local

By Vincent Naigeon

Want to grow? Then you need more customers through the doors. While e-commerce is thriving, rumours of physical retail’s demise have been grossly exaggerated. Head out onto your high street. People are shopping, right?

They certainly are. But are they coming into your store? Footfall is the bread-and-butter for your shop: the more people coming in, the higher chance of more sales. If your footfall is lagging, here are eight tips for helping it pick up.

Local SEO and listings

Executing a local search engine optimisation (SEO) campaign is a great example of how merging online to offline marketing methods can really pay dividends.

For driving footfall, you really need to focus on local SEO. You’ve probably already got a general SEO campaign going, targeting ‘well-searched-for’ keywords. But if you’re prepared to do some research and optimise your site for local phrases, you could do a whole lot better.

As a rule of thumb, update your website with keyword chains that follow this model:

  • Your city/region, plus a relevant keyword

This will help you compete for local SEO, and you should start showing up in searches.

Also spend some time improving your local listings profile – this is how you appear on a Google search result. You will have noticed that some companies appear on search results in a listings box, a little like Google’s knowledge box. This provides users with your business name, opening hours, contact details and more. To get started on improving your presence here, take a look at Google My Business.

According to Google trends analysis, 76% of people who conduct a local search visit a physical store within 24 hours, with 28% of those searches resulting in a purchase. So if you’re not optimised for local SEO and local listings, do so now.

Hold an event

An oldie but a goodie. Holding an in-store event is a fantastic way to build footfall, especially if you offer some kind of incentive to come back. Let’s say you’re holding an event to launch a new product range – why not give out some discount vouchers that guests can give to friends and family, which  they can then use at a later date?

Depending on your industry, you could also encourage bloggers and online writers to come and attend the night – with a promise to post about it on social media afterwards, naturally.

Store locator

Having a store locator on your site is a no-brainer. It helps customers find stores near to them and visit them. So if you haven’t got one, get one now! If you do have one, review it. Is it easy to use? Is it accurate? Does it tell customers what they need to know? Does it take into account changes to store opening times, such as on national holidays? Having a fully functioning store locator is crucial.

You should also consider a product availability tool that helps users see if you have certain products available to buy in-store. Google research shows that 6 in 10 internet users check whether a product is available in a local store before visiting it.

Having a mobile website

Many people do more or less everything from their smartphones these days, so having a website that’s built to be viewed and navigated with ease from a mobile is essential. Google’s stats show that:

  • 76% who search on their smartphones for something visit a business within a day
  • 88% of people who do a local search on their smartphone visit a related store within a week
  • 63% of smartphone shoppers used their phones to locate a professional service in the last six months

Visit your website from your phone now – is it easy to use? If not, make it mobile-friendly as soon as possible. As the stats above show, it could well result in increased physical footfall.

Email marketing

An effective email marketing campaign not only drives online sales – it can drive offline ones too. Don’t think email marketing is all about ecommerce – use it to talk about what’s going on in your stores, highlighting any upcoming events, things that have happened and special discounts that might only be available offline.

Becoming a local champion

If your business doesn’t do much charity work, consider investing in it. Being socially responsible is a great way to show your face in the local area. Consider hooking up with a local charity to run a fundraising event in your store one day – with any luck, the attendees could well return another day.

Engaging in excellent customer service

Experience is one of the most important reasons customers visit physical stores. If the environment isn’t enticing, the products don’t look good, and the staff are a little cold and unfriendly, it’s certain to put people off from coming back.

Of all these, make good customer service a high priority. Train your staff to always deliver excellent service – from the first customer to the last. If a customer has a great interaction with a member of staff in one of your stores and they go home and tell a friend, it’s bound to help your word of mouth referrals and increase footfall.

Facebook advertising

Facebook is an excellent platform from which to advertise and drive local footfall. Its sophisticated targeting options mean you can post adverts to people in your area, of certain ages, with specific interests and a whole lot more. With Facebook the most popular social network in the world, start here.

Vincent Naigeon is the Managing Director of BRIDGE, where he focuses on driving global strategy, growth and operations.  Prior to his time at BRIDGE, he founded both Keebitz and Advertory GmbH where he served as Chief Technology Officer. He has worked as a Software Engineer at Kelkoo and Yahoo, where his field of expertise was ‘Local Search’. Vincent’s passion for mountain-bike sports kickstarted his entrepreneurial spirit at the age of 13 when he founded his first company, www.26.fr – the biggest community of mountain bikers in France – which was acquired by the European action sports leader 1997 Media. Vincent holds an Masters Degree in Computer Science with a major in Software Architecture.