contacted several times via social media. Track number of customers/prospects contacted and also average number of contacts per customer/prospect.

And then there is the “gold standard”: sales converted from social media leads. Did I say “gold standard”. Well, that would mean that the sale was made in the absence of any other drivers such as advertising, email etc. And that’s unlikely to be the case. So track this figure; but bear in mind that giving social media total credit for the sale is probably over-estimating its importance. As Einstein said “Not everything that is worth counting can be counted”!

 

Archiving social media

Does it really matter what you said on Twitter last week?

Archiving may not be the most exciting subject in the world, but as organisations increasingly use social media to communicate with consumers there is an ever growing need to archive their social media conversations.

Why archive?

There are four excellent reasons for archiving social media content.

Litigation

Litigation is an ever present problem for organisations. This can be staff bringing cases for unfair dismissal or discrimination. Or it can be consumers bringing cases relating to unfair contracts or products and services that don’t deliver as promised.

Compliance

Archiving of marketing communications can be a compliance requirement for certain industries such as financial services; although there are some record-keeping requirements imposed on all companies.

Business operations

It can be important to archive records so that negotiations and transactions can be continued in the event of systems failure. In addition, an easily accessible record of social media can in some circumstances make it easier for employees to work efficiently (e.g. finding an important email or chat record easily).

Knowledge management

A good archive can be used to generate learning and case studies.

How much to archive?

Ideally you would archive everything in social media that relates to your organisation. But this may simply not be feasible. For instance, if people get customised views of social media it is obviously impossible to archive these. This is also true of websites that are delivered “on the fly” where one may be confined to recording for instance the different experience of a logged in and a logged out visitor.

Two questions need to be asked:

  • What is it reasonable to invest in archiving (given the size and nature of your organisation)
  • What is it important to keep (not all social media data is equally important)

There are no hard and fast rules here, except that more is likely to be safer than less. But bebar in ind that how uch you archive is likely to affect how much you pay.

How to build an archive

There are some fundamental requirements of social media archiving systems:

Capture

You need to capture both “static” content that is not changed on a regular basis (such as a Twitter profile) and “interactive” content which delivers a stream of data from the organisation and consumers or other stakeholders.

With interactive content, there is generally a good deal of important contextual information that goes beyond the simple text of a post and this need capturing. This can include:

  • Actions such as “Likes” and Shares
  • Views and subscriptions to content streams
  • Phototags and hashtags
  • Page URL
  • Links
  • The nature of the conversation, in particular whether it is a public exchange or a private (e.g. Direct Message) exchange

Another important consideration for archiving is whether deleted posts can be recorded. When data collection happens on an occasional basis, for instance every day, posts that are deleted may well be lost to the archive. One solution is to record data directly via the platforms API rather than from the web.

Storing

There are a number of storage requirements for any archiving system and these include:

  • Data and information security: archives should be secure so that only authorised people can access them
  • Resilience: the will always be a need to have one or more back ups of the archive so that data can be retrieved in the event of system failure
  • Access logs: A record of who has used an archive is an important management tool – as anyone who watches “whodunits” on TV knows
  • Integrity: It is important to prevent modification or deletion of content within the archive which means that data should be stored as “read only”

Searching and retrieving

In most circumstances social media records should be searchable at least by the following:

  • Platform (e.g. Twitter) and type (e.g. re-tweets, direct messages)
  • Author
  • Date and time
  • Content “strings” (i.e. keywords and key phrases)
  • Metadata (e.g. tags on Facebook pictures)

Once data has been found then it needs to be exportable easily and in a sortable format e.g. XML.

Choosing the right tool

There are dozens of archiving tools available. Some are free, other range from low prices that an SME will find attractive to “enterprise level” expense.

And the functionality offered offers widely too, with some tools very much simple back up tools while others are more truly information management tools.

As a result choosing the right tool isn’t simple. Ideally, your requirements will be agreed by a multi-functional team composing of IT, archiving, compliance, workflow, website and social media experts. But if you are uncertain that you have the right knowledge in house, then Mosoco will be very happy to help.

Managing the corporate risks of social media

So you think you are safe with social media?Digital risks include many risks from social media

It’s true that using social media is now an established part of the marketing armoury of most organisations. But how safe is it really?

In fact social media present some potentially massive risks and it is important to be aware of these risks and to have processes for dealing with them. It may well be that these risks are covered off in your corporate digital risk management system. But if you don’t have one of these, or if (as is generally the case) it doesn’t cover off social media risks, then you will need to think carefully  about how to identify and mitigate the very real risks that stem from your company and its employees using social media.

