Podium hosted a webinar that shed light on five retail marketing strategies that retailers can use to win locally.
Logan Wooden, product marketing manager at Podium, led the seminar with guest Chris Strong, marketing manager at Watson’s Furniture.
The two started by discussing how mobile is the bridge between online and offline experiences and how the customer journey works.
“The journey is dynamic,” Strong says. “There’s always talk of the funnel and how the consumer moves through it, but the reality is, the consumer moves in and out of different phases of this journey. And as retailers, we have to meet them where they’re wanting to be met, and on the terms that enable them to feel confident and comfortable in the process of making a purchase.”
Today, one of the most important aspects of the customer journey is local search. We know that consumers search online before going into stores, “so you have to show up in local search,” Wooden said.
In fact, 72% of consumers who search for a local business are more likely to visit that business or visit a business within five miles of their current location.
Here are five strategies Podium offered for winning local.
- Understand what impacts search ranking
Google considers the following metrics when prioritizing business in Google searches.
- Overall star rating
- Quality of reviews
- Quantity of reviews
- Frequency of reviews
- Business response
The No. 1 listed business gets 42% of clicks, and the number two gets 24% of clicks—which is extremely advantageous.
To capture local searches for your business, Wooden says to claim business listings for each location or branch of your business. Increase your radius and make sure you can come up with a close local location for more people.
He also says to ask each customer for review after their purchase or after their experience, and then focus on relevance and prominence reviews and keywords—which could help you rank higher in search results.
Watson’s has over 2,000 reviews, an average rating of 4.7 stars, and sees a 281% increase in reviews each month.
“We’re proud of these numbers and continue to work hard, because of how much we believe in the value of reviews,” Strong said. We’re a 50-year-old company and have a loyal customer base, but as we’re growing, those star ratings give us a leg up. It’s a lot of working with the sales staff and helping them to understand how you can use the tool to benefit the business at scale.”
Strong says Watson’s staff gets excited when they see a review coming in and their name is mentioned, and they feel the value of somebody that’s publicly sharing an experience with this person.
“Because there’s a goodwill at a personal level, that people feel great about that on both sides,” he says.
- Make It Easy to Start A Conversation
Would it surprise you to find out that consumers would rather hand out parking tickets than sit on the phone on hold with customer service?
Customers don’t want to call you, and they probably don’t want you to call them. But texting is another story.
A study by Podium found text messaging isthe preferred channel for 95% of customers.
“A few quick things you can do to make your business text messaging friendly is enabling click-to-text on your Google My Business listing,” Wooden says.
A web chat for your website is also a great way to build a bridge between the online and offline shopping experience, as is responding to online reviews or social media comments.
“The customer doesn’t want to wait,” Strong says. “Just because the store is closed doesn’t mean that the customer is not shopping right now. We try to think comprehensively about all of these touchpoints because we know that every consumer is different.”
- Use SMS marketing to increase shopper engagement
Texting is a more unique, intimate and personal way to connect with your customers, and
75% of consumers say they want to receive marketing messages through text message as opposed to email.
In terms of conversion rate to a sale, based on Podium’s research, consumers are twice as likely to prefer texting to any other communication method.
“And the conversion rate is almost double that of most of the channels, so it can be a really, really effective method because it seamlessly kind of fits in with the consumer’s life,” Wooden added.
Consumers are also more likely to opt into a text from a local business, according to Podium.
But don’t get these confused with bulk messages. Bulk messages have personalization, no clear call to action and don’t present an opportunity for a real conversation.
When it comes to texting customers, Wooden says to send welcome messages with a direct incentive on the customer’s next purchase. Use cart abandonment to trigger a reminder text, and set up campaigns or alerts for new or back-in-stock items.
- Offer More Convenient Payment Options
Today—especially due to the pandemic—contactless payment is expected. And nearly 80% of consumers are saying they want businesses to continue offering contactless payments after the pandemic.
Inconvenient payment options create friction at checkout which leads to higher bounce rates and an overall disjointed payment experience and customer experience.
In addition, Wooden says to offer pay-on-the-go with text-to-pay and to text receipts directly and automatically to your customer’s mobile devices.
- Create A Seamless Online to In-store Experience
The online to in-person experience is often disjointed, as retailers have no context into customer conversations online, no product recommendations based on online or in-person shopping, and no way to see both in-person and online purchases and conversations in one place
This is crucial because 71% of consumers say they feel they’re frustrated when their experience isn’t personal.
To help tie the experiences together, convert web chat messages into text conversations that continue in the store. The salesperson can pull up the conversation and have some context and background about the customers and what they are looking for.
Other ways to help bridge the gap and offer personalized, expected service is to allow customers to select a BOPIS experience and adjust the pick-up option while in the store and offer touchless payment options online and in-store.
Winning in retail takes a cohesive strategy that encompasses many different parts of the business. And while it may not be an easy feat, it will pay off in the end.