In a time where local retailers are forced to grapple with e-commerce and market saturation, how can they effectively implement digital marketing strategies that not only keep their heads above water but capitalize on their product expertise, superior service, and direct connection with local audiences?
That was the question we recently posed to two retailers in the specialty run and automotive industries: Charlotte Walsh, owner of Charles River Running, and Stacey Gray, Social Media Manager at Crowley Automotive.
With the rise of e-commerce and the decline of big-box retail, it is only becoming more challenging for national brands to meaningfully connect and engage with local audiences. Because of this, local retail is now the conduit for that invaluable brand-to-local relationship, and to ensure ongoing success here, it’s crucial that brands understand how their retailers are marketing and promoting their products.
As part of our recent Retailer Panel at the 2016 Aligned Conference, Charlotte and Stacey gave leading brand professionals the opportunity to hear from the retailers themselves, offering candid responses on what strategies they utilize to succeed in today’s digital marketing landscape.
Digital marketing and social media have evolved in such a way to allow retailers the opportunity to really speak to their customers and not just advertise to them.
Stacey had this to share: “In order to really engage our customers, we have a constant conversation going with them on social media. This allows us to talk to our customers from the decision-making process to the purchase of the car to any service and so on.”
By utilizing digital marketing to connect with customers beyond the sale, retailers can now nurture ongoing relationships and conversations with local audiences and leverage them to remain top of mind along the path to purchase.
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When it comes to original marketing tactics, Stacey and Charlotte know that you have to get creative in order to drive consumer engagement beyond mere “Likes.”
For Charlotte, that means regularly hosting in-store events (like new product demos and marathon training sessions) and spreading the word across social channels.
Charlotte: “I’ll create a Facebook event for every single event that I hold at the store, and then we’ll just blast it out across Twitter, Instagram, and any other channel we can get our hands on.”
While Stacey is no stranger to marketing in-store events for Crowley Automotive across social, another creative strategy that she has found a great deal of success in is social media contests and giveaways.
Stacey: “Apparently, people are really competitive even about small things like posting the cutest picture of their dog in their car. Who knew?”
If retailers want to create buzz around their businesses and drive people into the stores, it’s no longer enough to just be present on social and digital channels. They have to go beyond the basics and start thinking outside the box in order to stand out.
Every digital channel is different, with unique audience demographics and benefits to leverage. With this in mind, retailers must ask themselves a few important questions: What makes the channel right for my business? Who are we trying to reach here? What content will perform best on this channel?
Charlotte shared some insights into how she adapts: “Facebook has changed. Many of my customers on there generally skew older and more female. Instagram has now taken over a lot of the younger, more visual-minded viewers and readers. After those two, a lot of the men I’m trying to reach are on Twitter. I’ve adapted along with them to really think about the way I post on these channels, who I’m speaking to, and what content I should be posting where.”
Retailers must now begin to think through the strategies behind the digital channels they utilize as part of their marketing strategies. Without tailoring accordingly, they will fail to hit the right local customers on the right channels with meaningful impact.
Stacey and Charlotte have both found that the most successful retail marketing strategies maintain a consistent balance between the personal and the product-focused.
Authenticity is a necessary part of the customer experience, with local stores reminding us that consumers still want to interact with real, genuine people. With this personal connection in mind, there still remains a definite need for retailers to market the brands they sell via professional brand content.
Charlotte shares her thoughts: “Sitting in cubicles all day long, everyone has their own escapist fantasies. To see a beautiful image of someone climbing a mountain in a gorgeous jacket, it inspires us to be like, ‘Yes, I’m going to do that this weekend.’ So, I think it’s important for us to have more of that brand and product-focused content.”
By folding branded marketing content into their personalized approach to digital, retailers benefit from increased reach and engagement while lending brands a legitimate tie to local communities.
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At the end of it all, Stacey and Charlotte have found a lot of their retail marketing success by never being afraid to try new things, whether that may be trying out a growing social media channel like Snapchat or diving into the world of video content.
Stacey: “We have tried so many different tactics, so many different Facebook promotions and contests, and not once have we suffered from just trying something new. I think it’s really all about figuring out how to talk to your customers or people that you want to be your customers. Things are constantly changing, and you can’t just pick one thing and do that forever because it will eventually become stagnant. Just play around and see what works.”
The important thing is to practice patience. While growth may not come overnight as a result of new techniques and strategies, the growth will come (as Stacey and Charlotte have demonstrated) as long as retailers continue to tell stories, talk to the right people, and remain consistent in their messaging.
With the state of retail in flux, it’s crucial that brands work to make it as easy as possible for their retailers to promote the brands they sell on their digital channels.
Promoboxx gets you there.
Engage more local consumers through your retailers with your professional marketing content and drive in-store sales. It’s that simple. Contact us to learn more >