In 2020, the US Retail Industry is expected to spend over $30 billion (16% more than what was spent in 2019) on digital marketing. In other words, retail isn’t dead; the situation has just changed.
If you’re struggling to adapt to the changes, or if you’re just not seeing the growth you’d like to see, likely, you’re not using all the marketing strategies available to you.
A lot of what you know as a stakeholder or business owner is still valid, you just need to incorporate it with the latest trends.
In this article, we will explore the top five marketing strategies for retail.
But before we get into the nitty-gritty, some definitions:
What is Retail Marketing?
Retail marketing is made up of a business’s attempt to sell its product to its customers. It seems broad, we know. But retail marketing is a larger category than you probably realize.
It encompasses traditional marketing (TV ads, billboards, direct mailers, etc.) and digital marketing (i.e., Facebook ads, Instagram stories, email campaigns).
And, as the graph below shows, digital marketing in retail is only growing.
When we talk about retail marketing, we are usually focusing on:
Your store may sell hard goods, such as appliances or electronics. Or your store may sell soft goods, such as clothing or cosmetics. You may even do a combination of both.
This covers all of your pricing decisions –– including what price points you sell your products or services at, what discounts or sales you offer, and how elastic your pricing is.
This is where consumers can find your product (whether a website or a storefront).
How are you going to take the above information and convey it to your customers? That’s where promotion comes into play.
Brick-and-Mortar Retailers vs. Online Only
There is a significant overlap between how a store should look and feel and how an e-commerce site should look and feel.
It doesn’t matter if it’s your storefront or your homepage, first impressions matter. It also doesn’t matter if you’re talking about merchandising fixtures or product pages, how you display your product matters.
We could write a whole other article focusing on key marketing strategies for retail businesses, store edition.
But for this post, we are going to mostly focus on strategies you can use with or without a store, such as setting up Facebook ads and recruiting influencers to promote your merchandise.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
1. Use Social Media Wisely
If you’re running a business today, chances are you have a social media account for it. You may have a Facebook account or Instagram or Twitter account (or maybe all three).
But it can be hard to see the value of being active on social media if you don’t have an overarching retail marketing strategy.
As the graph below shows, consumers who interact with your social media accounts are more likely to visit your store, visit your website, buy from you, and more.
But one of the main mistakes we see businesses make is using only one social media channel or using multiple channels as separate entities — thereby creating a fragmented user experience.
Don’t do that. Instead, we recommend you incorporate an omnichannel retail strategy and cultivate an interconnected strategy that moves customers closer to converting.
Customers want their experiences connected and seamless. Don’t make your customer reference a review on Google, then a coupon code on a Facebook ad and a loyalty program through your site just to get the best deal.
This pain point is exacerbated if you have a retail store.
Here is a classic example of a bad customer experience.
A customer sees a Facebook ad for your product, mentioning free shipping if they buy today. They drive to the nearest store (as they want to ask a few more questions before buying) only to find out free shipping isn’t available on in-store purchases.
You just effectively punished your customer for visiting your store and engaging with your brand.
Creating an omnichannel marketing strategy doesn’t happen overnight. As the graph shows below, retailers struggle to track the consumer journey across devices.
Imagine a customer buys one of your products through your Amazon store. First, they get the package delivered to them, but in the package, there is information directing them to a URL that is specific for the product they bought.
On this dedicated page, you can link back to your Amazon store and ask for a review, plus you can have lines of code that will now retarget this customer for accessories they had not yet purchased.
That’s the beauty of omnichannel marketing. Your customer bought through Amazon, but they are moved closer to your site and your brand.
To start creating an omnichannel strategy, we recommend you focus on combining mobile and desktop ads to boost your Facebook campaign.
2. Use Facebook Ads to Drive Revenue
Let’s say you’ve already tried running Facebook ads to drive retail sales. You put together some copy, found images that worked for your brand, set a budget, and ran a series of ads over a week or two.
You got some likes, a few comments asking for more information, but you couldn’t really confirm if the ads were working.
There is a lot to say about creating and running great Facebook ads (we know, we basically wrote the book on it).
When it comes to using Facebook ads as part of your overall retail marketing strategy, you’ll want to focus on these three things:
#1: Start with engagement campaigns.
These aren’t your money-making campaigns. These are your social-proofing campaigns. Facebook Engagement campaigns have some pros and cons, but the biggest pro is Facebook’s algorithm works to get as many people as humanly (computer-ly?) possible to react (such as giving a post a like or comment) to your post. This builds credibility for your ad and your overall brand.
#2: Create a sense of urgency.