But the first thing I want to say is: posting on Twitter or Facebook is the same as taking out an advert in a newspaper and publishing it there. IT IS NOT PRIVATE (sorry for shouting). So if you think someone might be upset by what you say on Twitter, be prepared for the consequences.

 So what about those risks?

Internal risks

It is not unknown for employees to use social media accounts to post inappropriate content about your competitors, or your suppliers. This is obviously not desirable.

It is even more common for salacious or unflattering content relating to a social event, to be posted, and this can be a problem whether or not the event has been formally sponsored by your organisation. For instance photographs of staff members behaving ‘indecorously’ at a party could have a negative effect on your company if the people involved are identified as working for it, say in a caption, or even if they are just tagged.

In addition, personal opinions that do not reflect the organisation’s position can be expressed on a social media account. This can cause confusion or, worse, affect the way people feel about your brand.

These problems are particularly great when the social media account used is owned (or appears to be owned) by your organisation. But even when employees use personal accounts problems can occur, especially where people can be identified as working for your organisation.

At least part of the answer is to develop a social media policy and then train all your staff in its use.

Social media policies

Your social media policy needs to warn people that they are responsible for anything they post online. Not everyone knows that it is possible to libel people, steal Intellectual Property (IP), and even commit criminal offences by using Twitter or Facebook. So tell them this.

It is also generally sensible to tell employees that, unless they are formal spokespeople for your organisations, any content they submit on any site where they are identified as being an employee (e.g. LinkedIn) should be tagged as being their personal opinion and not that of their employer.

But perhaps the most important part of a social media policy is to lay down some rules about what people can say about colleagues and your organisation – whether or not they are posting content at work or on work-related websites. Simple courtesy would dictate that they should not ridicule colleagues or clients. Self-preservation should indicate that they should not be unkind about their employer! Common sense? Then why are there so many ‘accidents’? A social media policy, developed for your particular circumstances, and then shared with your staff will be your first line of defence here.

Board members

Senior employees such as board members should take particular care with social media. Comments about their working day or events in their industry could have unforeseen negative effects, for instance on share price, sales or recruitment, that could in some cases even be deemed illegal.

This will obviously be the case on company-owned accounts. But for anyone remotely in the public eye, comments on private social media accounts can also have unwanted effects. Politicians seem particularly prone to this type of gaffe, perhaps because they are so closely monitored by rivals.

Malicious content

Spoof sites

Spoof and hate accounts can also be a problem for organisations. For instance disaffected employees may create accounts that focus on unflattering descriptions of an organisation.

Negative opinions expressed on a personal account must be endured, although you can choose to ignore, acknowledge or rebut them. Anyone telling lies or setting up an account falsely purporting to be an official account may well be opening themselves up to civil or legal redress although it is often a good idea for large organisations to keep the lawyers at arms length for fear of making the damage worse.

Hacking

A big risk relates to organisation social media accounts being “hacked”.

While there isn’t necessarily much that you can do against a determined and skilled hacker, care can be taken to ensure that company accounts have adequately secure passwords. Without secure passwords it can be easy for company social media accounts to be hijacked as Burger King found out in February 2013.

Image of Burger King's Twitter profile after it was hacked

Weak passwords can result in social media accounts being hijacked

Ownership risks

Who owns your company Facebook page? Is it a member of the IT team? Or has it been set up in such a way that the company owns and controls it?

Google+ and Facebook procedures mean that business “Pages” are set up from personal accounts, rather than directly by the organisation involved. If a social media enthusiast in your organisation has set up an “official” Facebook page linked to their personal Facebook account you are exposing yourself to unnecessary risk.  After all what happens if they leave?

To guard against this risk, make sure you employ an appropriate strategy when setting up these pages: get a senior trusted employee to set up the business page without using their own personal account; implement appropriate security protocols such as having strong passwords; and ensure you have  back up processes (for instance make sure the password can be found by other people) if key employees are absent.

Managing a PR crisis

Another type of external threat is that of consumers reacting badly about a product or brand and causing a PR crisis.

While this doesn’t happen that often, it is important to be aware of the potential for a PR crisis and to have plans for mitigating them. Listen, prepare and practice.

