How should retailers use online marketing?
How many retail brands are able to spend millions to open flagship stores in the most high-end malls, but not invest efficiently in online marketing?
Today, most of these stores are closed and the challenge for brands is to continue generating sales despite this situation.
Many people still believe that retail & online are two different issues that should be tackled by different teams, with different budgets and according to independent strategies. It’s a misconception that often leads to missed opportunities for brands.
This is a guide to help retailers leverage online marketing tools to build their online presence and further increase sales should physical channels be closed.
1. invest in your website
You shouldn’t think of your website as a pale version of your physical store. Your e-commerce is your „virtual storefront“ and should reflect your brand values as much as your retail store.
The online customer journey you create must match the one you offer in-store, or you risk disappointing your customers.
Most luxury brands continue to believe that a superior customer experience can only be achieved through physical retail: Customers get the opportunity to meet with brand ambassadors, touch and try the products, and receive some level of service.
- The first simple steps brands can take include the following:
- work on your website’s loading speed so that visitors don’t bounce away from you just because your site builds too slowly.
- make your website visually attractive, after all it reflects your company/brand.
- highlight the bestsellers, in your store you would eventually draw attention to them.
- customize your online terms and conditions: important points would be the delivery time the customer can expect and the return window.
These few steps can not only help you increase your sales, but also allow you to collect data about your customers, attract new subscribers and to expand your customer database.
2. plan seasonal shopping events
Physical retail is a seasonal business, as is e-commerce: from Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Chinese New Year to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, whether it’s a national holiday or a consumer trend, these are some of the best seasonal times for retailers and you should have attention-grabbing campaigns ready to take advantage of the extra shoppers.
Consider a sales strategy that fits the event you’re trying to leverage. Determine your goals:
- New customer acquisition
- Customer base retention
- Inventory reduction
- Increase awareness
Once you have defined your goals, plan the appropriate promotions. Select products that match the event and think about offers that your customers might like.
3. use your social media
If your customers are using social media, you should too. Define which channels your customers spend time on and post regularly to engage potential customers. You should also use the available targeting tools to your advantage: Boost your posts to make them visible to a wider audience, carefully select the criteria of the audience you want to target, and coordinate campaign strategies between online/offline and paid/organic to maximize the impact of your social media efforts as well as the marketing budgets spent. Paid Facebook ads are one of the most effective ways to target their ads to the right people.
4. user generated content
Using content generated by real people is a fantastic way to build trust in your brand. You can use user-generated content on both the website and social media, rather than pushing your product with a purely sales-oriented tone.
For example, user-generated content can be images, reviews, comments, blog articles, encyclopedia articles, or video clips.
Advantages of user-generated content:
- authentic and credible
- helps to retain customers
- can generate a higher reach
- can help to make brands better known
- can help to improve the image
- by involving the users, a stronger identification with the company is achieved
- is cost-effective content
5. Retargeting and Remarketing
Make sure those who visit your store are reminded of you in their Facebook feed after they leave. Similarly, you can retarget those who have visited your website with exciting on or offline offers to convert them. It’s a great opportunity to start building your database and use it later to reconnect with your audience, keep them updated on what’s happening in your business, new product launches, promotions and so on.
6. Influencer Marketing
Influencers are people who, on the one hand, are multipliers for the dissemination of information in their networks due to their reach. On the other hand, influencers are people who have a great influence on the opinions and consumption habits on the people in their network.
Influencer marketing allows your brand to get your products in front of an influencer’s often very broad and highly engaged audience. Influencers are real people who provide feedback on your products, and this is even more powerful than your most persuasive sales pitches. The comparatively low cost, as well as the high credibility and strong role model function that influencers enjoy in their communities, make them more than attractive as advertising ambassadors for marketers.
Influencers are, for example:
- Bloggers/website owners
- Subject matter experts
- Forum operators
The following criteria are interesting for the selection:
- Does the influencer fit the brand in style and appearance?
- Is the content appropriate?
- Does the quality of the content correspond to one’s own wishes?
- Are the followers active and do they comment a lot?
- What characteristics do the followers have? Do they coincide with those of the brand’s target group?
7. paid online ads
Paid online ads allow you to make visible what is happening in your physical store: from product launches and offers, to the VIP event you are hosting in the store.
To do this, select the appropriate channel and capture your target audience there.
Opportunities to place online ads exist through this:
Search Engine Ads (SEA)
– Google Ads (origin. Google AdWords)
– Google Shopping Ads
– Google Display Network (ads on: YouTube, Google Play, mobile apps)
– Microsoft Advertising (origin. Bing Ads)
Social Media Marketing (SMM)
– Facebook Ads
In any case, if possible, add your own data from previous visitors or customers to enable more efficient targeting and improve your ROI.
8. Content Marketing
Last, but not least – always keep your (potential) customers informed and engage in strategic marketing on a permanent basis. Content marketing focuses on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract, retain, and ultimately generate profitable customer action from a clearly defined audience.
This basically means text, videos, images, audio files, and other content. Specifically in content marketing, it is mostly blog posts, whitepapers, tutorials, infographics, surveys, e-books, etc.
The respective content can then in turn be promoted via various channels. For example, you could draw attention to a blog post via social networks such as Facebook or Instagram. In addition, your content can be presented to people who have not yet subscribed to you. For content with a business character, professional networks such as LinkedIn or Xing are more suitable.
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