Geo-Target Customers: How Far Will They Travel?

Local retail Marketing OnlineWhen engaging in retail marketing online, brick and mortar businesses must first learn how far customers are willing to travel for their services. Your customer base will necessarily be limited to a certain radius around your location. Do you know what that distance is?

This will depend on a number of factors, including how specialized your offerings are, how strong your brand is, and what competition is in the area. While you can’t control the last factor, there are many things you can do to improve the first two, allowing you to expand that radius. I’ve worked with many businesses that were surprised to find how much further people were willing to travel once they focused on certain strengths and USPs (unique selling propositions) that their business could offer and competitors couldn’t (or weren’t advertising).

One of the best ways to determine how far customers are willing to travel is to find out more about where your current customers are coming from. It’s as simple as this: ask your clients for their zip code when they make a purchase.

Mapping CustomersOnce you’ve collected enough data, you can create a map to see exactly where people are coming from. Now you can use this information to better reach customers within these areas for your internet and print marketing. This process is called Geo-Targeting.

 Competing on a National Level

A successful geo-targeting campaign can help spread brand awareness for smaller regional businesses and let them compete even against larger national chains. Consider this example: someone living in Princeton, New Jersey types “window cleaning services” into the Google search bar, and instead of getting results for window cleaning services all over the country, the first few results are from businesses in Princeton that have employed a geo-targeting campaign.

Geographically targeted campaigns can lead to a much better return on investment than the more scattershot approach of “blind advertising” campaigns. By knowing the location of your target customers, you can tailor local online advertising to appeal to them more than generic national chains. Studies have shown that click-through rates for location-based campaigns are significantly better than campaigns that don’t take location into account. After all, consumers are more likely to show interest if they feel like a product or service is aimed specifically at them.

It’s All about Location: How to Maximize your Geo-Targeting Campaign

So what steps can you take to make sure that your geo-targeting campaign works? Below are a few ideas to help you make the best use of geo-targeting.

Deliver Different Content to Consumers Based on Location 

You probably wouldn’t aim an advertising campaign at women over 60 if your target customers were men ages 18 to 24, and it’s the same deal with geographically targeted campaigns. You don’t want to aim an ad at a group that’s not going to be willing to travel the distance to your physical location, because that would just be a waste of marketing resources.

Let’s say you own a regional chain of theaters. By producing different ads for specific theaters and then targeting them at the people who are closest to that particular theater, you’ll avoid wasting your ads.

Improve Your PPC Campaigns

You can get a better ROI for your PPC campaign if you adjust some of the parameters to make it location-based. In Google Adwords, you can go to Advanced Settings and choose options like “people in, searching for, or viewing pages about my targeted location.”

This means that your ad won’t just show up for people who live in or around the area that you’re targeting, but also people who have used your location as a search term or have viewed other pages about that location. This can be useful in attracting people who might be researching an area they are moving to or will be visiting in the future, thus giving you more qualified leads from your PPC campaign.

Engage in SEO for Location-Specific Keywords

When writing web copy for your site or content for your blog, make sure that you’re using the name of your location or other phrases related to your location frequently. The name of your location should be located on every page of your site.

Not only does this serve the practical purpose of making sure that site visitors will know where to find you, it also means you’ll appear higher in the search engine rankings when consumers search for products and services in your area.

Target the Nearby Mobile Audience

Your consumers probably aren’t just sitting in one place all day. But thanks to mobile targeting, you can aim specific ads to potential customers who are using their mobile phones to perform web searches in your nearby area. This can be a great way to increase in-store traffic, especially if you have a specific promotion or deal.

Think about someone who is on a road trip driving to Houston and wants to stop somewhere to eat. If they see a targeted ad for a nearby restaurant that is offering a good deal, they’ll be more likely to visit the restaurant than if they never saw the ad and didn’t know the restaurant existed.

Plan Content Marketing Campaigns within Geo-Targeted Locations

Producing content that is specific to a region will build awareness of and trust for your brand within that community. Websites like Patch allow users to blog about their industry and post on pages specifically aimed at people who live in certain towns and cities, but even your own internal blog should make mention of local events and issues to attract the right audience.

