From the blog Retail Marketing Ideas That Attract (and Retain) Customers

Retail business owners are facing more competition than ever. Consumers have a wealth of options. Thanks to Amazon and the spread of e-commerce, they can find and buy almost anything, 24/7.

Brick-and-mortar stores need creative retail marketing strategies to capture a customer’s attention, close a sale, and keep them coming back.

There’s good news for retailers. One of the most effective retail marketing tools is digital marketing. It levels the playing field so a small business can compete with big-box retailers. Even traditional marketing, when done right, can deliver a good return on investment.

In this article, we’ll share practical tips for connecting with customers and capturing their loyalty. We’ll cover how to set your brand apart, the latest online marketing techniques, and customer retention strategies for the long-term.

A well-executed marketing plan typically includes both non-digital and online components that work together to promote your brand.

Retail marketing that sets your brand apart

You’ll need to develop a strong message for your business before you jump into retail marketing. Maybe you already have one, but it’s always a good idea to take a fresh look at your brand messaging.

It should be memorable, brief and consistent across all your marketing channels. 

Craft a memorable brand message

Ask yourself how your store stands apart from the competition. Do some research and find out what customers like about your store. Often, they can provide valuable insight into why they chose you.

When it comes to your brand promise, be specific. “Top customer service” may be too vague to connect with customers. But a value proposition with more details—“our local technicians are your friends and neighbors, on-call seven days a week”—speaks directly to a customer’s needs.

When it comes to your brand promise, be specific.

Create attention-grabbing window displays 

If you’re a brick-and-mortar retailer, your windows are prime real estate to market your products. The power of visual merchandising is still relevant today. Think about the crowds of people that flock to see the Christmas window displays each year in New York City. 

An unusual, eye-catching design will get customers to slow down and notice. Feature a mix of your best-selling products with new arrivals. Products should be well-lit with signage that tells window shoppers a little about what you’re featuring. But that’s just for starters.

Here are a few ideas to step things up a notch:

  • Photo booth window display: In the age of the selfie, a window display that can serve as a backdrop turns your store window into a shareable Instagram moment. Add your business name or brand phrase in the background as a hashtag sign. 
  • Add movement to your display: Windows with a moving element tend to be noticed more. Something as simple as a fan blowing a colorful backdrop curtain or a mirror pointed at the street to reflect passing pedestrians can catch someone’s eye as they pass.   
  • Enlist help from the community: Feature local artists or interesting school art projects in your displays. Circulate a press release announcing it. Doing so may draw more traffic as friends and family visit to see the artwork. As a bonus, you may pick up some free press in the local paper. 

Don’t forget to feature your website and especially your social media handles. If you do it right, your displays will be eminently shareable.

Be creative (and just a little bit bolder) to make your displays pop.

Offering customers your expertise

A great way to show your expertise is by sharing your knowledge. Produce how-tos, informational articles and product reviews through your newsletter and blog for existing and potential customers. You don’t have to be a professional writer to share tips that customers will appreciate.

Write as if you’re speaking to a friend, and run it through a free online editor to check for typos.

Also consider delivering your message as a video. Video content is growing—73% of U.S. adults watch YouTube, making it the most popular social media platform. Starting a YouTube channel is free and can work for nearly any retail store concept.

For example, a craft shop can review product arrivals and share DIY templates. A gourmet shop might produce short cooking segments. A tea shop could explore the flavors and histories of teas around the world. Use your imagination, and speak candidly with your target audience.

Online retail marketing customers can access 24/7

Having an online retail presence is essential. Nearly 90% of customers start their product searches online.

If you don’t have a strong online presence, you’re potentially missing out on a large number of retail sales. Fortunately, online retail marketing is comparatively inexpensive. Here are some tips to improve your online presence.

Store website

A store website may be the most important retail marketing tool a small business owner has. Successful sites are a combination of a virtual business card and a retail store.

Here’s how to upgrade each aspect of your website.

  • Retail product catalog: An e-commerce section helps drive more revenue, but are you using it effectively? Try highlighting new products and sales with different colors or visual indicators to draw the eye. Since video content is popular, consider adding video snippets of product, such as a 360-degree view of a model wearing a coat.
  • Blog: Add an interactive element to your blog by allowing customers to upload images in the comment section of how they used your product. Customers can learn more about the item and then see how it’s used in a real-life setting.
  • Contact page: You probably already offer plenty of ways for potential customers to reach you, but make sure it’s all easy to find on one page. That includes everything from your address to email to your Twitter customer service account if you have one. 
  • Customer testimonial page: People trust the opinions of fellow shoppers. Just take a look at the number of users on websites like TripAdvisor and TrustPilot. To incorporate this into your site, create a page where you can publish snippets of glowing customer reviews (with the customer’s permission, of course).
  • Mobile-friendly experience: Make sure your company website is mobile-friendly—79% of Americans buy online using their smartphones. Check your website’s functionality on different mobile phones. In most cases, you don’t have to redesign your website. There are plug-ins available that adapt the layout of your existing website to display properly on a smaller screen.
  • Personalization: Your website experience should be different for each visitor. Studies show personalization can lift sales by 15-20% as users find information that’s more relevant to them. Talk to your web developer about ways you can personalize your site. Examples include showing related products once users have purchased something and accessing their location to promote shipping deals to users who are out of state.

