Four Easy Ways to Drive Retail Foot Traffic From Digital

The secret is out: Retail is struggling. Hard. Across the industry, foot traffic is in massive decline, stores and entire chains are closing, and sales are down.

Left standing among the wreckage are firms who are either all digital, or who have managed to pivot to a hybrid retail and e-commerce model. But digital is not the enemy of your retail strategy: if you’re strategic about it, digital offers a great opportunity to drive retail foot traffic.

Here are four easy ways to drive foot traffic from digital marketing.

Mobile apps. Using either your company’s app or a third party app such as RetailMeNot, you can geo-target campaigns or promotions to drive users to your location. For example, you could set up a geo fence with a five-mile radius around your location, and serve a user a coupon with a push notification when they enter that radius. Make the coupon redeemable in store only, and consider offering other unadvertised deals concurrently at the location so they end up buying more once they get inside.

Don’t have that capability on your app? Perhaps you can send geo-targeted in-app or push notifications. Maybe you can send an email. Leverage whatever customer digital touch points you have– the concept remains the same: Identify where your customers are, and compel them to come to their nearby store.

Allocate a small budget for geo-targeted display and social media advertising to raise awareness and encourage visiting the store with a compelling offer or event relevant to them. You can offer custom coupons for specific areas with easy-to-remember redemption codes, so customers in the area can screenshot and redeem in store. Couponing in this fashion allows you to track ROI as an added bonus. Additionally, increased awareness of your retail offerings can lead to further e-commerce purchase consideration.

Store locators. Make sure your website has a robust store locator. If you have multiple locations, each one should have its own unique page with store-specific content, such as hours, maps, pictures of the store, etc. When you send out emails or use geo-targeted search advertising, you can drive to the specific location relevant to your targeted audience. Of course these pages should be mobile optimized!

Also, make sure all your locations are listed and up to date on local search/review sites such as Yelp, Foursquare and Google Places. The content of these listings should mirror the content from the store-specific web pages you’ve created for each location. Curate reviews on these sites to boost your word-of-mouth, social media marketing efforts.

Individual store locator pages as well as local search listings are critical for ranking well search engine search results.

Employee influencers. Give your locations their own Instagram accounts, and empower employees to produce relevant store-specific content. It is wise to set up some guidelines and guardrails, and offer some training on how to use the social media handle. But then give them the freedom to create store-specific content, which can help build relationships with customers for each location. It can also be an outlet to discuss a location’s sales or incentives that may be running independently from the wider organization.

Experiential activations. Think of creative ways to capitalize on the intersection of digital and real life. For example, initiate a scavenger hunt online. Post pictures of gift cards hidden in your store, and give them away to whoever finds them. That way, you’re meeting your customer where they are (online), and leading them where you want them to go (your store). Extra credit: Have a BBQ or live music at the location, so when people arrive to participate in the scavenger hunt they have a reason to stay and keep shopping. And if they love it, they may even invite their friends!

The key as always is understanding who your customer is, why they like you, and why they shop from you. Then you can get creative and provide a compelling reason for people to come to your stores. Again, more retail traffic can lead to higher brand consideration for your e-commerce presence as well. In the rapidly changing retail environment, digital is not the enemy — it is your friend. Leverage it for all it’s worth.

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Pete Hall is a seasoned digital marketer with over 8 years experience across owned, earned and paid channels. He has worked with some of the biggest brands in the world, including Nike, adidas, Vail Resorts, Forever 21, Under Armour, LucasArts, Pixar and more. His favorite thing to do when not working is to play soccer, injure himself, play Overwatch or participate in cult-like activities like Crossfit.