1 May 2020

Driving physical visitation through digital activation

The online versus offline battle has been taking place since the dawn of e-commerce, with many bricks-and-mortar retailers considering the growth of online retail and the decline of offline retail, inevitable.

However, it’s important to remember that bricks-and-mortar stores still represent the dominant channel. For example, according to research by eMarketer, 75% of retail spending in the U.K. is still going through bricks-and-mortar stores. It’s also worth recognising that the most likely path to purchase is increasingly “research online, buy offline, as many shoppers value the physical experience and human service provided by offline stores.

So, the future for retailers must be a combination of both disciplines. Whilst clicks to bricks isn’t a new idea, this omni-channel approach needs to be optimised more. According to Smart Insights - digital activity that might benefit the physical store estate is often deprioritised or completely ignored.

Some retailers are ahead of the curve and have coined the phrase ‘Drive-to-store marketing’ (DTS). This is rapidly becoming an essential investment amongst the most innovative brick-and-mortar retailers worldwide, accounting for 54% of retail ad spend according to a 2019 IHS Markit study, which also predicts that digital media will propel DTS advertising growth to claim 65% of the market by 2023.

At BWP we specialise in retail marketing and driving that all-important footfall to stores. We’ve provided eight tried and tested ways to drive physical footfall online. So, have a read through and talk to us about the best solutions to keep your brand ahead of the curve.

8 ways to drive physical footfall online

1. Optimise store pages

Usually the consumer knows which retailer is likely to have the product, so they should be able to simply look up the retailer’s location and opening hours. Make sure this information is readily available on your site, otherwise a shopper is likely to search online for other retailers. Of which there are many alternatives.

2. Go Local

When customers are searching for a business or service, you want yours to stand out in the pack. Google and other search engines now employ algorithms that assume local intent. In other words, when your customers search online, Google analyses their geographical location, keywords and other data to rank results. In fact, nearly half of Google search queries contain local intent. Utilise this feature to drive foot traffic to your store.

  • Local PPC campaigns can be used to increase your reach.
  • Adword location extensions, retargeting groups and Google Local Inventory Ads to promote stock are but a few types of PCC campaign you run.
  • Put your business on the map - claim and optimise your Google My business listing, then respond to reviews and highlight offers that will feature on Google search result pages.

3. Think mobile first

Google reported a 900% increase in searches for products and services “near me” between 2015 and 2017. Consumers predominately act on these results, with over 70% who used a smartphone going on to visit a business within five miles. Make sure your website is optimised for mobile to take advantage of this trend.

4. Platform-specific offers

If you want to bridge the gap between online advertising and in-store sales, you can offer platform-specific offers. For example, if you offer a free item with every in-store sale on Facebook and a percentage off the complete order in your email marketing, you’ll know which sources are driving your sales based on which offer your customers request.

If you wouldn’t typically offer discounts, you could use an appointment booking service to better understand the link between online marketing activity and in-store visits. Offering a bespoke personal shopping experience, for example, would be more suited to high-end stores than offering a discount.

5. Start online, finish offline

Offline events booked online, click & collect services and Google shopping ads are just a few examples of online services which are initiated online and completed offline in stores. Offering online payment, to secure spontaneous purchases is a great way to lock in these online services, avoiding unfinished customer journeys.


6. Geo-targeted campaigns  

Over 50% of customers visit a specific retailer after receiving a location-based alert. This is an amazing statistic for retailers and marketers alike and truly shows the effectiveness of delivering timely messages to a target audience within the desired location. A locally based business advertisement stands a much better chance of resonating with the audience than national or global based businesses.


7. Loyalty

Use digital to scale up loyalty systems with ease. Superdrug’s Health & Beauty card rewards shoppers with points, that allow them to access exclusive discounts, take advantage of offers, redeem perks, and long-term members can also claim gifts.


8. Implement accurate tracking

Conversion tracking is becoming more and more sophisticated, so it’s important to make the most of what is available. Through the use of specialist landing pages and appointment booking or inventory reservations, you can start to get a better idea of how your customers are finding you. This will allow you to attach an ROI value to your digital marketing efforts.

In conclusion, make it truly omni-channel to provide an immersive customer journey and hit as many touchpoints as possible. Mobile optimisation and localisation are the two key quick wins, when driving offline visitation online, so look at these first to start your digital to physical customer journey.

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