Use Online Marketing to Boost In-Store Sales

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In today’s digitally driven and increasingly hybrid world, the boundaries between online and offline shopping continue to merge. According to a recent study by 1WorldSync, 87 percent of shoppers have used their phones to look up products while inside a store and 61 percent of in-person shopping excursions begin with online research.

Small businesses with brick-and-mortar stores can lean into this trend by focusing on their online marketing efforts. Here’s how you can increase your in-store sales with online marketing.

Online marketing strategies to drive in-store sales

Online activity influences offline sales and a comprehensive digital marketing plan can help translate some of your online traffic into in-store purchases. Here are some digital marketing strategies to implement for your brick-and-mortar store:

1. Use your website for digital marketing. 

Using your company’s website to promote informative and engaging blog content can be an excellent way to attract new customers to your store. Unique, relevant content helps build brand loyalty and a reputation with your target customers who, in turn, will choose you over competitors.

To drive traffic to your physical store location, consider posting on your website about products sold only in-store, events or sales taking place in your brick-and-mortar location and other potential interest drivers.

SEO remains another driving force in digital marketing. To gain website visitors, employ SEO best practices by consistently researching related keywords and phrases, producing valuable and relevant content and ensuring you’re ranking highly on search engines. 

A robust SEO strategy should include tools that help you weave relevant keywords and phrases organically into your content to boost your search rankings.

2. Use email marketing to boost engagement.

Email marketing is a popular way for brick-and-mortar shops to connect and build customer relationships. It’s a great way to keep current and prospective patrons aware of your offerings, including new products, promotions and events. Equally importantly, email communications can help boost brand awareness, making your audience more likely to think of you for their shopping needs.

Engage your customers throughout the buyer cycle with various marketing emails, including the following:

  • Welcome emails: Welcome emails showcase your brand and allow you to present first-time user offers to encourage an initial visit to your store.
  • Promotional emails: Promotional emails, including sales notifications, discounts and in-store events, can convey a sense of urgency to drive traffic to your store.
  • Product emails: Product emails highlight new offerings and associated promotions, generating interest from past customers and new leads.
Use marketing emails to generate survey data or request testimonials and customer feedback. These audience insights can help you identify what’s working and tweak what isn’t to better suit your customers’ needs.

3. Use text message marketing to bring in more customers.

Business texting can be an excellent marketing tool. Text message marketing, also called short message service (SMS) marketing, is a convenient way to reach patrons where they are — and stay top of mind amid countless other priorities and notifications.

SMS marketing leverages short-form texts to nurture leads and encourage repeat business from existing customers. Send brief promotional texts about upcoming store events, limited-time offers and new product launches to encourage in-store purchases. Text your loyal customers on birthdays, anniversaries or milestone dates. Texts are also great for soliciting customer feedback via links to mobile-optimized surveys.

4. Use social media marketing to enhance customer relationships.

Social media is the ideal platform for keeping in touch with and engaging current and prospective customers. It allows you to showcase your products and services while building your brand’s voice. 

On your brick-and-mortar business’s social media pages and profiles, share photos and videos of your store, content from in-person events and information about upcoming exclusive sales and deals. Keep followers informed and invite them to pay a visit.

You can also leverage social media marketing to expand your community presence — ideal for local brick-and-mortar shops. Join local groups, pages and events to connect with your target audience. 

Create a local marketing strategy by partnering with local influencers, media outlets and fellow small businesses for greater reach, visibility and potential marketing opportunities.

Online marketing platforms to use

There’s no shortage of online tools to help small businesses boost their marketing efforts to drive in-store sales. Here are just some of the most popular categories and options.

Email marketing services

The best email marketing services help you create automated email campaigns to guide your audience through the sales funnel and test custom templates for higher engagement. Some of our favorite platforms include the following:

  • Benchmark: With customizable templates and automation management for email marketing campaigns, along with Google and Salesforce integration, Benchmark offers a comprehensive solution at an accessible price. Learn more in our full review of Benchmark.
  • Campaigner: Campaigner is easy to use and highly customizable, with features that allow for personalization, experimentation, reporting and more. Our review of Campaigner provides details on pricing and features like A/B testing and auto-responders.
  • Constant Contact: This easy-to-use platform offers templates, A/B testing, reporting and analytics functions to help small businesses scale their email marketing efforts on a budget. Read our in-depth Constant Contact review to learn about its drag-and-drop email editor and email list management features.
  • monday.com: monday.com is a robust platform with extensive email marketing features, including a campaign ideas and requests board, centralized forms and helpful integrations. Our monday.com email marketing review details this platform’s intuitive and customizable one-stop dashboard, which helps teams collaborate on campaigns. 

Text message marketing software

Text message marketing supports consumers’ mobile-first browsing behavior, ensuring messages stay top-of-mind instead of sitting in a full email inbox. Here are some of the best text message marketing software solutions for businesses that want to increase in-store sales: 

  • EZ Texting: EZ Texting includes features like advanced segmentation, automated workflows, drip campaigns, performance analytics and lead generation. Our in-depth EZ Texting review explains the platform’s pricing structure and additional features. 
  • Textedly: With one of the least expensive per-message rates among the top solutions —  and dozens of Zapier integrations — Textedly offers an easy-to-use and straightforward platform for text message marketing campaigns. Read our Textedly review for details on its user interface and features. 
  • Textline: Textline helps you engage with customers via text and includes robust internal communication features to improve customer support. As our Textline review explains, this service is the only Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)-accredited text messaging platform.
  • SimpleTexting: SimpleTexting includes essential and valuable features like cross-program integrations, multiple-user controls and custom fields. Read our SimpleTexting review to learn more. 

