Forbes Communications Council members share digital marketing tactics that can draw customers back into stores.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS.
Retail sales in physical stores have been on the decline for some time. Since the Covid-19 pandemic has led consumers to do even more of their buying online and have products and goods delivered to their homes, marketers are looking for ways to bring once-loyal customers back into their shops.
If you own or do the marketing for a small retail business that is looking to boost revenue and make up for the dampening effects of the global health crisis on consumer spending, you don’t have to suddenly transform into an exclusively e-commerce business overnight. But you may need to take steps to bring customers back into the physical store. Ironically, perhaps, a good way to do this is by using digital marketing tactics.
Below, 13 members of Forbes Communications Council offer their best insights to help marketers draw customers back into retail shops to surprise and delight them in person and in real time.
1. Offer Discounts That Can Be Used Online Or In The Store
Digital channels are where relationships get started, but shoppers are always looking for ways to personalize their experience. I really like what Target did for teachers recently during the summer back-to-school period by adding a special, one-time teacher discount and connecting it to their loyalty program so that teachers could use it anywhere online and in the store. – Sai Koppala, SheerID
2. Show Online Shoppers That Products Are On The Shelf And Available
Two of the factors motivating the early start to holiday shopping this year are concerns over inventory availability and shipping delays. Use digital tools to reach the always-on shopper and let them see that the products they want are on the shelf and available right now to abate concerns over shipping delays or future inventory concerns. – Dallas Lawrence, Roku
3. Open A Few Destination Stores Instead Of Having Many
The first thing that has to be done is to change the definition of why stores exist and then redefine the way in which customers engage with stores. Physical stores should become more like showrooms where customers can interact with the merchandise. Instead of carrying inventory, purchases could be made via an app, a laptop or a mobile device. Instead of having lots of stores, open a few destination stores. – Brittain Ladd, BrittainLadd.com
4. Implement Transparent Safety Measures And Host In-Store Events
I think the decline is still largely due to Covid fears. Businesses can help quell those fears by implementing transparent safety measures and spreading the word via online resources such as social media, Google My Business listings and their own websites. Couple those efforts with in-store events, and you’ve incentivized customers who will now feel comfortable visiting your business in person. – Kenneth Harris, Consultwebs
5. Incentivize Customers With Digital Promo Codes Redeemable In-Store
Incentivize customers with promo codes that are sent via social media ads or posts but are redeemable in-store. (Make sure you note your safety practices.) Everyone loves to feel as if they’re getting something special, and when brick-and-mortar stores use this tactic, it becomes a motivating factor. A discounted piece of chocolate tastes just a little bit better than the same piece of chocolate purchased at full price. – Melissa Kandel, little word studio
6. Use All Marketing Channels To Promote Exciting, Targeted Events
With the global pandemic leading to more online ordering and curbside pickup and delivery options, getting people to come to a physical storefront is more challenging than it has ever been before. In order to succeed with getting these loyal customers back to your store, you must exhaust all of your marketing channels—SMS, email, display ads and direct mail—promoting a targeted and exciting event that your clients can’t say “no” to. – Greg George, Maverick Solutions LLC
7. Demonstrate The Value Of Visiting A Store And Look To Build A Community
We need to be able to demonstrate that there is additional value in visiting a store and provide something exclusive that consumers are unable to get online, whether it’s a product, a discount or access to additional services or people. Additionally, we should be looking to build a community with people who come into the store by understanding who they are and personalizing communications. – Dean Cookson, Purple
8. Understand Why Your Customers Haven’t Been Visiting The Store
Before deploying marketing tactics, it’s key to understand what’s behind the decline. Are customers simply enjoying the convenience of delivery or curbside pickup, or do they feel hesitant to visit a store while Covid is still spreading? Once we understand customers’ reasoning, it becomes easier to speak to their specific priorities and pain points to attract more in-person visits. – Melissa Zehner, Foundr Magazine
9. Offer An In-Store ‘Check-In’ Loyalty Program
Allow this program to build over time, or create a destination shopping day. If the customer receives a $5 coupon or 15% off for in-store purchases only on a specific day, they will be more likely to visit. If extra loyalty points are earned each time an in-store purchase is made, the customer can build up to larger savings—to be spent in-store only, of course. – Kimberly Osborne, UNC Greensboro
10. Offer Exclusive In-Store Discounts To Shoppers Who Purchase Online
You can incentivize in-store visits by either offering exclusive in-store discounts or by combining an online purchase with an incentive to visit the physical store. For example, say I purchase an item online. If I visit the store’s brick-and-mortar space within 30 days of my online purchase, I can get an additional 20% off select items (or storewide). The coupon is only available on the online receipt. – Boaz Santiago, energyware™
11. Do An Event With An Influencer And Offer Time-Limited In-Store Discounts
Holding events and offering exclusive discounts for a limited time are a great way to get customers to visit your location. Interested in hosting an event? Try collaborating with an influencer to make it happen, or choose an event that requires minimal setup. Looking to go the discount route? Make it a big deal and offer it only for a limited time in stores. – Victoria Zelefsky, The Menkiti Group
12. Create Hype For Experiences, Not Warehouses
There’s no denying the reach of digital. Marketers can access more people for cheaper via digital means, but what they can’t replicate is an in-person experience. Digital should be the catalyst for creating hype for your in-person store—but the store isn’t just for buying; it should create an entire experience that your customers will love. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap
13. Offer In-Store Sales And Promote Exclusive Deals Online
You don’t have to get fancy to bring new customers through your doors. Using pay-per-click or SEO advertising to promote deals that are available exclusively to in-person shoppers will help generate much-needed foot traffic. The downstream benefit is that the shoppers will become more acquainted with your brand and get a better sense of the products you have on offer in-store. – Amine Rahal, Regal Assets