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[Study] How I scaled an eCommerce business orders by 86% using Facebook Live.
I first encountered Sharon “Sharoomba” Ankava on Twitter during 2012, when many of my friends interacted and retweeted her content, so I decided to follow her as well to see the full picture. During that time Sharoomba was a very small business owner, providing cosmetic treatments on demand for her customers at their chosen location. It was clear to see that Sharoomba had a very vivid and strong community following her everywhere and as much as cosmetics mean nothing to me, I soon became part of her community, as she kept on sharing with us private and sometime intimate details about her personal life and business, which later grew to her own Cosmetics Salon followed by her own branded line of cosmetic products.
Why is this relevant to this case study? Recently, Sharoomba and I produced her first Facebook Live session to see if we can use this new platform to sell her products and promote her online store, it was a huge success. What do you need in order to sell on Facebook Live? How do you measure success? Read this article to get all the details.
I’ll jump right to the end because it’s the most interesting stuff. Anyway, to achieve such results you better read the entire article.
TL;DR one-liner: Sharoomba’s website went down so she had to extend the sale from 3 hours to the end of the weekend.
86% order growth, 34% rise in page likes, 35% increase in pageviews.
Sharoomba’s average amount of orders per month, in the 3 months before December, is 60 orders. During the Facebook Live online sale she got 52 new orders, leading to a very successful December (which is a slow month in general) with over 90 orders overall. Since the Facebook Live went online on Thursday evening, the Website crashed shortly after it ended and she had to extend the online sale to the rest of the weekend to keep her customer’s demand.
Her gross revenue jumped by 15% compared to the 3 months average, it’s a bit low due to the fact that it was a sale and customers enjoyed some high discounts on specific products.
As for her Website traffic, it grew by 20% in unique users visiting her website during December with a growth of 35% in pageviews. The average of pages per session grew by 22% (from 2.83 to 3.62) and the average time on site grew in almost 30 second (from 2:13 to 2:41).
Sharoomba’s Facebook business page grew organically from 2,500 likes to 3,700 likes (34%) in the few days after the broadcast.
How did we get this exponential growth?
It took me exactly 3 months and 10 days since I first pitched Sharoomba with my “let’s make a Facebook Live session” idea until we went live. During that time Sharoomba was either very busy or afraid no one will actually want to watch it and we will end up alone on Facebook Live, she won’t have anything to talk about or how to talk to the camera. Those concerns are very common, but are easy to solve once you have someone to guide you through the process.
We took baby steps, building up towards our goal, which was going live eventually. We found a few dates Sharoomba had a free night and decided it would be best to go live late evening, around 9PM, as her target audience is mostly busy women and young moms, so either they should be after work or after the kids went to sleep.
Since it was December we had to think on relevant content to talk about, Sharoomba decided to talk about beauty tips for the winter season and started preparing her website for the sale. Since her Website CRM was too time consuming with creating specific coupon for each product, we decided it would be a better experience if certain categories will get general discount with no coupons.
Two weeks prior the live show Sharoomba created a Facebook Event, to which she invited her friends and customers. Every few days she posted a teaser on discounted products or asked the attendees what products and what colors do they prefer to be discounted, helping her understand what’s the most interesting products and colors in her collection. She also asked her friends to invite more relevant people to the event, as she had only organic promotion.
Since I’ve been experimenting and producing Facebook Live shows for the past few months, I double checked with Sharoomba about the internet specs in her salon, unfortunately it was below what Facebook demands for Live streams (2.3 Mbps upload) so we moved the location to her house, which she promised me had a very strong and stable connection, which ended up with 0.75 Mbps upload speed over WIFI. There was some lag during the live show, but since Sharoomba has such a strong community and they really wanted to see her live and hear all about the sale, they stuck to their screens and forgave any technical issue we encountered, Sharoomba had to answer some of the questions 2-3 times.
We made a decision to stream the video from Sharoomba’s private profile, which had around 1.5K friends at that time and not from her business page with 2.5K likes. The reason for that is mainly due to the face that private profiles get a lot more engagement and go viral way better than business pages, plus- most chances are that more friends on her private profile will get a push notification she is live than from her business page. It was a tough decision as private profile doesn’t have any stats and numbers after the video is offline on the reach and unique amount of viewers like business pages have, but our main goal was to prove Facebook Live can sell online, and not show fancy stats and high numbers.
Important to say we invested nothing in promoting this broadcast/ event on Facebook
Going live on Facebook (How to perfect your Facebook Live Process)
I used a small camcorder mounted on a tripod and a shot-gun mic, all connected to a laptop with a Magewell USB video card and streamed through the Belive.tv platform, so it will boost the engagement rate with on-screen comments.
Since this wasn’t a high level production with assistants running around for sound checks and lighting improvements, Sharoomba and I did everything ourselves. Once I hit the Go Live button it took me a few seconds to see we are live, by that time we already had 34 viewers, commenting, reacting and sharing the stream on their newsfeeds without us even asking. The power of a strong community.
The camera and viewers loved Sharoomba, as she aced the broadcast and managed it second by second: She made sure to mention every viewer and tell a small anecdote about how they met or tell a funny story about their relationship, this led to even more comments. She also made sure to answer each and every question her viewers asked, while I showed them in the live video for all to see, which led to more people asking more questions, hoping to appear on-screen. Between answering question and talking about her tips for the winter season, Sharoomba made sure to paste links for discounted products every few minutes, making her viewers wait for more products and more discounts.
We were live on Facebook for a good hour and a half, ending the live show with 1.4K online views (which since multiplied), 170 reactions and 312 (!) comments, the biggest amount I’ve seen from such little audience. Having so many comments (and a few shares) really helped us reach new audience by making the video post go viral organically in other people’s newsfeeds.
A few final words about Social, live streaming, growth and your business
Using Facebook Live can generate online sales, no doubt. But in order for it to work and get good results one has to think through and create an action plan, supported by a good user experience in the online store to complete the customer’s journey from Facebook. With no budget we managed not only to generate online sales but to grow the community and reach greater audience to bring in new customers. The Facebook Live platform is the perfect tool for small business owners and self employed professionals who are the display window of their business.
Here is Sharoomba’s summary to her first Facebook Live experience:
“I can honestly say, I did not expect such results. December is a tough month in my business and the live broadcast saved it. In my wildest dreams I did not think we would get such an amazing amount of Reactions, Comments and Shares, all leading to many sales during and after the live stream. I would certainly do more live sessions, even if not for selling products, but to stay in touch with my community and answer professional questions I get quite often”.