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Online or In-Store? Where to Spend Your Marketing Dollars

12/30/2019 | 02:00 PM | 6 Min Read

Online or In-Store? Where to Spend Your Marketing Dollars - Accumula Blog

Marketing a small business means making tough choices when it comes to dividing your budget across campaigns. 

It’s tempting to focus only on what you think will be the highest-ROI strategies, but it’s important to diversify your approach to make sure you’re reaching your target audience.

The ideal mix of online and in-store marketing is different for every brand. Trying to figure out how to divvy up spending for your own business? As you build your marketing budget, take the following factors into consideration.

Identify the Core Audience of Your Business

You probably already have an idea of who your core audience is. If you expect the majority of your sales to come from online vs. in-store sales, or you see more long-term growth potential with one channel than the other, it makes sense to give the stronger channel your top marketing priority and build around it.

One of our customers, Adorn, did exactly that when it first launched as a clothing boutique. Initially, the company’s founder saw the business as primarily an E-commerce operation.

Over time, though, the company expanded to four brick-and-mortar locations and realized its core customer base was shopping more in-store. The lesson? You don’t want to ignore any channel entirely, but you can give one a little more marketing emphasis than the other—even if you end up switching gears down the road.

Customer Story: Here’s how Portland-based boutique Adorn seamlessly manages  four locations and an online store. >>

Consider Your Audience and Your Vertical

Your business focus and customer base can help you determine where to allocate your marketing dollars. Certain retail categories tend to find a larger segment of their customer base in either brick-and-mortar or online shopping, largely due to the nature of the products and shopping experience.

Beauty and cosmetics, for example, has proven in recent years to be one of the most resilient brick-and-mortar retail verticals. If your brand specializes in this vertical, in-store marketing might be the answer.

This in-store marketing can range from digital signage and in-store events to high-tech experiences such as smart mirrors and other forms of augmented reality. For example, a beauty and cosmetics brand could use AR-powered mirrors to let consumers sample beauty products without applying those products to their face. Instagrammable retail spaces are another big attraction: Turn your retail space into a destination for selfies and other content your customers can post to social media.

Boost sales from Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest today with our  free guide to social selling. >>

Pay attention to your customer base and how they like to interact with your brand. Recent research suggests, among other things, that men are more likely than women to interact with in-store marketing technology, such as virtual reality. If your business primarily targets men, these innovative solutions can make a difference.

The Value of Cross-Channel Marketing

Today’s shoppers tend to jump between channels regularly throughout the buying journey and as they get to know your brand. Your marketing might bring shoppers to your online store first, but it’s possible the experience they really want will be found in-store, or vice versa.

Online shoppers may want to evaluate products firsthand before making a purchase. Or they may want a sales associate to help them sort through their options. At the same time, in-store shoppers may prefer the expanded inventory options found online.

Regardless of which channel you are marketing in, always keep in mind how your message can reinforce and promote your other channels at the same time. Brick-and-mortar stores can feature in-store signage promoting social accounts and extended options for products on the website. 

You can also use your POS to collect email addresses to deliver email campaigns, which can promote both in-store and online promotions. Many retailers only tie their email marketing tool to their Ecommerce platform, but given that 80 percent of sales occur in-store, those retailers are blowing a big retargeting opportunity by limiting their email marketing to the 20 percent of business taking place online. 

By combining the strengths of your POS and email marketing, you can increase your capture rate and market to your brick-and-mortar audience. For example, Accumula can send in-store in-store purchase data to MailChimp, allowing brands to retarget in-store customers based on their purchase history.

Meanwhile, for your online store, integrate and display in-store inventory to help shoppers figure out whether products are currently in stock at a nearby store. A “Find In-store” or “In-store Availability” button can drive traffic to brick-and-mortar stores and increase order size.

Make sure your website makes your store locations and store contact information easy to find. Use social accounts to promote in-store events and other experiences that might convince shoppers to visit one of your locations.

In many cases, these cross-promotional marketing strategies have low implementation costs. But they give your brand a better chance of giving each customer the experience and level of service they’re looking for.

If you’re building your brand in both brick-and-mortar and online settings, some measure of marketing will be required to attract customers. No matter how you divide your marketing budget, use the data you have on-hand to make informed decisions that will optimize your marketing ROI.

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