Shopping online is changing consumers’ perceptions of retail, but the vast majority of people still do their shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. In fact, according to analysis from Internet Retailer, eCommerce sales accounted for less than 15 percent of all retail sales in 2018.
Don’t worry about whether web is driving traffic away from physical stores. Now is the time to use the internet to your advantage. You can do this by turning your website’s visitors into foot traffic.
Here’s how to create a marketing funnel that does just that.
Flood the Top of Your Marketing Funnel With Local Web Traffic
A great local marketing funnel starts with attracting the right kind of traffic. And if you’re focusing on driving users into your physical store, that traffic needs to be local. After all, people from other states probably aren’t going to come and visit your store.
Don’t worry, though. There are plenty of ways to generate high levels of local traffic.
Local SEO is crucial for regional businesses, writes copywriter Marc Schenker. “Optimizing your local SEO means more website traffic, leads, and conversions since the strategy is more relevant to your base of local customers. Think of this focused strategy as a way to help you compete more effectively against larger national brands that have unlimited resources to spend.”
It starts by having an established presence on Google My Business and Bing Places, writes marketing consultant Peter Meinertzhagen. “This is probably, apart from having up-to-date information, the most important thing that you can do for local SEO because Google needs to get its information from somewhere. So having a Google My Business, you’re directly telling Google what your business is about, where it can be found, etc.”
It also puts you front and center in the eyes of customers. A study by Uberall found that 82 percent of consumers (and 92 percent of millennials) conducted “near me” searches on their smartphones. More than 90 percent were likely to click on the first set of results.
Social media can also be a driver of top-of-funnel traffic for local businesses, writes local business marketer Stacy Tuschl. “Facebook allows marketers to target users with ads, such as Reach ads, by location and offers many tools for finding and connecting with customers in your area.” Further, Facebook ads are incredibly cost-effective for local businesses, especially given the targeting capabilities that are inherent in the platform.
Paid search ads can also be used to bring warmer leads into your funnel. Google’s Local Inventory Ads display a list of nearby shops to searchers who currently have the product they are looking for in-stock.
These kinds of ads can be very effective. Best Buy’s marketing team (which was led by Greg Revelle at the time) used Local Inventory Ads to generate more than a million store visits and increase clicks to their website by 44 percent.
Nail the First Impression
Losing visitors is a natural part of sales funnels, but if you don’t have a high-quality website that makes a strong first impression you could lose all of your visitors before you’ve even had a chance to engage them.
“Beginning with your website, consumers are passing judgment and making decisions about whether or not they will even visit your store, restaurant or office,” writes Retail Minded founder Nicole Leinbach-Reyhle. If your website doesn’t present your business well enough, visitors could forget about you completely.
From a retail perspective, you need to provide customers with all of the information they need to make a purchase — even when the goal is to get them into your store to make that purchase. “That’s why online product descriptions (in combination with product photography) are a critical driver of conversions – providing the information the customer needs to make a confident purchase decision,” explains entrepreneur Ed Bussey. Yet many retailers still neglect this kind of basic information.
Product descriptions aren’t enough on their own. Research by Kibo suggests 80 percent of consumers are less inclined to visit a store when product inventory and availability aren’t shown on their website. In addition, 81 percent of consumers researched a retailer’s inventory before visiting the store in the last six months, and 39 percent of consumers say they expect to see inventory online.
When customers are choosing between products, you’ll need to go the extra mile on your site. ExpertVoice’s Kevin Knight recommends placing a high priority on product reviews and making them an important part of your marketing funnel. “Actually bring [customers’] voices into your marketing mix by integrating them into your website, social posts, emails and even billboards.
Knight points to Solo Stove, an eCommerce brand that makes stainless steel fire pits, as one company that uses this tactic particularly effectively. Every single product page on the site is packed with photos of customers using the product alongside genuine reviews that do a great job of reinforcing customers’ confidence in their purchase decision.
