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. Such a phenomenon is termed as Search Online Purchase Offline (SOPO) by experts.
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 go on to prove that the SOPO model plays a vital role in shopping today.
This trend has led to various comparison sites, consumer blogs, in-house and outsourced review channels, and more to provide support to a customer’s buying journey by providing more resources to them. In fact, this omnichannel approach is used across a plethora of industries ranging from electronics, appliances, automobiles, tourism, food, baby products, beauty items, healthcare, apparel, furniture, and many more.
However, even if the SOPO model essentially deals with increasing brick and mortar footfall, today, even e-commerce stores are using its popularity to drive sales. Given below are a few ways in which 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 result in driving 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 your website traffic by improving online discoverability for a brand. As per a survey, 70% of people believe that SEO is more effective when it comes to 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 to find the product or service they need. Besides this, relevant content about the firm and its offerings and an easy navigate, a mobile-optimized website will help with the process of strengthening SEO efforts. Proper keyword research, including long-tailed keywords, an impactful headline, and business information and contact details, and location, are necessary elements of 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. For this very reason, your firm’s presence online needs to be supported by an updated location, contact information, opening and closing hours, and so on. 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 a lack of 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 a person searches for queries online; a relevant blog post will provide the information needed while attracting the client towards the website’s business services. This will then result in more offline footfall since the customer is genuinely interested in your offering. Backlinks on popular sites will also help build brand reputation, resulting in increased sales.
Utilize E-commerce Traffic to Promote Brick and Mortar Store
If a business provider operates online and offline, the e-commerce traffic can be used to drive offline sales. This can be done in various ways such as:
- Providing coupons that can be encased on 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 event 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, which in turn increases the scope of more offline footfall.
Work on Reviews
Reviews are the most reliable source of information online. Consequently, more and more people read comparison blogs as well as reviews before making a purchase decision. Since these are third-party content, they give out an unbiased opinion 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 a large set of 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 above-mentioned reasons necessitate putting 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 and replying to them effectively, by offering a freebie/ replacement or by 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 be of much assistance in extending reliability to customers. 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 out 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 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. Having said that, it needs to be backed by a well-planned and implemented a digital promotional strategy that includes PPCs, SEOs, social media marketing through influencers, hashtags, and more. Such an event will pop up when a person searches for the query it addresses. It is also imperative to ensure that the event is held in the brand’s brick-and-mortar store. 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, using attractive pictures and relevant content. In addition to this, social media contests that promote 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 really 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, and so on. 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 the buying process, trials, and samples, special offline collection, and such. This along with high-quality pictures will attract a customer 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, hence expanding business reach exponentially. Forming an efficacious strategy with relation to SOPO and following it like the rule of thumb is, ergo, a prerequisite.
Jayesh Manshani is an outreaching 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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