Posted by MiriamEllis
Retail clients are battling tough economics offline and tough
competitors online. They need every bit of help your agency can
I was heartened when 75 percent of the 1,400+ respondents to the
State of Local SEO Industry Report 2019 shared that they
contribute to offline strategy recommendations either frequently or
at least some of the time. I can’t think of a market where good
and relatively inexpensive experiments are more needed than in
embattled retail. The ripple effect of a single new idea, offered
up generously, can spread out to encompass new revenue streams for
the client and new levels of retention for your agency.
And that’s why win-win seemed written all over three
statistics from a
2018 Yes Marketing retail survey when I read it because they
speak to motivating about one quarter to half of 1,000 polled
customers without going to any extreme expense. Take a look:
I highly recommend downloading Yes Marketing’s
complete survey which is chock-full of great data, but today,
let’s look at just three valuable stats from it to come up with
an actionable strategy you can gift your offline retail clients at
your next meeting.
Getting it right: A little market near me
For the past 16 years, I’ve been observing the local business
scene with a combination of professional scrutiny and personal
regard. I’m inspired by businesses that open and thrive and am
saddened by those that open and close.
Right now, I’m especially intrigued by a very small,
independently-owned grocery store which set up shop last year in
what I’ll lovingly describe as a rural, half-a-horse town not far
from me. This locale has a single main street with less than 20
businesses on it, but I’m predicting the shop’s ultimate
success based on several factors. A strong one is that the
community is flanked by several much larger towns with lots of
through traffic and the market is several miles from any
competitor. But other factors which match point-for-point with the
data in the Yes Marketing survey make me feel especially confident
that this small business is going to “get it right”.
Encourage your retail clients to explore the following tips.
1) The store is visually appealing
43–58 percent of Yes Marketing’s surveyed retail customers
say they’d be motivated to shop with a retailer who has cool
product displays, murals, etc. Retail shoppers of all ages are
seeking appealing experiences.
At the market near me, there are many things going on in its
favor. The building is historic on the outside and full of natural
light on this inside, and the staff sets up creative displays, such
as all of the ingredients you need to make a hearty winter soup
gathered up on a vintage table. The
Instagram crowd can have selfie fun here, and more mature
customers will appreciate the aesthetic simplicity of this
uncluttered, human-scale shopping experience.
For your retail clients, it won’t break the bank to become
more visually appealing. Design cues are everywhere!
Share these suggestions with a worthy client:
Basic cleanliness is the starting point
This is an
old survey, but I think we’re safe to say that at least 45
percent of retail customers are still put off by dirty premises —
especially restrooms. Janitorial duties are already built into the
budget of most businesses and only need to be accomplished
properly. I continuously notice how many reviewers proclaim the
word “clean” when a business deserves it.
Inspiration is affordable
Whatever employees are already being paid is the cost of
engaging them to lend their creativity to creating merchandise
displays that draw attention and/or solve problems. My hearty
winter soup example is one idea (complete with boxed broth, pasta,
veggies, bowls, and cookware).
For your retail client? It might be everything a consumer needs
to recover from a cold (medicine, citrus fruit, electric blanket,
herbal tea, tissue, a paperback, a sympathetic stuffed animal,
etc.). Or everything one needs to winterize a car, take a trip to a
beach, build a beautiful window box, or pamper a pet. Retailers can
inexpensively encourage the hidden artistic talents in staff.
Feeling stuck? The Internet is full of
free retail display tips, design
magazines cost a few bucks, and your clients’ cable bills
already cover a subscription to channels like HGTV and the DIY
network that trade on style. A client who knows that interior
designers are all using
grey-and-white palettes and that one TV ad after another
features women wearing denim blue with aspen yellow right now is
well on their way to catching customers’ eyes.