When prospective customers find your site on Google, you want them to stay awhile. Sharp images, compelling content and easy checkout mean a better customer experience. That makes them more likely to return to browse and buy in the future.

Make sure your website gives visitors plenty of reasons to stick around and browse.

Social media

Social media keeps the lines of communication open between your store and potential customers. Do an audit of your current social media platforms. Which ones perform best? And are they in-line with your demographic?

Facebook is second behind YouTube as the most widely used platform with 68% of Americans having an account. Instagram is ideal for brands selling visually aesthetic products like women’s clothing, art, food and home goods. Snapchat and TicToc reach a younger demographic. Find your market, post regularly, and don’t forget to interact to keep the conversation going.

Here are a few ways to enhance your current social media strategy:

  • Set up a content calendar to pre-schedule posts. Try to tie some of these in with upcoming local events, holidays or limited promotions at your store.
  • Automate cross-promotion across all your social media channels by using tools like Buffer or Hootsuite.
  • Repurpose your favorite Instagram posts or YouTube videos by embedding them on your blog, no downloading required.
  • Enable Instagram Shopping on your Instagram business account so people can check out your products right inside the app.
  • Take the time to reply to as many customer comments as possible. That doesn’t just mean negative ones. Friendly replies to happy customers can further build brand loyalty.

Retail marketing ideas for customer retention

Your existing customers are the most valuable ones. It’s harder to find new customers than to keep current ones coming back. These retail marketing ideas will help you drive customer loyalty for optimal customer lifetime value. 

Build a contact database for email marketing

Email marketing is a low-cost way to get big returns in retail sales. Growing your store’s email list gives you a direct line to your customers. They’re more likely to buy from you because you have a history together. 

To grow your email list, leave a signup book near the cash register. Regularly promote your email list and offer prizes or perks to customers who sign up by a certain date. Send a weekly, monthly or quarterly email newsletter to your email list. Keep your customers up-to-date by sharing news about your store, new arrivals, sales and other promotions.

Consider adding some behind-the-scenes stories to the mix to let customers get to know you a little better.

Host special events

Organize exclusive in-store events to entice customers to visit more often. Customers may share their memorable experiences with friends and family or bring them along next time.

If you’re not sure what type of event to have, ask your favorite vendors to set one up for you. Some vendors will be happy to help. They may bring new products, answer questions and assist in sales.

You may even discover customer interest in products you didn’t carry after a special vendor event.

Create a customer loyalty program

A loyalty program rewards customers with perks, experience, or products. Everyone loves a good deal. Some simple ways to set up a loyalty program include:

  • A frequent shopper card that can be stamped and redeemed later, according to the products purchased or money spent
  • A discount program that raises discount levels as customers spend more
  • Special access to events or promotions not available to the general public
  • The opportunity to shop sales early

If you have an app, you can track customer loyalty as users rack up sales, but take this a step further with an in-store component. With location enabled on the app, offer rewards when people step into your store. Are they the 1,111th customer or the first one that month? Consider offering a special discount just for them—and be sure to personalize it. 

Here are 8 things you can do in the next 5 minutes

Small steps can lead to palpable improvements. Try these quick improvements to get your marketing ball rolling:

  1. Set up a meeting with key employees to brainstorm upcoming opportunities for store events and eye-catching themed window displays.
  2. Designate someone to print out a store sign displaying your social media handles. Plan to post this near the entrance or wherever has the most visibility in your store.
  3. Reach out to local non-competing retailers to discuss co-hosting an event to pool customers. (A great example is the wedding industry. If you sell wedding gowns, you could host an expo that brings together florists, venues and more to target prospective brides.)
  4. Add a guest sign-in book to your cash register area to capture email addresses. If you don’t already, make a plan to ask for email addresses when people purchase an item.
  5. Brainstorm if it’s feasible to host a city-wide event that could tie in with your company’s products or services, such as an art walk, architectural day or children’s craft fair.
  6. Download a free social media scheduling tool like Buffer or Hootsuite and connect your social media channels.
  7. Make sure you’ve claimed your Google My Business page and that all the information is up-to-date. Share a post about a sale, product or other update of interest to your audience.
  8. Designate someone to schedule a month’s worth of the most popular company blog posts and pages to all your social media channels. Make sure the posts are “evergreen”—something you can share any time of year.

A retail marketing strategy that works

The competitive retail environment makes keeping your brand at the forefront a challenge, but a smart retail marketing plan can help. It gives your store the edge it needs to stand out and can even help you tap into new audiences.

Keep consistent, and you’ll increase your customer base to grow retail sales.

KEEP READING: 7 Ways to Evolve Your Small Business Marketing for 2020


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