Local retailers are the job creation engine and backbone of the American economy. Consider that today, America’s 28 million small businesses account for 54% of all U.S. sales, while retail supports one in four American jobs. Increasingly, Americans are choosing local retail – 82% use independent businesses and 48% plan to boost their local business patronage in 2016.
Yet with the rapid rise of personal digital technology, “consumers have become savvier and more demanding about how they want to interact through technology.” And local retailers are no exception: Consumers expect much more from the local merchants they frequent. They want to be able to go online to find or research a business to help determine if it’s the best choice to meet their needs before ever stepping foot in a store, and nearly half (42%) use social media or online review sites in their search for a new business or product. And although local advertising spending is growing – with total revenues to reach $146.6 billion this year – it is not significantly helping independent, resource- and time-strapped retailers.
National brands are struggling to effectively reach consumers with where-to-buy messaging from local retailers. Their retailers, who have the local advantage, often lack the resources to produce compelling content and efficiently target across important digital channels. It’s time for national brands to focus on empowering their local retailers by giving them the information, tools and support they need to execute multi-channel, targeted ad campaigns that reach new audiences. Here are five simple ways to get started:
It’s Gotta Be Mobile
Consumer time on mobile is increasing, with recent studies indicating over three hours spent daily on mobile devices. Additionally, 71% of consumers who use smartphones for online research say their device has become more important to their in-store experience as well. As a result, the most effective retail marketing strategies supplement in-store efforts with digital marketing support aimed at reaching consumers along the mobile touch points that make up their daily routines.
Content is (still) King
Today’s consumer has an average attention span of about eight seconds. That means consumers are quicker than ever to discount poorly targeted ads and irrelevant content. To be successful today, ad content needs to concise, easy-to-read and have a clear call-to-action. Quality always trumps quantity, so instead of posting more frequently across key digital, social channels, focus on high-impact, timely and engaging information that is useful to the local consumer. As channels such as Instagram and Snapchat continue to surge in popularity, quality content often equates to compelling visual content in the form of photos or videos. And don’t forget – getting your landing page content right is just as important as your ad content. Be sure to include the same imagery and logo in both places, and make it easy for consumers to find store name, location and contact details.
Focus on Facebook
From a local retailer lens – cost, ease of use, robust targeting options, simple A/B testing and more – Facebook is the obvious digital advertising platform of choice, as it allows independent retailers to cost-effectively promote high-quality, professional-grade brand content while moving beyond existing fans/followers to reach new, local audiences. Brands are recognizing this and are using Facebook as an opportunity to work closely with their local retailers in new ways, resulting in innovative, highly successful campaigns – without breaking the bank.
When it comes to targeting, begin with the basics
It’s easy for independent retailers to get overwhelmed by all of the targeting buzzwords out there – from geo-targeting to beacons. Instead, start simple. Targeting should start with a zip code. Then, observe the types of people coming into the store – what’s the gender breakdown, and how old are they? Base your initial campaigns on these three key traits – geography, gender, and age – then hone them from there, as needed.
For retailers, marketing is not (and cannot be) a full-time job
Independent retailers simply don’t have the time, budget, resources and technology needed to provide their customers with a seamless, multichannel digital journey and shopping experience. Brands must find ways to take the burden off of their retail partners by automating digital marketing processes and delivering customizable campaign components that allow them to easily target local consumers with relevant content, drive foot traffic in-store, and ultimately, sell more product.
Ben Carcio is CEO of Promoboxx.