Listen

Monitoring social media is a very effective way (indeed the only way) of identifying an approaching crisis so that action can be taken before it happens. Ideally you will be monitoring social media constantly – especially if you are providing a constant service such as an airline.

Monitoring social media can be time consuming (there are a lot of conversations going on around the world after all) and difficult. It can be done in a variety of ways and, depending on the goals defined in your strategy, can cost very little or a substantial amount. It is however important to ensure that someone in your team has responsibility for monitoring any mentions of your organisation in social media. They will need the authority to respond and/or  a process for bringing significant conversations to the attention of appropriate decision makers.

There are many free social media monitoring tools, such as socialmention.com. These are fine if you don’t want to extract a lot of data. For instance it will normally be quickly apparent when a crisis is growing as the number of negative mentions of your organisation or brand will be rising rapidly. However, using a paid service is likely to be easier and safer if your brand is of any size.

Be prepared

It is important to have plans in place to enable appropriate actions to be taken in the event of a crisis. Getting a quick press release out is no longer sufficient. You need to be able to respond, rapidly, in the places where the crisis is building. This is likely to be on Twitter, Facebook or YouTube.

How to prepare? Well, the first thing to do is to imagine the most likely types of crisis. Is it a faulty product, a rogue employee comment, a marketing campaigns that has gone wrong? Identify these potential crises and then create a set of template communications that you can use.

Some of these will probably be holding statements along the lines of “We are urgently looking into this”. Others will be tactical responses such as “We are withdrawing this product line”. They won’t be appropriate if and when a crisis does strike. But they will help you rapidly develop a set of communications designed to manage the crisis.

In addition you will need to set up a triage and escalation process. You will need to define what counts as a crisis (if you are a large brand a handful of unhappy customers probably doesn’t – although insights from these people should be passed to appropriate teams) and you will need to put in place appropriate roles and responsibilities so that predefined people have the authority to react in certain ways. An escalation process for a large crisis is also needed.

Practice makes perfect

It is great having a set of template responses and an emergency team in place. But practising those responses will be invaluable. Social media crises can move very rapidly and this can take people by surprise. They can be very stressful. And the messages you have to deal with can be personal and hurtful.

Setting up a pretend crisis, flooding your response team, with messages from ‘angry’ consumers and giving them the opportunity to practice their responses is the only way to prepare them for a real crisis. In addition it is an essential way of testing whether your template responses and your escalation processes are robust.

A stitch in time…

Social media risk isn’t the same as “digital risk”; so even if you have a digital risk management process in place your organisation may well still be open to considerable social media risk. And managing that social media risk will not be simple. But it can be done, even if you can never avoid any risk completely. 

So if you are worried that your organisation may be exposed to social media risk, or if you would like to know more about how to listen to social media buzz, how to plan for social media emergencies, or how to practice your response,  then call mosoco on 07855 341 589 or email us on hello@mosoco.co.uk. We would love to chat.

Social media for B2B organisations: a topline review

Introduction

How can businesses use social media to promote themselves to other businesses?

Reasons for using social media include: CRM and managing customer complaints; developing insights into target audiences for new product development and communication proposition development; and crisis management.

However, there are lots of marketing benefits to using social media and these include:

  • Developing a thought-leadership position
  • Promoting awareness of new products and services
  • Identifying prospects

The post is deliberately simple. A lot of business leaders are not experts in social media (why should they be?) So, if you are a business leader in the B2B space who is curious about why your company is using social media, or whether it should be, then this post should be useful to you.

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LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a powerful business tool for small and large companies. As well as being a way that individual employees can build up networks, it is also an essential part of any business-to-business social media strategy.

There are three main assets to consider when developing your company LinkedIn strategy:

  1. The company LinkedIn page
  2. The groups that you or your employees become a member of
  3. The LinkedIn pages of your employees, especially senior ones

Using LinkedIn is free, although it is possible to subscribe to the premium service where you will get more information about who is visiting your pages. You can also pay to promote your presence on LinkedIn.

The company LinkedIn page

Your company LinkedIn page can be seen as an extension of your website. But it can reach LinkedIn members more easily than your website.

Your company LinkedIn page should contain basic data about your organisation as well as information about your products and services; you can also use it to display job opportunities.

Where possible, clients should be encouraged to provide endorsements of your products and services that you can post on the site

The intention should be to generate as large a group of “followers” as possible, as you will be able to communicate with these people directly on LinkedIn. You don’t need thousands though: aiming for around 100 is a good start and will generate real returns.

