What is drive-to-store marketing and should you be doing it?

In the new world of advertising, digital platforms are the key to success. In this article, Renae Smith defines drive-to-store marketing and how retailers can embrace the change.

There’s no denying it. We live in a digital age where most of us spend more time in front of a screen that we prefer to admit and thanks to technology, there’s rarely a situation that arises that cannot be fixed, communicated, purchased or sold via our phones.

This shift in accessibility has meant that many companies have gone digital – sinking thousands of dollars into digital sales strategies or even closing shop-fronts or restaurants to go completely online. But is that the right decision?

Whilst every business is different, it’s important to look at the facts. Data analysis company Blis has recently released new research findings that 63 percent of consumers actually prefer in-store shopping experiences.

The Real Retail Story surveyed 805 Australian consumers and found that there is a strong preference for brick-and-mortar stores across most categories, with the majority of respondents stating that they’re willing to spend more in-store than online,’ reports Blis.

In addition, a survey by leading retail app ShopFully asked 4,894 Australian respondents to share their plans for Christmas shopping. The results show that although consumers are becoming smarter shoppers using digital to research first, 75 percent of respondents stilll identify as physical shoppers in store.

According to the Deloitte report ‘Navigating the new digital divide,’ Australian consumers have one of the highest appetites for digital engagement in the developed world.

Digital interactions influence 40 percent of in-store visits in Australia, and 21 percent of these are on mobile devices with digital touching the shopping journey before, during and after the visit in store. Sixty-five percent of shoppers will use a digital device to find about products before stepping in store.

It’s clear that it’s important to reach your customers online, but then also use technology and marketing to increase the foot traffic of those customers into your physical store or restaurant. This is called drive-to-store or drive-to-shop marketing.


Search campaign: Target local


According to Google, 75 percent of people use search engines to find out information about a product or service. In addition, 75 percent of the people doing that research are then likely to visit a business local to them. On top of that, 18 percent of mobile local searches lead to a sale within 24 hours.

It’s essential then, that when creating an ad that is intended to attract people to your store, you include the city or address in the ad. This address can be inserted directly into the announcement, or can be added as a location extension according to the geographical position of the search.

It’s also essential to add call-to-action buttons such as a link to your phone number or a ‘get directions’ button as the same study shows that around 60 percent of consumers engage with call to action buttons and those customers who call the store are usually ready to make a purchase.


Social campaign: Promote in-store interactions


On social media, it is much less obvious to have a successful drive-to-store strategy. Unlike Google Ad Search, on social media it is advertisers who initiate customer contact. This makes it much more difficult to reach consumers who are ready to buy. However, it is possible to implement strategies that will increase the visibility of your local businesses, and eventually attract your customers to the store.

With the same ‘target local’ concept as above, it is possible to create a local campaign that will target those within reasonable distances to your physical location. To do this on Facebook and Instagram, you must choose the store visits objective. By choosing this objective, you will then be able to associate your campaign with your specific location.


Track your traffic with technology


As with all marketing activity, it’s essential to keep an eye on the results to ensure it’s working. Tracking sales or asking customers where they found out about you is one way, but one company is making it a lot easier to track the effectiveness of drive-to-store marketing.

ShopFully have recently had their customer tracking technology verified at 97.6 percent accurate by Nielson. Their program tracks the shopper’s engagement with your online ad and then uses geo-location technology to ascertain their movements after seeing the ad, tracking them right to your store.

A machine-learning algorithm takes into consideration multiple factors based on behavioural patterns and intent of the shopper. One distinctive metric is an accurate ‘dwell time’ that detects users who enter and exit the store premises, which allows the retailer to track the time in store. The algorithm also cleans the ‘visit’ data by removing users who are likely just passing by or may be employees.

Whatever the method, it’s essential to remember that digital technology is not the enemy – it’s a powerful tool that businesses can use to enhance the customer experience and drive conversions. Now is the time to start using it properly.

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