Every industry can benefit from online marketing and should make it a top priority. But, often times – especially when it comes to small businesses – it can be a challenge to embrace newer marketing channels and technologies.

In a recent survey of retailers, only 56% found digital marketing a priority to their overall business strategy. And yet, according to eMarketer, spending on digital ads in the retail industry will grow 15.8% in 2017 (and growth will continue by double-digit percentages through 2020).

Retail digital marketing gives your business added exposure online, and can be focused in your area and in your market. Digital marketing can connect you directly with consumers and connect those consumers directly to your business online — or even send them there in person (according to Google, searches that include the phrase “near me” have grown 2X in the past year!).

drive online traffic for retail foot traffic

We have put together a few key tactics to help local retail business connect to the right customers, at the right time, in the right places.

Keep your business address, hours and contact info updated – everywhere

Whether someone is searching for what you do or sell (and not your business, specifically) or a consumer is ready to purchase from your store, you want to make sure they get what they’re looking for in their search. To catch different kinds of prospects you’ll want to stay updated in a few key places.

On your website

Be sure there is always a way for a visitor to take immediate action: that could be through a phone number (with a click-to-call option on mobile), a contact form, an email address they can contact, a physical address they can visit or some other means of direct connection. Whichever communication method you’ve had the most success converting potential customers with, make sure that one is the most obvious call to action they see when they get to your site.

On your listings

Make sure your customers are not left guessing or frustrated when they got to your location only to find that you are closed – keep your information updated! Every business should make sure to claim and verify their location and set up their Google My Business account (if you haven’t yet, you can learn how to in our recent webinar on getting the most out of Google My Business).

We suggest getting optimized on all directories – in addition to customers more easily finding you, this has the extended benefit of helping you rank better in local search (Google likes to see consistency). If you’re not sure which of the dozens of directories you should list your business on, we’ve narrowed it down to the best 20 directories in one of our recent blog posts (or, you can talk to us at Vivial about optimizing your business listings!).

On your social profiles

Did you know that you can include calls to action on many of your social pages? You can. Facebook is the best example, and – handily enough – its the network most commonly used. On your business page you have the ability to include a call to action (CTA) button right at the top, just below your banner image. This button is customizable and could be anything from a “call now” button, a way to capture emails with a “sign up” button or just a “learn more” button that you can link to your site. You can also list your hours, address and other contact information on most of your social profiles.

Build a community (leverage targeting and get to the right people)

One of the most popular digital marketing tactics is for business to engaging with customers on social media – it’s the digital equivalent of a niche industry conference (when you’re all there for the same, particular reason) – only it’s on all day, every day. Social media can also be one of the most intimidating digital marketing tactics given the apparent, time-consuming nature of it. But it doesn’t have to require as much time as you think – you can always work with an expert like Vivial and let us do what we do best (so you can focus on what you do best).

Target YOUR market

One of the biggest benefits of digital marketing – especially in retail – is how you can target your market with online advertising, right down to the zip code. Whether through Facebook Advertising, organic posts or other paid ads, targeting through an online advertising platform can help you connect to relevant consumers in your community, city or neighborhood.

If you’re not convinced that social media is something you want to focus on, you may want to consider eMarketers recent report: 45% of US retail executives said leveraging social media was a major strategy for the next 18 months.

Give them something to come back for – keep content fresh

Google reported that 73% of consumers say that regularly getting useful information from an advertiser is the most important attribute when selecting a brand. Logic would reason that they who put out the most (relevant, accurate and engaging) content, wins the most customers. Having a consistent cadence of content posted on your social profiles creates a sense of credibility for your business; you’re real people, doing or selling real things that consumers may grow to trust as they continue to follow you.

We already noted that people are searching more for things “near me”, but marketing doesn’t end once you get them into the store. According to Google, 82% of smartphone users consult their phone while in a store. That means that most people aren’t necessarily making purchase decisions based solely on their in-store experience. When they do a search while in store, make sure you have a plethora of recent and relevant content on your site – written with SEO in mind so that it’s more likely to rank in organic search results. Keeping your social pages up to date is just as important as more and more often, that may be where people are searching directly for your business.

Engage with reviewers (customer service is public these days)

Speaking of customers checking their phones while they’re in a store, one of the things they may find in their searches are reviews of your business. How often do customers come up to you and tell you what is great about your store – or about some areas they feel you need to improve? Probably not that often, but online, consumers share their thoughts quite more freely, and give feedback that you may not have considered before.

Whether your reviews are good or bad, the most important thing you can do is to respond. The key to managing your reviews – and therefore, your reputation – is engagement. The internet has made customer service exchanges sometimes very public events, but even if reviews are poor you have the opportunity to demonstrate the integrity and tact with which your company conducts its business. If you’re not quite sure how to craft a great response to negative (or positive!) reviews, take a look at our blog.

  • Brian Harris

    Cami –

    Excellent job on condensing what can be a very broad topic in regards to retail digital and social marketing.

    • Cami Bird

      Thanks, Brian!