Aspiring artists live near your client and need work
The national average cost
to have a large wall mural professionally painted is about
$8,000, with much less expensive options available. Some
retailers even hold
contests surrounding logo design, and an artist near your
client may work quite inexpensively if they are trying to build up
their portfolio. I can’t predict how long the
Instagram mural trend will last, but wall art has been a
Paleolithic times. Any shopper who stops to snap a photo of
themselves has been brought in close proximity to your front
I pulled this word cloud out of the reviews of the little
While your clients’ industries and aesthetics will vary, tell
them they can aim for a similar, positive response from at least 49
percent of their customers with a little more care put into the
2) The store offers additional services beyond the sale of products
19–40 percent of survey respondents are influenced by
value-adds. Doubtless, you’ve seen the TV commercials in which
banks double as coffee houses to appeal to the young, and small
hardware chains emphasize staff expertise over loneliness in a
warehouse. That’s what this is all about, and it can be done at a
smaller scale, without overly-strapping your retail
At the market near me, reviews like this are coming in:
The market has worked out a very economic arrangement with a
massage therapist, who can build up their clientele out of the
deal, so it’s a win for everybody.
For your retail clients, sharing these examples could inspire
appealing added services:
A small pet
food chain is offering health consults in addition to selling
- Even small clothing
boutiques can provide personal styling sessions.
- I know of a particular
auto parts store where salespeople show you how to change
windshield wipers and headlight bulbs for free and it brings our
household back almost every time..
- It’s common for shops like toy stores to have kids’
birthday clubs, but
sophisticated businesses offer loyalty programs, too
- I wrote about
offering shipping last year as an additional service with
self-evident value in this age of convenience.
The cost of these efforts is either the salary of an employee,
nominal or free.
3) The store hosts local events
20–36 percent of customers feel the appeal of retailers
becoming destinations for things to learn and do. Coincidentally,
this corresponds with two of the tasks Google
dubbed micro-moments a couple of years back, and while not
everyone loves that terminology, we can at least agree that large
numbers of people use the Internet to discover local resources.
At the market near me, they’re doing open-mic readings, and
this is a trend in many cities to which Google Calendar
For your clients, the last two words of that event description
are key. When there’s a local wish to build community, retail
businesses can lend the space and the stage. This can look
- Any type of class, like these ones that teach
how to operate an appliance or machinery, how to re-skill at
something like wilderness survival, or how
to cook/make things.
- Any type of event, like the open mic night I’ve cited, above,
celebrations, or appearances by well-known locals such as
- Any type of special appeal, like this recycling deal gifting
participants $20 off new jeans if they donate their old ones, or
housing a drop-off point for
light bulbs, batteries or charitable giving, or
hosting the kick-off of a neighborhood cleanup with some added
benefit to participants like a breakfast or discount.
Again, costs here can be quite modest and you’ll be bringing
the community together under the banner of your business.
Putting it in writing
The last item on the budget for any of these ventures is
whatever it costs to publicize it. For sure, your client will
- A homepage announcement and/or one or more blog posts
- Google Posts, Q&A, photos and related features
- Social mentions
- If the concept is large enough (or the community is small) some
outreach to local news in hopes of a write-up and inclusion of
- Link building would be great if the client can afford a
reasonable investment in your services, where necessary
- And, of course, be sure your client’s local business listings
are accurate so that newcomers aren’t getting lost on their
way to finding the cool new offering
Getting the word out about events, features, and other desirable
attributes don’t have to be exorbitant, but it will put the
finishing touch on ensuring a community knows the business is ready
to offer the desired experience.
Sometimes, you’ll find yourself in a client meeting and things
will be a bit flat. Maybe the client has been disengaged from your
contract lately, or sales have been leveling out for lack of new
ideas. That’s the perfect time to put something fresh on the
table, demonstrating that you’re thinking about the client’s
whole picture beyond CTR and citations.
One thing that I find to be an inspiring practice for agencies
is to do an audit of competitors’ reviews looking for “holes”
In many communities, shopping is really dull and reviews reflect
that, with few shoppers feeling genuinely excited by a particular
vertical’s local offerings. Your client could be the one to
change that, with a little extra attention from you.
Every possibility won’t be the perfect match for every
business, but if you can help the company see a new opportunity,
the few minutes spent brainstorming could benefit you both.
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