Print, radio and TV advertising have been the traditional staples of retail marketing for many a year. But in today's climate, online marketing is just as - if not more - important for those with a message to get out.
With all the competition around these days, you can't just sit there and expect people to come to your website, you have to do something about it. There are many ways to increase your exposure on the web and we've put together a handy guide to help you during your first forays into online marketing.
1. Send a Press Release
One of the fastest ways to spread word about your store or shopping park, is by sending a press release. But does this count as online? Yes. The abundance of free and paid online repositories has made it easier than ever to target niche or really specific publications, journalists and bloggers. Of course, you shouldn't neglect traditional print publications, which can be an invaluable resource, particularly for engaging the local community.
These can be used to announce new product lines, special events, promotions, business wins and other company news. They also allow to your indirectly target key audiences in the local area that are interested in your products.
However, do bear in mind that publications can be weekly, or even monthly, which means your in-store offers could have changed by the time your audiences see the finished advert.
2. Submit Product Feeds
Retailers that engage in ecommerce should most definitely be using product feeds to reach a broader audience. A product feed is simply a file generated from the website that lists product details such as photos, descriptions, pricing and even specials. These product feeds can be submitted to search engines, enabling them to spit out tangible information directly on the search results page.
Product feeds can be extracted by scraping, but we have found that it is better for you to take control and create your own. Products feeds are especially good for those retailers selling a wide range of products as they can be used on price comparison sites and marketplaces like eBay and Amazon.
3. Create a Newsletter
Newsletters and email marketing are key to keeping in touch with the customers you've managed to get into your store, on your website or interacting with your social profiles. It takes a lot of work to gain the attention of a customer, so don't make it easy for them to walk away. Make sure you implement data collection of your customer's details and send them targeted offers regularly (though not so often that you saturate them or come across as 'spammy').
There are also a variety of ways that you can target your customers if they abandon a basket or don't purchase the products they have selected from your website. With the right software or manual expertise, you can set up an automated response to those customers who fail to make a purchase and offer them an exclusive discount next time or free delivery on their first purchase.
The key reason to opt for this system is to build upon your data collection in an ethical and sustainable way. The more you encourage your customers to visit and purchase from your site, the bigger your potential for growth.
4. Go Social
Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn may or may not help you sell your products, but if that's where your customers are communicating each day, then you should too. At the very least, you should at least be monitoring chatter about your business, competitors and peers, if not actively engaging your target audience and using as a customer service tool already.
Blogs shared and promoted on social media sites can help retailers keep in touch with shoppers, make announcements or showcase new merchandise and offers. Make sure you always leverage your social media presence as much as you can, as it helps to create brand awareness amongst your target audience, generate word-of-mouth publicity, and may even result in some inbound links for your site, which are beneficial in terms of SEO.
It's an all-too-common mistake to treat social media like the fire-and-forget advertising methods of the past, so when taking your first steps into the field, try to remember:
- Be confident! – Know your store and your products
- Be chatty –Enjoy conversations on social media and discuss the latest trends, looks and news
- Be visual - Images of your products are one of the best ways to communicate to your audiences
- Be engaging – the more you engage with your audience, the more receptive they're likely to be.
5. Give Something Away
Shoppers love to get something for nothing! Retailers know this and have long used freebies and giveaways as powerful marketing tools. A big advantage of marketing online is the opportunity to quickly and easily utilise competitions, discount codes, product samples and even valuable content like fashion/trend tips as promotional giveaways.
Another great tool is to offer a regular competition on your website or social media profiles, as this can increase your visitor's dwell time, attract followers and also provide an easy way to implement data capture - allowing you to gather valuable information at a negligible cost.
Here at RDPR, we're sold on social - but do you think the field will become ever-more important within the retail market in the coming years or fizz out like a flash in the pan?
We're always keen to know what you think so don't be shy and leave us a comment or two. And if you would like some more information on the types of online work that we do at RDPR, or simply want a friendly chat about how we can help your retailers then be sure to check out our digital marketing services.
You can also view the online PR strategies and work we have completed for some of our retail clients or get in touch to learn more.
And if you're looking for more tips on effective online marketing strategies, you won't want to miss out on our free eBook, which you can download below: