How to Drive In-Store Traffic Using Online Marketing: 5 Tips for Local Businesses

Did you know that you can drive serious footfall into your physical store using online marketing strategies – even if you don’t sell products online? People are increasingly relying on their mobile devices to research products and prices while they are out and about. 50% of smartphone users visit a store within a day of their local search, according to Google, while 80% of local searches via mobile devices lead to a purchase, often within hours. But here’s the most exciting bit: nearly three out of four of mobile phone searches that converted brought the customer into a brick-and-mortar store.

Of course, while local search engine optimisation on your own website is very important as it allows Google and the other search engines to find you more effectively, it is not the only way in which you can leverage your online presence to increase the number of customers coming through your door. Here are five more tactics to consider.

Google My Business
Google My Business was introduced in 2014 to simplify local marketing for small and medium-sized businesses. The platform provides companies with a more streamlined way to manage local business data, reviews and social interactions. It allows businesses to update their information and imagery across Search, Maps and Google+ (Google’s social network), as well as acting as a showcase for customer reviews. By claiming and populating your Google My Business profile you can create a stronger brand presence online, allowing customers to find you easily on whatever device they are using. What’s more, through sharing material on Google+ you can develop a two-way conversation with potential and existing customers and encourage them into stores with selected offers and events.

Local Listings
In addition to populating and maintaining your Google My Business profile, be sure to claim your business’s profiles on relevant local listings sites – and, importantly, ensure your business information (particularly name, address and phone number [NAP]) appears accurately and consistently across all of them. When a local search is performed, search engines look for NAP data on local listing sites to verify that a business exists in a given location. The more consistent your NAP data appears, the more likely it is that your business will appear in local search results and therefore the more likely potential customers are to find you. Before you get started on optimising your online presence across Google My Business and local listing sites, it’s a good idea to have a plan in place for how you are going to present your business information. Remember, consistency is king so make sure your content plan is finalised before you get stuck in.

Social Media
Another component in building a strong local brand online is making your presence felt across social media. Many commentators enthuse about social media for local businesses, describing it as a great free marketing tool. But as we all know, social media, by its real-time nature, can be a time sink – and your time doesn’t come for free. That’s not to say that social media should be ignored – far from it. It just means that as it is not actually ‘free’, it’s important to make sure you use the time you do budget for it effectively. Spend some time developing a social media plan for your business. If your goal is to reach potential local customers through Facebook and Twitter and bring them into your stores, you’ll need to get creative. Think about offering a discount voucher or similar on your social pages that is only valid for in-store purchases (make each voucher distinct so you can measure which social site is generating the most interest). You can also promote in-store events through this channel.

Even if your local business is smashing the organic search rankings, it is still worth considering running a targeted pay-per-click (PPC or paid search) campaign. And if it’s not, then it’s even more important. PPC allows you to keep your brand presence in a prominent area of the search listings for selected key phrases – including those you might struggle to make the first page with through natural search alone. You can target a relevant audience with your PPC campaign, meaning you’ll only have people in the area(s) you preselect seeing and clicking on your advert. You can also encourage potential customers to click through onto a designated landing page to print off a voucher for use in-store, book an appointment, arrange a no-obligation consultation and more.

Email marketing is enjoying somewhat of a revival of late. Long overshadowed by social marketing channels ─ viewed as ‘trendier’ by some marketers ─ email, when used in the right way, can improve your communications with customers and help you drive in-store traffic. Of course, consumers are inundated with marketing messages in their various inboxes and you will need to think creatively to make sure you stand out. Use a compelling subject line to avoid being immediately relegated to trash, and use relevant and accessible content to tell your story as effectively as possible.

Contact us now to find out how we can help you realise the benefits of online marketing for your business ─ both online and offline.

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