Are you a retail store owner, manager or marketer?

As you know, retail can be very challenging right now, because you’re competing against:

  • Big Box money, scale and technology in the bricks and mortar world
  • Ecommerce convenience, pricing, ubiquity, data and ad budgets from Amazon, Walmart, Bed Bath and Beyond, Wayfair and others.

I’ve spoken to thousands of franchisees and independent retail store owners over the last several years. In preparing for those keynotes and trainings, I’ve personally met to discuss their problems and solutions with them.

Here are some of the solutions that have worked for them, and we’ll cover each one:

  1. Drive more store visits with Google’s “My Business”
  2. Drive more store visits with Facebook
  3. Drive more store visits with Twitter.
  4. Leverage influencers to find new enthusiastic buyers.
  5. Humanize your store with video content.
  6. Stay top-of-mind with shoppers via Retargeting Ads.
  7. Drive more store visits with retail strategies.
  8. Increase sales and profits per square foot.
  9. Get more sales from your Shopify or other ecommerce store.
  10. Increase sales and profits by selling on Amazon.

Here we go!

Drive more store visits with Google’s “My Business”

There are two major marketing methods online: search and social.

Search strategies on Google and Bing attract customers who are already looking for you, or for what you sell.

Your first job is to make sure you get your free listing on Google My Business. Then you’ll show up on those local map searches with accurate business info, phone number, store hours and website.

  • Google searches with “near me” have grown 2.4X year-over-year (Google).
  • 50% of consumers who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a store within a day (Google).
  • One in three shoppers has purchased from a company or brand other than the one he or she intended to because of information received in the moment (Google).
  • Google Maps has a market reach of more than 90% amongst Android users worldwide (Statista).
  • Mobile searches for ‘where to buy’ have grown 85 % since 2015 (Geo Marketing).

Be careful and make sure you monitor your listing. Over the years, I’ve seen competitors steal people’s local listings, so you need to be aware of how you’re showing up for local searches and get control of your listing.

These days, people look at store listings for hours and they can even tell (because of the data constantly being collected about consumers by their phones and Internet activity) which hours your store is most and least busy.

Here is more about:

You may also want to consider a paid service that will help you manage your local presence on multiple sites. Such services include Brandify and Synup.

Drive more store visits with Facebook.

Social advertising options like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others help you interrupt the right potential customers and tell them why they should come in.

This is a huge opportunity, because after you nail down all your “search-related” strategies on Google and Bing, you have now maxed out on the people already looking for you.

How do you attract more people who don’t even know to look for you?

Interrupting the right potential buyer is the key to social media marketing.

Of course, you want to interrupt them in a relevant and pleasing way, so that they’re happy you told them. Being annoying, insensitive or boring won’t work.

What makes social advertising platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn so powerful is their targeting abilities. You can target people by demographics, interests and even buying habits. You can’t get the right people to come into your store if you never reach them.

Without ads, people don’t get any results from Facebook, because they don’t reach anybody.

A really basic thing to do with your social media- which many people neglect- is just to check how many people it’s reaching.

It doesn’t matter how many fans you have- it matters how many people see your posts and ads. Check the numbers. Without ads, they’re too low.

You need to reach thousands of people just to get hundreds of visitors. That’s how the math works. You have to advertise to get bottom-line results with social media.

One thing you’ll like about Facebook ads, if you’ve already advertised on Google or Bing, is that Facebook can be much more affordable.

And we’ll talk about retargeting separately, which is super powerful for staying in front of your future and past buyers.

Drive more store visits with Twitter.

Twitter is a different animal for retail, because Twitter is nichier than Facebook, for example. Twitter’s users tend to be smarter, geekier bookworms with more money. They’re more likely to be readers than TV viewers. A lot of news and sports outlets use Twitter, so there are definitely some mainstream users, but there are many more mainstream TV viewers and Facebook users who will tell you they “don’t get Twitter.” However, if you’re a tech or computer parts retailer, for example, Twitter could be a great option for your store.

Still, Facebook has six times as many users as Twitter, and people spend 35 minutes a day on Facebook and 15 minutes a day on Instagram, but only 2 minutes a day on Twitter.

