Many brick and mortar retailers feel going digital is a waste of time. However, this is far from the truth because proper digital retail marketing strategies can yield significant returns. Retailers avoid marketing online also because they are apprehensive about trying something new and not succeeding.
But trust me, if you don’t switch over from traditional marketing strategies, it’s going to hurt your business big time.
This post is designed to familiarize you with the various ways you can promote your brick & mortar store online. And as Seth Godin wisely put it, your marketing strategy should involve telling a story instead of selling a product. And what better place to tell a story than the place where there is the most number of ears to listen?.
Why use digital retail marketing strategies?
You might ask yourself why you should use online retail marketing strategies in the first place? What’s wrong with the traditional ways of marketing?
The simple answer to this is- you need to market where there are people to market to. And where else can you find people if not on the internet? That’s where approximately 4 Billion people(more than 50% of the world’s population) hang out.
Therefore, the internet has become the best place to reach a massive number of people. The costs of marketing online are also significantly lower than marketing through traditional media. Most importantly, it’s much easier to measure the effectiveness of your retail marketing strategies. Using analytics, you can find out exactly how much implementing your retail marketing strategies has affected your bottom line, something that’s not possible with traditional marketing.
If you’re still not convinced about the effectiveness of online retail marketing strategies, read how other retailers such as yourself are implementing their strategies and why.
7 digital retail marketing strategies
There are quite a few ways you can utilize the internet to reach people, and each method has its own unique purpose. Let’s start with the basic and most obvious strategies:
1. Create your alter-ego(Start a website):
If you haven’t already, it’s the first thing you should do because a site gives you an online identity, an alter ego if you will. It provides a tangible form with which you can interact with customers. It can even be a store on its own and act as a place for you to sell online.
There a few things to keep in mind while starting your website, to ensure maximum returns:
a. Website personality:
Since your site is going to be your online avatar, it needs to have a personality quite similar to your physical store. Use the same colors, fonts, and themes that you associate with your brick and mortar store, on your website as well. This is because it can help customers identify with your stores easily, whether online or offline.
A site’s design is quite significant. Just like how the layout of your store impacts the sales of items, so does your site’s layout. The layout should be optimized depending on what you want to get out of your website.
For example, If you want your website visitors to buy items directly from your site, then your layout should focus on highlighting your bestselling items and should provide an option for buying online.
Or, if you want visitors to sign up for your newsletters and exclusive discounts, then your layout should include and show contact/sign-up forms prominently.
c. Optimize for Search engines:
This is perhaps the most important reason why you need a website. If you have a site, then you have a chance to appear in search engine results. Why is this important, you ask? This is important since people search about things they want to know, do, or sometimes buy. If you can manage to appear in front of these users, who are looking for something that you offer, chances are, they might end up buying from you. That’s free customers for you. The primary goal of your website must be to appear in the search engines as much as possible. More on this later.
2. Start a blog- Because content is KING
Remember me telling you how marketing is about telling stories rather than selling products? That’s what blogs are all about. If you have a story to tell, put it in a blog and share it for the world to see. But that’s not all a blog is for.
Your customers are always asking questions online. Blogging about their problems and solutions is a great way to build trust and establish yourself as an expert. More importantly, it plays a vital role in improving your ranking on search engines and thus attracts more eyeballs to your brand/store.
To those who don’t like to write, blogging doesn’t have to be about words alone. You can even have a picture blog or a video blog. All that matters is that your customers either find it likable or useful
Blogging is probably the most under-utilized retail marketing strategy, but ironically it could be the most rewarding.
Social media is extremely useful for retail stores in particular. Any social media is full of potential customers who are looking for something interesting in their news feeds. If you can appear in front of them, then you have a high chance of making sales.
The initial step involves creating a social media page and actively posting any type of content in it. Blogs, videos, store pictures, announcements and even offers are some of the things you can post.
There are a few different ways you can use social media as one of your retail marketing strategies:
a. Run Ad campaigns:
Social media ads cost money, but they can be a great way to promote your store. They let you target the demographics you want and get your brand in front of the right people. With the right Ad campaign strategy, you can get the best bang for your bucks. A few things to keep in mind when creating a social media Ad
- A catchy heading is must: It should answer the question ” why should I click this ad?”.
- A well-designed image to catch the reader’s attention.
- An irresistible offer.
- Well placed call to action.
b. Form a community:
If you operate a retail store that sells niche items, you will definitely have customers who are like-minded or share similar interests. For example, if you own a video game store, most of your customers would be people who love games.
If you can form a community on a social media that caters to the needs of its members in a unique way, you can attract a lot of more customers through word of mouth alone. Your existing members would recommend the group to their friends, who will recommend it to others and so on. Of course, all this depends on how exciting and/or interactive the group is.
Conduct regular events to keep the group lively and active. Suppose you are a retailer who sells adventure equipment, your customers will probably be those who love to go on adventures. So you can organize trekking and camping events from your social group to involve these adventure lovers and keep them engaged.
A community or group can help develop long-lasting relationships with your customers. If the group is fascinating and fun, it can go viral and be really successful.
c. Target niche groups:
There are a lot of groups on social media which actually function as a marketplace. A lot of them have thousands of members, all looking to buy and sell products online. Join these groups and promote your store and items. It’s a free marketing opportunity that you don’t want to miss.
Post announcements about your store and give away exclusive discounts to encourage people to visit your physical store. Or you can just the group to directly sell items to the customers.
