There will always be a need for retail stores. Whether it is someone looking for a new fan or busy shopping for commercial lighting, there will always be a need for a physical location. Some industries simply require that in-person touch to make a sale, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need a digital presence.
More and more, customers are first looking online – and increasingly mobile – for a retail store to fit their needs. This is a double-edged sword for retailers though. On one hand, the customer is already ready to buy – they are trying to find a store right now! On the other hand, you have to find a way to make sure your name is the one they see.
Marketing for retail can be a little tricky online, so here are the most important things unique to digital marketing for retail businesses.
Every business needs to be easy to find online, but this is more important for retail than any other business. A retail business’s storefront is its lifeblood. Your most important sales funnel is simply directing a ready-to-purchase customer to your site, and there is no better way to do that than online listings.
Online listings are the yellow pages of digital marketing, but unlike the good old days, there are dozens of yellow pages now. There are listings for retailers, local services, food, contractors, and dozens of others. Navigating through the sea of websites to find the ones your customers are most likely to use is a huge factor in driving leads to your website or to your location. However, it isn’t a good idea to try and blast your name on every site you can find.
Many services will try to charge you exorbitant monthly fees to ‘manage your accounts’ or will ask a monthly fee just to post your business on their site. Most of these services are preying on small businesses and offer redundant or useless features. That is why we advise you to seek a professional consultant like Promotion LA. Navigating the minefield of online listings can be one of the most daunting tasks – which listings are right for you, which will charge you, and which will help. That’s why we leverage years of experience to get you listed where it matters most.
The Google 3-pack
Google is the most important tool for digital marketing for retail businesses or any other. It is what 98% of your customers will use to find your business or a website that lists your business. But in addition to the usual SEO worries of other businesses, retail businesses have to be particularly aware of the Google 3-pack.
Sometimes called the ‘tri-pack’ by digital marketers, the Google 3-pack is a Google map listing of the three closest businesses to a search result. For instance, if someone searches, “Office lamps Los Angeles,” Google will provide the top three results from where the user is searching as well as which companies have the highest rank. Each one of these businesses will have their location, website, and rating appear on Google before all other search results.
This is incredibly important as the 3-pack circumvents normal Google page ranks to provide information on local businesses. Strategizing for the Google 3-pack can be difficult, but there are some steps you can take to try and target getting into this illustrious top three.
- Optimize your Google+ page. Keep this page updated with content, information, and reviews. It will help Google know where the best business in a local area is.
- Make sure your Online Listings all uniformly display the same address. This will massively boost your odds in the Google 3-pack.
- Get local backlinks. This may require networking with businesses in your area or signing up with local listings, but it is a huge benefit.
Customer reviews and ratings
Of course, none of your other efforts will matter if you have an abysmal user rating. Google, Yelp, and almost every online listing have a user review/rating system for your business. If you rank poorly among customers, not only will it look bad, but Google won’t let you anywhere near the 3-pack and will even push you farther down the SERP (Search Engine Results Page).
This is one of your biggest digital marketing avenues as a retail business, and it is important to start at the ground floor. Make sure your sales staff treat customers with respect, that you have good engagement with customers both on and offline, and that you encourage customers to leave reviews. In fact, promotions for discounts upon leaving reviews or other offers are a great way to encourage your customers to help grow your reviews and ratings.
It might be tempting to try and pad these reviews and ratings with fake ones, but just don’t do it. Customers can see through lies, and suspiciously sparse 5-star ratings might not just make you look bad, but it might alert online listings or Google itself, and getting caught trying to fraud their system is the last thing you want.
Many small businesses have been in retail for decades without turning to digital marketing, but more and more, it isn’t just an option, it is a necessity. At Promotion LA, we have worked with countless small businesses and ushered many into the age of digital marketing. If you have questions, concerns, or want to schedule a consultation, please call us at 310-405-7598 or email us!