How to Get In-Store Traffic Using Social Media

Over the past decade, businesses have stepped up their social media game — big time however using it as a tool to drive traffic in-store can still be a challenge. With the explosion of online marketing, platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have become a must-have for running a successful e-commerce store but also a powerful tool for brick-and-mortar businesses. Local customers frequently go to their smartphones to discover what’s in-store, even if they are mere steps away from the retailer selling goods they might want to buy.

Yet, owners of brick-and-mortar stores still find it difficult to get walk-in traffic. Developing a strong connection between an in-person experience and your online presence is essential for small businesses even more so than the larger corporations who have massive marketing budgets.

We’ve put together a few tips for expanding your reach and developing a true relationship with those customers who know you through social media.

Develop a Social Media Persona

In-store shopping is about the experience. Customers expect to touch and examine merchandise up close, perhaps with the assistance of sales person. But few stores rarely offer something truly unique that can’t be found at another store or online which is quickly becoming, if not already, the preferred place to buy. What is it that makes shopping in person more or less appealing, it’s hard to say. Your brand’s persona can be replicated online but the experiences are very different. Translating what’s online to an in-person experience and making it seamless creates consistency. When you are consistent, people become familiar and you begin to build trust.

Use social media to develop your branding and create your persona. Share articles and write original content that is relevant to your brand’s story. Offer links to product information that gives your brand context and depth. Make it easy for followers to find your contact information, so they can get the entire experience of your persona when they do visit your shop in-store. The goal is to build brand awareness and create a community of people who are advocates.

Share Customer Experiences

There is no better advocate for your brand than your customers. When people have a great experience in your store, they will happily share that with others. The power of social proof and word of mouth can have a huge impact on your business. Invite your followers on social media to share their experiences, perhaps with a special hashtag, like “#shopmoments” or “#shopfinds,” replacing the word “shop” with the name of your store. It’s just another push to make customers want to visit you and to get your brand name top of mind so shoppers who just happen to be walking past your front door choose to drop in.

Create content around your customer’s experience as well. There are endless options to choose from. You could create a customer spotlight and have them talk about their favorite product, share pictures your customers tag the business in, create a private Facebook group where you can ask your customers for feedback, the list goes on and on.

Offer In-Store Only Products and Promotions

In the early days of e-commerce, retailers would encourage engagement with a website by offering sales, specials and product as part of website exclusives. To encourage in-store traffic, use this same technique to get online fans to come to your brick-and-mortar location. On your Facebook or Instagram feeds, promote a product that customers can only buy if they visit your store.

In-store events, like sample sales, new products, special guests and holiday offerings are all ways to get fans to come to your store. Use social media to present your store as a hub where something interesting is always happening. Informal snapshots of staff members serving customers or having fun in the shop can make the concept of an onsite visit all the more appealing.

If you really want to get people excited about a promotion, nothing will get people more pumped than giving something away for FREE. The bigger the giveaway the more people will share and engage. If you have a product or service that everyone loves and raves about start there. Offer a year supply or get creative and throw in something that people wouldn’t expect. This is a great way of building awareness but can also be a huge opportunity to grow your email list. Email List?? Yes, and if that’s something you’re not doing then you’re missing out big time.

Run a Facebook Ad Campaign

Facebook ads can cost mere cents and have the potential to offer a huge return on your dollars invested. They can be tailored to a hyper focused market of a few miles from your location. An ad can also tie into your email list signups, which later on or immediately can be for direct marketing. Via email, you can offer unique promotions that drive people to your shop but more importantly it gives you the ability to build your relationship with customers.

At first, developing a Facebook ad can be a little daunting considering the platform is always being updated with new features, changes to the layout, or the functionality. Once you get the hang of it, you will soon realize why so many marketers rely on this platform more so than any other including Google. Remember, Facebook is merely a medium between your customers and your business so you need to develop a strategy that takes them from being a browser to an actual buyer. Don’t create an ad if you don’t know how to convert your customers. The last thing you want to do is waste money and become frustrated.

Summary

Whenever you are marketing your business, emphasize the core of what you are selling. For most companies, that will be a brand experience. Think of your brick-and-mortar location as the ultimate expression of that brand experience, and all other marketing channels like your social media feeds as outlets that compliment that overall brand itself.

To stay relevant as a business owner in today’s world you need to be using social media. It’s no longer a “maybe”, it’s a MUST. Marketing is about knowing where your customer’s attention is at and positioning your brand so they can find you. Once they find you, you need to provide value though. Don’t think that just because you open your doors that people will start flocking to your business. The saying of “build it and they will come” doesn’t work so use social media to go to your customers and you will see the difference.