Serving nice coffee is one of the many benefits that bricks and mortar shops have over their web cousins. One other less obvious are the roads and pathways that line their front door.
From these roads, malls and neighbourhoods people have no option but to drive, walk and ride past their shop. For customers these nearby excursions serve as a gentle reminder to drop in and pick up something. For prospects it could be the chance to peer through the window to check things out. All this “foot traffic” helps make the mantra for many a successful physical store be location, location, location.
But what about those same stores online?
Some mistakenly call the Internet the information superhighway. But I see no ordered way in which people traverse from website to website. To me it’s more a spider’s web of individual paths than an group treck across well worn roads.
So if there are no highways or malls to help bring people back to the front of a web store what can store owners use in their place?
Well for those online retailers that are well funded there is always traditional media advertising. Billboards seem to be the flavour of the month at the moment for those owners with deep pockets. The ads look good in whatever form they take – the agency is your best friend but you need a storehouse of cash to keep this strategy going to create ongoing traffic.
Then there’s online advertising. Here you can take those billboards, face them towards the web and see what happens. Banners of all shapes and sizes can be wrapped around high traffic sites to hook people back. Yes banners, remember those squares of advertising that you mentally block out when bouncing from website to website?
Paid search advertising is another tool to entice new and repeat visitors – especially if your site is hard to find in the generic search options. But those keywords are rising in both popularity and cost.
So all of these options will bring first time visitors to your site for a varying amount of cost per visit but having to continue to invest in any of them to make visitors return is too costly for most to achieve.
This is where effective email marketing can be rather handy.
Email is by far the cheapest and most effective way to call people back to your website. Asking, cajouling, begging and bribing all website visitors to subcribe to your email list has to be high up on your website goals.
Well written email newsletters create their own virtual “foot traffic” by enticing visitors to return to your website pages through the links contained in your copy.
But while this logic is sound and the Internet is abound with successful case studies of email marketing being used this way it still amazes me how many website fail to entice their visitors to join any email newsletter of sorts.
Yes they have billboards extolling their website, some even tell their story with television but when you visit there is no “hard to say no” option to join a newsletter so they can bring you back for cents when they brought you there with dollars.
It doesn’t take much to design an email communication that has strong appeal and set up a web form to capture subscriptions.
Please make sure it’s part of your website strategy – and failing that make mine a flat white when I drop by your bricks and mortar store next time.