How Brick and Mortar Stores Can Win Online (Despite CrazyCompetition)

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Keeping pace with ecommerce giants is like being in a foreign land for the very first time. It’s like taking a leap into the unknown. You feel different emotions – excitement, anxiety, and fear. You’re hungry for help. 

But just because Amazon and other thriving online retailers have captured your audience, doesn’t mean you can’t. Not all hope is lost! A brick and mortar store like yours has a chance if you know the right strategies.

But First, Have an Online Presence.

It goes without saying that you should create a website and be found elsewhere online – social media, local listings, ads, and more. Maybe you think you don’t because people can simply walk through the doors of your local shop. But you do.

Here are reasons why:

  • 6 out of 10 customers expect to read online content about your business.
  • Internet marketing is more affordable than traditional offline methods (billboard ads, newspaper ads, radio ads).
  • The use of mobile devices has led to in-store purchases. For example, people who search for “hardware store nearby” on Google finds your shop.
  • You build an ongoing relationship with your current customers and acquire new ones through social media, blogging, and email marketing.

Now let’s dive into the ways you can compete against online competitors.

1. Follow Starbucks’ way of creating customer loyalty

Have you ever wondered why Starbucks is such a huge success? Despite being a brick-and-mortar business, they have mastered the art of retaining customers.

This is how they do it… Starbucks created their own mobile app, Starbucks app, that allowed customers to:

  • Pay in advance online and skip the line.
  • Earn stars and use those stars to get free drinks in the future.
  • Stay updated with the latest drinks and offers.

There’s so much to learn from Starbucks’ strategy. For example, the privilege to skip the line appeals to coffee drinkers who happen to be on their way to work. Rewards keep people wanting for more.

If you could have a mobile app that simplifies your customers’ lives and drives them to your store so they enjoy more of your products, that would transform your marketing.

2. Launch a viral marketing campaign

Not everybody appreciates what it means to go viral until an idea, entity, or business that “used to be invisible” gains massive attention.

Take, for example, ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), a disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. If you remember, in 2014, the Ice Bucket Challenge raised awareness for the disease.

People posted videos of themselves on Facebook where they poured a bucket of ice water on themselves.

One shared video led to another… then another… even Bill Gates himself participated! Over 2 million videos had been shared on the platform.

Because of the campaign, over $115 million worth of funds were raised.

This campaign is a perfect example of viral marketing in action.

We learn 3 powerful lessons in the Ice Bucket Challenge which should push you to run your own viral marketing campaign:

  • Offer a reward – People who participated in the challenge felt rewarded in the sense that they were able to encourage fundraising. You can provide actual incentives that motivate your audience to share your campaign.
  • Create urgency – After taking on the challenge, a participant would nominate a friend to do the same thing in 24 hours. Dedicate a specific time frame for your own campaign and let your audience know about it.
  • Viral loop – In a viral loop, you invite people into the campaign who, in return, invites more people as the message is passed along. Viral loops happen when your campaign is powerful enough to spark emotion and appeal to their interests.

If you’re looking for a tool that helps you run viral marketing campaigns by creating a landing page, featuring prizes, and adding a unique referral link where new people can sign up…. Check out UpViral.

3. Get hyper-focused with your offer (Blue Ocean strategy)

Oftentimes people think that the “easiest” way to succeed is to jump pursue an already popular market. “Follow what the experts do,” so you’re told.

The problem with trying to be like everybody else is that people won’t notice.

Professors W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne in their Blue Ocean Strategy book calls these overused markets “red oceans” because they’re super competitive. They suggest identifying Blue Ocean opportunity where you create a new demand.

Go for a niche.

What does this look like in your business? Let’s say you’re marketing health supplements for men and women. Instead of trying to win everybody, you market to a specific population: women who are working moms and are struggling to lose weight.

Pursuing a blue ocean when you were used to the old method, despite the fact that it didn’t work, won’t be easy at first – but it’s going to pay off.

4. Retarget only highly engaged website visitors

Do you ever think of showing Facebook ads to your website visitors? This method is called retargeting.

Retargeting effectively brings back people who’ve interacted with your site but haven’t taken any real action. They didn’t sign up for your mailing list, bought your products, or shared your blog post.

For a start, Facebook makes a great platform of choice for retargeting mainly because Facebook has 2.19 billion users.

But there’s a bit of a downside with Facebook’s standard retargeting. While it adds your visitors to Custom Audiences, it doesn’t consider the time they spent, the number of pages they visited, and the specific social network that referred them.

What If You Could Be More Specific With Your Retargeting?

The problem with standard retargeting is that it doesn’t really dig deep into people’s behaviors. As a result, marketers end up serving the same ads to audiences who don’t need them.

Sending the exact ad that lets people convert is possible with ConnectRetarget. This tool of ours integrates with your existing Facebook ads account. With it, you can easily pick ultra-specific behaviors from the filters and create very targeted audiences:

5. Create a personal connection through email marketing

A retail business like yours should leverage email marketing for all these reasons:

  • Email marketing provides a great return on investment because it effectively nurtures your audience.
  • It brings traffic back to your website when combined with retargeting Facebook ads.
  • Stats show that 77% of people like to get permission-based marketing messages through email than other channels.

It’s no secret that when nurturing your audience, email makes things more personalized. With email, you’re not limited to a character count.

You can call a subscriber by his name, immediately respond to him, and send a specific message at the right time and day using segmentation and automation.

Make sure that you use email marketing to drive your online audience to your store location. Entice them with awesome discounts that can only be availed in-store rather than online.

Overall, email marketing equals more substantial and better messages.

6. Use social proof to build credibility and increase conversions

There are many factors that affect a person’s purchasing decision and one of these is social proof.

Have you ever tried on a product you have little idea of, just because many others got crazy about it? How about you checking out reviews before diving in? These scenarios are social proof in action.

Social proof in the form of testimonials is easy to generate if you already have offline customers raving about your products or customer service. Simply ask a couple of store customers written feedback and ask their permission to feature them on your website.

But what if you’re still a newbie in your space? No problem at all.

To create buzz and get more people to know you for social proof, run a UpViral contest. UpViral is the only platform that allows you to give out points for specific actions to increase their chances of winning.

  • Following you on social media
  • Join your social media group
  • Leave comments on your website

…and so on.

7. Do local search engine optimization

When a business does local SEO, that business focuses on attracting online customers who happen to be in the same location. Since you own a brick and mortar store, it makes sense to aim for a local audience rather than a global one (which is harder to reach).

Local Keyword Research (On-Page SEO)

Creating pages and blog posts in local SEO entails targeting location-specific keywords.

For example, let’s say you want people in all of Connecticut to find your wine and spirits store. Aim for the cities in Connecticut (CT) like New Haven, Middletown, and West Hartford and include them in your keyword research.

Your local keywords could be “wine and spirits west hartford ct” or “wine and spirits milford ct.” Google Keyword Planner helps you with the keyword research process.

Don’t ignore long-tail keywords either, especially if you’re in a competitive market, as they translate to higher conversions.

Google’s Local 3-Pack and Other Listings (Off-Page SEO)

When people search for the services of a local store, 93% of the time, Google displays top 3 businesses – thus the “local 3-pack.” Each business features information – Name, Address, Phone Number (NAP).

Make sure you sign-up for Google My Business.

 If Google doesn’t rank your website, don’t worry because you can still sign-up for other quality local directories.

Final Thoughts

The biggest mistake you make as a store owner is assuming that you can’t survive the competition. Start building an online presence and use that to take people through your doors. At the end of the day, you enjoy the benefits of having an online and offline audience!