In 2020, it feels that the past few years have led us to a divided world of shopping: online and in the high street. Of course, everyone is always saying how Amazon and eCommerce is killing the highstreet, further emphasizing the demarcation that lies between them.
The reality is a little more nuanced though, and not all businesses operate in one space or the other exclusively. Even if you’re not willing to fully offer your services online as well as inside your brick-and-mortar business, you can still adopt digital marketing techniques.
Even new tech twists on old tricks are effective, like an advertising LED billboard. You can still gather data from online and automate the display message to become more targeted with companies like VisualLED. And that’s what digital marketing is about — improving the accuracy and effectiveness of your marketing efforts, and to get more bang for your buck.
This may seem obvious, but every business should have a social media page. Which social media sites you decide on may somewhat depend on your business (for example, craft stores should make use of Pinterest), though there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be using all platforms. Why? Because if you make one post, you can use Social Media Management software to post the same content across all platforms at once. Even better, you can schedule this, and do a bunch in advance.
With Social Media, you’re mostly trying to provide a positive and engaging image to repeat customers. This means having a consistent theme, branding, tone of voice, and content to ensure customers build a relationship and see you as reliable. You can however attract new customers by holding competitions, positing in local Facebook groups and even using local influencers to promote your product. For example, a beauty salon could find a highly popular person in that town and offer free treatments in return for online promoted posts.
PPC and SEO
SEO is difficult for a small company, but it’s entirely possible if you’re in a small or mid-sized town as you can exploit the long-tail keyword of said town. This way, you’ll be on the front page of Google whenever Google’s “cheap [service] in [town name]” is searched. For this, find an online checklist and optimize your website accordingly. It takes a bit of time, so you may want to outsource it.
Pay Per Click (PPC) ads are a lot more fun as these have direct and immediate results. You find a highly relevant and effective keyword, and you pay to be at the top of Google instantly. Fortunately, you only pay each time someone clicks on the link, which then takes them to a landing page you’ve created specifically.
Otherwise, you can just pay to promote your posts on Instagram and Facebook, and carefully create the right demographic for its exposure. If you’re already making social media posts, and can track which sales derive from those posts (website statistics), then there’s no reason to not try and promote them. You’ll very quickly gauge whether it’s a positive return on investment.
Affiliate marketing and partnerships
Affiliate marketing is when one entity points people towards a separate entity’s product or service, and then gets a cut as a result. This is something that’s more easily done online, as promotional codes and specific website links are great ways to keep track of what was actually an affiliated sale.
However, this doesn’t mean it cannot be done on the highstreet. Physical leaflets or vouchers can be used with non-competing businesses, in which you can gain sales by forgoing some of the profit margin. An easier way to do this is to establish quid pro quo relationships instead of exchanging money.
If you’re a sports shop that sells bicycles, why not build up a relationship with the bicycle repair shop in town? You can point towards them when customers need a repair, and they can point to you when they need a new bike.
Gathering as many email addresses from customers as possible (without damaging reputation or infringing on data privacy) is highly effective. A weekly newsletter or email to remind them that your establishment still exists, and you’re letting them know they can receive a special offer this weekend, is a great way to increase repeat business.
Or even more subtle, you can drip feed them interesting content that they find valuable. This could lead to your website becoming an authoritative voice within an industry, whilst the website can point to your shop for sales.
As we can see, any and every digital marketing technique can be applied to a brick-and-mortar business. In fact, technology more generally is what we’re talking about here. Even within operations, you can find yourself automating tasks with technology as well as improving your recruitment methods.