While retail shopping may look different this year, there are a number of ways you can adjust and implement modern strategies to attract new customers in this landscape. Many shoppers have enjoyed the touchless experiences put into place because of COVID-19, including online shopping, curbside pickup, grocery delivery, and mobile payment options. 

In fact, 80% of consumers would like contactless experiences to continue after COVID restrictions lift. 86% of consumers expect local businesses to offer more convenient communication and services now than they did prior to COVID-19. And you can meet these expectations. Read on to discover modern acquisition strategies to help you reach the modern consumer.


1. Optimize your local listing.

Nearly 80% of consumers begin their buying process from a mobile device. To boost your local search results, optimize your Google My Business listing. Verify your business and make sure your location and information is accurate and updated. Consider converting your landline into a textable number with Google Messaging or Apple Business Chat so customers can quickly contact you for answers to FAQs, local inventory checks, or appointment booking. 

89% of consumers would like to use messaging to communicate with businesses, and that includes retail. When customers can see from the first Google search that you cater to their communication preferences, they’re more likely to continue through the conversion funnel. 


2. Ask for reviews.

Google reviews impact the ranking of your business in local search results. In order to show up in the top three results, the quality, frequency, and average star rating of your reviews need to be high. Social media and review sites, like Yelp, also provide good platforms for collecting reviews. Discover where your customer base prefers to read reviews, and focus on the platforms they’re the most likely to use. 

82% of customers read online reviews for local businesses; and customers read an average of 10 reviews before beginning to trust a business. Quality online reviews build customer trust and help more people find you on search engines. And luckily, 76% of customers who are asked to leave a review, will. Automate the ask for reviews post-purchase with a text link, and customers are even more likely to follow through.


3. Connect with customers on social media.

Of all the time modern consumers spend on mobile devices each day, almost two and half hours of that is spent scrolling social media. Implementing social media strategies for each of your store locations adds additional channels for customers and potential customers to connect with your brand and experience the value you bring. Depending on where your customer base and target audience is, you might look into using Tik Tok, LinkedIn, Youtube, Snapchat, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. And if you’re interested in paid advertising on any of your social platforms, improving your presence on the platform first will increase the effectiveness of your ad spend. 

Once you set up a business account on the platforms of your choice, you can include relevant information such as your business hours, location, social distancing operations, holiday specials or deals, and enable direct messaging, tagging, and reviews/recommendations of your business. From there, you can create relevant content (especially location-based content) for your customers to relate to and share with their friends. 

The type of content you share may depend on your product or service, as well as the demographics of your target audience. But whether you’re doing live streams, Q/A sessions, polls, reels, stories, or original updates, remember that content marketing impacts the bottom line. It generates three times as many leads as traditional marketing and costs 62% less. 9 in 10 consumers purchase something from a brand they follow on social media. Social media can provide an excellent platform to broaden your reach and visibility, yet personalize interactions and relationships with customers. 

In addition to creating your own content, you might consider using influencers and user generated content as part of your marketing strategy. 55% of consumers have purchased something they discovered on social media. And 71% of consumers are more likely to trust and purchase from referrals on social media. With a few quick links or clicks, customers can see something on social media and have an order confirmation almost instantly.

Whatever social media platforms you use, keep in mind these guidelines to acquire new customers:

  1. Provide value in every post or interaction
  2. Be clear about your services or offerings
  3. Engage with local communities and other brands for more awareness


4. Offer video chat consultations and shopping experiences.

The “new normal” for retail customers doesn’t have to be grim or impersonal. You can offer new types of experiences that customers are eager to test out for themselves. Try out virtual consultations or personalized shopping experiences with video chats. Replace the in-store experience with something else that customers can enjoy from home and will want to repeat. If your physical locations are still open, you can create virtual waiting rooms by texting customers to inform them when it’s safe to come inside or when their order is ready for pickup. The smooth and memorable customer experiences are the ones that will bring return and referral customers.


5. Pay for digital advertising.

As influential as other strategies can be, ads are still pervasive in most digital experiences. Whether you choose to run pay-per-click ads on Google, video ads on Youtube, or carousel ads on Facebook,  you can choose the specific demographics (age, location, gender, etc.) you want to target, and adjust according to the success of click through, interaction, or conversion rates for each ad. Each platform will walk you through the basics of getting an ad up and running, or hiring a third party to do that for you. 

Retargeting ads, in particular, can increase user’s purchasing intent by up to 70%. And that matters because 96% of customers aren’t ready to convert the first time they visit your website. Providing additional opportunities for customers to interact with your brand and view products they showed interest in may help customers convert. And often, you’ll only ever pay for the ads that actually deliver—where customers interact with, choose to watch, or complete the call to action of your ad. 

Before you spend money on paid advertising, remember this: understanding your ideal customer will make your spend more effective. Start there first and then consider your paid advertising options. 


6. Start a blog.

Another contributing factor to your ranking in local search results is the number of indexed pages on your website. Companies that utilize blogging have an average of 434% more indexed pages, and have 78% higher rates of customer trust. Blogging can be a good source of content to share on social media and a way to attract customer interest with guest writers and collaborations within your industry. 

Consider researching local SEO terms that would benefit your business. Create clusters or multiple blogs around a specific topic and you’ll increase your chances of showing up in the first page search results. 


7. Host virtual events.

Especially during seasons of quarantine, it’s important to reach out and create positive experiences for customers to enjoy with your brand, from home. And these experiences don’t always have to be sales related. Virtual events could include ideas for crafts, at-home activities, or holiday festivities. Host a webinar on a topic relating your business and create a hashtag people can use to document the experience on social media. 

The holidays are also a perfect time to partner up with local charities and organizations. Your business could sponsor canned food drives (with drop-off locations), provide donations for homeless shelters, or contribute to the community in the form of a product giveaway. Each of these tactics will increase your brand’s visibility and help consumers trust your business.

For additional insight on attracting new retail customers, download our free guide How to Win Customers and Influence People.

Jason A’alona
Jason A’alona Director of Retail Sales

Jason A’alona is a retail professional at Podium, the leading messaging platform that connects consumer businesses with their customers.

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