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December is a critical month in Retail. Sales nearly double to £39bn, and for groups such as HMV, Game and Dixons, it’s when they make the bulk of their profits.
But tough times have led experts to predict that 2011 will be the high street’s toughest Christmas in decades. The biggest names have already started slashing prices to help stimulate sales. But what can digital PR do to help tempt shoppers through a retailer’s door?
Bell Pottinger North has a track record in effectively using social media campaigns to increase footfall and sales for retailers including Asda, Leeds Corn Exchange and Bagel Nash. Here are our top five tips for effective social media for retailers.
Alongside the right products and prices, shopping choices are based on experience too. Experiential activities and great events in store are vital to engaging key audiences by creating memorable and impactful first-hand experiences with your brand.
How can you translate this into a positive and engaging experience on social media? Think about how you can entertain, add value or what will attract interest. At this festive time, facebook special offers, YouTube competitions, interactive games and music are all useful tools.
2. Opinion formers
Being featured within a ‘Christmas gift’ article in the Sunday papers has long increased product sales, but the rise in social media has created new influencers who have the power to recommend your product to a far larger customer base. Active on twitter, or writing a blog, they’ve built active, loyal followers.
So pinpoint the right bloggers for you and take time to build a relationship with them. Be it mumsnet to reach yummy mummys, gransnet for the more mature customer or Engadget for the gadget lovers amonsgt us.
Only 11% of people in the UK use social media to complain. The vast majority use it to share, help and praise companies and products. Not only do views influence friends and family, but 41% of people are influenced by the views of total strangers.
Put in place vehicles to enable customers to comment and recommend your products. From enabling purchases to be shared and then rated on facebook, twitter and email; to mobilising the 8 million registered users on Foursquare; social media enables truly creative customer recommendation programmes.
Don’t forget that the battle for sales is increasingly being fought online too. Mega Monday on 28 November was the start of what analysts believe will be the start of the busiest two weeks of internet shopping in the UK. Sales are expected to topple £3.7bn, an increase of 14% on last year according to IMRG, the trade body for the UK’s online retailers.
Since Google changed its ranking criteria this year, how you choose to conduct your social media activities now has the power to increase your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and so visibility online. This will significantly increase traffic to your website.
For an instant way to secure additional sales before the end of the Christmas and New Year sales season, combine SEO with pay per click (PPC). As a special stocking Christmas bonus we can set you up with an effective PPC campaign and give you your first £75 free!
No digital retail strategy would be complete without consideration of the controversial deal-of-the-day services such as Groupon. They have seen incredible growth in the UK, with Groupon having gained over six million members in Britain alone.
Despite clearly getting your name and service in-front of a local market, it is essential that a financially beneficial deal is agreed. It is also important that offers are used to build repeat sales, not used as a tool to gain instant cheap sales. Heed warnings from The Telegraph, FT and The Drum, who all suggest trouble is brewing due to increasing numbers of disgruntled customers.
Last month the top five accountancy firms in Manchester were recommended, reported, discussed and searched for over 3.4m times on-line. The leading players have woken-up to the power of digital media.
But the vast majority of accountancy firms have yet to build a digital reputation strategy that harnesses social media to deliver its business goals. This is a huge opportunity forManchester’s accountancy practices.
When you look at an accountancy firm’s business model, the challenges it faces and its audience, it’s a perfect fit for social media:
- Most business comes from referrals and word of mouth. This is a fundamental facet of social media. It enables relationships to be strengthened and new ones to be formed, first on-line then in-person.
- Practices need to demonstrate their prowess over their discipline. Social media is a vehicle for professionals to establish themselves as thought leaders; most importantly for their views and advice to be delivered to their target audience when it matters.
- The finance community is already there. From financial directors, solicitors, financial journalists to the Bank of England, the financial community is already sharing opinions, making connections and researching services on-line already (see first paragraph!).
However, unless a firm’s social media activities have been designed to meet specific business challenges, created with a complete picture of online activity, and executed in a manner that fits the medium, any investment will not be fully realised.
Although every organisation’s situation is unique, the five most popular missed opportunities made by professional services on-line include:
- No search engine optimisation: After investing time and budget perfecting a website, no/minimal activity is undertaken to ensure prospects find it. Search engine optimisation helps organisations to rise through Google search results. Try it.
- Be where your prospects are: LinkedIn dominates across the professional services market yet only 28 out of the top 100 accountancy firms in theUKhave completed a LinkedIn company page. Be there and do it well.
- One-way communication: Conversations are always best when they are two-way. Social media is built to facilitate two-way and group conversations. That’s what makes it engaging. Make sure you are.
- Crisis communications: Ensure corporate social media policies are in place and communicated, 70% of employees have no idea if their company has a policy. Crisis communications processes should incorporate issues unique to social media and scenarios should be regularly tested.
- Measure it: Like all marketing practices, it is essential that all social media activities are specifically measured and tracked.
Social media offers a huge advantage for accountants in Manchester. As a PR agency who has worked with many of them, we know the intellect, talent and wit that exists. We look forward to helping Manchester’s professional services leap ahead of their competition online.
To discuss how we can help you establish an effective digital reputation strategy contact firstname.lastname@example.org
What an interesting week.
We have spent time polishing up our shiny new SEO service. Our search guru Joe can talk for Yorkshire about the bits and bytes of how to make sure our client’s web pages come right at the top of Google’s search results. We can advise exactly how and why our clients need to “massage” their web sites to rank top for “red-widgets” or whatever. It’s clearly going to be an exciting time with a number of clients already signed up.
But the really interesting thing isn’t the service per se. Now matter how good the SEO we offer the results we ultimately gain for a client will be primarily dependent on about 10 secs in the life of potential web visitors.
You want to buy let’s say a new chicken coop. You sit down in front of Google and type something into the search box. Only takes you 10 seconds, but in those 10 seconds your choice of search term decides which pages you will see and where you get your chicken coop from.
Leave aside all the techy mumbo jumbo, the page rank and “link juice” etc., the better we understand those 10 secs; the better we understand the psychology of the desire for a given product or service then the better we can ensure that the right pages, with the right content appear at the top of search results.
Back to marketing 101 really and buyer behaviour classes. ”Understand your customer better and you will sell more.”
Simple really. (Just not easy).