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The internet and social media has allowed retailers to advertise their stores without breaking the bank, but the sheer number of ways to reach potential shoppers can be intimidating. What are the best ways to use digital marketing? Alex Yau reports
How digital marketing helps me
Abdul Arain, Al-Amin Stores, Cambridge
Abdul knows how important Google is when customers are researching which store to head to. Listing his store on the search engine four years ago helped increase sales by 5%.
Increased footfall has definitely been a result of listing our store on Google Maps. People, especially the younger generation, are on their phones all the time and seek information quickly. Having your information on Google Maps can have a big impact on who comes to your store, whether it is locals looking for somewhere nearby to top up their weekly shop or tourists looking for their nearest convenience store.
Store reputation can also be influenced by your Google listing. I advise other retailers to keep their details and respond to comments if they have their shop on Google Maps. You can ensure your correct opening times are there, have pictures to offer a good overall first impression of the store while replying to comments will give customers the positive impression that you are reliable and are willing to respond to any issues they have. The internet has become such a vital tool for retailers now.
Supplier advice Ben Smith, Communications manager, Concha Y Toro
Choose an in-store expert: Digital marketing doesn’t have to be expensive, but it can be time consuming. Choose someone from your team who is naturally engaged with digital – a regular contributor to Instagram or Twitter. Run social media-exclusive deals: Recruit followers by offering digital-only deals at your store in return for retweets and follows. Competitions are a great way of building a social following. Focus on talking about brands that already have a strong social presence, then they are likely to amplify any exposure you give to them, thus giving you a bigger reach. The more engagement (retweets and forwards, for example) you get, the better the search engines will position your posts.
How digital marketing helps me
Peter Lamb, Lambs Larder, East Sussex
Peter has become a big user of social media, combining Twitter, YouTube and in-store display boards to tell shoppers about current promotions alongside interesting facts about his store.
The digital display helps because we have a train station right next to the shop. Shoppers who are waiting for a train can see information on departure times and we also use this as an opportunity to promote certain offers we’ll have on during the week. We also use YouTube and post videos of the store, whether that is just general footfall in the day or of certain displays, and it helps create a positive impression. Shoppers know they’re walking into a pleasant store after seeing it beforehand on YouTube.
Using a smartphone
We use smartphones in two different ways. I have several old Android devices and I use them for YouTube videos and social media posts to film and photograph the store in various angles. I’m developing an app which helps me manage all this together, while posting on social media at scheduled times.
I recommend only four posts a day as people can become annoyed if you put too much on social media. Retailers with an online presence should also make sure their website is optimised for mobile. A website on a desktop computer might be too big or have too much for a smaller phone screen. You can get experts to help you with that for a discounted price if you search the internet.
I use a website called freelancer.com and have found web experts which charge prices 90% cheaper than anywhere else.
Supplier advice Nelly Khumalo, Digital development manager, Spar UK
Make sure customers can find you: Retailers should ask themselves if customers can find their businesses online. If the answer is no, this is where there is the most effective opportunity for growth because many retailers haven’t yet realised the value of owning their data.
Engage with responses of all kind: Putting your store in an easy-to-find position online means that you’re likely to get feedback – both the good and the bad. This is an opportunity to see what your reviews are, what you are doing well or could do better and it will give you a chance to respond directly.
Encourage customers to “check in” with you: Services like Google and Facebook understand the value of local listings as they are the biggest sources of traffic for them. They also help customers “check in” to locations. If you’ve never claimed a listing, I can guarantee that someone (who doesn’t know your business) would have already created one for you.
How digital marketing helps me
Ramsey Hasaballa, Premier Speke, Liverpool
Ramsey relies on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to tell the world about any offers in the store alongside offering giveaways and competitions.
Social media is vital for us and it often leads to significant uplifts in sales. For example, I posted a promotion on Fox’s Biscuits on Twitter and we ended up selling four cases with a few days. A similar post on Facebook ended up generating 12,000 views. It helps us compete with the multiples and similar rivals because customers will either know we offer the cheaper product, or we’re much closer to them when they search for a shop or product online.
We treble the amount we post during Christmas and we expect sales to increase by about 20% as a result of the increased traffic. We find social media also helps attract customers who aren’t local either. Liverpool John Lennon Airport is nearby and when taxi drivers or tourists flying in or out search for a store, we normally come up on their search results.
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