One positive outcome that happened in our communities post-pandemic is that local communities have rallied around their small independent businesses, in particular retailers. Whilst multiples close unprofitable locations on the high street decreasing their retail doors, independents are swooping in to do what the big names have failed so spectacularly to do, namely talk to their immediate audience.
The vast majority of multiple retailers, including retail banking, are clueless to what the local community and their consumer actually needs and wants. They continue to cite financial woes as a reason to close more doors, abandoning towns and in the process, they fail to realise that being part of the community can actually create growth for them and increase brand advocacy.
Retail used to be amongst the most innovative of industries, where a progressive approach to understanding the consumer and creating experiences that made your store a destination. But this seems to have dissipated and all that’s left is a lot of whining retailers wondering why people no longer want to shop with them.
Offer boring and consumers will literally walk on by. A recent study by Shopify found that 35% of consumers prefer experiential shopping. Seasonality can create these experiences, boost marketing and sales efforts but most retailers fail to even engage at the most basic of levels.
At the other end of the spectrum is the pathetic attempts by local authorities to support their communities, understandably failed by this government which has overseen local authority budgets being squeezed almost to bankruptcy. The government offers idiotic solutions to regenerate local communities and fail to even protect local jobs let alone increase the local economy and create thriving, energetic towns.
It’s about time retailers, local authorities and the government sorted their acts out and focussed on delivering for people and not merely themselves. The result will be that all will suffer.
But what can a local independent retailer do with their local marketing to succeed where the behemoths have failed and do it better and uniquely in your own style to speak in a voice and tone that your local community understand and find appealing?
Footfall across UK retail destinations increased in January, despite the impact of the many rail and other strikes. The annual increase in footfall was largely unaffected, with the gap from the 2019 level even narrowing slightly. Retail footfall remains 14.2% below the 2019 level but showed progress from the 20.8% recorded in January 2022.
It’s said that 96% of small businesses say they use social media in their marketing strategy of which 41% depend on it solely to drive revenue. In reverse, 74% of consumers state that they rely on social media to guide purchasing decisions and 81% of shoppers research online before purchasing.
With so many researching before they shop, bearing this in mind, what’s more important to your business? It would seem that a recommendation in the form of reviews is essential as it’s claimed by Forbes that 90% or purchasing decisions are based on these positive reviews. Therefore those comments and likes really do matter when people search for products that potentially lead them to your landing page and e-commerce site.
This is particularly important for any business and their marketing mix as more than 50% of consumers won’t use a business if it has less than a four-star rating and 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations (Birkett, 2020).
Interesting to know that over 50% of all “near me” searches will result in an offline store visit and 62% of consumers will disregard a business if they can’t find them online. More significantly 88% of potential customers look for online reviews before choosing local services and 24.4% of all clicks go to the first result of local business searches. So having a top Google search result is proven to have an average click-through rate of 31.7%. (Backlinko) and increases the need for your reviews to be exemplary if you’re to get those 81% that research online, through your doors.
That professional approach you take in-store to deliver a positive customer experience and so encourage purchasing, needs to translate equally through reviews and online presence. This should be evident to the consumer through your marketing either on socials or search, to ensure a seamless and frictionless customer journey. A journey that is likely to start online from search to your marketing, either on third party platforms or your own, that enhances your proposition to convert that search into a customer you engage with in person.
Use local marketing to talk about what makes you different, your approach, offers and more. Make sure your staff know what you are marketing to ensure a joined up approach, from what the customer sees and reads and how that translates into the experience they receive on your shop floor. Train your staff to mirror your local marketing in their approach with customers and set targets with staff to identify those who were attracted into the store through your advertising. Use this intelligence to understand what is and isn’t working effectively to fine-tune and ensure your tone resonates with your customers.
So when considering your local marketing approach it’s imperative that you understand the importance of SEO for local businesses and how utilising it effectively and professionally, can result in new customers through the door. Once there, the seamless journey kicks-in where you’ve curated the narrative and the shopper will receive the service reviewed or promised and hopefully become repeat customers and spread the word online and in person on your behalf.
To read the full article by Dan Todaro, Managing Director please visit ERT