Many physical retailers continue resisting ecommerce. These businesses are hesitant to venture online, fearing they’ll dilute their existing business model or confuse customers but ignoring mounting evidence that brick-and-mortar shops without an online business are seriously risking failure.
The internet continues to grow as a means of effective advertising and marketing, and retailers that want to survive are using it. Whereas only 60 percent of retailers were using social media strategies in 2013 that number is now believed to be well above 70 percent. If you aren’t using social media or other online marketing approaches, you’re part of the minority.
The key to being a successful retailer in the coming years will lie in your ability to connect with the new generation of millennials and even younger people who now hold massive buying power in today’s economy. And, quite frankly, if you aren’t using online marketing tactics, then you’re missing out on this very important demographic. Already, 72 percent of millennials research an establishment online before walking in to shop.
You can leverage online marketing to maximize offline sales — here are some helpful strategies and tangible takeaways.
1. Build an online community.
One of the best strategies is to build an online community around a subject matter or niche that’s related to your core product offering. If you’ve primarily been a brick and mortar retailer and now you’re venturing into the online world more, I always recommend content marketing of some kind, since so many people are consuming content now.
You’re eventual goal should be to pump out material on a regular basis that highlights your expertise in the type of business you run. For example, think of a big company that offers tax preparation services. It runs a blog that features stories about new tax rules or tips on tax exemptions. Perhaps this company holds a networking event with speakers who can answer questions about taxes.
You can do all this even if you’re new to ecommerce. By building an active community, you’re simultaneously creating an owned media outlet that can then be leveraged to promote your retail experience. The idea is to make sure people know that they can not only turn to you for finding a certain type of product, but also trust you to generate opinion about that subject so they can understand it better.
2. Use Google AdWords (and other paid advertising).
In order to reach today’s customer, you have to think like them. If you were a potential customer who didn’t know your business existed, how would you discover the business? Sure, you could drive by and see it, but millennials are more likely to search for something on Google.
If you want to reach these searchers – which could potentially be a group of thousands in your immediate geographical area – then you must invest in paid advertising. Google AdWords will probably give you good bang for your buck.