Peak retail season – the period from Black Friday to Boxing Day Sales – is fast approaching. For Australia’s resilient retail sector, its arrival is most welcome. Less welcome, though, are the economic pressures we’re experiencing today. With interest rates continuing to rise, inflation at a 32-year high and a local cost-of-living crisis, many businesses will likely have smaller advertising budgets to play with. Unfortunately, their sales targets won’t be shrinking with their ad budget – they’ll be as high as ever.
Traditional marketing strategies have relied heavily on paid advertising with Facebook and Google. We see many marketers continuing to use these tactics without pausing to lay the groundwork that can make their spend more effective, resulting in more time and money spent for a poorer performance. So here are four fast ways in which businesses can drive big results from small budgets, for the peak season and beyond.
Stand out on Google
As the digital landscape evolves, it’s imperative that businesses are active everywhere their shoppers are. An online presence is as important now as a bricks-and-mortar presence, and growing your reach online can be done with a Google Business Profile. One of the big contributors is Google reviews. There are three metrics that impact how well you rank against your competitors when a customer searches for a business like you: the quality of your reviews, the quantity of your reviews (and how often customers post), and how often your business replies to reviews.
With 75% of all clicks and calls going to the top three to five search results, it’s important you make it easy for your customers to leave reviews – then respond to them when they do. Your existing customers will be your biggest cheerleaders, and you may wish to offer incentives as a thank you to those who do leave reviews – loyalty points, a free product, or a discount, for example. Not only will this ensure you’re getting quality reviews, but it will deepen your relationship with customers and ensure they want to come back.
With a quarter of Aussies reading online reviews before deciding whether to enter a store, it’s the most powerful, and free, form of advertising today. That, alongside SMS, is an excellent way to drive traffic to your website – where you can convert them to sales. And best of all? It’s time-effective, as well as cost-effective, which is equally important during the busiest time of the year.
Drive sales through SMS
One of the most effective ways to drive sales is through marketing and offers; but it only works if your audience sees them. So target them on the right channel. According to Podium’s Business-to-Customer Communication Report, almost half (46%) of Aussies deleted a brand’s email without opening it in the last 24 hours, and 63% prefer SMS communications due to the convenience.
In addition, 73% blacklist businesses that spam them with inconvenient marketing, so ensure your retail business reaches out on the right channels with the right offers. Instead of wasting time on email campaigns that aren’t increasing customer engagement, use SMS campaigns to promote your business and drive traffic to your website or store, and send personalised offers directly to your customers’ mobile device – ultimately, all helping to drive sales.
Optimise your website
Getting them to your website via reviews and SMS promotions is the first step, but converting them is another one entirely. To do so, you need an optimised – not a static – website. Podium Webchat is one of the most effective methods. A web chat is the small text box that appears on a website, allowing the visitor to ask questions, find what they’re looking for and enjoy a more convenient, effective experience.
On average, only two per cent of website visitors convert to an enquiry or sale, but by adding a webchat function this number jumps to 20%. You can pre-program automated responses, which is time-effective, or engage in a real conversation which appeals to consumers who value human interactions. For retailers, every interaction matters, and with an optimised site it’s far easier to convert leads to sales.
Offer convenience at every interaction
One of the most effective, but often overlooked, drivers of sales is convenience. Build that into every interaction. Afterall, a quarter of consumers abandon a transaction if their preferred payment method wasn’t offered and 41% say convenient payment options are a key consideration when choosing a business. If you can provide convenient payment options, they’re more likely to complete a transaction.
SMS isn’t just great for the start of the journey, but the end too, and with a platform like Podium, you can offer customers the full spectrum of convenience from SMS reviews to marketing to payments. Offering SMS payments not only provides a contactless way for customers to pay, but by sending a simple link, they can make a purchase without waiting in line or consulting with a sales associate. It also means less time and effort for employees to gather payment, and more time for them to focus on building connections.
Aussies love supporting local businesses, and as we head into peak sales season, you don’t need a deep advertising budget to reach them. With strategic refinements to your Google profile and website, unlocking the power of reviews and SMS, and a focus on convenience, you’ll be well on your way to surpassing your sales targets.
Dave Scheine, Country Manager, Australia at Podium