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How to drive traffic to your store—online and offline!

People walking with shopping bags

Whether you own a brick and mortar shop, an online e-commerce site, or both, it’s no secret that customers are a retail business’ bread and butter. Without significant store and web traffic, your business won’t survive for long. These marketing tactics, when executed properly, can help increase your customer base, no matter if it’s a physical location or a website.

Make Sure Customers Can Find You and Your Products

What’s the point in having a store if nobody knows that it exists? If you have a website, make sure that it’s optimized for SEO (organic search), so that potential customers can find your site online when they do searches on Google for your products. Look into paid advertising on Google as well—use Google AdWords to create PPC (pay-per-click) ads that are highly targeted to your potential online audience. And if you like, you can use Google Merchant Center to feature your products on Google Shopping.

If you’re looking to grow foot traffic in a physical location, you still need Google; make sure you’re listed on Google My Business so that local searchers can find your shop via Google Maps or Google+.

Sell on Daily Deal Sites

Websites like Groupon and LivingSocial are a fantastic way to get your store in front of a new audience. These websites offer customers limited-time discount vouchers for products or services. For example, a store owner may decide to sell a specific product at a discount, or sell a $50 gift card for $40. These websites offer both national deals, which are ideal if you have a website, and local deals, which can help to drive customers to your brick and mortar locations.

Leverage Social Media for Website Traffic

It’s important to set up social media profiles for your store, but it’s not enough just to have them. It’s crucial to use them wisely to engage with potential customers. Announce special ”social media only“ promotions on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. The benefits are twofold: customers will follow you on social media to gain access to the promotions, and then they’ll visit your store to take advantage of them.

Use social media to promote new product launches and sales, but don’t just speak at your customers—speak with them. If you engage with your audience, you’ll learn more about them and will be able to serve them better.

Social media can help drive traffic to a physical location, as well. You can use it to promote in-store events or to show photos of new and exciting merchandise. Take advantage of location-based social media tools like Foursquare to offer specials or contests to local customers, or host a photo contest on Instagram where customers enter to win their favorite item in your shop by posting and tagging a photo of it. Social media is an affordable and versatile way to promote a shop, so be creative!

Create a Positive Shopping Experience

Repeat customers are more profitable than new customers, so don’t just focus on customer acquisition—spend plenty of time and energy on customer retention as well. It is critical to understand how to build customer loyalty.

The best way to ensure repeat customers is to create a positive shopping experience. If you’ve got an e-commerce store, be sure that it’s user-friendly, attractive, well-organized and easy to navigate, with no errors or broken links. Make your checkout process as simple as possible to avoid the risk of cart abandonment, and communicate order confirmations and shipping notifications in a clear and timely manner. Ensure that the customer service team resolves issues efficiently and politely.

If you’ve got a brick and mortar store, many of the same rules of thumb apply. Make sure your store is aesthetically pleasing, sensibly organized and comfortable. Hire a friendly, helpful and knowledgeable staff.

Encourage repeat customers by offering a loyalty program—customers will be more likely to return to your store or website if they’re getting rewards points or frequent buyers discounts.

If you own a retail business, what do you do to drive store traffic?

Quill.com Contributing Writer

Krista Wolfe is a marketing project manager for Quill.com where she writes to help small businesses, teachers and healthcare professionals make more informed decisions on office essentials. She also writes on our new community blog, Café Quill about a wide range of business matters such as leadership, productivity and work-life balancing. Krista lives in Chicago and you can find her on LinkedIN.

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