Digital Marketing for Local Businesses –Driving Footfall
Just because you don't process sales or drive lead generation
through your website, doesn't mean that digital marketing is not
for your business. As well as being used to drive actions online,
digital channels can be used to effectively drive offline actions
such as footfall or in-store sales.
Bringing an essence of your offline experience into the online
environment gives you the opportunity to reach and engage potential
customers before they visit. Whether this is while they are on
their mobile phone searching for nearby businesses, or browsing
social networks from the comfort of their own homes.
Now, as a firm believer in using data to drive business
decisions, I'd be amiss not to mention a few stats at this
According to Accenture, as many as 88% of consumers are
researching items online then buying in-store.
What's more, even when a consumer knows of your business they
will conduct further research before purchasing, with a recent
study showing that 68% of consumers check out businesses on social
networking sites before buying.
Compelling statistics, so lets talk about some ideas to help you
take advantage of this shift in consumer behavior. I'm going to
cover two key channels - search and social.
The primary reason many businesses use social media is for
brand and community building, which has benefits in driving
footfall itself. But rather than talk about community building I'm
going to cover a couple of tactics with the direct goal of driving
customers to your store.
Giving a reason to visit
Giving customers a reason to visit your store beyond to buy a
product or use your service is a great way to drive footfall. In
digital marketing all the hype is around content marketing - giving
knowledge away for free and providing additional value to the
customer. So lets translate this to the offline environment - what
knowledge or experience could you give away for free to drive
people to your store?
If you have a salon you could run a free manicure class. Run an
Italian restaurant, why not open the doors to the kitchen one
afternoon and teach people how you make your pizzas? Coming up to
Christmas and you run a gift shop - get carol singers in for an
evening during late night shopping.
Now this is just great marketing, where social media comes in is
as the channel you can use to broadcast the event to your target
audience - whether that's your existing fans, or to a wider
audience through the use of boosted posts. Using the right
targeting options you could inform 15,000 Guernsey residents of
your event for between £70 and £100.
Flash offers and discounts are another great way to drive more
people to your store. Now I'm a firm believer that people don't go
on social media to be sold to. So when running flash offers you
want to make them relevant to something that is happening, whether
that is a change in the weather or an upcoming event. This gives
you an opportunity to create a story around the offer, making it
less salesly, more fun and more shareable.
The search results are getting more and more complex, with
the variety of results spanning from the traditional organic and
paid listings to local listings and knowledge graph
For the purpose of driving footfall you want to focus on
optimising for the local results. Below is the results page for a
typical local search. The results in blue are paid adverts, yellow
the standard organic listings, and red are the local
The local results are particularly important for reaching
customers when they are out and about, searching on their mobile
phone. To optimise for these results you need to head over to Google My
Business and follow the instructions to get your business on
Google. A few key pointers to help increase your chances of a high
position for relevant searches:
- Make sure your listing has up-to-date contact information -
address, phone number and opening hours.
- Maintain consistency in your name, address and phone number
between Google + and everywhere else on the web. For example if you
have "Channel Islands" as an address line on your website, make
sure you also have it as an address line on your Google +
- Choose an accurate business category - this affects the
searches your listing will appear for.
- Encourage customer reviews on Google + - the number and quality
of reviews has a direct impact on your local ranking.
- Use location and service based keywords in your business
You'll also notice that within the paid ads in the above screen
grab, none actually match the searchers intent - an opportunity for
a local gift shop to take advantage of. Paid ads on Google are run
through the Google AdWords platform- as a local gift shop
owner you could either bid on the exact phrase "gift shops in
Guernsey" or run a geo-located campaign so your ads appear to only
people in Guernsey who are searching for broader terms such as
"gift shops" or "christmas gifts".
Whether you choose paid advertising or to optimise for local
results, having coverage in search is essential for driving custom
to your stores. It represents an opportunity for you reach
customers at the exact moment they are searching for a product you
sell or a service you offer.
Digital bridges the gap between consumers and physical
locations. Whether you run a store, hair salon or restaurant, the
consumer path to purchase is becoming increasingly influenced by
online channels. This is not a threat to your local store, it
presents new opportunities to reach customers and drive your
Posted By Ben Inder
About the author
Ben has a proven track record of improving the online
visibility of businesses locally and nationally.
Often found with his head buried in analytical data, Ben is a
Google Adwords and Google Analytics qualified Individual.