The internet has largely changed the way that we shop. In today’s era, instead of looking for recommendations from the small group that people are surrounded by, they consult the vast source of information provided online. This helps consumers make informed choices after proper research. Experts call this phenomenon a Search Online Purchase Offline (SOPO).
As reported by Forbes, a consumer behavior study proved that 82% of mobile users search online on their smartphones before purchasing. Besides, about 45% and 56% of people read online reviews to reach a responsible buying decision in brick-and-mortar stores and e-commerce stores, respectively. These statistics prove that the SOPO model is vital in shopping today.
Salesforce has recently produced an extensive marketing report – the 8th State of Marketing Report. The report surveyed 5,000 marketers and trillions of outbound marketing messages.
This trend has led to various comparison sites, consumer blogs, in-house and outsourced review channels, and more to support a customer’s buying journey by providing more resources to them. This omnichannel approach is used across many industries, including electronics, appliances, automobiles, tourism, food, baby products, beauty items, healthcare, apparel, furniture, etc.
How Search Online Purchase Offline (SOPO) Drives Business Sales
However, even if the SOPO model essentially deals with increasing brick-and-mortar footfall, today, e-commerce stores use its popularity to drive sales. Below are a few ways SOPO can assist in increasing business sales.
Boost Search Rankings
The best way to utilize SOPO to boost offline sales is by working on a website’s search rankings. This will make any business more discoverable online, such that it can drive more conversions offline. For this, you can also hire an SEO Agency.
Some methods to ensure this are explored below.
Strengthening Local SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a proven tactic to increase website traffic by improving online discoverability for a brand. As per a survey, 70% of people believe that SEO is more effective when driving sales than pay-per-click (PPC). Moreover, according to Hubspot, improvising SEO and organic search results is a priority for 61% of marketers. It relies highly on keywords that the business’ target audience would search online for the product or service they need. Besides this, relevant content about the firm and its offerings, easy navigation, and a mobile-optimized website will help strengthen SEO efforts. Proper keyword research, including long-tailed keywords, an impactful headline, business information, contact details, and location, are necessary elements for an SEO-optimized website.
Updating Relevant Information
A 2019 research review by Google states that ‘near me’ and ‘where to buy’ queries have increased by 200% in the last two years. This indicates that to be more discoverable, optimizing your local SEO is the desideratum. Therefore, online presence is supported by an updated location, contact information, opening and closing hours, etc. Furthermore, additional aids such as store pictures and directions will also help search rankings in your area, encouraging more traffic to your offline store.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) focuses on bringing your page to the top of search results through paid keywords. This works on a pay-per-click method and is more result-oriented than organic SEO. However, it is a less reliable ranking method.
Posting Regular Website or Guest Blogs
According to Hubspot, updating and republishing old blogs with new content and images can boost organic search traffic by 106%. Additionally, Ahrefs states that 91% of pages don’t rank on organic search due to lacking backlinks. This is where blogs on the company’s website and guest blogs on other websites can help rank better. The logic is simple when someone searches for queries online; a relevant blog post will provide the information needed while attracting the client to the website’s business services. This will result in more offline footfall since the customer is genuinely interested in your offering. Backlinks on popular sites will also help build brand reputation, increasing sales.
Utilize E-commerce Traffic to Promote Brick and Mortar Store
If a business provider operates online and offline, the e-commerce traffic can drive offline sales. This can be done in various ways, such as:
- Providing coupons that can be encased in in-store shopping
- Promoting exclusive shopping products that are only available in the physical store
- Offers that require you to pick up items by visiting the store
- Launch events and exhibitions in the physical store and such
One important thing to remember is that the e-commerce site needs to be backed by exceptional SEO, SEM, and other digital promotional tactics to attract more online traffic, increasing the scope of offline footfall.
Work on Reviews
Reviews are the most reliable source of information online. Consequently, more and more people read comparison blogs and reviews before making a purchase decision. Since these are third-party content, they give unbiased opinions on a product or service. Apart from this, since the web has resulted in the world becoming a global village, these reviews expose you to many individuals’ opinions compared to word-of-mouth recommendations from those around you. Working on these is hence of much essence to increase sales. To prove this, a news article by The Drum says that online reviews impact the decision of 93% of shoppers.
The reasons mentioned above necessitate a feedback strategy where consumers are encouraged to post reviews for a brand’s service or product. Other than this, a proactive approach to handling negative reviews, replying effectively, offering a freebie/ replacement, or apologizing calmly needs to be followed. Besides, any business needs to keep updating its offerings to stimulate positive reviews. Highlighting customer testimonials on the company website will also greatly assist in extending customer reliability. Such an online review plan will ensure that consumers prefer your offline business to that of competitors. This will result in increased revenue through better conversions.
Prepare Detailed and Lucrative Product Content
Attractive product content that lists the unique selling points of an offering explaining to the online audience why they should prefer the brand’s products is significant. Nonetheless, it is prime to state all features and explain them elaborately. It is also advisable to make the description reliable so that no case of expectations versus reality arises. Such product content is posted online, and comparisons with similar products or services will result in more sales, offline and online.
Create and Promote an Offline Event
An offline event that deals with relevant search topics related to a particular field will drive many sales for businesses. It must be backed by a well-planned and implemented digital promotional strategy that includes PPCs, SEOs, and social media marketing through influencers, hashtags, and more. Such an event will pop up when someone searches for the query it addresses. Ensuring that the event is held in the brand’s brick-and-mortar store is also imperative. Nevertheless, it can also be an exhibition or an affiliated event where the business’ products and services are kept on display or sold.
Optimize Social Media Channels
The social media pages can be made more discoverable by targeting the right hashtags, adding location to posts, and using attractive pictures and relevant content. In addition, social media contests promoting store visits, such as online photography contests of restaurants where the winner gets a free meal when they visit the restaurant, can also increase footfall and subsequent sales. Even so, paid posts can also be used to attract more traffic. All one needs to do is target the right audience with content that inspires conversions.
Highlight the Added Value of Shopping In-store
To increase offline footfall through SOPO, one can highlight the in-store shopping experience fruitfully on your SEO-optimized website, social media channels, etc. Here they can state how their brick-and-mortar store provides perks such as free coffee, snacks, Wi-Fi, personal shoppers or stylists, expert advice to assist clients in buying, trials and samples, special offline collection, etc. This, along with high-quality pictures, will attract customers and push them towards visiting the store.
All the above-explored pointers prove that SOPO is an efficient course of action resulting in augmented gains for any business. By using the right techniques, it can turn out to be extremely rewarding for a brand. Additionally, this omnichannel approach will help popularize a firm’s offerings, exponentially expanding business reach. Forming a productive strategy concerning SOPO and following it as the rule of thumb is a prerequisite.
Jayesh Manshani is an outreach specialist at Intesols pty ltd. Intesols pty ltd is the best online marketing company in Melbourne, one of the best agencies for SEO in Melbourne.
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