93% of today’s commerce still takes place in-store, which is great news for bricks and mortar retailers. However the way in which retailers communicate with their local audience has changed dramatically in the last few years. With 2 billion people using mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, the days of solely relying on noticeboard advertisements and leaflet dropping are well and truly over. Nowadays in order for retailers to talk to their customers, it’s crucial that they begin to build an active online presence for their shop.
So you might be wondering how you can make the leap from selling in your shop to targeting your local audience online. Luckily there is a whole range of new tools available to make it easier than ever to reach your local audience. But first let’s start with the basics.
Who is your target market?
Before you can even begin to think about targeting your local audience, you must first figure out what categories of customers visit your store most often and why? Once you know who your target market is you need to understand where they spend their time online and then be able to target them in those places.
8 out of 10 adults use social media, so they are a great place to be active online. Over time and through your continued use of using social media you will learn more about your customers.
One thing to note about all social media platforms is that organic posts (posts that aren’t paid for) are not likely to reach a high volume of people. In order to reach a large percentage of your local audience you will probably have to spend a bit of money. However, the good news is that unlike some traditional forms of advertising, social media ads are highly measurable so you can see exactly where your money is going and whether the campaign is working.
Here’s a quick guide to navigating the current top 3 social media sites.
With over 1 billion people using Facebook everyday you’re surely going to reach a good chunk of your local audience through it.
Facebook allows you to communicate directly with your customers and build lasting relationships with them. One of the easiest ways to grow your Facebook following and in turn reach more of your local audience is to do a like and follow competition. An example of this would be to offer a prize of products from your shop and ask people to enter by following your Facebook page and liking the post.
If you are willing to spend some money then Facebook ads is a good place to start. The key feature of this tool is its ability to target very specific groups based on gender, age group, location and interests. For example if you are a pharmacy in Dublin selling fake tan you could choose to target women living in Dublin aged 18-30 who are interested in beauty products. Or if you’re a hardware store in New York selling decorating tools you could choose to target new home owners aged 30-55 who are interested in DIY.
Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media platforms with over 400 million monthly active users. Having recently launched Instagram for business, retailers can get in on the action. The most effective way to build your Instagram presence and find potential local customers is through frequent posting and hashtags.
Instagram is a highly visual platform so it’s important to use high quality images with the right filter. Hashtags are keywords which relate to your post and have become a powerful tool to reach your target audience. For example if you post an image of a craft beer you could include the hashtags #craftbeer #beerlover and #beerstagram. You can also use local hashtags to target shoppers near you such as #dublin and #sanfrancisco
The good news is that there is no right answer or magic when selecting the best hashtags. However it does take a little bit of trial and error to see which hashtags gets the best response. We could write an entire post on hashtags but for retailers starting out the best advice we can give is to simply get stuck in and regularly review what is working for you.
While it does not boast the same number of users as either Facebook and Instagram, Twitter has a dedicated and engaged user base. One of the most important things to note with this platform is its pace. Because people tweet so often it means that posts can get lost quite quickly. Therefore it is recommended that you tweet around 4-5 times per day. Also the timing of your posts is more important on Twitter than Facebook and Instagram. Some research has found that tweeting late at night gets the highest response rate. However, much like hastags, it’s often just a matter of trial and error.
You only have 140 characters per tweet so it’s important to be direct and to the point in your posts. Only 1 to 2 hashtags should be used per tweet so choose wisely and ensure that they will be of interest to your local audience.
Bloggers & Social Media Influencers
The internet is overflowing with bloggers and social media influencers discussing everything from craft beer and fitness to beauty and travel. Associating your business with some key influencers can be a very quick and easy way to target your local audience.
One simple way that your business can get in on the blogger action is to keep track of the products that top social media figures are promoting. For example if your pharmacy sells a brand of nail polish that a well respected blogger is recommending, you should let their followers know that you are stockist. You can do this by commenting underneath their posts on social media or contacting the blogger directly.