March 11, 2015
Any retail consultant knows that more traffic to your brick and mortar retail store means more sales.
But when people ask me as a retail expert how to attract customers, they often forget about their website.
And that is a big miss.
This simple fact has left a lot of smaller boutique retailers left in the dark when they should be thinking about how to attract more eyeballs to their websites. And by the way, I'm not talking an online store, I'm talking your website - your digital calling card.
If you don’t have a website by now, what on earth are you waiting for? I doubt this Internet thing is going away...
The most effective strategies to attract new customers to your site revolve around boosting your website's placement in search engine rankings. This has been known as search engine optimization (SEO,) and it's a concept that causes many indie retailers to just throw up their hands in despair. Don't.
What makes many of these tips easy is that they are just time to create the content, not expensive one-time-only marketing materials.
While it may be fun to play games on Facebook, or share celebrity gossip on Twitter, that won’t help you attract new customers to your store in that moment they are looking for products you carry or services they are searching for on their phone, laptop or computer.
Being found on the internet is the realm of SEO professionals who use complex analytics to exploit the methods used by search engines to rank results. While best practices are in a near-constant state of flux, here are seven simple ways you can get started on improving your website traffic volume without being an SEO expert.
Retail Tips: 7 Incredibly Easy Ways To Attract New Customers
1. You not we.
Make sure the words you choose to put on your pages, your content, offers valuable information to visitors in search of the answer. Instead of just stating the simple facts about your business, you’re family run, blah, blah, blah or using discounts to try to sell your products, position your business as the solution to a problem the consumer is having. Describe your services in a way that answers their questions to position yourself as the expert. Use lots of "you" and little "we." This is a very easy adjustment to make on your site, and it only requires that you remain conscious of your approach.
2. Update your website regularly.
Just like customers search your retail store for what's new, the search engines favor websites that have fresh, recently added content. The key here is to choose a web hosting service or site platform that allows you to update your site easily and often. The Retail Doctor is all built on Hubspot which is a premium platform but you can use Wordpress to start. It's easy to maintain without being nickel and dimed by developers or the straight-jacketing by the free templates.
3. Maintain a blog on your website.
OK this isn’t the incredibly easy part but you should be the expert in your field. Just put your thoughts concisely in an article on timely topics that will attract new customers and keep your one-time visitors coming back. For example, if you run a retail clothing business, an article like 5 Must-Have Fashion Trends for Fall is a good option.
Going one step further if you're in Chicago you might title it "5 Must-have Fashion Trends In The Windy City."
You can run similar features seasonally, and if you provide your reader with value, he or she will keep coming back. Yes you can use Blogger and other sites but you want the blog to live on your site. That would mean you want to use Wordpress.org which is self-hosted versus Wordpress.com which hosts the blog.
Here's the difference, self-hosted blogs get all the credit for hits directly for your website while the other gives the credit for all your hits to them. With self-hosted blogs you make your rankings go up, in the other you make their rankings go up. Make sense?
Oh yes, that also means adding fresh content at least once or twice per month - ideally weekly.
4. Don't always be selling.
I know, from the guy who makes a significant part of his living doing retail sales training, I'm the last guy you'd think would say that. Here's what I mean...
So many retailer sites scream price and product that nothing stands out. In the attempt to sell something to us you lose our interest because you are shouting either: 1) We're desperate and need the sale or 2) We're only interested in what you can do for us right now. The trick is coming up with content, features, articles and the rest that make your site, and by extension your brick and mortar store indispensable. Once you have that trust and interest, by all means, sell them.
You can use your blog to link to your website, but you should also include links in email newsletters to subscribers and on your social media feeds. Your goal is to build traffic to your website so you show up higher in search results. This link building is very easy - all you have to do is add links to content across all the digital platforms you use. You can also comment on local news sites with a link to content on your site. All of that drives people ultimately to your retail store.
Submit your blog articles and website content to authoritative third-party sources of related information. Local news websites, industry-related blogs, consumer forums and online communities are all great places to re-post links to your blog articles and build links to your website. It replaces trying to send out a press release about an event – again your goal is to be the authority on home improvement if you are a hardware store or the expert on dog grooming, cooking or para-sailing. Your blog articles, if crafted to show that expertise in bite-sized posts, becomes shareable.
7. Invest in professional writing and web design.
This will improve the quality and relevance of your site content and make your website more appealing to visitors, both of which can help you generate higher traffic volumes without lifting a finger. Again, free is nice but if you want to attract more traffic to your brick and mortar store, you have to attract more traffic to your website. Using a service like Upwork.com can help you find designers and writers from all over the world at affordable prices.
These are by no means all the ways to attract customers to your website and then to your brick and mortar retail store but it sure beats sitting around wondering how to attract customers.
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