How To Use Digital To Make Your Customers’ In-Store Experience Awesome

It can no longer be said that we’re entering the digital age.  It’s here.  We’re in it.  Your customers exist in two worlds, the physical and the digital.  To ignore either one is to only have half your customers’ attention.

 

But it’s about more than just attention.  So often as marketers we get caught up simply trying to get people to listen to what we have to say in the hope that our message will get them to patronize our business.  We forget that marketing extends through the entire sales process.

 

Let’s face it, while sales and marketing have different definitions, the functions are essentially the same, and any attempt to separate the two automatically diminishes both.  All marketers are also salespeople and all salespeople are also marketers.  Why?  Because it is about more than just your brand IMAGE — it is all about your brand EXPERIENCE.

 

That means your marketing isn’t just leading people to the sales process, it is walking with them through it.

 

Because let’s face it, any misstep along the way will cost you brand loyalty points and will keep people from recommending you to their friends.

 

Which brings up another important point that we marketers sometimes forget.  In the digital age where people consider their lives on social networks to be almost more real than their physical ones, your marketing strategies can’t be simply focused on recommendations when it comes to word-of-mouth advertising.  You need to give people a reason to want to talk about you, even if none of their friends asks about you.

 

People share their experiences, the really awesome experiences and the really bad ones.  Everything in between is compartmentalized in that area of the brain for those things deemed of little or no consequence.  So you don’t want your brand experience to fall in that grey zone, and of course, you don’t want to give people a reason to complain about you.  The unfortunate reality is that people are much more inclined to complain than to praise.

 

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So how do we integrate the worlds of digital and physical into a single incredible brand experience that compels people to talk about you?

1. Deliver content tailored to your customers for maximum relevancy.

 

Effective marketing of any kind begins with a thorough understanding of who your customers are, what excites them, and what motivates them.  The most efficient way to get to know your customer is the same as it is for anyone — talk to them.  Bi-directional mobile messaging platforms allow you to speak to your customers either en masse or individually, and better still, they can talk back to you, providing you with the insight you need to provide them with the content they want.

 

2. Elicit user-generated content through viral social media campaigns.

 

Beyond tailored content, UGC creates the interactivity and experience with the brand that you’re looking for.  A social media campaign that gets people to participate is a game-changer when it comes to word-of-mouth.  Now your customers are sharing THEMSELVES with their friends when they share you.

 

3. Bring the physical world to your digital audience.

 

There’s no replacement for being in a store surrounded by colorful merchandise and other excited shoppers if you’re a retail operation.  If you’re a service industry, nothing inspires confidence more than seeing the people who will be doing the work and watching them in action.  Give your customers as much of the physical experience as you can through the no-pressure anonymity of the digital experience, and you’ll increase the excitement level that will eventually bring them into your store or office.  It’s great if you post lots of pictures and video of your operation; it’s even better if you find creative ways to get your customers to do it for you.

 

4. Use your mobile app to accentuate the in-store experience.

 

Your mobile app isn’t just about m-commerce.  You may not even offer m-commerce, but you can still get incredible mileage out of a mobile app.  Here’s what your app should be giving your customers:

 

  • Give customers more information about your products or services to help inform their purchase decision.

 

  • Allow your customers to set up customer service preferences.  Do they want someone to assist them at the store or do they want to browse without interruption.

 

  • Allow your customers to browse your inventory through your app, add the items to their shopping cart, and either present the list to an associate to fill the order when they come into the store or have the order pre-picked and waiting for them.  Convenience is a major factor in the ease and enjoyability of a customer’s experience.

 

  • Post in-store QR codes for your customers to scan to get immediate discounts and promotions to give them the added boost they need at just the right time to make their purchase decision.

 

The bottom line is that your customers live in both worlds — the physical and the digital.  If you want to create the kind of awesome brand experience that builds brand loyalty, they better be able to find you in both places, even at the same time.