A recent McKinsey survey as shown in the chart below found that 56% of shoppers use both online and offline marketing channels. 5% shop only online and 10% shop only offline. This suggests a couple of things to me about businesses who restrict themselves to one marketing channel or the other.
The obvious (and most popular) reaction is that if you have a physical store, you should seriously consider becoming a “click and mortar” business—a physical store with an online presence.
Less obvious is that if your business is strictly ecommerce, think about ways to take your marketing message offline without necessarily having a brick and mortar store.
How to Use Offline Marketing Channels to Grow Your Online Store
A Google search for “click and mortar” showed nearly 90 million results, so it’s a hot topic. A query for “establish offline presence for ecommerce store” showed only about 5 million results. Not quite so hot, but no less important as the chart below indicates—a total of 27% of shoppers shop only offline or mostly offline.
To restrict your marketing channels is shortsighted, no matter if your store is digital or physical. And since I’m always a bit of a contrarian, let’s start with the less popular option, how to take your online business into the offline world.
Business networking events
You or your staff can attend events hosted by others, such as the Chamber of Commerce, Business Network International (BNI), or locally sponsored trade-specific events.
Get a physical presence by exhibiting at your industry trade shows. They are fantastic sales and lead-generating opportunities.
Sponsor local events
Check out events going on in the region surrounding your company’s main location. If you’re a virtual business, spread out across the globe, you can still sponsor local events where your staff lives.
Host your own event
Organize your own business summit, mastermind retreat, dinner, or trade event.
Use direct mail and print
Add direct mail to your email and online campaigns. Depending on your ideal customer, the statistics in the chart indicate that you’re likely to find a new segment of customers who love your product but who don’t hang out online or respond well to online and email messages.
A pop-up store or shop is a temporary retail location usually set up in a high traffic area such as malls or downtown areas. Restaurants have been doing this for some time and retail shops are jumping on board.
Low-cost pop-ups can be used to introduce or test new products or simply to give customers a taste of what you have available online. They’re also great PR events.
Offline to Online with Click and Mortar Stores
If you have a physical store, it’s practically a necessity to augment your physical with an online presence. Here are a few simple and low-cost ways to do that.
A recent business website survey by Clutch found that 29% of small businesses still don’t have a website. That number is shrinking a lot every year and within a few years, nearly every business will have a website.
That means that if you don’t have one, it will be harder than ever to generate leads and get new customers.
Don’t immediately discount the idea of having a blog. If your customers love you, they will love to hear what you have to say on your blog about solving their problems, entertaining them, or educating them. Blogs work in every industry. When done, correctly, they automatically attract your ideal customer.
Whatever you’re selling in your store can be sold online using an ecommerce platform. So why not look into it? An online store works for you 24-7. It won’t take the place of your store, but it can augment your sales and bring in new customers you might otherwise have missed.
Your customer’s desire for instant gratification applies to their interactions with your sales and support staff. If there’s an issue, they want instant answers. By going online, you have access to numerous tools that can help you create a customer support presence that works for you around the clock.
Chat bots, FAQ pages, and email autoresponders let you automatically respond to frequently asked questions. They allow you to follow up to specific purchases with appropriate instructions and tutorials without involving a staff member.
Social media communities provide a forum for customers to reach out and for your staff to respond. This serves a dual purpose. Your customer is catered to and your credibility is bolstered.
Social media profiles for you, your staff, and your company
Whenever I’m considering an online purchase with a new company, one of the first things I do is look at the key team members and see if they (and the company) exist on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. If you’re like me, you probably don’t care to do business with a secretive company.
Social profiles, when properly written, help your ideal customers find you. They establish trust and credibility as prospects investigate your company prior to purchase.
You’ll need a website first for many (but not all) business directories. It’s one more avenue for your customers to get to you. Also, if you appear in multiple directories, it adds to your credibility and trust.
Many types of retail businesses need to be listed on their key directories. Restaurants, for instance, will need to be on TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Google My Business since customers routinely check out reviews on these sites to help their decisions.
The cost of creating an online presence is quite low these days with countless online apps available.
Don’t limit yourself to one set of marketing channels just because it’s trending or because it' comfortable. Look at all existing online and offline channels and try to see how you can move in both spheres.