E-commerce is a growing force, with more than $1 trillion in sales projected in 2022. In this highly digital world, driving in-store traffic and increasing sales in brick-and-mortar shops can be challenging, especially as many customers have become more accustomed to shopping online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although online shopping may be taking center stage, focusing on digital marketing strategies can help your brick-and-mortar business increase sales and stay relevant.
Digital marketing strategies to drive in-store sales
Online activity influences offline sales, and a comprehensive digital marketing plan can help you redirect some online traffic to your stores. Here are some digital marketing strategies to implement for your brick-and-mortar store:
1. Analyze data to know your audience.
Understanding and reaching your target audience and these customers’ needs are the first steps toward creating an effective digital marketing plan that can increase in-store sales. Analyzing data trends can help determine various audience segments’ behaviors, interests and demographics.
Collecting data from various sources – such as searches, social media, top customer relationship management (CRM) systems and third parties – will provide insight into how users find and engage with your brand.
Tip: If your business uses a CRM tool, take advantage of the software’s CRM reports to learn detailed information about your sales process and how customers and leads engage with your brand.
2. Build content around audience segments.
Developing personalized content is critical for increasing user engagement and visibility in organic search results. When you produce frequent content, search engines will continuously crawl your site and users will remain involved with your brand.
To turn engaged users into sales, create content that speaks to user segments’ specific needs, encouraging them to move offline with clear calls to action. In addition to providing articles, offer your fans different ways to stay connected, such as downloads, images and video marketing materials. Encourage users to interact and share content to organically promote your brand and create a buzz that can carry offline.
3. Target customers and amplify content through advertising.
Once you understand what your audience is looking for online, use paid advertising to increase your visibility and offline sales. Because digital ads are so customizable, you have significant control over your advertising results. With targeting, you can show various user segments specialized content at specific times, locations and online places.
For example, showcase unique product coupons to different segments or leverage geotargeting to have ads appear within a certain distance from your stores. The expansive ad placement options available (search, social, mobile, retargeting, banner and more) allow you to distribute your ads exactly where your users are searching.
Tip: Use Bluetooth beacons and mobile apps to send special offers or discounts to customers when they’re near your store.
4. Use authentic and consistent branding.
You’ve likely spent a lot of time building your brand and perfecting the in-store experience, but does your online presence tell the same story? If your branding and online content don’t reflect your offline image, your customers may be less engaged or disappointed if your in-store delivery falls short of their expectations.
Stay true to your brand, and develop content that creates a sense of authenticity and engagement to keep customers interested and coming back for more.
5. Create and nurture brand advocacy.
Get your fans involved to create brand advocacy that expands beyond your digital presence. Integrate influencer outreach into your communications, and feature your die-hard fans in your marketing to keep them involved.
Encourage and reward positive customer reviews to create user-made content and build advocacy that can increase online and offline brand engagement. Nurture that support by interacting with customers and exceeding expectations.
6. Expand customer relations to drive online support.
Customer support is no longer limited to store managers and call centers. Customers discuss your brand online and influence others’ purchase decisions regardless of whether you’re involved. Join the conversation by monitoring your social pages closely and responding to users who reach out.
Review sites are another opportunity to reward users who love your brand and to solve the problems of those who don’t. Remember that online users are real customers who can significantly influence your offline sales, and it’s important to respond to online reviews.
7. Track results and optimize for ongoing success.
Analyzing data helps measure the ROI of your online efforts. By looking at data from your search, social media and website campaigns, you can discover which content is best at drawing users.
Using unique coupon codes for specific products and locations to measure offline sales. Using distinct codes allows you to track your true return on investment from online ads to offline sales.
Digital marketing platforms to use
When using digital marketing to boost offline sales, you’ll want to create campaigns using your website, email, text messaging and social media.
1. Use your website for digital marketing.
Using your company’s website to promote informative and engaging blog content can be an excellent way to attract new customers to your store. Unique, relevant content helps build brand loyalty and a reputation with your target customers, who, in turn, will choose you over competitors.
To drive traffic to your physical store location, consider posting on your website about products sold only in-store, events or sales taking place in your brick-and-mortar location, and other potential interest drivers.
SEO remains another driving force in digital marketing. To gain website visitors, employ SEO best practices by consistently researching related keywords and phrases, producing valuable and relevant content, and ensuring you’re ranking highly on search engines.
FYI: SEO tools can help you organically weave relevant keywords and phrases into your content to boost your search rankings.
2. Use email marketing to boost engagement.
Email marketing personalizes the customer experience through one-on-one communication, and emails are an excellent way to alert customers to specific in-store deals or events.
To leverage email marketing to boost engagement, consider using an email marketing service. The best email marketing services help you create automated email campaigns to guide your audience through the sales funnel and test custom templates for higher engagement. Two of our favorites are Constant Contact and HubSpot.
- We chose Constant Contact as the best email marketing service for small businesses. It helps you easily create email campaigns without high setup and maintenance costs. To learn more, read our in-depth Constant Contact review.
- HubSpot is an excellent email marketing service for very small businesses and companies on a budget.
3. Use text message marketing to bring in more customers.
Because text messages have a nearly 100% open rate, text message marketing has many benefits and is a great way for small businesses to engage and communicate with their audience. Brick-and-mortar-store owners can use text message marketing to send inventory updates, event announcements and special deals directly to customers’ mobile devices.
Text message marketing supports consumers’ mobile-first browsing behavior, ensuring that messages stay top-of-mind instead of sitting in a full email inbox.
Guiding businesses with their social media can help business owners with features such as custom keywords, free incoming text messages, automation, contact management and unlimited contacts. Here are some of our favorite text message marketing services:
- Textedly is the ideal tool for organizations that need a text message marketing provider for large campaigns and client communications. Read our Textedly review to learn more.
- EZ Texting includes features such as advanced segmentation, automated workflows, drip campaigns, performance analytics and lead generation. To learn more, read our in-depth EZ Texting analysis.
- SimpleTexting includes features such as cross-program integration, multiple-user control and custom fields. Read our SimpleTexting review to find out more.
4. Use social media marketing to enhance customer relationships.
Social media is the perfect platform for keeping in touch with and engaging current and prospective customers. It allows you to showcase your products and services while building your brand’s voice.
On your brick-and-mortar business’s social media pages and profiles, share photos and videos of your store, content from in-person events and information about upcoming exclusive sales and deals. Keep followers informed, and invite them to pay a visit.
The best social media management and marketing tools can help you stay on top of your social presence across multiple platforms. Here are some of our favorites:
- Salesforce Social Media Management has social listening tools that scan more than 650 million sources, including blogs, news, Facebook posts and other online locations. Users input keywords, and the software finds the information they want.
- WebiMax is a social media marketing service that can help you design your business profile on each social media platform, develop a specific strategy, create content or manage the everyday upkeep of your online presence.
- Cision monitors social media and public sites worldwide, including the most popular social media platforms, millions of blogs and forums, video channels and review sites.
Sara Flick contributed to the writing and research in this article.