The thought of scaling a marketing plan can be intimidating to brick-and-mortar retailers of any size. However, for those who are just starting out or operating locally, executing a fully-fleshed out marketing strategy can seem like an almost impossible task.
Social media is a great entry point into the world of marketing for those who have an overflowing to-do list. Not only is it a way to test out your store’s branding and messaging, it also provides you with a variety of ways to strategically tap into your local target market, without breaking the bank. If you have a few extra hours during the week, or a few extra hundred dollars to spend on marketing, you can use social media to accurately target your ideal customers and drive them to your store.
5 Ways to Use Social Media to Drive Customers to Your Store
Google My Business
The first task that you want to take on when using digital marketing to drive customers to your store is ensuring that your store shows up on search engines. Whether you know it or not, your customers are out there using tools like Google and Bing to search for exactly what you’re offering. If you haven’t taken the necessary steps to show up in their search results, you’re missing out on valuable traffic.
Use Google My Business to develop your online presence specifically for the search engine. It’s a free tool, and lets you add photos of your store, give customers easy access to directions using Google Maps, highlight reviews, offer multiple ways for them to contact you, and even serve them targeted offers, right on the Google SERP (search engine results page).
Now, when your customers are searching for, say, “convenience store near me”, you’re more likely to pop up at the top of the page and make a great first impression.
Google My Business also lets you gather data about how potential customers are searching for you, and what keywords they use to find your store. This information can be helpful as you expand your marketing strategies into search engine optimization and content creation, but it can also tell you what people in the area are looking for, and allow you to pivot your business to meet their needs.
Be honest with us, when you read “Facebook Ads” did you immediately have the urge to scroll away? Do you find the idea of spending money to advertise on social media daunting?
We get it. When you think of advertising, you think of spends ranging from the thousands of dollars to the hundreds of thousands of dollars. If your business doesn’t have that kind of budget for marketing yet, don’t worry. You can advertise on Facebook for as little as $5 a day, though we’d recommend putting a little more behind your ads if you really want them to work for you.
The reason we recommend Facebook ads is because they have the power to target your audience on a very detailed level, unlike broader advertising channels like television, radio, and print. Facebook ads include targeting that can narrow down an audience based on geographic location, job title, age, and even interests. You can get specific with your budget down to $5 intervals, and test advertising creative (usually a photo or video with copy in the caption) with real-time results.
If you’re looking for a way to meet your potential customers where they are, Facebook is the place to be. When you’re creating your next marketing plan, consider incorporating a Facebook ads experiment, and see how much traffic even a small budget can drive to your store.
The term “influencers” could be another that brings to mind mega-budgets and difficult execution, but, when used on a local level, this social media strategy could have a major effect on your business.
Influencers don’t have to be people with millions of followers on social media. Think about who is really influencing decisions in your community: the local president of the PTA, the mom who organizes fundraisers for her children’s sports teams, the captain of the football team, the head of a young entrepreneurs organization. These are the people who can inspire others to frequent your store.
Reach out to your identified influencers and see if they would be interested in promoting your store through social media in exchange for a discount. The key here is to make sure that the connection between your store and your influencers is authentic. If the local president of the PTA is known for having luxury handbags and designer duds, then she may not be the best fit for your frugal-focused convenience store.
If done successfully, implementing a local influencer social media strategy could allow you to speak directly to your target marketing, with the added bonus of a genuine recommendation from a well-respected community member.
Giveaways and Partnerships
Social media was made for partnerships and giveaways. Look for other local businesses in your area that have similar customers to yours (though are obviously not direct competitors) and propose a partnership for a giveaway or larger campaign through social media.
Hosting a giveaway doesn’t need to take a lot of time or effort. Whether you’re giving away something from your store, or a larger grand prize, all you’ll need to do is ask people to comment or like your posts to enter. Then, when the giveaway has ended (make sure to note the ending date in your post caption!), enter the names of your entrants into a randomized name picker, and find out who your winner is.
Partnerships and giveaways are an ideal use of your marketing muscle because not only do they encourage engagement, they also let you get in front of your partner’s followers, which include your target market. You’ll drive traffic to your store, and probably build a larger social media following along the way.
Not every social media strategy needs to require a lot of time or energy on your end. This finally tip simply requires you to provide a call to action to your customers in your store. Create your own hashtag, and encourage customers (through signage or marketing communications) to post photos of their experience in your store and use the hashtag or tag your social media accounts.
Most brick-and-mortar stores don’t provide an experience that many customers would want to share on social media. If you create an “Instagram wall” or an otherwise unique photo opportunity for your customers in your store, you’ll have a better chance of getting people to post about you on social media. Encourage that behavior, and you’ll see people drawn to your store simply based off of the posts they’ve seen from their friends and family.
Social media is the new word of mouth. By focusing your marketing efforts (even if you’re just starting out) on cultivating a great reputation on social media, whether that’s using Google My Business, implementing Facebook ads, or working with local influencers, you’re putting yourself in the best position possible to make a splash in your community, and drive more foot traffic to your store.