How to use digital communications to increase brick-and-mortar foot traffic

Woman shopping at a brick and mortar store

Online shopping has become increasingly popular, even before the onset of the pandemic, and social media, email and website tools have evolved to make purchasing as easy as tapping a button on your smartphone. While this can be great for increasing sales, it may not support services, enhance experiences or increase brick-and-mortar foot traffic.  

Whether your motivation is to keep tenants leasing commercial property spaces or you’re hoping to increase sales and in-person experiences for your business, here are four ways to increase foot traffic through digital efforts.

Incorporate exclusives into your email marketing

Email marketing is a great way to nurture customers and keep them informed on the latest updates about your product and service offerings. When building out your next e-newsletter, consider adding in an exclusive freebie or discount that must be redeemed in store. Or create a campaign that offers email subscribers a monthly discount for dining in or purchases made in store. Promotions like this will not only help to increase patrons to your business, but also provide motivation for new customers to sign up for your email list. 

Optimize your web presence

Almost nine in 10 people who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a related store within a week. If you want to increase your business’s rank the next time a potential customer Googles something you offer, here are a few things to consider:  

  • Leverage existing tools. Claiming your Google My Business listing will use the Google local algorithm to help you rank. Once your profile is verified, encourage customers to leave a positive review on your Google My Business listing, as the more positive reviews you have, the better you’ll rank.
  • Localize a content plan. Regularlycreate new content to highlight in-store events, partnerships within the community and success stories with customers, if that’s fitting for your business. And whether your content is captured in blog posts, videos or another format, be sure to include commonly used search terms and phrases.
  • Optimize for mobile. If your website ranks well, but isn’t mobile-user-friendly, you might quickly lose a potential customer.

Create experiences for social media engagement and fans

Events and in-store-only promos are a great way to increase foot traffic that can be advertised on social media. But consider reversing these efforts by creating a content-driven experience that would encourage visits. A few ideas to consider include:

  • IG-worthy murals or installations. Commission a local artist to paint a mural or build an installation at your retail shop that encourages shoppers, diners and passersby to stop and snap a pic. Or DIY-it with a holiday-themed selfie station.
  • Happy (shopping) hour. Create exclusive events and offerings to your fanbase by promoting fun experiences and events revealed only to your followers. Drop teasers leading up and reveal details via DM request only.

Work with influencers

Working with social media influencers is a great way to show a new target audience why someone should stop by your business. And it doesn’t always have to be pricey. In fact, when you work with micro influencers, not only can partnerships be more affordable, but you can often target a hyperlocal audience that is more likely to visit your establishment. Some influencers are open to trading coverage on their social media channels for services or goods, especially when your brand aligns with their values and audiences.

For example, Fluffy’s Pet Shop in Charlottesville, Va. partnered with a couple of Insta-famous pups to promote locally sourced, organic treats and apparel. Each influencer was gifted a basket of goodies to enjoy as well as a basket of goodies to give away to one lucky follower. This campaign increased awareness about Fluffy’s offerings, measured by post impressions, generated new followers for Fluffy’s on Instagram and showcased products to a hyperlocal and targeted audience.

A few ways to consider partnering with influencers include:

  • Partnership giveaways, like the example above.
  • Shopping spree showcase. Provide an influencer with a gift card or store credits to shop in-store and document the experience on their Stories, via Instagram or TikTok.
  • Host an influencer event. Host an exclusive event for influencers to experience your shop, services and products that they are encouraged to share on social media. Check out a few tips here on how to host an unforgettable influencer event.

Amanda Colocho

Amanda joined Hodges in 2015 after earning her undergraduate degree in mass communications and public relations from VCU. Since then, she’s been flexing her media relations, content strategy and social media muscles on accounts like Virginia Distillery Company, Motorcycle Law Group, Hilldrup, Kroger, Virginia Outdoors Foundation and Swedish Match’s Umgås Magazine.

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