How To Promote Your Brick-and-Mortar Store Online
The internet is the golden goose of our time. It is estimated to be responsible for billions of dollars of transactions of online purchases every year. So naturally, those with entrepreneurial spirit may be inclined to focus the majority of their efforts into creating an e-store, rather than using the internet to promote their brick-and-mortar store.
Running an online store may be a great way to keep overhead costs low and expand market share to the global market, however not every business is suitable for e-commerce. Businesses that are focused on the local market, whether it is a local service that is being provided or products that are being sold, may find they have more success if they use the internet as a tool to promote their local business rather than a way to sell their products or services.
Although not as recognized, the internet is also responsible for billions of dollars of offline sales each year. There is a large sub-group of internet shoppers, referred to as off-channel or web-to-store shoppers, who use the internet solely for research on products and services they are looking to purchase in a local brick-and-mortar store.
In order to be successful with your brick-and-mortar store you really need to set up an online presence that caters to this sub-group of consumers. The following are some tips to help you promote your brick-and-mortar store online:
Your domain name is your website address. When deciding on a name it is important to choose a domain name that is short and memorable enough that potential customers will be able to remember, and find, your website from any of your traditional offline promotions, such as television, radio and newspaper ads.
It is worth the investment to hire a professional web designer to create a website that is clean, easy to navigate and provides all the necessary information, such as store location, contact information, times of operation, and product information. If it is reasonable to do so, you may even want to include an e-cart to handle any purchase requests you may get from online visitors.
Offering online coupons or discounts that are available for in store purchases is a great way to track how effective your website really is. Coupons and discounts may even further influence potential customers who are visiting your website to perform some product research to visit your store.
Another component of your website that will help to promote your brick-and-mortar store online is a company blog. This is a great way to explain your products and services in more detail, promote any upcoming promotional events, and develop a following of readers and loyal customers.
SEO, SEM, Social Media
Having a website and blog alone is only one piece of the puzzle. It is a great start to promote your store online, but if no one is following your website your reach can only go so far. This is where SEO (search engine optimization), SEM (search engine marketing) and Social Media come into play. SEO deals with optimizing your website for a specific market through its content. SEM deals with marketing your website online through such things as paid advertising. And Social Media involves using such social sites as Facebook, twitter, Google+, Yelp, etc. SEO, SEM and Social Media can be used on their own, but in general it is best to develop an overall marketing package that includes all three.
Overall, in order to promote your business online you will need a memorable web address, and clean and easy to navigate website and some interesting content that can be shared through social media. The important thing is to have fun with it and be as real and natural as you are with your in-store customers.