Help Search Engines Know What Audience You Want

By setting specific parameters for your website, you can make sure that it is targeted to exactly the audience you want. For example, Bing will let you define a single country audience for your entire website, or go page by page to set different target countries (a feature that could be useful for businesses hoping to increase international brand awareness).

Using Mailing Lists within that Area

There’s no sense in wasting your resources mailing or emailing materials to people outside of the radius of people who are likely to visit your location. Use the data you compiled about most common zip codes to determine who you should actually be mailing information to.

Geo-targeting is an extremely effective way to personalize your ad campaign for customers in your target region, thus driving more traffic to your physical location. In my next post, I’ll focus on how to use other traditional and digital mediums to further increase that in-store traffic.

Posted: 11/26/2013 9:41:13 AM by Shep Morrow

internet marketing - customer targeting

A strategy that’s picking up speed in the retail world is lifestyle marketing. Put simply: it’s the practice of marketing around a particular lifestyle, not just a particular product or service need.

Local Retail Marketing OnlineMany stores that engage in lifestyle marketing, such as Urban Outfitters, Anthropology, Buckle, Aeropostale and Hot Topic, are posting positive results in the last several quarters – during a time when not many publicly traded retailers posted a comp store increase of any kind.

What makes these stores different? If you walk into any of these retailers, you’ll instantly notice that the focus isn’t on a particular type of product; it’s on a particular attitude or mindset. They are squarely aiming at people looking to live a very particular kind of lifestyle. They may primarily sell apparel and accessories, but you’ll also notice furniture, books, knick-knacks, décor, and more.

At a typical store, you’re more likely to find all the shoes in one area, the shirts in another, and the jewelry in yet another. But in a store focused on lifestyle marketing like Hot Topic, you’ll often find shoes, shirts, and jewelry (even those aimed at different genders) organized by interest. Maybe video game items are in one area, and vampire items are in another.

Nordstrom’s is another retailer that is taking a lifestyle approach, particularly through their internet marketing. Their newly redesigned site doesn’t just share info on their products and promotions, but also includes editorial features that provide a more magazine-like experience for their consumers. They have also made it easy for people to reserve products in a nearby store, tapping into location-based marketing. The results of the strategy were an 8% increase in sales.

Incorporating Lifestyle Marketing into Your Business Plan

Lifestyle marketing led to a powerful retail presence for these brands, and it can do the same for your business as well.

The difference from product-based marketing is in your approach. You’ve started developing your internet marketing plan by asking this question:

  • “If this is my product or service, who am I selling to?”
But now you can ask,
  • “I am selling to a customer seeking this type of lifestyle. What types of products or services are they interested in?”

Armed with your customer profiles, you are able to segment customers into lifestyle groups. For instance, I work with a bike company whose customers fall into two main groups:
  • Performance-oriented bikers typically over 40 with a higher discretionary income who ride in groups for exercise or by themselves
  • Comfort-oriented bikers usually under 40 who ride with family members
Knowing this, we changed the layout of the store. Previously, it focused on keeping similar products together: the bikes in one area, the helmets in another, etc. The new layout split the store in half by lifestyle. We followed a similar approach with all print and internet marketing efforts.

The results were clear. The new design made it easier for customers to locate the products that had the features and price points that they were interested in, and it aided in their ability to “upsell” additional products that would have been more difficult to locate in the previous layout. Overall, the change led to increased sales.

With retail store marketing online, you can implement a new strategy relatively quickly and directly measure the results.  If you are not accurately addressing a lifestyle group’s needs, you can make adjustments to improve your returns.  It is also a valuable strategy for improving search rank, since you often yield better search results by focusing on more specific keyword terms and niche topics.

Growth using a lifestyle marketing approach isn’t completely dependent on locating new customers, but also offering customers a broader range of products and services, encouraging a higher profit per transaction. This is particularly valuable for local marketing since the customer base of location-based retail businesses is often limited by a specific geography.