To be effective doing retail marketing on Twitter, you have to

  • TARGET: Reach the right potential shoppers on Twitter. For that you need targeting and relevant messaging. Targeting only comes with advertising.
  • ADVERTISING: If you don’t have a lot of Twitter followers, you should use Twitter ads- and even if you do have thousands of followers, Twitter ads can help you target your exact customers, whether that’s geographically, or by their interests, or by whether they’ve visited your website before. Without ads, you may not reach enough people to make much difference, especially if you want to reach a lot of people at once before or during a sale event. Plan to spend $500 or more on Twitter ads during the days of your sale- and do the same with Facebook ads, and this will spike any TV or other media you’re already planning.
  • ADAPT: Make sure you’ve adapted your campaign to the segment of your customers that’s on Twitter, and be quick and get straight to the point. Tweets are short, and people only spend about 2 minutes a day on Twitter on average.

Leverage influencers to find new enthusiastic buyers.

There are bloggers, YouTubers and other social media influencers out there who already have big influence with audiences of people that include your future customers.

Brendan Bauer of Grand Fusion Housewares told me how lucky he was to have found an influencer that has boosted their sales. This blogger had access to 40,000 of his potential customers. They simply donated a product (12 of the same product) as a giveaway and paid the blogger $150, and their Amazon sales went crazy.

If an influencer links to your website, this can help your Google and Bing search rankings.

You can use search tools to find influencers, or use a website like Tomoson that has an influencer marketplace of over 100,000 influencers.

Influencer search tools include:

Humanize your store with video content.

If you create video of the inside of your store, you eliminate some of the unknowns that may keep people from visiting.

They’re thinking:

  • What is this store?
  • Will I like it?
  • Are the prices good?

If you’re an unknown, independent store, one of the biggest obstacles you have is that people know what to expect when they go into a chain store.

They don’t know what to expect from you.

If you create appealing videos of your entrance, displays, employees, you can create familiarity and likability that lead to more store visits.

This a huge opportunity most stores fail to act on. Or they create videos that are unappealing. The videos aren’t good enough to have an effect. Or no one sees the videos, because they have no social reach and they fail to advertise.

I get it- video isn’t easy for a lot of people. If you don’t have video talent or skills in your business, and if you don’t set the mood right and get people involved, you won’t be able to pull it off.

So you can either hire someone, or you can learn.

Regardless, you may have to make a mental shift: this is all about connecting with shoppers’ emotions, and it’s not just about the latest sale.

YouTube is so popular now, that many people expect you to be able to put your store manager and salespeople onto video, and see happy, interesting people. Your people are an asset, but if you can’t get that across in video, you may not be as competitive.

Don’t worry about live video. It is rarely useful and helpful. Most people only watch about 15 seconds OR LESS of any video on Facebook. People watch longer videos on YouTube, but they’re not live videos.

Just create good 15 – 60 second videos.

Create at least one video a week.

If you can’t do that, you may need to hire someone to do it for you or to help you get into the swing of things.

Stay top-of-mind with shoppers via Retargeting Ads.

Most people don’t buy the first time they hear about you. Sometimes they don’t even buy the first time they visit your retail store.

Even if you get people’s emails, 80% of people don’t open business emails!

Most ecommerce conversion rates are so low, that 99% of people don’t buy when they visit the online store.

How are you going to stay in front of those people if they’re not buying and not opening emails?

And if you don’t stay in front of them, they might forget about you. People are busy, distracted and have powerful “forgetters.”

Retargeting ads keep you in front of potential buyers so they don’t forget about you and you can continue to market to them with new messages until they’re ready to buy.

Using just Facebook and Google ads, we can stay in front of people who’ve given you their emails, visited your website, interacted with social posts or even watched your videos.

Because of the size of their ad networks, with retargeting, you can show up to these people on Facebook, Instagram, Google, YouTube, thousands of other websites, and even in thousands of smartphone apps.

Retargeting is a best practice.

You should be running it with the Facebook and Google ad platforms at the very least, and it will achieve all of that, and usually with a relatively small ad budget.

Drive more store visits with retail strategies.

You have to give customers a reason to come into your store.

Why shouldn’t they just buy from Amazon, eBay or some other Internet retailer?

Retail strategies that work have changed.

