7 Tips to Boost Footfall Using Your Website


How do you use your website to drive your customers into your bricks-and-mortar premises? A recent study found we look at our smartphone 57 times a day on average, and 44% of us check it at least once at night too. If you want to attract new customers, no doubt about it – online is the place to be. Here are 7 tips to boost footfall using your website:

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With phones now the number one way for people to surf the net, how can you maximise a website to drive people into your bricks-and-mortar premises?

“Traditionally you’d get people through the door with a big sign in your window,” says change management consultant Alan O’Neill. “Now you still need that sign – you just need to put it online.”

Social media is an effective way to point customers to your website. But you need to know what you’re doing, warns O’Neill, who is MD of Dublin consultancy KARA.

“People see themselves as experts in online communication because they can post a personal picture on Facebook or Instagram. But communicating a business message through your website is very different. You need to know what to put on there, your brand and tone of voice, the feel, the look, the colour, to link up with exactly what’s going on in your store. You need your website and your bricks-and-mortar business to complement each other, and that requires consideration, understanding and skill.”

So how can you use your website to attract people through the door?

Give them the facts

This is fundamental – have a ‘store locator’ or equivalent sitting prominently on your home page, with instant details of location(s), opening hours, directions and parking information. You don’t want customers trawling through the website for this info – they need to see it immediately.

Recommended reading: 7 Tips to Higher Level Customer Satisfaction

Local business for local people

When potential customers search online for services you provide, your local business should be at the top – by setting local search engine optimisation (SEO). “It shows your online visitors you have a physical premises in their area,” says Mark Baldwin, of Cork-based digital marketing firm Baldwin Digital. “With so many people searching on their phones for a product or service close to where they are right now, local SEO is more crucial than ever to the success of small businesses.”

Businesses can also take it further by using methods such as geotagging to, say, send in-store offers to potential customers looking at your website who are within a mile of your premises. 

Offer something unique

Your website traffic is a great opportunity to glean data from customers, to then steer them towards in-store offers. This tactic helped luxury tweed brand Magee 1866 boost footfall. “Tweed has gone digital!” says Dominic Tracey, the firm’s e-commerce sales development manager. “We knew early on we needed to embrace technology, and quickly saw the possibilities in integrating digital marketing with our three physical stores (in Donegal, Dublin and Kildare). Three years ago we implemented a completely new marketing strategy, including a complete overhaul of our website.”

“Our website has become pivotal to our growth, but our bricks-and-mortar stores are as crucial to our business now as at any time in the last 150 years. Our online and offline stores work in tandem to provide the best customer experience”

Dominic Tracey, E-commerce Sales Development Manager, Magee 1866

This included harvesting data from online customers to send them personalised in-store offers, and providing customers who visit their shops with iPads when in store so they can browse online and offline simultaneously.

“Our website has become pivotal to our growth,” says Tracey. “But our bricks-and-mortar stores are as crucial to our business now as at any time in the last 150 years. Our online and offline stores work in tandem to provide the best customer experience.”

Sell yourself

Use your website to show why people should visit your premises – with images and videos that demonstrate your product, and your staff’s professional expertise and excellent customer service. “Most retailers miss an opportunity by just having lists or directories,” says O’Neill.

“Use pictures or videos – 360-degree shots are definitely worth doing – anything that appeals on a personal level, to show off the store itself. But get quality images. Whether it’s a ring or a dress, it needs to be a quality picture with the right lighting that makes people want to buy that product and, importantly, to buy it from you.”

Click and collect

Give online customers a reason to visit your business – and an opportunity to spend more while they’re there. On average a quarter of all shoppers who click and collect buy additional items when in the store picking up their orders. Wexford-based chemist Sam McCauley recently launched an app for patients to click-and-collect medicines – and found 60% bought additional items when they arrived at the store.

Promote the personal touch

Online jewellery stores have taken off recently – but Fields the Jeweller uses its website to promote the individual customer experience of its 14 physical stores. “Our website does detail all our beautiful jewellery and we see it as an extra store,” says marketing and e-commerce director Gail Banim. “But it’s designed most of all for drawing people into our shops.”

For example, the website promotes Fields’ Privilege Club, a membership that gives in-store discounts, and offers individual services such as bespoke jewellery consultations. Banim adds: “We know that once they set foot inside, we can wow them with great customer experiences – it’s about getting them there.”

Flaunt the feedback

Running customer reviews on your site brings excellent opportunities to connect with customers. “It’s great to show how well customers rate your service,” says Craig Adams, digital marketing manager at Sligo consultants Dmac Media.

“But reviews offer more than that – as soon as you invite someone to leave a review you’re engaging with a customer in a public space. You can give meaningful, personal responses. And even if it’s a bad review, a positive, empathetic response can paint you and your business as one that people can trust.”

Like any marketing, warns O’Neill, web promotion needs to form part of an overall brand and business strategy. “Using online space to maximise business potential is a new science that should be taken seriously,” he says.

“And because it’s new, don’t assume you know how to do it. Consider your brand, your goals, plan it properly, revisit your key messages, consider the crossover – how can you sell your store to your online customer and vice versa? Every bit of marketing needs planning, but get it right and you will reap the rewards.”

Recommended reading: 4 Reasons Why Fake Reviews Are Deadly For Your Business

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