You’ve heard it before: It’s a digital world. What’s easy to forget is that brick and mortar stores are part of it! While digital marketing continues to grow, physical retailers have a lot of opportunity to grow, both physically and digitally.
Marketing through multiple channels is exactly what retailers should be focused on now more than ever. Why? Because it’s what your competitors are doing – and you don’t want to be left in the dust!
Engagement has many flavors
In today’s world, you need to be where your customers are – and your customers are everywhere. Think of it this way: your customers are taking advantage of any combination of mobile, in-store and online activity. They are the ones deciding when and how they utilize each channel. As the retailer, realizing this fact and adjusting your marketing strategy to it is in your best interest. By recognizing these channels, how and when consumers are using them and adjusting the marketing strategy, a business can embrace a larger audience.
So, how do you engage your customers across so many different channels?
From the consumer side:Consumers will notice that a business is making it easy for them to shop, browse, research and more; and the seamless, frictionless process will keep that business top-of-mind. There’s also an ease to interacting with that retailer that’s fun and organic. Because of all this, both trust and loyalty are established. The consumer can see that the retailer is committed to an experience that’s customer-service driven and that goes a long way because creating a congruent approach to a marketing message across all channels creates familiarity, trust and loyalty for the consumer.
From the retailer side: As a retailer, you must be very strategic about delivering what your consumers want, at the right time – and how. That means you must fully understand what your customers want, when they want it, how they want it and what they’ll do to get it. There’s a lot of work and research that goes into omnichannel marketing, but you can expect a huge payoff at the end. For all retailers, it’s time to get up close and personal with your customers, to offer something different from what they expect, such as tips or information or suggestions that may not have previously occurred to them.
A single strategy is not enough.
If engagement comes in many flavors, then so must your strategies; here’s how:
- Social media: In many cases, customers would rather connect with a business via social media than any other medium. The key for retailers is to find a way to help on social media, as opposed to pushing products all the time. Form a real, genuine, honest, open and enthusiastic relationship with your customers. For instance, @HiltonSuggests is an official Twitter handle by Hilton that exists solely to jump into conversation by answering questions and giving suggestions about travel. Never do they plug their own hotel chain, but you can bet that they are now top of mind for many consumers. Ultimately, customers will notice if they and their needs aren’t at the heart of your communications.
- Technology: Everyone loves Amazon for their product recommendations, but with an omnichannel strategy, brick and mortar retailers can offer the same by mobile app, or via beacon or location-based messaging on a mobile device. Beacon technology integration is an excellent opportunity to provide a consumer with a reward offer that can build loyalty in-store. Also, having a responsive website design is crucial. Not only does Google reward websites that have responsive design, but it’s easier on the consumer to have full access to what is offered online without having to play pinch and zoom.
- In-Store: First, start with offering free Wi-Fi. As a plus to you, you can require anyone signing into the Wi-Fi to use their social channels or their email address, which can later be used to collect information and help you tie marketing communications together. For instance, Apple does a great job of catering to the in-store experience. Via Apple’s mobile app, customers in a store can purchase an item without having to use a physical payment option – theydon’t even have to elicit the help of a sales associate.
When thinking of diversifying your strategy, just remember that this is the time to be proactive rather than reactive. If a strategy is created from the consumer point of view – with a consistent message, across all channels, to orchestrate consumer experience – you will have a great base to grow from. You have to anticipate what your customers want and how to best give them that. What works for one business, one market and one segment may not work for another.
Take the time to get to know your customers, their goals, plans, spending habits, what they find important and more. Everything you learn will help contribute to a complete presence that cannot be ignored. The time is now.
What will you do differently?