For retailers, online marketing may seem like the evil empire stealing their customers and hard won dollars… not so. Many customers research online before buying in-store.
Since the birth of the internet, entrepreneurs have looked online for a quick buck or instant millionaire status. For those in brick and mortar stores, the thought of potential customers turning to these ‘online jocks’ is concerning.
Recent studies show that a small percentage of shoppers are buying online but many more fall into the category of: Research Online Purchase Offline (ROPO). Essentially this means that many would-be customers are researching products online first before they decide to buy in-store. Ultimately this means if you do not have an online presence, your potential customers are looking at your competitors’ product range and not yours.
Studies and numbers
Recent research by Nielsen, comScore and dunhumbyUSA conducted over a period of two years found that there was a significant increase of in-store sales by shoppers who had seen online ads or search engine results compared to those who had not. In addition, nearly a quarter of such campaigns saw a boost of over 40% of in-store sales. eMarketer.com prepared a report at the end of 2011 that confirms that online advertising and marketing drives in-store revenues.
Even Google assists store-owners in driving more traffic to their stores as one of the goals of online marketing, noting: “83% of shoppers now make their buying decisions before they actually enter a store”.
How SEO can Help
SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is the method of improving a website’s position on search engines for a given phrase or keyword. A strategic SEO campaign can see your small business website compete with other brands on the search engines and drive additional customers to your bricks and mortar store.
In an August 2012 Study, GroupM and Nielsen conducted research analysing 28 million web users and 1.4 billion clicks and determined that paid search only accounts for 6% of total clicks from search engines versus natural search at 94% of clicks.
So, whilst Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising can have an immediate impact on your online visibility, a successful SEO campaign targets the place where the vast majority of clicks occur. And once you achieve a sound level of natural search visibility, you can wind back your SEO investment to a maintenance level, confident that your online visibility will remain – unlike PPC which stops the moment that you stop your investment.
Having your site at the top of the first page of the organic search results on Google or Bing generates valuable exposure for your brand, your store and your products. Ultimately this results in greater recognition and more clicks to your website, and as the research above confirms, these customers are then more likely to actually visit your store and complete their purchase having researched your products online.