Updates

Once the company page is set up, plan to provide your followers with interesting “status updates” (company news, events etc) as well as attracting people who are searching for particular topics on your page. With a large number of followers you can segment the information you send out.

Linkedin Groups

Joining groups

Encourage employees to join relevant LinkedIn groups and to contribute intelligent and thought-provoking comments to discussions. Simply search for keywords and then click “open groups” under “categories” on the left of the results page to filter out results that are not groups.

Plan to monitor the discussions within a few groups on a daily basis and make intelligent contributions when (and only when) you have something useful to say.

Launching groups

It is possible to launch a new group based around a particular interest area. Finding a niche for a new group can position your company as a thought leader. However there is little point in doing this if there are well established and well used groups that will compete with your new group; so look for niche topics or perhaps set up a group intended to appeal to people in a particular geographical area.

LinkedIn pages

Senior company executives should all have LinkedIn pages. But all staff should be encouraged to sign up and spend a little time each week in developing and managing their LinkedIn profile and activities such as joining groups and contributing to discussions.

Employees, especially senior ones, should be encouraged to link their page to the company website in their profile settings. Ideally their description of their role and their background will contain key words and phrases you wish people to associate with your company.

A good example of a company LinkedIn page is Hewlett –Packard. Here’s an example of an interesting HP post on their LinkedIn page.

Twitter

Twitter is a “microblogging” service which allows you to publish short (140 characters) content, known as “tweets”. These posts can include links to images, videos and other documents.

Twitter is another very powerful tool for businesses. While it is often used as a customer service tool (increasingly consumers use it to complain or ask questions about products) it is also a useful promotional tool. It doesn’t cost anything to set up a Twitter profile and to start tweeting although you can always pay to promote your tweets if you think they are worth it.

Profile

The first thing a company needs to do on Twitter is to set up one (or more) accounts. For each account there is an opportunity to set up a small profile page on which you can share a sentence about your company, an address, and a website, together with your logo or an image you can use as a promotional tool.

Posting

By posting tweets about topics you hope your prospects and customers will be interested in you can generate sustained awareness of your business and create a position of thought-leadership. The idea is that people will come across your tweets and if they find them interesting they will “follow” you on Twitter in the hope of getting more interesting information.

There are a few guidelines to follow if you are going to get the most out of Twitter:

  • It is important not just to blow your own trumpet by telling people about your products and services all the time. Use Twitter to generate kudos for your company by sharing useful information from third parties.
  • Send out tweets several times a week, and ideally several times a day. But don’t overdo it. If you send out dozens of tweets everyday you will simply overwhelm people and they will stop following you.
  • Good tweets will be shared (“re-tweeted”) by people. Observe what sort of content gets shared and create more of it.
  • Include “hashtags” in your tweets. Hashtags are keywords that are preceded by a # sign (e.g. #socialmedia) and they will identify your tweet as being relevant to people looking for information about a particular topic.

Campaigning

You can be quite targeted with Twitter. If you want to identify people with particular interests you can do so. For instance a social media service provider might be interested in people talking about using social media; in contrast a manufacturer of printers might be interested in finding influential bloggers who write about office technology as identifying individual printer customers might not be commercially effective.

Tools like twtrland (which starts at about £150 a year) enable you to identify people who talk about your brand, the most influential people in a topic area, or individuals in particular locations who are tweeting about particular subjects. You can then start conversations with these people.

Blogging sites

Blogging sites are where you will probably do the “heavy lifting” part of your thought leadership activities. Blogs are unrestricted in length (although your readers’ attention span will be!) and can contain imagery and videos to make them more attractive.

Blogging is a fairly simple process: it involves sending out a stream of content on a reasonably regular basis. No need to do it every hour, or even every day. But you should aim to write a blog piece once a week or so. These should be designed to showcase and share research and insights you may have, and should contain those key words and phrases you wish to promote online. It is OK to blog about your products and services as well, but if you just write about them you won’t get many people following you!

Remember to use Twitter to tweet about your posts and mention them in your LinkedIn updates as well.

Sites like wordpress.com make it very easy to set up a new blog and it doesn’t have to cost you anything: you don’t need any design skills as there are lots of template designs you can choose, including plenty of free ones.

Google+

Google+ is a rapidly growing social network (it has several hundred million users worldwide), a little like Facebook. It is important in its own right, but also because the Google search engine will rank content on Google+ more highly than the same content it finds elsewhere. So there are obvious advantages to placing your content there.

