Marketing for Your Brick-and-Mortar Store Pt IV: Increase Foot Traffic

As a brick-and-mortar store owner, you know that foot traffic is a large part of your brand’s success. The more people come into your business doors, the more revenue you’ll generate. What most people don’t consider, however, is that your foot traffic begins online in the digital age. Consider the following:

If you want to increase the foot traffic to your store, it’s worth working on your online presence. Thankfully, there are a few actionable ways you can improve your revenue stream with some DIY online marketing.

1. Capitalize on a Common Ecommerce Trend

Many Americans, myself included, are guilty of a practice called “show rooming.” This deal hunting trend involves looking at a product in store and ultimately making a purchase online. It stems from our natural propensity to want the best deal, but also know exactly to expect from our purchases.

From one standpoint, this makes it difficult for small business owners to compete. Instead of trying to fight show rooming, embrace it.

This is a relatively new approach to retail marketing, but it’s experienced some success. Independent retailer turned Wal-Mart subsidiary Modcloth recently opened a “Fit Shop” in San Francisco, which carries samples of different sizes of the offerings on their website. Customers can browse around, find the perfect clothing, and the store will have it shipped to their home within a couple of days free of charge. This works for a couple reasons:

  • Customers don’t have to pay for shipping, which is one of the biggest detractors for ecommerce, and;
  • Customers get the satisfaction of touching, feeling, and trying on a physical item in store, one of the biggest selling points for brick-and-mortar retailing.

2. Advertise an In-Store Event

If you want to increase foot traffic to your brick-and-mortar store and remain competitive in your marketplace, your approach should be two-fold: first, capitalize on the things that people love about in-store shopping. Secondly, address the pain points consumers have with shopping online.

One of the biggest downsides of shopping online is lack of experience. Ecommerce retailers can use the best photography and descriptions available, but it’s still just looking at items on a page. Brick-and-mortar retailers, on the other hand, have the opportunity to market an experience to their guests. One of the simplest and most effective ways to do that is by creating in-store events. This may be in the form of product launches, outdoor shopping festivals, or even something as simple as free samples.

Here’s a good example: there’s an art studio in my hometown where the owner takes custom orders and creates pieces from refurbished wood, farmhouse style. Recently, she started a once monthly event workshop where people can make their own signs using stencils she creates and instructions she provides. I took my kids there to make teacher’s gifts, and we barely could find a place to work, it was so crowded. Where did I find out about this event? You guessed it – her Facebook page.

Advertising in-store events online is a simple way to encourage more foot traffic in your store. Write an article for your blog, post an announcement on your website, and syndicate to your social media networks for full effect.

3. Up Your Engagement on Social Media

Over half of all consumers report that they view a business favorably when they read a positive review or other feedback online. This presents a valuable opportunity for you, as a retailer, to improve your customer engagement. Connecting consistently with your customers on social media is a great way to expand your reach and drive more traffic into your store. Examples include:

  • Sharing a customer’s posts. Whether it’s a perfectly plated salad or a to-die for pair of shoes, customers love sharing their shopping pictures online. Share it to your own page and thank the customer for patronizing your business.
  • Ask a customer to leave a review. If you have a customer’s email address, follow up a few days after their transaction and request that they leave honest feedback regarding their experience with your product or service.

Keep mind the complications of digital sharecropping when you engage on social media.

4. Submit Local Directory Listings

Lastly, you can improve your foot traffic by observing this simple online tip: register your business with local directories like Yelp, Internet Yellow Pages, and Google+Local. This helps increase your brand awareness, but also improves your local search engine rankings, so your website will be easier for potential customers to find.

Each directory has a different registration process, but most are as simple as filling out and submitting a simple form. Best of all most directories allow you to add photos of your business. This gives you an opportunity to showcase what your store is all about before a customer comes inside – and makes it more likely that they’ll pay a visit.

Your foot traffic and your online marketing presence are closely related, even if you don’t realize it. Follow these tips to drive more foot traffic into your brick-and-mortar store.

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Sarah Voigtman

Sarah is a native Michigander and mother of three. She spends her spare time searching for the perfect burger recipe and navigating the tumultuous waters of parenthood.

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