What happens when the physical world of bricks and mortar collides with the digital world of content, code and local SEO? Marketing heaven! Local retailers have plenty of great online opportunities: from quirky social media to positive online reviews. Similarly, online merchants can benefit from the local business community, transforming real-world relationships into online wins. Here are eight ways that the two worlds can be used side-by-side to maximize business results.
Local SEO Opportunities for Retail Businesses
#1 Local SEO for Your Store
Use online trust signals to make a splash in your local area.
Rank for those all-important local search queries by emphasizing your store’s local presence. How? By simply telling search engines where you are … (a good search tactic for online and brick & mortar businesses).
- Free map listings like Google My Business will help (literally) put your business on the map. It only takes moments to set up.
- Mention your store address on your website and in your copy once or twice (but don’t go overboard).
- Contact local business associations and membership organizations in your area and score a listing for your business.
- Keep listings consistent – make sure you always spell key details (like your address and business name) in exactly the same way.
#2 Social Proof Online
Word-of-mouth recommendations are powerful retail ammo. Create the same effect online with great online reviews and endorsements.
- Cultivate good relationships with your customers (whether in-store or online), and learn how to capture happy customers’ feedback. Try to give people the chance to use their own words – anything that seems too manufactured or corporate will stand out as fake.
- If you don’t ask … you don’t get. However you decide to collect online reviews, make sure that you do actually ask for them (and you might have to prompt people once or twice). Make filling in a review form as easy as possible. If it’s hard, people won’t do it.
- Once you’ve collected lots of great product reviews – shout about it. Don’t just promote them on social media (not necessarily that effective); use review schema markup to enhance product search results.
- User generated content is an eCommerce must-have. Try to get your customers involved: you want them sharing photos, videos, and real product experiences. Create some social and email campaigns around capturing this data.
#3 Local Contacts = Digital PR
Be strategic and transform local and real-world relationships into online ones. (You never know who might run a successful blog, or have a contributor account at the local news outlet.)
When meeting people online, consider how you might work together one day – cultivate positive, mutually beneficial ties.
- When meeting an interesting new contact, consider whether you could work on some online PR together in a local cafe? Maybe you could feature them in an area guide? Being helpful online pays off.
- Join local Facebook and LinkedIn groups to widen your circle of influence and find out about other new businesses. Be an active community member and contribute to conversations. Can’t find a group? Start your own!
- Here are some more local business link building tactics to try. It pays off to know what’s going on around your business, both online and in the real world.
#4 Social Media
Social media is a great way for traditional retailers and small businesses to enter the online world. For online businesses, social is where you can let loose and reveal more about the people behind the brand.
On social media, you can quickly gather a strong and loyal following by creating your own authentic, online voice.
- Social media accounts for local businesses often become popular thanks to their down-to-earth attitude and genuine audience engagement. People are getting sick and tired of slick, corporate social media. Red Mango is one of the local businesses currently rocking their social accounts. Diversity of content and adding value is better than blindly broadcasting offers. (Never post stuff like this.)
- A great customer experience of going above and beyond can help a local business create a storm of publicity. Value happy customers and always thank someone when they reach out to you on social. Here is how to embed customer experience into your thinking.
#5 Guerrilla Marketing
Embrace a guerrilla marketing attitude to surprise and engage.
Publicity stunts and advertising on the streets done well combines digital and local marketing.
- Making a splash on the streets for an event or product launch? A video of people dancing or singing can be uploaded online and can be used to create a buzz for your brand. Publicity stunts have been done to death in recent years, so if you’re going down this route – opt for something different or genuine to keep things interesting. Try to tell an interesting story while you’re at it.
- Online-only businesses should also look at how physical marketing can help drive brand awareness. Local campaigns that take to the streets and talk to people generate meaningful content. After all, customers live in both the physical and digital worlds.
#6 Multichannel Wins
Selling on multiple channels, both online and offline, is a great way to diversify income. Here are just some ways to go multichannel retail:
- Sell on multiple online marketplaces
- Sell to other department stores/retailers
- Sign up for affiliate programs and get others to sell for you
- Create a mobile app for selling
- Retailing? Open an online store
- E-tailing? Run a pop-up for a month or two
The most important thing about selling multichannel is to ensure that you integrate the customer experience across all channels – giving people the same great experience wherever they go. The relationship between your physical and online store should be seamless.
#7 Better Customer Experiences
Ultimately, great retail, both offline and online, comes down to great experiences. It’s not enough to sell “great stuff” – you need to infuse that greatness into your brand, customer service, and company ethos.
- Recognize the complexity of modern retailing and use all the tools at your disposal (live chat, phone support, social media customer service, etc.) to keep customers happy. For a customer on their smartphone, the difference between a telephone conversation and a tweet can be negligible – don’t get so hung up on the differences that you lose sight of what matters.
- Happy customers love to share branded content voluntarily. If you provide a great experience, endorsements will follow. Some regulars may need a little encouragement – share with them what you’re doing online, and how you’d love to get them involved.
- Be generous with the offers you share and encourage people to get friends and family involved with friends & loyalty offers.
#8 Democratization of Retail
eCommerce not something you’ve done before? Embrace exciting, new possibilities as retail becomes more accessible.
Web technology advancements mean selling online is possible for more and more people. Online opportunities are being seized by local community groups, charities, teens, and momtrepreneurs who run their own stores without complex web development. Don’t stop at the craft stall – think beyond to the online world.
- Creatives are taking Etsy by storm – emerging talent can now be found by a much wider audience, not constrained by geography.
- Entrepreneurs are turning to services like Shopify to launch their own online emporiums, with tons of talented people taking the plunge and sharing their passion for matcha, beard oil, bowties, etc. with the world!
- Don’t be afraid to try something new in 2017. Technology can help you carve out new business opportunities for your brand.
- Already e-tailing? Partner up with emerging talent and local community groups to help them grow, and simultaneously broaden your own customer base.
The worlds of local retail and online digital marketing work well together – always keep an eye out for how both can help your business’s local SEO. Just remember that both mediums are ultimately about connecting with people.
What opportunities are you going to explore both digitally and locally for your brand in 2017?