How Should Retail Leverage Digital Marketing during Covid-19
How many Retail brands are capable of spending millions to open Flagship stores in the most premium Shopping Malls, but fail at investing efficiently in Digital Marketing?
These days, most of those stores have closed and the challenge for brands is to continue to make sales despite this situation.
Many people still believe that Retail & Digital do not belong to the same worlds, that they are two different topics which should be tackled by different teams, with different budgets and following independent strategies. It’s a misconception that often leads to missed opportunities for brands.
This is a guide to help retailers to leverage online marketing tools and build their digital presence in order to continue to drive sales when physical channels are down.
#1 INVEST IN YOUR WEBSITE
You should not think of your website as a pale version of your physical store. Your e-commerce is your “virtual shop window” and should reflect your brand values just as much as your retail store. The online customer journey that you build must be consistent with the one you offer in-store, otherwise, you risk disappointing your customers. Most Luxury brands continue to think that an outstanding customer experience can only be achieved through physical retail: clients get the chance to meet with brand ambassadors, touch and try the products, get a certain level of service, and all that with the warmth of a smile. But why not try to recreate this online? Some simple steps that brands can take include working on the loading speed of your website, making it visually attractive, highlighting the best sellers, and ensuring a smooth experience until check out (reducing friction). The online T&Cs also matters: work on the delivery lead time and the return window to reassure your customers. Not only can taking these few steps help you grow your sales, but it will also allow you to collect data about your customers, get new subscribers to grow your database, see what page people spend more time on, what products they click-on, etc. You can then leverage this data both in your online and offline marketing strategies.
#2 PLAN FOR SEASONAL PEAKS
Physical retail is a seasonal business, so is e-commerce: from Valentine’s day, Christmas, Chinese New Year to Black Friday, whether it’s a national holiday or a consumerist trend, these are some of the best seasonal times for retailers and you should have attention-grabbing campaigns ready to take advantage of the extra shoppers.
#3 LEVERAGE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA
If your clients are using Social media, so should you. Define which channels your customers are spending time on and post regularly to keep potential customers engaged. You should also use the targeting tools available to your advantage: boost your posts to make them visible to a broader audience, select carefully the criteria of the audience you want to target, upload your existing database and look for similar people and Coordinate campaign strategies between online/offline and paid/organic to maximise the impact of your social media efforts as well as the marketing budgets spent. Paid Facebook ads are one of the most effective ways to target your ads to the right people.
#4 LEVERAGE USER GENERATED CONTENT
Using content that has been generated by real-life people is a fantastic way of building trust in your brand. You can use UGC on both website and social media rather than pushing your product with a purely sales-driven tone.
#5 RETARGET AND REMARKET
You can cross-check the data collected on your website with the data collected in your physical stores. Make sure those who visit your store are reminded about you on their Facebook feed after they have left. Similarly, you can re-target those who visited your website with exciting on- or off-line offers to convert them. It’s a good opportunity to start building your database and use it, later on, to reconnect with your audience, keep them aware of what’s happening in your store, new product launch, promotions and so forth.
#6 INFLUENCE MARKETING
It will allow your brand to get your products in front of an influencer’s highly-engaged audience. Influencers are real-life people providing feedback about your products and this is even more powerful than your most persuasive sales pitches.
#7 AFTER CHAOS, CAPITALIZE ON YOUR EFFORTS WITH PAID ADS
Finally, when retail stores reopen, brands should not stop investing in Digital, but consider working on O2O strategies (Online to Offline) to reach their potential customers wherever they are, at home, at work, on holidays, on their computers or mobiles, instead of relying only on their physical shop traffic. It’s time to build a consistent and highly efficient multi-channel customer journey.
Paid ads will allow you to give visibility to what is happening in your physical store: from its official reopening date, to a new product launch or a VIP event you are hosting in the store. To do so, you must choose the appropriate channel, it can be Facebook or Instagram if you think your audience mostly uses these channels, or Google Search, Shopping, or Display to capture a high intent audience. In any case, when possible, add your own data of past visitors or clients, to allow a more efficient targeting and improve your ROI.
#8 BE PREPARED
No one knows when the confinement period will end, we can only guess. Don’t wait until the last minute to begin planning for post confinement “Revenge Spending”. Or better still, start building your digital engagement now when your target audience has no other options but to receive communication through digital channels. Be ready, don’t miss the boat. I can guarantee your competitors will be getting themselves ready too!
Conclusion, if you want to maintain sales during the crisis and stand out as a Retail brand, Digital should be part of your overall strategy. Make sure your online presence delivers the right experience and leverage digital marketing to drive up your sales on and off-line and engage with your clients.