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Scaling up activity & results to drive retail growth

Retail brands are spending large chunks of their annual marketing budgets on SEO, Content, Influencer Marketing and social media activity, but what return are they getting? How successful are these tactics and how can revenue be attributed to them? How can these methods be scaled up without losing effectiveness?

In our experience, working with a wide variety of retailers over many years, we often find that the strategies for different kinds of activity, if in place at all, are running independently rather than in tandem with each other. This can be highly inefficient when it comes to resources and budget, as well as producing results that are nowhere near their potential.

Ensuring that your digital marketing strategies are aligned to your true audience, having clear objectives and using tactics and methods that can scale up as your business grows, is key for retailers wanting to increase their sales and market share.

We’re hoping that this information will help you to change the way in which you approach your retail brand’s digital marketing channel strategy and your long-term thought process. It’s important that marketing for your business becomes a company-wide philosophy and not just a function.

This way, with all activity working together and the various elements being measured properly, you'll be able to see exactly how profitable they are and the part each marketing tactic plays in your customers' buying journeys and your business growth.

understanding your audience

Understanding your audience

Maximising the impact of your marketing activity can only happen if you truly understand your audience. Not just who they are demographically, but what they are looking for when shopping for a product like yours, what impact they want it to have on their lives and what barriers or pain points might get in the way of a purchase from you.

Using website analytics data and a number of other sources, including your own customer information, you can build a picture of who your customers really are at present and develop marketing personas. If you want to also target other types of customer that you're not yet reaching, you can also develop personas to help you successfully market to them too.

Putting the personas, and their journeys from start to end, at the heart of your marketing strategy means that all activity you do should be aligned to the right audiences and be designed to move them along in their buyer journey, one step at a time.

TOP TIP: Personas can also help to shape any paid media targeting you might do, whether paid social or traditional PPC. Test persona-targeted prospecting ads vs lookalike audiences to see which performs best

Setting Clear Objectives & KPIs

You probably know where you want your business to be in the medium and long-term, but have you formalised the marketing steps to take you there? Setting clear (and realistic) objectives, e.g. increasing sales via organic traffic from X to Y, will help to determine the best tactics to use to hit your goals.

In order to successfully track and measure your progress and results in all areas of digital marketing, you'll need to decide on the most important measurements in relation to your specific objectives.

 

setting kpis

Once you have your overall objectives nailed down, you can decide on the types of marketing activity that will help you reach them. For example, if you're looking to increase sales via organic traffic, you'll need a rounded SEO strategy to increase your oganic visibility, which will include technical SEO, content and earning links to your site. Once you know what your methods will be, you can start to set KPIs.

KPIs related to this type of activity could include:

  • Increasing organic traffic to campaign pages from ?? to ??
  • Achieving ?? links from relevant and high-quality sources across ?? months
  • Number of sales transactions from ?? to ??

The KPIs you choose will vary, depending on the type of activity you're planning, but they should always feed into your main objectives in order to keep the campaign on track.

TOP TIP: Benchmark your KPIs before you start any activity

This might sound obvious, but it's actually very common to get so carried away with putting a new marketing strategy into action, that the fundamental ways to measure success are not put in place first. Make sure you know exactly where things stand before you start, have any relevant analytics goals set up, ecommerce tracking in place, demographics information is being collected and events are firing correctly. If using Google Analytics, creating annotations when a stage of the campaign is launched can help you pinpoint important stages of progress and any peaks or troughs that follow. Setting up attribution models so you know which channels are doing what, is also vital.

Increasing organic traffic with SEO & content marketing

SEO and content are deeply intertwined. The technical aspects of making your website easier for search engines (and users) to find, understand and navigate is a vital ingredient, but without having useful and unique content on your site, search engines won't find it worthy of sending any searchers to.

Making the technical SEO and content strategy a priority will help to set the foundations of your campaign, ensuring your site is ready for scrutiny by search engines and optimised for giving users a straighforward journey down their buying funnel.

 

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Joined-up SEO & Content Strategy

Ensuring that your SEO and content strategies are all pulling in the same direction is essential. You know who your audience are, thanks to your persona development. Your SEO keyword research can tell you what they are looking for, and your own data and research can show what types of content they connect best with.

You could have an idea for the best piece of content ever, but if it's so niche that your target audience are highly unlikely to search for it, your time would be better spent producing content that directly answers common questions or difficulties for your target market, in a way that is better than how your competitors do it.

TOP TIP: Content audits and gap analysis can highlight areas in which your site may be missing a trick, and give you the keywords best placed to attract those organic visitors with the useful content you create to meet that need

In addition to Google's keyword planner, you may also find the below tools useful for coming up with content ideas based on your audience's needs. All have limited free versions and pro plans with more features: Answer The Public, Buzzsumo, Keyword io.

Earning links & referral traffic with content & outreach/online PR

Links from relevant and influential sources to a brand website are an important component of any SEO campaign, as these links act as a trust signal for search engines. In addition to that benefit, if someone browsing the other site clicks on the link and goes to your site, it's counted as referral traffic. Using trackable links, this referral traffic can be closely monitored, so you'll know if it results in goal completions or sales.

Earning links isn't always straightforward. The adage of 'build it and they will come' doesn't really fly in a content-saturated online world. You therefore need a strategy in place to ensure the right people see your content, and so that other websites, influencers and press, think it's worth mentioning and linking to.