Social media marketing tools

The best social media management and marketing tools can help you improve your social presence across multiple platforms. Here are some of our favorites: 

  • Cision: This platform monitors social media and public sites worldwide, including the most popular social media platforms, millions of blogs and forums, video channels and review sites. 
  • Salesforce Social Studio: Salesforce’s social media management platform has social listening tools that scan millions of sources, including blogs, news, Facebook posts and other online locations. Users input keywords and the software finds the information they want. 
  • WebiMax: This digital marketing agency can help you design your business profile on each social media platform, develop a specific strategy, create content and build your online presence. 

Customer relationship management (CRM) software

The best CRM software can help companies manage customer relationships and control sales and marketing communications with current and potential customers. Some top options include the following:

  • HubSpot: HubSpot’s comprehensive, no-code CRM platform includes artificial intelligence-powered reporting and analytics tools to drive informed decision-making. Our comprehensive review of HubSpot CRM details this platform’s shared dashboards, which facilitate collaboration between sales and marketing teams.
  • Oracle NetSuite: A component of Oracle’s complete business software suite, Oracle NetSuite CRM handles key tasks like marketing campaign support, forecasting and partner management. Read our full Oracle NetSuite CRM review for more information.
  • Pipedrive: Pipedrive’s CRM supports sales and marketing tasks, with plenty of customization options and integrations to help teams connect with prospective and existing customers. Our Pipedrive review highlights this platform’s intuitive user interface and automation functions.
CRM adoption is continually growing. As of 2024, 25 percent of small and medium-sized businesses have implemented a CRM, with another 10 percent considering adoption.

Best practices for online marketing

Make the most of your online marketing efforts with these proven techniques.

1. Analyze data to know your audience.

Reaching your target audience and understanding its needs are the first steps toward creating an effective digital marketing plan that can increase in-store sales. Analyzing data trends can help determine various audience segments’ behaviors, interests and demographics.

Collecting data from various sources, such as searches, social media, CRM systems and third parties, will provide insight into how users find and engage with your brand. 

Reporting functionality is a top CRM feature to look for. CRM reports can help you learn detailed information about your sales process and how customers and leads engage with your brand.

2. Build content around audience segments.

Developing personalized content is critical for increasing user engagement and visibility in organic search results. When you produce frequent content, search engines will crawl your site continuously and users will remain involved with your brand.

To keep customers on your website and boost sales, create content that speaks to user segments’ specific needs, encouraging them to move offline with clear calls to action. In addition to providing articles, offer your fans different ways to stay connected, such as downloads, images and video marketing materials. Encourage users to interact and share content to organically promote your brand and create a buzz that can carry offline.

3. Target customers and amplify content through advertising.

Once you understand what your audience is looking for online, use paid advertising to increase your visibility and offline sales. Because digital ads are so customizable, you have significant control over your advertising results. With targeting, you can show various user segments specialized content at specific times, locations and online locations. 

For example, showcase unique product coupons to different segments or leverage geotargeting to have ads appear within a certain distance from your stores. The expansive ad placement options available (search, social, mobile, retargeting, banner and more) allow you to distribute your ads exactly where your users are searching.

Use retail industry mobile technology, such as Bluetooth beacons and retailer apps, to send special offers or discounts to customers who are near your store.

4. Use authentic and consistent branding.

You’ve likely spent a lot of time creating your brand image and perfecting the in-store experience, but does your online presence tell the same story? If your branding and online content don’t reflect your offline image, your customers may be less engaged or disappointed if your in-store delivery falls short of their expectations.

Stay true to your brand and develop content that creates a sense of authenticity and engagement to keep customers interested and coming back for more.

5. Create and nurture brand advocacy.

Get your fans involved to create brand advocacy that expands beyond your digital presence. Integrate influencer outreach into your communications and feature your die-hard fans in your marketing to keep them involved.

Encourage and reward positive customer reviews and other forms of user-generated content to build advocacy that can increase online and offline brand engagement. Nurture that support by interacting with customers and exceeding expectations.

6. Expand customer relations to drive online support.

Customer support is no longer limited to store managers and call centers. Customers discuss your brand online and influence others’ purchase decisions regardless of whether you’re involved. Join the conversation by monitoring your social pages closely and responding to users who reach out.

Review sites are another opportunity to reward users who love your brand and to solve the problems of those who don’t. Remember that online users are real customers who can significantly influence your offline sales, so it’s important to respond to online reviews.

7. Track results and optimize for ongoing success.

Analyzing data helps measure the return on investment of your online efforts. By looking at data from your search, social media and website campaigns, you can discover which content is best at drawing users.

Try using unique coupon codes for specific products and locations to measure offline sales. These distinct codes allow you to track your true return on investment from online ads to offline sales.

Sara Flick contributed to this article.

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