Search is the most powerful way to drive traffic to sites, outshining email, banners, and other forms of online advertising. Search is also effective at driving foot traffic to brick & mortar stores. Many people conduct research online—starting at a search engine—for a product they would rather buy, or end up buying, in-store. But there is more to connecting the two beyond just providing your street address to
I developed a process that I call the Search-to-Store Experience. It is a process that enables a consumers that enters the buying funnel at a search engines to easily complete the process in a brick and mortar store. (The issue of tracking that process from start-to-finish via metrics to determine ROI is also important. Maybe I’ll discuss that side in later posts.)
The focus of the Search-to-Store Experience is to connect the two channels more seamlessly and in a way that feels natural to a searcher. It is most valuable to the consumer that begins by conducting a search then switches channels to complete the sale in store. The entire process has to feel like a natural progression to the consumer.
Here are some tips in creating your own Search-to-Store Experience.
Make Usual connections between channels.
Investing in a SEM campaign to help sell blue widgets? Then have a blue widget display near the front entrance of the store. When the person that started with an online search walks in, they make the instant "there it is" connection. They’ll put the blue widget right in their basket.
As the consumer moves along the search channel (from search, to PPC ad or organic listing, to a landing page) the messaging needs to mature with that progression. Don’t repeat the same thing at each step, but rather go a level deeper. Reinforce, but open the messaging to more detail or product features. The landing page not only needs to have a picture of the product but a full description, the stores that are near them, and
a printable coupon to redeem in store.
Brand messaging can easily change as it is applied in different marketing channels. Messaging in print ads need to match messaging on a web site. But importantly, messaging carried out in a search engine, either via PPC ad copy or meta descriptions in organic listings, needs to also match your brand messaging. The continuity of brand messaging is key is the different channels feeling unified to the consumer.
Connect other business areas.
If other areas of your business are connected, regardless of channel, a consumer will use the channel most convenient for them at the time. Using different doorways to your brand will feel natural. And if the
branding is uniform, the consumer won’t feel lost. Allowing online purchased to be returned in-store, loyalty programs and promotions to be redeemed in-store, online or over the phone. This makes any channel
switches your consumers make feel like a comfortable part of doing business with your brand.