Today’s retail market is competitive. Brands are not just competing with each other; they are competing against online retailers as well. So how do you drive retail sales when there are so many options and people are still pinching pennies?
Drive them with online marketing. And I don’t just mean banner advertising.
Today, “online” encompasses desktop, mobile, tablet, social networks, and music and video-streaming outlets such as Pandora and Hulu. Paid advertising is important, but also think outside the box. “Word of mouth” is still one of the most trusted and powerful forms of advertising. Dunbar’s original social circle model included 150 connections. But a 2014 study shows our average social circle is now 350, and the 18-24 age segment actually averages 649 social connections.
Here are five tips to drive retail sales with online marketing:
- Optimize your mobile site
Almost half (40%) of consumers don’t feel comfortable shopping online, and it doubles to 80% when we’re talking about shopping on a mobile device. This may look dismal, but the good news is that these same individuals are still researching online. Use this search behavior to drive to store for purchase. A mobile experience that is optimized and intuitive will provide a good online experience and drive store traffic–a win-win! People use desktop and mobile search for different reasons, so Google ranks these sites using different algorithms. Google’s recent search rankings algorithm makes it easier for users to find mobile-friendly sites when searching on mobile devices, since Google knows the experience will likely be better on that mobile-optimized site.
- The clearer, the better
Add interactive tools or a “chat” function offering help to your visitors–similar to how a sales associate would assist at retail. You can also add a store lookup option right in the ad, instead of driving users to the website. If retail visits are your goal, listing your locations can be an ideal way to drive foot traffic. If there is not a store in the area, drive to online. Don’t lose the opportunity for a sale. Another way to promote sales is to add a product carousel to your ad. We recently tested this approach for Golf Galaxy’s “Father’s Day Sale,” resulting in more than 12,000 interactions with the product carousel. This led to a significant increase in traffic to GolfGalaxy.com on Father’s Day weekend. Keep your site and ads clean so the message is clear and you increase the likelihood of a click or visit.
- Try geo-fencing
Geo-fencing is becoming a popular marketing tool for retailers so they are only targeting online ads near their retail location(s). This approach creates a virtual “fence” around a specific geographic area. When individuals move inside this fence, they can receive messages, special offers, or other information sent to their mobile devices. American Eagle capitalized on this tactic earlier this year. The company’s sales had recently fallen, as competition increased from online retailers such as Zara and Forever 21. In order to win back its market share, American Eagle launched an effective marketing strategy aimed at reaching its mostly teenaged audience via the one thing they can’t seem to put down–their mobile devices. Through geo-fencing, as well as a heavy rollout of beacon systems that use low-power Bluetooth technology, customers can be targeted within a fixed radius of an American Eagle outlet and drawn into the physical store.
- Know and understand your competition
One of the most important aspects of any retail brand is researching its competition. Spend time analyzing the competitive marketplace in order to determine where and how you should be investing advertising dollars. Know your competitors’ key online messages and use them to help determine what to test in your own marketing efforts.
- Test, Test, and keep testing
A/B testing is an excellent approach in determining the best promotion and messaging to use. Narrowing down the most effective aspects of a promotion can make your marketing effort more profitable and cost effective. Be sure to have at least two creative images to test. According to a study conducted by Rocket Fuel, ads that displayed specific products averaged 6% higher conversion rates compared to ads that did not show a product. Ads featuring humans averaged 4% higher conversion rate lifts. Simple changes, such as logo placement, can also make a big difference. Rocket Fuel’s study concluded that ads with a logo in the lower-left corner averaged the highest conversion rates. A/B tests shouldn’t be limited to just images; evaluate different ad sizes and call-to-action messages as well.
The retail market can seem intimidating, but placing your products and messaging in front of your target audience is both feasible and affordable. A simplistic site coupled with a clear message can create a lasting impact, turning potential customers into lifelong patrons.
To learn more about Martino Flynn’s digital media capabilities, contact Alyssa Mayer at 585.421.0100.