I see you but I don’t hear you!

Local marketing: Industry experts share their views on why it’s important for retailers to capture the attention of the customers right on their doorstep.

Part 1: I see you but I don’t hear you!

By Dan Todaro, Managing Director of Gekko

At the time of writing, retail footfall is up compared to 2019 and while this is encouraging and further increases are anticipated, we must temper expectations for a full recovery simply because of changing consumer habits and their increasing propensity to head online. So the question is, what are you, as a retail business, doing to make yourself heard and adapting to the current market situation?

In the world of Amazon, things have been going very well. Its latest figures show that its revenues grew by 20 per cent last year in the UK, with sales leaping to £23.6 billion for 2021 from £19.6 billion in 2020, and far ahead of the £13 billion of sales taken in 2019.

While online share of sales has declined over time from its peak during lockdown, Amazon has continued to thrive regardless and it’s a clear indication that if your competitors trade online, they are seeing the value of an omnichannel approach to retail.

The core driver to any retailer’s success is making it clear, through effective marketing, as to what you sell, where you sell it and how you sell it. Doing this effectively will lend itself to drive your footfall and clicks to keep those customers and potential orders coming.

In the MDA and CE sectors, the appetite to ‘upgrade’ and ‘refresh’ remains and growth continues at a pace, so making your store the de facto supplier for the local community, if it isn’t already, is an easily achievable objective that doesn’t have to cost a fortune to realise through local marketing.

Indeed, there are some fantastic examples of how ERT Award winners have used social media to great effect in their marketing mix. By using Instagram, Twitter or Facebook to run competitions, announce winners, promote new products or communicate promotional savings and be part of the community. Through this approach, much can be achieved to target the local consumer.

By putting a strategy in place and driving these communication channels as part of your marketing, social media can be a useful tool to create a community-centric voice. Recent Barclaycard research identified that nine in 10 people who have shopped locally say they will continue to do so… So don’t lose them!

With this in mind, think about the importance of Google in your marketing mix as it’s increasingly more valuable, not only as a service you can utilise for free but also how consumers search. Key findings have been that:

  • 46 per cent of all Google searches are looking for local information;
  • 72 per cent of consumers that did a local search visited a store within five miles;
  • 97 per cent of people learn more about a local company online than anywhere else. (Source: Think with Google)

Footfall fears

Springboard expects this year’s retail footfall will remain 10 per cent below pre-COVID levels and this largely relates to pressures on household incomes. Retailers and brands need to bear this in mind, so while footfall will be impacted, the shopper returning to stores will be more discerning – and as such, their customer experience will need to be positive and rewarding to encourage them to spend.

Using local marketing techniques to attract consumers into your store is critical in harnessing the potential of that 10 per cent gap. So what can you do to help drive traffic to your store or website?

  1. Set up detailed radius location targeting in Google Ads: This is key, as advertising to a broad audience will attract the wrong audience. Using demographics will be much more effective and efficient. It will also have a better return on investment.
  2. Run local Facebook Ads: Most of the population is on Facebook, so why not target them there?
  3. Encourage reviews: Shoppers increasingly use reviews as an essential part of their decision making and buying process; after all, local shoppers are far more likely to want a friendly personalised service, so if your business shows up in a directory and there are no reviews, they are likely to look elsewhere. And make it easy for your customers to leave reviews.
  4. Running a contest: This gets customers interested and involved. Customers like a locally- run competition as there’s a higher chance to win as opposed to a big global business with millions of potential contestants.

Loyalty never lies

Price may not always be the deciding factor for consumers, because loyalty, service and experience can negate the need to always be the lowest in price. Competing on price is never sustainable in the long-term as it chips away at your bottom line. With a loyal customer base, you can then concentrate on maintaining a quality service worthy of the price.

In fact, the Gartner Group found that 20 per cent of your loyal customers generate 80 per cent of your profits. Meanwhile, Marketing Metrics found that the chances of converting first-time customers is five to 20 per cent, as compared to existing customers which is 60 to 70 per cent. This is where effective local marketing to drive customer loyalty comes into play to increase your footfall, conversion rates and your average transaction value.

Loyal customers are more likely to check your campaigns as they already have experience with your business and are more likely to trust your product and services. The secret to all marketing is getting the tone right and appealing to a diverse base of potential customers to visit your store, in addition to those who know or shop with you already.

Use local marketing to talk about what makes you different and make sure your staff create a seamless journey from what the customer sees and reads to the experience they receive on your shop floor. Set targets with your staff to identify the customers who were attracted in through your advertising. Use this intelligence to know what is working effectively and maybe not so, to fine-tune and ensure your tone resonates with your customers.

With more consumers happy to shop locally, this trend will only continue if you offer that special something that makes shopping local a pleasure and never a chore.