Call today for a free phone consultation: 609-737-8667

Posted: 2/6/2014 8:49:35 AM by Shep Morrow

Retail Marketing Makeover: Webrooming

Webrooming to Convert Brick-and-Mortar Shoppers

In this article, you’ll learn:
  • How Webrooming is changing the landscape for brick-and-mortar retail businesses
  • 6 tips for using Webrooming to drive business to your store
  • What drives customers’ decision to shop at a physical location over online
It was just a few years back that many were predicting the death of brick-and-mortar retail as consumers flocked to online shopping. Reports showed that many buyers were treating physical locations as showrooms, where they could view products that they would ultimately purchase on their computers or mobile devices.

Now new studies are showing us that an opposite trend is taking over – “Webrooming.”

People still head online, but they are researching and comparing prices and then going to a physical store to buy.

• 88% of people begin shopping online but purchase at a physical location
• 80% of local searches on mobile devices convert into purchases
• 75% of those purchases happen at a physical store and on the same day
• 63% of those purchases happen at a physical store within a few hours

According to Forrester Research, the Webrooming trend will drive $1.8 trillion in sales by 2017. During the same period, ecommerce sales are only expected to grow to $370 billion. It’s not just great news for physical retail stores; it’s also a online marketing tactic that retailers can use to their advantage.

How can you do that?
Here are a few practical tips.

1. Know your customers. It will be an uphill battle trying to influence purchases if you don’t have a solid understanding of who is buying first. Your goal is to attract a specific set of consumer values and tap into the more personal aspects of a product’s ability to gratify a consumer’s identification with internal and external values.

2. Decide who to target. Even if you only sell products in a single category, your customer base likely contains many subgroups with different values and needs. A broad campaign will be less effective than one that’s limited to those who share key similarities that you can influence.

3. Create a need. Your buyers are doing their research online, so direct them to sources that educate them on a particular need. For instance, if you sell baby products, you could point to articles that discuss the benefits of sound machines, something your consumers may not have considered seriously before.

4. Direct them to reviews. You’ve piqued their interest; now make it easy for them to select the right product in that category. If you’ve done your job, some of your buyers now want a sound machine, but the next question is: which sound machine? You can host the reviews directly on your website, or you can make researching options on third-party sites easier by directing them to resources. Retweet other users’ reviews. Showcase images and videos where you can. After all, the ability to use multiple kinds of online media is one of the benefits over traditional print marketing.

5. Layer on an incentive. This is the final step: give them a reason to go out today and make that purchase in your store. Offer a discount on those sound machines, and while you’re at it, why not remind them about the content trail you’ve laid out previously? Include links to those informative articles and reviews.

6. Make use of off-line promotions as well. That incentive can be sent online as well as through direct mail. Don’t give up on traditional marketing methods that are working for you, and may also help remind people that you are a brick-and-mortar location where they can get instant fulfillment.

What’s Driving Customers Back into Retail Stores?

In order to effectively harness the power of Webrooming, it’s key to understand the reasons why consumers are coming back to shopping at physical locations when they could otherwise click a button to make a purchase.

Price is certainly a factor if a brick-and-mortar location has a deal and online shopping options don’t, but more often ecommerce sites offer similar or even lower prices. So don’t be too quick to try to compete with the often steep discounts that major retailers like Amazon can offer. Instead make sure you are delivering on the other benefits that consumers seek from brick-and-mortar purchases.

A tactile experience. It’s more emotionally satisfying for customers to get to view, touch, and interact with a product, something that’s not possible online. So ensure that your store allows customers to get hands-on with products you offer.

Instant gratification. A customer has taken the time to research and compare options, but now that he’s made a decision, he wants to start using it now – not wait for it to arrive in the mail. The key here is maintaining appropriate inventory levels, or a consumer might as well place their order online and wait.

