The retailer significantly scaled up its paid efforts, while also increasing its use of videos.

5.00% of the consumers who arrived at Wayfair.com last year clicked to the home furnishings giant’s e-commerce site from a social network. That’s more than double the percentage, 2.45%, who arrived at the site from a social network in 2016. Moreover, that doubling of social networks’ share of Wayfair’s traffic came at a time when Wayfair’s monthly traffic was soaring. In terms of raw numbers, the number of consumers who clicked from a social network to Wayfair.com soared 258% to a monthly average of 3.26 million from 911,951 in 2016.

That growth reflects Wayfair significantly scaling up its paid and organic social media marketing efforts to reach its customers where they’re spending their time online, says Jessica Jacobs, director of marketing at Wayfair, No. 16 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 500.

“We want to be where our customers are,” she says. “As more of our customers shop on their mobile devices, we want them to be where they’re looking, which is increasingly on social media. So, that’s where we’re focused on helping them discover our great content.”

The retailer also adjusted its content mix. For instance, video last year became an increasingly important role in the retailer’s content strategy on Facebook and Instagram. While the retailer began aggressively experimenting with video in 2016, those early efforts failed to produce strong results because consumers didn’t respond to the repurposed videos.

By taking a “test-and-learn” approach, Wayfair examined how shoppers reacted to different products, different elements within the videos, different lengths, different speeds, even different colors for the actors’ clothing. It found that “bite-size,” faster-than-normal videos with quick cuts, graphics and bright colors work particularly well—as do those that feature “unique products that solve problems in a unique way,” she says. The idea, she says, is to immediately capture the attention of a consumer who may be waiting in a line and doesn’t have much time or patience to watch a slow-developing video.

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For example, the retailer posted a video in May 2017 featuring a “Trailer Hitch Stand Cotton Chair Hammock with Stand.” The product is unusual; it’s two hanging chairs that hook into the back of a truck. And the video features a red version of the chairs, quick cuts and graphics that spell out the item’s attributes and how it works. The video, which has more than 13 million views, drove immediate engagement as Facebook users tagged their friends in the comments to expose them to the product, Jacobs says, which led Wayfair to pay to promote the video to more consumers.

 

While some retailers consider videos on Facebook a way to boost brand or product awareness, Wayfair aims for every ad it runs to produce measurable results. “We’re performance-based marketers,” she says. “We want to drive visits and sales with everything we do.”

To help drive sales, Wayfair’s videos include a note guiding shoppers to shop the product, along with a link to its site. The retailer also has significantly increased its use of Facebook’s dynamic ads over the past year. The ad format—which enables a brand to automatically promote products to shoppers who have expressed interest on the brand’s website, app or elsewhere on the internet—helped contribute to Wayfair’s 53% growth during the five-day Thanksgiving weekend, Jacobs says.

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Facebook accounts for 74.3% of Wayfair’s social media-driven traffic, according to digital measurement firm SimilarWeb Ltd. The social network is particularly effective for Wayfair because of its massive user base and a user base in line with the retailer’s target demographic of women who are 35- to 65-years-old.

The retailer also has found success on Pinterest, which accounts for 16.6% of its social media traffic—in part because the social network suits Wayfair’s demographics. Pinterest says 70% of its 200 million monthly active users are women, and 40% of its users have made a home décor purchase within the past six months. And Wayfair’s internal data suggests that the customer lifetime value of consumers acquired via Pinterest is higher than average, she says.

That’s what led Wayfair to test shopping campaigns on Pinterest, which enable it to promote its products with ads in Pinterest’s search results. The retailer used the social network’s tools to automatically create pins for its millions of SKUs. After generating strong results from its test of a handful of shopping campaigns in December 2016, the retailer expanded its use of the format four months later.

Pinterest’s shopping campaigns pull product information and images directly from the company’s online catalog, which enables a retailer like Wayfair to create pins for each of its SKUs. The automation enabled Wayfair to save time creating ads, as well as to dynamically update ads based on inventory levels. And by presenting them when consumers are searching, it is reaching them when they’re likely in the market for Wayfair’s products.

“People search Pinterest when they’re thinking about home, design and renovations,” Jacobs says. Wayfair, she says, wants them finding its products when they’re in that mindset. That’s why it quickly ramped up the program, which has driven incremental traffic and revenue, she says.

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