5 Online Marketing methods Brick-and-Mortar businesses can use to grow their online business
Online Advertising, SEO and Social Media are just new ways to build the loyal customer base successful businesses have always required.
Physical business continue to ignore online business opportunities. These businesses are hesitant to venture online, fearing they’ll dilute their existing business model or confuse customers but ignoring mounting evidence that brick-and-mortar shops without an online business are seriously risking failure as well as losing customers to their competitors who are online.
The internet continues to grow exponentially as the top method of effective advertising and marketing, and businesses that want to survive are taking advantage of it. The number of business 5 years ago using social media strategies to grow their business and get more customers has grown from 30% to well over 70% today. If you aren’t using social media or other online marketing approaches, you’re part of the minority.
Times are changing and business needs to embrace this change!
The key to being a successful business in the coming years will lie in your ability to connect with the new generation of millennials and even younger people who now hold massive buying power in today’s economy. Therefore, if you aren’t using online marketing or advertising, then you’re missing out on this very important demographic. Already, 70% of customers go online to view products before walking in to shop.
You can leverage online marketing to maximize offline sales — here are some helpful strategies and tangible takeaways.
1. Create an online community
One of the best strategies is to build an online community around a subject matter or niche that’s related to your core product offering. If you’ve primarily been a brick and mortar retailer and now you’re venturing into the online world more, I always recommend content marketing of some kind, since so many people are consuming business content now.
You’re eventual goal should be to pump out material on a regular basis that highlights your expertise in the type of business you run. For example, think of a company that offers tax preparation services like KZN Bookkeepers. It runs a blog that features stories about new tax rules or tips on tax exemptions. They also hold a networking event with speakers who can answer questions about taxes.
You can do all this even if you’re new to e-commerce. By building an active community, you’re simultaneously creating an owned media outlet that can then be leveraged to promote your business experience. The idea is to make sure people know that they can not only turn to you for finding a certain type of product or service, but also trust you to generate opinion about that subject so they can understand it better.
2. Use Google AdWords
In order to reach today’s customer, you have to think like them. If you were a potential customer who didn’t know your business existed, how would you discover the business? Sure, you could drive by and see it, but millennials are more likely to search for something on Google or Ananzi.
If you want to reach these searchers – which could potentially be a group of thousands in your immediate geographical area – then you must invest in paid advertising. Google AdWords will probably give you good bang for your buck. One suggestion is ensure you know what you doing so you don’t throw way your money on getting traffic that does not convert into actual sales.
3. Email Marketing
If you aren’t asking customers to sign up for some kind of rewards program, you’re missing out on the opportunity to build a valuable contact list. You should be collecting email addresses everyday on your website and store.
When you collect emails, you can then build an email list that can be used to advertise deals, share news, and promote special in-store offers. When users have access to such deals, they may be less likely to shop online for a certain product and more likely to wait until visiting your store.
4. Get a real Website
Last but not least, your web design is a direct reflection of your business. Specifically, you need to pay attention to mobile web design. While you may not think of web design as a component of Internet marketing, it certainly is. Just consider that 60% of users won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile website.
People who put together mobile sites nowadays have it down to a science. Everything from load times to placement of certain items on your smart phone screen heavily influences whether or not someone makes a purchase. Do your homework, hire someone with experience in this area, and put together something strong that helps you transition to the online world.
5. Professional email account
Whether you’re a new business owner, a freelancer or contractor, email is the primary method of communication for getting stuff done online. With so much time spent on email, one thing you can do to stand out is a customized email address. This will enable you to add a level of professionalism to your emails and get organized while managing multiple email addresses.
Tip: If you have a domain you should have a branded personalized email address. Chat to your hosting company to create this for you. Then forward you unbranded example Gmail emails to this new email address.
In the end, the path to success is clear. If a brick and mortar business want to survive the ongoing shift to an e-commerce-based economy, they need to invest in ways of optimizing their online experience. How your site looks and how you communicate with the groups you create is almost as important as how much customers connect with your product. If you leverage the online world right, you’ll keep customers that Takealot or other big brands are only too eager to grab away from you.