You’ll save $100 vs. You have one day left to save $100 are two very different claims that elicit different responses. You don’t have to be that corny when it comes to creating a sense of urgency, but putting a clock or time-table in your ad gets your customer’s attention.
#3: Drive traffic to your brick-and-mortar store.
Obviously, ignore this one if you don’t have a physical store. But if you do, don’t discount Facebook’s power of getting your customers out of their home and into your store. You can set ads to target people by where they live (see below). So, if you’re running an event or an in-store only promotion, you can target an audience that is close to your store.
For everything you want to know about starting Facebook ads, check out our guide for beginners.
3. Use Google Shopping Campaigns
If you have a question or query, chances are you’re asking Google. At least, according to the most recent numbers that show Google owns 92.18% of the search engine market.
Getting your content to rank organically is a huge win for your business, but that takes significant time and upfront investment.
The great news is that, as the image below shows, Google Shopping campaigns can get your product to the very top of the SERP.
Google Shopping campaigns are the first thing customers see, and they are also more dynamic than traditional Google ads. Google Shopping features product images, pricing, shipping information, and star ratings.
The real trick is to use Google Shopping campaigns in addition to your other Google marketing strategies.
If you set up Google Shopping through your eCommerce site, while ranking organically in the SERP, while also running PPC Google ads, then what you’re doing is building multiple avenues where customers can find your product and click on it.
To get started with Google Shopping, read our article on how to set up a successful Google Shopping campaign.
4. Retarget Your Customers
Only 2% of the customers who land on your site will convert on their first visit. That number seems bleak, doesn’t it? Not so fast.
First, you can work to increase that number (and yes, you should be working to increase your conversion rate). Creating better ads and more optimized landing pages is a start.
But no matter how high you get that number, there will still be more people who don’t convert than do on the first visit.
The real winning strategy is understanding that it isn’t a failure that 98% of your customers didn’t convert on the first visit — it’s just step one in the buying process.
There are so many reasons why a customer didn’t decide to buy on their first visit.
They may have had more questions they needed answered first. Maybe they are holding for a super good deal. Maybe they really, really want your product, but it isn’t at the top of their list right now, and they were looking at your site like window shoppers do in a mall.
No matter the reason, the consistent truths are two-fold: they were interested in your product, but not enough to be sold.
Retargeting your customers keeps the conversation going after your customer has left your site.
Retargeting ads should work to solve those potential pain points. For example, if it’s the price, then an extra discount will sway them.
There are two main types of retargeting:
- Using email lists
- Using a Facebook Pixel on select pages
Using email lists is a great option for your customers, who either made a purchase or subscribed to your newsletter.
Depending on what product they purchased or what products they were interested in, you can trigger specific and custom email sequences that work to bring the customer back to the check out cart.
If your customer didn’t make a purchase or opt-in for your weekly newsletter, then you can retarget them with a Facebook Pixel.
You can set up so customers who’ve viewed a specific page on your site (such as a checkout page) will then see an ad for that specific product after they have left your site.
When a customer commits an action on your site, such as visiting a specific product page, that’s them showing interest.
By using retargeting, you can show them an ad that the available data suggests they are interested in.
5. Use Influencer Marketing for Unique and Value-Driven Content
Influencer marketing is designed to be specific, relatable, and personal. As customers want more relevant content, it’s easy to see why 65% of influence marketing budgets are expected to increase in 2020.
Finding authentic influencers to promote your brand allows you to gain trust and recruit new customers.
Instagram has been the home for most influencers. Instagram’s breadth of user-generated content allows you to find influencers who are natural fits for your vertical.
Let’s say you’re working on a GoPro-like camera. You can find influencers on Instagram whose content matches your product (mountain climbers, surfers, and so on).
And because it’s a marriage made in heaven (your product being used by people who are seen as authoritative figures in the industry), influencer marketing comes across as more genuine than having an A-list celebrity be your spokesperson.
Not sure how to start using influencers? Check out our post on the 5 Guidelines for Working with Influencers in 2020.
Like we said in the beginning, retail isn’t dead. It’s growing and changing. But it’s doing so within the familiar parameters of running a profitable business.
The overarching pain point hasn’t changed. How do you get your customers to buy your product?
The overarching solutions haven’t changed either. The customers need to be able to find your product, understand its benefits and features, trust its claims, and accept its price.
A successful retail marketing strategy will incorporate product, place, price, and promotion.
What has changed are the details.
Retail strategies have grown to embrace social media, use Facebook and Google ads, utilize influencers as the new brand ambassadors for your company, and leverage technology to retarget your consumers more efficiently than ever before.