Once you have created a company Google account and Google+ page you need to do the following:

Circles

Identify some topic areas and then start following relevant people and pages and add them to the appropriate circle .That way you don’t have to share your posts with everyone you are following.  For instance, you could have different circles for clients, prospects, journalists etc

Posting

Once you build a network of people you can start interacting with them by content. You can do this directly on the page or automatically –  for instance by linking blog posts so that they appear on your Google+ page.

By tagging people or businesses and using relevant hashtags you can make your presence on Google+ stand out more and be more relevant.

Communities

Communities on Google+ are a bit like LinkedIn groups: places where you can have debates, leave questions and post answers. By participating in them you will not only be able to engage with other people, you will have the potential to enhance you thought-leadership.

The best of the rest

If you blog, tweet, network at LinkedIn and join in with Google+ communities you will be doing a great deal of social media marketing. There are dozens of other online communities of course. But you can’t do everything.

So once you have covered the basics you need to decide whether you have the resources to get involved elsewhere:

  • If you feel that images and photographs are particularly relevant to your brand then Pinterest may be something to consider.
  • If your audience is quite specific, for instance accountants, then a specialist community like accountingweb might be what you need.
  • If you are recruiting large numbers of people or are having difficulty recruiting the right calibre of applicant then perhaps a presence on Facebook will enable you to promote the more informal and fun side to working at your company
  • If you have the resources to create videos about your products and services then YouTube will also be a natural home.

All of these and more will be relevant in certain circumstances and for certain organisations. But, as we said above, you can’t do everything so deciding on which ones to focus on will depend on your objectives, your resources, and your business profile.

Want to know more? Get in touch with mosoco: email us at hello@mosoco.co.uk to ask us a question about this post or to see how we can help with your social media marketing.

Showrooming: part 3

In my previous blog post I described how high street shop owners could combat showrooming by focussing on the things that shoppers like about physical shops.

The paper from Ericsson that I mentioned in my last post also analyses what people dislike about shopping in high street stores and compares this with the reasons people like shopping online.

This is of course useful information for any retailer who wants to identify how to persuade people to buy things in their stores rather than using them as showrooms and then shopping online. There are also some lessons here for retailers who want to reduce showrooming.

According to Ericsson, 51% of shoppers dislike physical shops because of the crowds and the queues. Perhaps there are lessons to be learned from theme parks here. Retailers could at least make the process of queuing to pay a little less boring. I am not suggesting they should get staff to dress up as Mickey Mouse and sing to the waiting shoppers! But retailers could at least provide music or video to people waiting in line. Willing buyers deserting their intended purchases because they are bored of queuing is a significant cause of lost sales and possibly a driver of showrooming behaviour.

The ability to compare prices and research items is a strong reason that many people (71%) like on-line shopping. Retailers can counter this strength by providing adequate information to enable people to research in store, perhaps through kiosks or of course adequately trained sales teams.

Another thing 33% of shoppers dislike is the fact that they are unable to go shopping 24/7 on the high street. This can’t, by its nature, be a major cause of showrooming. And it is hard to counter that except by reminding shoppers of the retailer’s website and perhaps promoting “when we are closed” offers that deliver some extra value to people shopping outside store opening hours.

Next in the line of shopper “hates” is poor service. Interestingly a lack of sales pressure is given as a reason for liking on-line shopping by 59% of shoppers. It should not be beyond retailers to provide good service together with a lack of sales pressure. Certainly grocery chains and DIY “sheds” seem to have this problem largely solved. However, poor service in shops as well as pushy sales people may well be reasons that people shop on-line but they are less likely to be drivers of showrooming behaviour.

Having a greater selection of items available is given as a reason to shop on-line by a majority (61%) of shoppers. However, only 12% of shoppers say they dislike shops because of the lack of choice. Indeed, reducing choice can often drive up conversion rates as people find it easier to select an item that suits them when they are not confused by having too many options. However, high street shops could usefully integrate their on-line shops into their high street shops. An example here is John Lewis: a shopper looking for an item that is out of stock in a particular store is likely to be taken to the John Lewis website by a shop assistant and sold the item on-line for home deliver or later “click and collect”.

Showrooming is a certainly problem for some retail categories, although perhaps not as large a problem as is sometimes made out, but there are definitely many things that retailers can do to combat it, both by enhancing the things that people like about high street shopping and by dealing with the reasons have for prefering on-line retail.