Consumers will thank you for adding on-site reviews, says Bazaarvoice. Their research shows that 45 percent of customers who shop at physical stores check online reviews before purchasing.
Retarget Visitors to Keep Them Engaged
Next, you’ll next need to look at ways you can touch base with potential customers.
Odds are they won’t become in-store customers after one session of browsing your site. So, you need to find a way to connect. That’s where retargeting pixels come in.
“This is when an anonymous user visits your website, leaving it before making a purchase,” copywriter and editor Jen Hasty explains. “Before they leave the site, a pixel (more commonly referred to as a cookie) is left on their browser which then notifies a retargeting platform to place advertisements on pages they’re visiting.”
The most common version of this is Facebook’s tracking pixel, which allows you to target people who have previously visited your website on Facebook and its sister platforms.
Doing this allows you to follow up with customers as they move through the journey and send offers that encourage them to interact with your brand, explains digital marketer Al Sefati. For instance, if your business is a restaurant Sefati suggests offering a free drink or appetizer to website visitors to encourage them to stop by.
Kelly Ehlers, founder and president of Ideas That Evoke, also recommends that you use Facebook Offer Ads to encourage people to visit your physical store. What’s particularly great about Facebook’s pixel and ad platform is that you can track how many people were shown the offer, how many claimed it and how many people came into the store to use it.
Of course, sending ads to website visitors isn’t the only thing you can use social media for. If you can encourage visitors to follow your store’s social media accounts, Ehlers suggests that you post regularly about what your business is up to in order to keep customers engaged. “For example, are you doing any charity or community events? Do you have specials going on in store? Are you partnering with another local business? These are all good content to showcase on social!”
Make It Easy for Customers to Convert
Customers are going to reach the bottom of your funnel — the point at which they are ready to visit your store — at different rates. It’s important to make sure that you make the conversion as easy as possible when they are ready to do so.
ShopKeep’s Sara Sugar reminds local businesses to make themselves easy to find. “You’ll want to make sure key directories like Google Places, Yelp, Apple Maps, Foursquare, Yahoo and more are up to date with an accurate description of your business, your address, hours of business, and even pictures.”
Most people will need a little convincing to move from your website to your store. Copywriter Alexandra Sheehan has the following recommendations for getting website visitors running down to your store:
- Showcase your latest products on your website, and make them available in-store only.
- Offer a money-off coupon that can only be redeemed in store.
- Host one-off in-store events.
- Make the benefits of shopping at your store (stylists, expert advice, samples, etc.) clear on your website.
- Run a flash sale.
Promotions can be a particularly effective way to increase foot traffic, says Ipsos Retail Performance, who notes that 38 percent of shoppers look for vouchers or coupons before purchasing.
An even bigger incentive to get visitors into your store is through by offering an option to buy online and pick up in-store (BOPIS). The National Retail Federation’s Consumer View survey reports that more than half of shoppers are aware of BOPIS, 70 percent of those who have heard of it have tried it, and almost two-thirds of those shoppers say it has improved their experience.
By offering BOPIS, local retailers get double the benefits: You ensure you get paid by your funnel before the conversion you were looking for, and the customer still visits your store, anyway.
This provides plenty of chances for upsells, writes Vend’s Ashley Gilgrist. “Unlike retailers that sell exclusively online, having a physical presence means you can add more value to your Click & Collect sales based on personal interactions with customers. Use the power of conversation to figure out if there’s anything in your store that can complement the items that a customer has purchased.”
Don’t End Your Funnel at the First Store Visit
“Don’t just get customers in the store once,” says marketer Lori Hill. “Build relationships and get them in your store over and over again.”
One of the best ways to achieve this is through email marketing, Hill says. It offers more intimacy than other channels, has a better ROI, and allows you to promote several offers or products at once.
You can directly ask customers whether they want to be added to your mailing list. Or if you prefer something less direct, ask if they’d like their receipt emailed to them, or offer a coupon in return for their email.