Here are some ideas that work:

  • Limited time sales, like Memorial Day, are one of the first things we think of. Don’t neglect them. But they aren’t the only way.
  • Discounts.
  • Contests.
  • Events- are there are other nearby stores you can partner with who might help? What if you teamed up with a local microbrewery to create a community meet-and-greet?
  • Creating content like videos answering common questions to help people get to know you and your store.
  • Improving signage and window displays.
  • Making shoppers feel welcome. Do something interesting at the entrance: for example, a welcome mat, balloons or a human greeter.
  • Putting signs in your parking lots, on roadways and sandwich signs out front.
  • Impressing shoppers with better landscaping.
  • Offering free smartphone charging stations.
  • Offering free wifi.
  • Setting up areas where shoppers can sit down and relax when tired.

Which of these strategies haven’t you tried yet?

Do something new!

Increase your sales-per-square-foot.

Are you meeting or exceeding the average of $325 per square foot?

How do these brands get such high sales per square foot?

First, make sure shoppers stay in your store long enough to buy!

Here is your biggest vulnerability in bricks and mortar: consumers can easily walk out and just buy it online.

Are your prices competitive with Amazon, Walmart, Wayfair, or the big ecomm site in your niche?

Shoppers can get on their smartphone while in your store and find the reviews for the product and the price from a competitor.

Eighty-two percent of shoppers say they consult their phones on purchases they’re about to make in a store (Google).

This was a problem even for Home Depot until they started putting signs next to their products with info about their website to cue you to go online and look for reviews on homedepot.com… not on Amazon.com.

Dana Hunt of Masterpiece Lighting in Atlanta told me his solution… Before becoming a lighting retailer with Lighting One, Dana had an IT background, which he decided to apply to his new business. He put a QR code on every tag of every product in his showroom. Any customer in his store can connect to his store wifi using their email address (which can be a smart way to build a customer list, if you ask for an opt-in, so that you can continue to market to them!), then find out about size, cost, in-stock info, and price comparisons on Google. This is the kind of info you want to supply your customer with if you want to ensure they buy from your store. Customers are savvy and connected these days, and if you ignore that fact, you will lose business.

If you give customers the info they need to confidently buy from you, you will increase your sales per square foot. But if you continue to operate your store like it’s 1995, you will go out of business.

More great ways to increase sales per square foot include:

  • Improving your store layout, end-caps, orderliness and appeal. Also, consider moving sale items and other high demand items toward the back of the store to increase the number of products shoppers see. This definitely increases sales.
  • Optimize your product assortment. Remove products that don’t sell and try new ones. Keep good data on everything so it’s easy for you to analyze this frequently.
  • Monitor your salespeople’s successes and failures, ask customers about their experience with sales associates in the store (Do customers need more help? What kind? Or do they think your salespeople are too aggressive?) and invest in sales training. Even if you’re only investing time in your sales training, make sure you meet with your sales associates monthly- or at least quarterly- to discuss methods and success rates.
  • Test your pricing: higher or lower, ending in a 9 or a 5. What gets more sales for your store?
  • Cross-sell. Put related items next to each other. Consider creating displays that combine products and help the shopper realize why they need more than one thing.
  • Create a loyalty program.
  • Offer more payment options and terms.

Just implementing one of the seven suggestions in this tip could help boost your sales per square foot.

See how many of these areas you can improve this quarter.

Most retailers know that they have limited space, so they need to maximize their profit per square foot.

You won’t win if you’re using up display space on bulky, low-profit items. You might be tempted to boost the price to make up for it, and consumers will just go find better deals online, and your inventory won’t move.

So, if you’re selling with your own online store or on sites like Amazon, reserve your bulkier, low profit-per-square-foot items for ecommerce. Your storage costs will be a lot lower than retail store rent, so this boosts your profitability.

If you’re not selling online already, you need to seriously consider doing it.

Other ideas include:

  • Ship goods to customers from your store (and manage returns there, as well).
  • Allow pick-ups of online orders.
  • Get a platform or system so that your analytics don’t just show you sales or profits, but correlate it with your current display set-up square footage.
  • Instead of stocking many of the same item in your retail store, make your retail store a showcase so you can show a larger number of different items. Actual delivery comes from your warehouse.

Get more sales from your Shopify or other ecommerce store.

Both in our agency work (directly for retailers) and in my keynote speaking to retail associations (interviewing and speaking with retailers from the audiences), we see some common patterns with their ecommerce websites.

