Globally, inflation is running at uncomfortably high levels. Hopefully, it will ease as the world gets back to normal after Covid-19. In the meantime, retailers need to prepare for a reduction in customer spending. Here are some ideas on how to promote your products when consumer spending is down.
Understand the buying process
According to a study from ReadyCloud, customers have two main approaches to making discretionary purchases. They may research the purchase online and buy it in the real world (webrooming). Alternatively, they may research it in the real world and buy it online (showrooming).
Interestingly, the study found that 88% of respondents had webroomed and 76% had showroomed. This indicates that customers adopt either approach depending on the situation.
It follows that, ideally, retailers have a presence both online and in the real world. Retailers who already have at least one real-world store should definitely leverage the possibilities of the internet as much as they can.
Likewise, online-only retailers might establish some kind of real-world presence, for example, a pop-up shop. If that’s not possible, work to replicate a real-world experience on the internet, for example, run live events online.
Make the real world and the internet work together
If you have a real-world store, use every customer interaction to point the customer to your online presence. Consider printing business cards with your online details and possibly a QR code to make it easy for the customer to go straight to your website. If you don’t have a website, Square Online gives you a straightforward route to creating a great one.
Make sure both your main website and your social-media profiles have your real-world contact details. If you don’t have a real-world store, offer a real-world postal address, possibly via a mail-forwarding service to inspire trust. Similarly, get internet telephone numbers that appear to be local landline numbers and can forward to your regular mobile.
Pay attention to your SEO
Internet searches are a major source of traffic and hence sales for both online and real-world businesses. SMEs find it hard to target the highest-volume or highest-value keywords. They can, however, target more niche and longer-tail keywords very successfully.
Many SMEs also benefit from making the most of local SEO. At a minimum, claim your listing on both Google My Business and Bing Places for Business. If possible, target local search queries with content optimised for them. For example, create specific landing pages for different local neighbourhoods.
Use social media effectively
Claim a business profile on all the main social-media platforms. Right now, that means Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, TikTok and Pinterest. LinkedIn can also be a good choice.
The main reason for this is that then nobody else can claim them (even innocently). A secondary reason is that these profiles act as marketing for you.
Be as active on social media as your resources allow. For SMEs, pick just one or two platforms, where your aim is to produce top-quality content. If you’re happy to produce short-form video clips, use the same content on Instagram (as Reels), YouTube (as Shorts) and TikTok.
On social media, about 80% of your content should be informational, inspirational or entertaining. Only about 20% should be direct marketing. Remember to engage with comments and encourage followers to tag you if they feature your products or services on their profile. When you’re tagged, make sure you at least leave a comment and preferably repost.
Use emails and text messages for marketing campaigns
Email newsletters are still one of the most effective tools available to marketers. Text messaging isn’t suitable for content-rich marketing. It is a great way to communicate time-sensitive information such as short-term special offers.
For example, run seasonal, monthly and automated email or text campaigns. Communicate special offers to incentivise the behaviour you want to see. Maybe encourage people to become or refer first-time buyers, place larger orders or buy specific items.
Ideally, your email or text campaigns feature some content not available on your other platforms e.g. your social-media profiles. This gives your customers a specific reason to sign up for them instead of just looking at your socials.
With Square, the Customer Directory stores information from both online and in-person purchases. This gives you a great basis for both text and email campaigns which you can create through Square marketing. Just remember to keep GDPR in mind at all times.
Build long-term customer loyalty
Sometimes it’s great to get quick results. If, however, you want to run a sustainable business, work to drive long-term customer loyalty. The most obvious way to do this is to launch a loyalty programme. Square Loyalty makes this easy.