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How to Convert Online Retail Shoppers to In-Store Sales

We all know that digital and mobile technologies have transformed the way consumers shop.  Ecommerce is on the rise as shoppers turn to the convenience of the internet to shop and browse. There is no doubt that online channels have a major impact in how retailers connect with today’s consumers.

However, despite the growing impact of ecommerce, 93% of retail sales still occur in brick-and-mortar locations. The caveat? The majority of these shoppers now start their research online before choosing which retailers to visit. By understanding this customer path to purchase across offline and online channels, retailers can better implement strategies and tactics to convert shoppers into sales at their physical locations.

Mobile and Digital Fuel 40% of Brick-and-Mortar Sales

According to research compiled by SweetIQ, mobile and digital impact approximately 40% of offline sales, with online to offline digital marketing influencing up to 3.6 Trillion dollars in consumer spending. With these channels impacting such a large bulk of sales, retailers are dominating spend on digital channels. According to a recent eMarketer report, The US Retail Industry 2016: Digital Ad Spending Forecasts and Trends, the US retail industry will invest $15.09 billion in paid online and mobile media advertising in 2016, which is expected to grow to $23.04 billion by 2020.

retail digital spend

In another study by RetailMeNot, Inc titled “The Rise of Mobile Marketing Spend in Retail,” 87% of retail marketers plan to invest more in mobile marketing in 2016. According to the report, “Investments in mobile features, such as product reviews on mobile websites and apps, mobile-optimized emails and the ability to download coupons on smartphones will remain steady. However, as retailers expand their mobile efforts and look for new ways to utilize their brick-and-mortar locations, tactics like online fulfillment and buy online pickup in-store (BOPIS) will grow in utilization. Many consumers view their smartphone as a research tool, and visibility to store inventory or location-based deals and more may provide the incentive needed to drive them inside stores.”

Retailers are using a variety of mobile and digital strategies to drive offline conversions including:

Online Reviews

Reviews are often the tipping point for making a decision in cases where there’s little perceived product differentiation. Dimensional Research found that 90% of respondents who recall reading online reviews were influenced by the reviews in their buying decision; conversely 86% were deterred by negative online reviews.

The practice of checking reviews before making a purchase is becoming more and more common. A recent study by Bazaarvoice found that 54% of e-commerce shoppers read reviews before making a purchase, and 39% of in-store consumers still check reviews online before making their decision. Even more substantial is that the study found that for every $1 that’s influenced by an online review, the impact is multiplied 4-5x’s for instore revenue (read more about the findings here).

Influencer Marketing

Consumers today love to share their experiences, interact with brands, and are in fact are our best advocates and marketers. Consumers want an experience that is personal and relevant—and content created by fellow shoppers can be a huge factor when deciding which brand they will choose to purchase from.

Take a look at these compelling statistics on the advantages of using User or Consumer-Generated Content (CGC).

  1. 59% of millennials say they use CGC to inform their purchase decisions about major electronics. That’s followed by cars (54%), major appliances (53%), mobile phones (46%), hotels (45%), and travel plans (40%). (Crowdtap)
  2. 86% of businesses use content marketing; of those, 70% are creating more content than they did a year ago. (Content Marketing Institute)
  3. 73% of consumers place peer recommendations and reviews above professionally written content. (Reevo)
  4. Web content increasingly is dominated by user-generated content as Pinterest pin creation is up 75%, Twitch video broadcasts are up 83%, Wattpad stories are up 140%, and Airbnb reviews are up 140% year-over-year. (Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers)
  5. 65% of social media users from ages 18 to 24 consider information that’s shared on social networks when making a purchasing decision. (eMarketer)
  6. Consumers who are between the ages of 25 and 54 are the biggest content drivers—contributing 70% of all CGC. (SparkReel)
  7. 25% of search results for the world’s 20 largest brands are links to user-generated content. (Kissmetrics)
  8. 84% of millennials report that CGC on company websites has at least some influence on what they buy. (Bazaarvoice)
  9. 86% of millennials say that consumer-generated content is generally a good indicator of the quality of a brand or service. (Bazaarvoice)
  10. Brand engagements rise by 28% when consumers are exposed to both professional content and user-generated product video. (comScore)

Local & Mobile Search Advertising

Local search is quickly becoming a highly influential channel for retailers. According to Google, of those using a search engine on their smartphone, 77% end up contacting a business and 44% end up purchasing. Additionally, 30% of all mobile searches are related to location.

Retailers must ensure that all listings are optimized.  In addition to including store name, locations, and phone, each listing should have hours of operation, any special promotions, descriptions, branding, and photos. Consumers are three times more likely to use a search engine to find a store’s location than going directly to a company’s website so optimizing listings is critically important. Local campaigns should also be implemented to influence local shoppers. Local marketing campaigns can include loyalty programs, discounts, coupons, promotions, or other offers to encourage online shoppers into a local store.

Email Promotions

Email and social are highly effective channels for promoting in-store promotions, special events, and in-store redemptions. StrongView surveyed email marketers about their email marketing plans for 2016. “More than a third cited ‘increasing subscriber engagement’ as their primary goal for 2016 and plan to use such tactics as mobile app push marketing and location-based mobile messaging to do so,” StrongView says. “In fact, nearly a quarter of marketers (24%) already use location data in their email programs.”

retail email marketing

Be sure to personalize and segment our email lists. Consumers want more than emails based on just name, location, or preferences. They are looking for hyper-targeted messages that show that a brand is listening and taking the time to cultivate a 1:1 relationship.

There is a wealth of data available to achieve this level of sophisticated personalization. Third-party data can be appended to prospect and customer lists. This may include anything from marital status, children in the household, income, homeowner status, hobbies, and interests. The types of data that are available today are larger and more diverse than ever so get creative and enhance your records with third-party sources that will add value to your personalization strategies.

Beyond third party data, be sure you are utilizing your internal first party behavioral data generated every time someone interacts with one of your campaigns, engages you through your website, or posts to your social media pages. For example, behavioral data may include the products or services customers purchase, what products they view, contents of abandoned carts, what time they opened your email, and did they click through. Also collect data on how consumers interact with your brand. What pages are prospects viewing on your website and do they follow you on social media?

Using rich data variables to continually enhance your consumer profiles, retailers can ensure consumers are being engaged with the most targeted and relevant messaging. According to a recent survey by VentureBeat, 95% of email marketers see open-rate increase with personalization.

email personalization

When used correctly, online tools can drive foot traffic to your physical stores.  With the huge impact of online channels, you can’t have one without the other.  Online and offline should complement one another to create compelling and personalized experiences to propel your offline sales.

To learn more great tips and strategies on how to adapt to today’s omnichannel consumer expectations
download our free Retail Marketing Guide.  

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