What was initially astounding to me was that:

Most retailers say their own ecommerce website doesn’t do much sales volume and is not a big priority for them.

Many retailers get more sales volume from their bricks and mortar stores or selling through sites like Amazon, Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond.

Amazon is obviously the 500-pound gorilla and many have been forced to join ’em because they can’t beat ’em. Traditional B&M retailers struggle to adapt to what’s necessary to win with their own ecommerce websites.

When you compare your ecommerce site to what you can do selling through Amazon, you’re forced to ask yourself if you can create the level of usability, if you can get enough user data to customize and if you can achieve the conversion rates that Amazon product pages get.

What I hear from retailers is that they can get 12% – 22% conversion rates on Amazon. With Shopify, you’re a rock star if you get a 5% conversion rate, and many struggle to get to 2%. That means your cost per sale is 4-6x higher with a Shopify site than as an Amazon seller.

If you are profiting a lot more doing it yourself, or you can get a higher conversion rate, then investing more into your own ecommerce site makes sense. And even if you don’t do most of your ecommerce volume through your own site, you can still use it as an opportunity to brand yourself and sell to people who can’t or won’t use Amazon and other retailers.

If you want to succeed with your own ecommerce website, you need:

  • To invest in design, usability, copywriting, analysis and optimization. If you don’t have copywriting training, hire someone to write good product text.
  • Get professional photos- they’ll make or break your conversion rate, which makes or breaks your profits.
  • Constantly look at your numbers for places you can improve and try new images and product text. It’s not fire and forget. It’s constantly improve.
  • You need an analyst with a passion for driving better results
  • You need writers and photographers who will get you better and better creative over time, based on what you’re learning from your analytics.
  • If you run ads to your ecommerce website, you need to make sure you’ve properly installed your ad platform pixels. These not only help you measure, but in some cases like Facebook and Google Ads, help the platform itself optimize your targeting for bigger profits. Without these pixels, your ads will cost too much and you may not profit. If your platform doesn’t allow you to place a Facebook pixel, then your vendor is out-of-date and you should switch platforms.

That’s all… and isn’t that enough?

Get to work!

Increase sales and profits by selling on Amazon.

Over 55% of all product searches begin on Amazon. If you aren’t leveraging Amazon, you’re cutting your potential ecommerce sales in half, at least.

Amazon selling is a huge topic, so I’ll just cover the high points.

Whether you go through Amazon vendor central or seller central is the first question, and though vendor central wholesaling may be more convenient for you, you do have more control and options with seller central.

  • Optimize your product listings and use professional photos. Write product descriptions of 1,000 words that contain relevant and appropriate keywords.
  • Use FBA and show up as a Prime option, stop managing customer service and returns on Amazon orders.
  • Get as many reviews as you can. But follow the rules.
  • Your products need to have at least 4 stars. 4.5 and 5 is ideal. If you aren’t doing a good job with meeting shopper expectations with product quality or delivery, they’ll tell you through your star ratings. If you don’t have 4 stars, you won’t sell much.
  • Send follow-up messages to buyers, but not annoying ones! Ask for an honest review (you’re not allowed to ask for a positive one!) several weeks after the purchase.
  • Use Amazon ads (Amazon Marketing Services). The ads that Amazon offers are more effective than anything else, including Facebook or Google ads, for increasing your visibility and sales on Amazon. Max these out first before you consider any other advertising that you might send to Amazon.
  • Watch out for counterfeit products copying yours and get them shut down ASAP.
  • Get a data analyst who looks at all of your ecommerce (your own ecomm site, Amazon, Walmart, etc.) for problems and opportunities.

If that’s not enough, here are more Amazon selling tips.

So, as you can tell, there are more than 10 tips here- there are dozens!

Put some into practice now.

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Brian Carter is a popular digital marketer and keynote speaker with Fortune 500 clients like NBC, Microsoft and Humana as well as small businesses who delivers motivational keynotes with practical takeaways based his ad agency’s 15 years of daily cutting-edge work driving awareness, leads and sales for their business clients. His agency, The Brian Carter Group, creates marketing that excites customers and increases brand visibility, sales and loyalty. Brian is a bestselling author you’ve probably seen on Bloomberg TV or in Inc, Entrepreneur, The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times. He has over 250,000 online fans and reaches over 3 million people per year.

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