Today is the eve of the official start of the "holiday season" in the U.S. Retail businesses have been preparing their inventory, ads, and employees for the last few months in hopes to really boost sales this year.
In a perfect world, most holiday season ads are already finalized and scheduled, but there's always the opportunity for retailers to gain a little extra publicity every day through different types of engagements with their customers.
Types of Customer Engagements
Regardless if it's around the holiday dinner table, a conversation amongst friends or a public post on social media, your customers will talk about you all the time. While private referrals from family and friends are often cited as the best types of sales leads for retail jewelers, you should always be on the lookout for everything that's publicly said about you on social media.
Make sure to monitor all possible social accounts for mention of your hashtag or your brand name. Customers who tag you in their post are often hoping you will notice them, so take the time to reply back to with a simple thank you or a value added comment to keep the conversation going.
Referrals between friends and family and social mentions online are known as organic actions that help a business. These organic actions are often slow and untraceable. There are ways to kickstart a positive conversation with your customers with the use of promotions that requires their engagement.
Oftentimes, this promotions require a customer to share a photo or post a review, and while these promotions are perfectly fine, the business owner must provide participation directions to ensure that the customer is following the appropriate FTC disclosure guidelines.
Customer Engagement Guidelines
Some retail stores might invite consumers to post a photo socially as a way to get an extra discount or get involved in a special promotion. For example, you might offer a discount off a purchase if a customer to post a selfie while wearing a pair of earrings, or a necklace. Requiring them to post that selfie first is considered a non-organic compensated endorsement that must be disclosed. It's your responsibility to instruct the customer to include the hashtag #ad at the beginning of the description of the social post.
On the other hand, you could create an engaging activity where the customers show how they are using or wearing your product without any compensation. When it comes to social media, some people are always looking for reasons to post their next selfie. Imagine having a special area of your store where customers could try on the best jewelry you have in your store. They might not buy it, but it would be fun to try on. A simple suggestion for them to take a selfie and share it with their friends might be enough to create uncompensated social media exposure. Just make sure the "special area" of your store has your name strategically positioned to appear in the background of the selfie.
Hoping for more reviews online? The best way to get them is by simply asking your customers to write an honest review after they've made a purchase. You can also contact customers and interview them about their purchase and shopping experience, then use those interviews as testimonials in your ads and on your website.
Uncompensated testimonials are the best to have; otherwise, you must somehow disclose that you paid the person to give a review. Here are some specifics
- Ask customers to write an honest online review after they've completed the purchase transaction from you. Don't mention compensation at all, or any future discounts in exchange for the review.
- When asking the customer for a written review, don't tell them that the review might be featured in future advertising. The FTC guidelines specifically state that some people equate a value with the opportunity to get their name out in public, and that is equivalent to compensation. So just don't tell them.
- You can send the person a low value thank you gift after they write the review, just do not elude to any potential gift when you ask for the review. Also, the gift must be a onetime gift. You can't send them another gift for writing a second review a while later. The FTC wants to prevent customers from expecting compensation with each review, and therefore the reviews become biased.
Find Out More
The FTC Endorsement Guides are meant to protect consumers from being unfairly influenced into a purchase. Instead of reading the full guide, you can just read this Q&A page to find answers to common questions. They make it easy for anyone to understand without the need to consult with a lawyer.