No shipping cost. You may be surprised by how much of a deterrent shipping costs are to consumers. A study from the Wharton School of Business (http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/how-the-offer-of-free-shipping-affects-on-line-shopping/) found that people preferred a free shipping offer that saves them only $6.99 over a $10 discount on the purchase price.

Easier returns. This is an important one not to fall short on. People like to have the option to return their purchase to the store – in fact, 37% are motivated to purchase at a physical location for this reason. Keep your return policy generous and front-and-center, and focus on providing excellent customer service.

Loyalty. It’s easier to keep a connection to your local retail store, especially if it’s not a major chain. Customers can develop relationships with employees and feel a connection to the greater community.

You can help encourage this by supporting local events and charities and, again, putting the focus on customer service and a great in-store experience. So consider the boon of high-speed internet and mobile devices to be an asset for your brick-and-mortar location, and start using it to your advantage.

Bio Shepard Morrow is the head of Location Traffic, a business consulting and internet marketing company in New Jersey. Connect with him on LinkedIn
Posted: 12/2/2014 11:43:42 AM by Shep Morrow

Create a Retail Marketing Strategy

Determine Who Your Customers Are, Then How to Target Them: Section A

I’ve found that most businesses are guessing who their customer really are. Many owner operators are working with outdated information gathered when they first created a business plan for their company. Others have never done the research, instead simply work with personalized assumptions. And some, particularly brick and mortar businesses, don’t understand the value in identifying their customers from a data driven Lifestyle perspective.

But here’s the thing: you don’t need to guess. You can know who your customers are, and gain a competitive advantage by focusing your marketing and product offerings to serve their needs. Just think higher sales, less inventory, and happy repeat customers.

To determine your target market, here are a few things you should know about your customers:

  • Who were my best customers in last year?
  • Where can I find more potential customers like them?
  • Who else is looking for my products or services?
  • Where can I find these qualified leads?
  • How are they looking for my products and services?
  • How do they make decisions regarding my products and services?
  • How far are people willing to travel to find my business?

Startegies for Local Retail Marketing OnlineReal Time Data, Real Time Results

Working with data from just a few years or months ago or from a market research company is only good as a place to start.  Actually, it is an essential place to start from in building assumptions about customers and their needs. With the internet, even data that recent can become  outdated if you are trying to track trends, and planning services or inventory six months ahead. Instead, your business can be working with data from weeks, days, minutes ago – real-time information that ensures that you know how your customer base is changing: who they are, where they are, and what they want. Measuring internet marketing efforts against defined profiles of historical customers enables a business to react to demand shifts quickly.

At the core, this is why internet marketing is so valuable and so effective. You’re armed with information, allowing you to get a higher ROI from your efforts on all fronts.

Unlike most other forms of advertising, the internet allows you to directly target those who are the most likely to become customers. Your message won’t just go to leads; you can direct it at qualified leads, increasing the chances of conversions.

Additionally, you can better gauge the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. It’s directly measurable. This allows you to continually make improvements, further increasing the odds for conversions and, thus, your business growth.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. What you learn from the process – through developing a digital marketing plan, running your internet campaign, and evaluating the results – can be applied to every aspect of your business. Once you have an understanding of who your customers are, and a  measurable system of how they are interacting with your business you can better determine how to target them. The lessons you learn can be used to improve in-store promotions, product layout, inventory, customer service, direct mailings, and more.

You can stop treading water and start growing. You can stay ahead instead of playing catch up. You can put the customer at the center of everything you do. An internet marketing company that also understands what it takes to operationalize engagement can get results.

Internet Marketing Produces Results

The insight that companies gain through
an effective internet marketing campaign – with strategies that are growth-oriented and take into account overall business objectives – is invaluable. Companies that don’t even sell anything online have seen growth of 50% or even 100% in their brick and mortar sales by putting internet data to use.

Yet many companies’ idea of a internet marketing is to create a website, add a Facebook page, and think the job is done. They don’t realize either the complexity of building a marketing system that gives them feedback, or of its potential as a tool to grow their business.

In my next post, I’ll explain the value of building a customer profile.

