In order to build a strong online presence, store owners can draw on their traditional experience and intuition. The six pillars of digital marketing we are going to discuss throughout this book have their roots in the brick and mortar presence in local communities. Before we explore the digital version, let’s first look at the six pillars as they exist in the physical world.
Six Pillars of a Brick and Mortar’s Physical Community Presence
- The Store – The store is the hub of all activity. The physical store is where advertising efforts will attempt to send customer. It is the place where transactions can take place. The look and design of your store is essential for building confidence and a positive customer experience.
- Word of Mouth – Word of mouth is important for any business, especially local retailers. Getting the word out about the products you carry and the services you offer in your local community is essential.
- Promotional Material – Developing promotional materials and distributing these materials is essentail for telling your story. This includes coupons, bag stuffers, information about store events, business cards and more.
- Reputation – Building a strong reputation in your community is what helps establish your business for years to come. When a positive reputation is built and conveyed through the strong word of mouth, the results are fantastic business growth.
- Location – Your business needs to be located in places where people can find it. This means building your store on a main road in your town or near a highway with a lot of traffic. Traditionally, this has also meant listing your business in places where people look for your products and services, like the yellow pages.
- Advertising – Getting your message out to new consumers is the life blood of growth for a store. Newspapers, radio stations and television have all understood this desire and offered paid avenues for businesses to put their message in front of consumers.
As a store owner, you’ve probably already mastered many of these pillars as they relate to your physical presence in your community. The difference now, is that many of these pillars require an online component. Let’s look at these six pillars and try to identify their digital counterpoint.
The Six Physical Pillars and their Digital Components
- The Store. Digital Counterpoint – Website.
- Word of Mouth. Digital Counterpoint – Social Media.
- Promotional Materials – Digital Counterpoint – Email Marketing.
- Reputation – Digital Counterpoint – Online Reviews.
- Location – Digital Counterpoint – SEO.
- Advertising – Digital Counterpoint- Paid Traffic.
The goals and tools aren’t altogether different from the advertising mediums you’re already familiar with. These mediums just exist online instead of in the physical space. Our plan will revolve around examining each of these 6 avenues for digital success. We will explore each one in detail and discuss how to “stand up” each of these pillars of digital presence for your business.
The Six Digital Pillars of an Online Presence
- Website – A small business website is the hub of all other digital marketing assets. The website and domain owned by the store should be the focus of driving all traffic. Investing in traffic, functionality and brand exposure on your website is the starting block for all other digital marketing pillars.
- Social Media – Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are essential for setting the stage for customer interaction and relationship building. These platforms are an opportunity to tell the story that drives your business. These platforms represent an opportunity to create digital word of mouth and brand awareness.
- Email Marketing – Send relevant information to your customers on a consistent basis. Email blasts are an excellent way to communicate discounts, events, expert articles, industry news and more.
- Reviews – 84% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Generating positive reviews online can have a significant impact on store traffic. Take advantage of free platforms that allow customers to post reviews about their experience at your store.
- SEO – Local search engine optimization (SEO) is critical driving new customers to your store. When a consumer is interested in purchasing a product or service the first step often involves a local search. Make sure your business shows up where your customers are are turning to seek out your services.
- Paid Traffic – Facebook & Google have built extremely robust systems for advertising your business online. Google, YouTube and Facebook are the three most trafficked websites on the internet. Advertise your business in the places where potential customers spend their time.
With these pillars in place, your business is set to thrive. However, there is no single path to establishing each of these pillars. In fact, each one can look quite different depending on your business and your long term goals.
In following chapters we’ll explore the different options for establishing each of these assets for your business. We’ll explore and answer questions like –
- Do I need an ecommerce website or an informational website?
- Which website platform is right for my business?
- How much should I spend on Facebook advertising?
- Who should handle social media?
- How do I generate more online reviews for my business?
- What social media platforms should I be using?
- How much should I spend on Google advertising?
- Where do I find vendors to help with these services?
- How do I judge the difference in quality between different digital marketing vendors?
- How much time should my employees spend on my website or managing social media?
At the end of each chapter, we’ll include a work sheet to help answer arrive at which solutions will work best for your retail business. Join me as we explore these questions and forge the path forward your business needs to be successful now and into the future.