Suggested read: 10 customer engagement channels that retailers MUST use
4. SEO & SEM because… Google!
Search engine optimization is the process of configuring your website in such a way that it ranks better on search engines like google, bing, etc. SEO is a vast subject, and there are hundreds of techniques to improve your website’s SEO. But as one of the retail marketing strategies, I’m just going to talk about just a few techniques:
- Backlink building: A backlink is any link that points to your website from an external website. Think of them as a vote. If a website links to your site, then it counts as a vote. The more websites link to you, the more votes you have and the higher will be your search engine rankings.
- Keyword optimization: Think like your customer and find out how they will search for your products or store on google. The word or phrase they use is called the keyword/keyword phrase. The more keywords you have on your website, the higher your rankings.
- Blogging: As mentioned already, blogs improve your SEO because they will contain a lot of your keywords in them. Additionally, your blog can often be a source of backlinks for your website because if your content is good, people are going to share or reference it.
Improve local SEO:
Local SEO provides superb opportunities for retail stores to increase footfall in stores. If you optimize your local SEO, you will rank higher in search engines for people close to your store’s location. Thus, it’s highly likely that people who were never aware of you will end up in your store sooner than you think since you’re quite close to them.
Search engine marketing is nothing but the ads you see on the search results page. SEM is one of the best retail marketing strategies since it allows you to appear in front of people who are already searching for products you have.
Therefore, it naturally has a high conversion rate, assuming you target the right keywords and your website’s design is impeccable. The cost too is quite reasonable, and since it allows you to set an upper limit, you can always control how aggressively you pursue SEM. With SEM, you only pay if someone clicks on your add. Otherwise, it’s free.
As an added bonus, SEM improves your organic rankings too. A trick I’ve learned is to set my daily ads budget in google so low that it never shows up in the results. But since I’m doing SEM, my organic ranking will improve just like that!
5. Influence the influencers
Influencers are people who are much sought-after and are followed by thousands of people. You can influence these influencers to leverage one of your best retail marketing strategies- influencer marketing.
The idea is that an influencer’s opinion can practically drive thousands of sales for a retail store. This is because an influencer’s views are considered very valuable and are accepted by their followers without a second thought. If an influencer were to say your store is fantastic, most of his/her followers would probably become your customers just because the influencer said so. That is how much power they have!
Here’s how you can get started with influencer marketing as one of the retail marketing strategies for your store:
- Identify: The first step is to identify influencers related to your niche. You can do this by following the procedure mentioned here.
- Introduce: Once you identify the influencers, you want to reach out to them and introduce yourself and your store.
- Invite: If they respond positively, your next step is to invite them to your store and give him/her a great experience
- Follow-up: Sometimes, if an influencer really believes your store provides excellent value, he/she will voice out his opinion without having to be asked. Other times, you need to follow-up, ask him about his experience and thoughts and request him to promote your store. More often, influencers charge for this kind of promotion, but it’s totally worth the expense.
6. Email to their heart’s content:
Email marketing is still one of the most popular ways to market a business. Close to 3 Billion people use email regularly and if that’s not enough, a study shows that 75% of people prefer business transactions via emails.
Thus it’s no surprise that email marketing is one of the best digital retail marketing strategies. Email is very effective primarily of it’s personalized nature. Here are a few ways you can email marketing.
a. Send newsletters:
Use email marketing to send regular newsletters to your subscribers. The newsletters may be blogs, videos or announcements that you think might interest the customer. Newsletters help to build a relationship and establishes trust with customers.
b. Send personalized offers:
Emails can also be used to send personalized offers to customers. You can even give appropriate suggestions for the customer based on his/her previous purchases.
You might have some customers who haven’t shopped in your store for quite a while. You can re-activate these customers with a personalized message and offer.
Suggested read: Get started with retail email marketing with these 5 steps
7. Ride out a viral wave
Most people only talk about something that’s viral- an interesting/controversial video, an amazing picture, a great movie etc. But you don’t want to be most people, do you? Let me answer that for you- NO you don’t. Not if you want to use the viral video/movie as a springboard for marketing your store and products.
Anything that’s viral spreads like wildfire and is gobbled up by people all over the world. You must have noticed how memes constructed around a viral phenomenon are just as popular as the viral phenomenon itself. The memes are just riding out the viral wave, using the popularity of the viral phenomenon to become popular themselves.
That’s exactly what you’re going to do with your store. The only ingredients you’ll need are a viral phenomenon and some creativity. Use the popularity of the viral phenomenon to your advantage by relating it to your store or brand. Here is an example of how Amul did it quite well. They used the viral video of Priya Varrier winking and came up with a doodle that became just as famous:
Retailers with physical shops can longer afford to run a completely offline business with no online presence. Since customers, these days prefer to search online first before visiting the store, it would do you good to ensure they find you online. For that, you need to use the best digital retail marketing strategies that include, but are not limited to
- Starting a website: An online version of your store to interact virtually with customers.
- Blogging: To establish yourself as an expert and provide valuable tips for shopping, that customer would love to get.
- Social media: To form a group or join existing groups and engage with customers in real time and promote your store and products.
- SEO & SEM: To appear in search results so customers can find you easier and quicker.
- Influencer marketing: To take advantage of an influencer’s social reach to promote your store through him/her.
- Email marketing: To send personalized offers and messages and to generally engage with customers through newsletters and announcements.
- Leverage viral videos: Use the popularity of viral videos to your advantgae by coming up with creative ways to use it in your marketing.
Do you need help with retail marketing? Then try out CASA’s retail marketing software and increase your customer acquisition and sales. Sign up for free and find out how CASA can help your store