Posted: 9/16/2013 5:26:59 PM by Shep Morrow

Retail marketing Online: Generate Leads

Although many small businesses have created a website and Facebook page that covers the bare minimum, plenty of local businesses are still missing out on opportunities to use their websites to generate qualified leads.

If you have a brick and mortar store, you may have written off online lead generation as the domain of ecommerce sites, but that doesn’t need to be the case. Here are just a few ways that local businesses can use online marketing to reach out to their target audience and get more customers in their stores.

Align your internet strategy with a focus on leads, not traffic. Many businesses (and SEO consultants) make the mistake of aiming to drive as many visitors as possible to a website.  That may sound great, but 100 visitors that fit your target demographic are worth far more than 10,000 visitors who have absolutely no need for your products or services. Make sure your strategy is driven by your business goals, not just traffic generation.

Ensure your have a lead capture mechanism on each landing page. At the very least, you want a clear call-to-action on each and every landing page, but there are dozens of ways to encourage people to reach out to you. Just a few ideas include incentivizing them by offering a free e-newsletter, e-book, or coupon in exchange for their email address. What’s right for a business depends highly on your demographic and business goals, and the right internet marketing expert can help guide you in the process.

Develop a system to follow-up on those leads. If you’re capturing dozens or hundreds of leads, you’re headed in the right direction, but you have to do something with those leads. You must follow up in order to get them to convert.

Make contact information easy to find – on desktop and mobile devices. Don’t make web users do an in-depth search of your website just to find your phone number and address. Many consumers will be searching from mobile devices, and if they have to do a lot of scrolling or squinting, they’ll turn to another business with a better website layout.

Invest in mobile click-to-call. The fewer clicks a web user has to make to contact your business, the more likely they are to actually do it. Recognizing this, Google recently added a click-to-call extension for their Adwords. If you use this extension, a phone icon and the word “Call” will appear below your ad listing in search results, and people who have performed the search from their phone can simply click the button to immediately call your number.

Get listed online. When was the last time you used a phonebook to look up the number for a business? If you can’t remember, you’re certainly not alone. With more and more people eschewing land lines for cell phones and businesses listing their contact information online, bulky phonebooks have largely become obsolete.

However, as the physical yellow pages have vanished, many a virtual local business directory have sprung up. In addition to prominently displaying your business contact information on your website, get your company listed in these directories – and keep them updated – so that local consumers can easily find you. You can also use them to do communicate with customers about new products, changing hours, or other important announcements, and run specials and promotions.

Claim your location on map sites. Speaking of local directories, claim your profile on map sites, like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. By doing this, you can make sure these sites aren’t posting inaccurate information about you (you won’t see new customers if your physical address is listed incorrectly online) and respond to consumer feedback.

Include a contact form on your website. Adding a contact form to your site is incredibly easy to do (there are many templates available, and if you use a platform like Wordpress, they already have contact templates built in) and also incredibly advantageous. It provides site visitors with an easy way to provide feedback, ask questions, and request services and information, and it allows you to directly communicate with site visitors who may be interested in your products, improving your lead generation as a result.

Ask for reviews. If a current customer emails you or tells you in person how great they think your business is, politely ask if they’d be willing to write a short testimonial for your website or post a review on a site like Yelp. These positive reviews can help your business rank more highly in the search engine listings, and they’ll also encourage the many people who use review sites as research tools to come visit your brick and mortar location.

Try drip marketing. This communication strategy involves sending shorter, pre-written messages to prospects over time. These messages are called “drips”, and they are designed to help lead a prospect to converting into a sale. If you have captured online leads, this is just one strategy available to you for following up via email marketing.

Effective online marketing can drive impressive results for brick and mortar locations, but it requires keen analysis, frequent monitoring, and adjustment to ensure a positive ROI. Many businesses don’t have this type of expertise in-house and may find it valuable to elicit the help of an online marketing expert to develop a strategy for them.


Posted: 4/30/2014 1:40:46 PM by Shep Morrow