 

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Earning Links

If your content is unique, looks great and is truly useful to a large number of people, that's only half the job done. You need to ensure that people know about it, which takes promotion. There are lots of ways to do this, including social media marketing and paid promotion. However, if you want the people, websites or news sources that influence your audience to find out about and link to your content, you'll need to contact them directly.

Outreach & Digital PR

You can use a combination of press and media communications, blogger outreach and social media outreach to get the word out about your awesome content.

TOP TIP: A press release, e-shot, cleverly crafted email or tweet directly to a journalist or influencer can make all the difference

 

Referral traffic from these sources can be highly profitable too, as they are already qualified users with an interest in your brand, and often convert into customers at a good rate.

Driving sales with influencer marketing & social media

Social media marketing and working with influencers have long been seen primarily as brand awareness and engagement tools rather than sales - drivers. However, there are ways to leverage these elements within a campaign to align with your other marketing activity (and thus your objectives) and make a tangible difference to your bottom line.

 

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There is a world of difference between an influencer that posts about you once on social media (and never again) to fulfil their obligation and an influencer that is personally invested in your brand and in helping you to succeed because your values are similar.

It doesn't matter what kind of brand you are, there will be influencers that really 'get you' and will be happy to go above and beyond to share you with their followers and help to drive sales. Forming an affiliate partnership with influencers means that they can be rewarded when you make sales through them too.

By involving influencers at an early stage of campaign planning, you can create a strategy together that works well for all, optimising your efforts to maximise sales from this channel.

TOP TIP: Find influencers that love your brand

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Make every social media post meaningful

Social media is a fantastic way for brands to communicate with those who are, or may become, customers. It's a two-way street, also providing a touchpoint for the audience and a way for them to contact, and relate to (or not) the brand. With a defined strategy in place, which complements and amplifies the other marketing activity, social media can drive significant sales, if implemented in the right way. Ensuring that all broadcast posts have a purpose and a desired outcome and leaving space for non-broadcast engagement activity, gives brands the best of both worlds. Using tracked links and leveraging partnerships with influencers, social media can be a direct sales channel as well as a contributor to transactions further down the line.

Creating & maintaining a loyal & engaged customer base

Making a sale is great; what is even better is making repeat sales from the same shopper, and them telling all of their friends about you so that you get even more business. In an online marketplace where retailers are ten a penny, making your brand stick positively in the memory of shoppers is difficult, but not impossible.

 

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If all of your marketing activity is based around your personas and their questions and needs, the journey doesn't end when a transaction is made. Your customer still needs you, whether its for customer service enquiries or for you to tell them you've just stocked a line of tops that would go brilliantly with the jeans they ordered last month. Going above and beyond the norm with customer service, exclusive offers and generally letting customers know how much you value them, makes a big difference to brand perception.

TOP TIP: Invite engagement and user-generated content, give things away to surprise and delight and give people a reason to speak well of you. The kinds of personal endorsements that result from this fairly minimal activity help to keep and make new customers in a way that brings a great return on investment

Scaling up activity & results

As your business grows and you see results from your marketing activity, it can be tempting to simply do more of the same and expect the return to increase in line with this. In some areas, this may work to a degree, but scaling up marketing strategies successfully over time requires a more measured and data-led approach.

For example, if you've been working with bloggers or influencers of a certain level, to help your business jump to the next level, you will want to consider whether working with more of a similar ilk, or moving up to a higher authority/influence individual or two is best for your business. More social media followers doesn't necessarily mean they are all as relevant or engaged as those following a micro-influencer.

TOP TIP: Test new tactics and see, but don't commit to any long-term strategy changes until you can see from the results what is working better for your ROI

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Keep your core objectives at the centre

When you increase your marketing budget to scale up the intensity, it's important not to lose sight of the objectives at the heart of your campaign. Trying different tactics is a great way to find new methods that can be profitable, but always ensure that the results will contribute to your overall goals before committing significant resources to them

Track KPIs and customer insight

As you upscale activity in any or all areas of SEO, content, outreach and social media marketing, you'll need to tweak your KPIs in light of the increased budget.

Whilst your persona development at the start of your campaign should have been accurate, as retailers grow, their audience does too

TOP TIP: Use analytics and customer data to review your personas at least once every 12 months and see if they need to be expanded or amended to keep pace with your true online audience

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SUMMARY

We hope that you've found this information useful in showing how different elements of a digital marketing strategy can work together and scale up as required.

We have summarised our 8 top tips below:

1

Online Personas aren't just a great way to keep your organic search marketing on track, they can also be used to successfully target your PPC and paid social ads

2

Fully mapping out and benchmarking your KPIs before starting any activity will give you clearer and more reliable data and reports

3

A content audit and a content gap analysis can be invaluable exercises to highlight areas for improvement to build into your growth strategy

4

The personal approach is always worth the effort when it comes to outreach and digital PR

5

Find influencers that love your brand to work with. If they have an real connection and enthusiasm towards you and your products, it will pass on to their followers naturally

6

Showing your customers that you value them, by making small gestures, can bring big loyalty and long term rewards

7

Ensure you review, test and tweak your strategy's performance as you go. Make sure that tactics still work when scaled up before committing your budget

8

Use the insight provided by your audience as you grow. Review personas at least annually to make sure you're still directing your resource and effort in the right areas

Ready to talk?

Find out how we can help your retail brand achieve a comprehensive digital marketing strategy, just like we've done for many of our retail clients!

Contact our in-house retail marketing expert, Andy Donaldson, or take advantage of our FREE website audit offer using the below details.

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