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Are You Staying Ahead of The Curve With Your Marketing Strategy?

January 13th, 2020 Posted by resources No Comment yet

Do you own a smartphone? How many times a day do you think you touch it, look at it, or use it? A study says we touch our phones on average 2,617 times a day, 80% of us check our phones before brushing our teeth in the morning, and it doesn’t stop there – on average we check our phone 80 times a day (and for millennial’s that number is almost double at 150 times a day). Over the course of a year, we spend 900 hours, or 38 days on our phones in some capacity.

Smartphones are a part of our lives, and honestly, could you live without yours? Most of us would be scrambling if we lost our phones. Think of everything it contains – phone numbers, calendar dates, finances, and not to mention all the apps you’ve downloaded to keep your life running smoothly! We are so dependant on our phones, using them for everything from texting to emailing, from online shopping to paying for items in stores, from checking the news to online banking. We sometimes even use them to make phone calls!

Mobile Empowers Customers

As consumers, our dependence on our smartphones has inherently evolved our behaviours when it comes to interacting with brands. Our mobile devices have allowed us to take better control of our life and our experiences. We have so much more choice today, and feel in control of when, where and how we interact with a brand. We can choose to block ads, unfollow brands on social media, and tune out the advertising messages that we are bombarded with on a daily basis. We can compare prices on our phones from in the store to make sure we are getting the best deal. We can use an app to find local deals. We can read reviews online before trying out a new experience.

For businesses, this increased customer empowerment requires a deeper understanding of the consumer in order to effectively connect with them, and maintain profitability and growth. Just as consumer behaviours are evolving, so too must business behaviour evolve to align with the expectations of the consumer. Only businesses that can adapt to changing consumer trends, motivators and decision-drivers will stay ahead of the curve when it comes to engaging with their target audience.

It might seem overwhelming at first, and as a business you might question how necessary a mobile marketing strategy is. So stop and think about your own personal use of your smartphone and your experience with brands on a mobile device. You’ll start to realize that a seamless integration of mobile into your marketing strategy is not only expected, but it’s necessary. You want it. So do your customers.

Mobile Increases Consumer Expectations

Product comparison is available at our fingertips – literally. Why should a consumer buy one business’ product over another if they are essentially the exact same? It ultimately comes down to the experience. Some people will always buy in store over online because they like the physical experience of shopping in a store, being able to pick up a product, talk to a salesperson. Other people like to buy online for the convenience and the speed. Either way, consumer expectations are at an all time high. We expect a great experience, we expect relevant communication, and we expect customization. The brands that succeed in this highly competitive market place we live in will be the ones that are best able to give consumers what they are asking for.

However for small businesses that are lacking in resources, including time, money and expertise it’s not easy to adapt to the new mobile consumer. In a survey by RetailMeNot, 25% of retailers said they do not have the ability to tie their mobile marketing efforts to in-store sales, so they don’t know what is working what isn’t. One way over half of retailers are overcoming this challenge is by partnering with marketing companies that have expertise in this area.

“Due to mobile’s quick evolution and high priority, retailers rely on partnerships in areas they lack expertise, including the ability to track mobile marketing efforts to in-store sales (53%). These partnerships are also a key driver in providing mobile offers to their customers. Most retailers are sharing mobile unique promotion codes (56%) or mobile single-use promotion codes (56%) to customers through owned and partner apps. By tapping into partner audiences for these initiatives, retailers and brands are able to expand their reach and engage more potential customers.”

Probably the biggest challenge facing business owners and marketers alike is, how to I meet the expectations of my consumer, where and when they are hanging out?

– Ensure your business can be found online in a local mobile search. Get listed on Google My Business – it’s free! This is a no-brainer as it ensures the business is visible in local listings when people conduct a Google search. Did you know, the Google 3-pack appears at the top of 93% of searches when there is a local intent? Make sure your business appears ahead of the competition – Google My Business influences this.

– Do you have a loyalty program for regular customers?  47% of consumers wish more stores offered mobile apps to collect and redeem loyalty points. Apps like FiveStars make it easy to operate your loyalty program on mobile, avoiding the need for small cards to track purchases and store visits. The app helps you set up a rewards program customized to your business. Your customers can sign up onsite and check in using their phone number on future visits. FiveStars sends your customers rewards messages via email or text based on their preferences including special messages for birthdays and infrequent customers.

– Other apps, like GetintheLoop can help you reach a whole new audience of customer, one who may not yet have heard about your business, or be part of your loyalty program. GetintheLoop is an offers platform for businesses to attract new customers and build loyalty. These offers and experiences are delivered straight to the smartphones of locals via the GetintheLoop app.

– Consider investing in a mobile payment solution so you can accept payments directly from customer’s phones (e.g via Apple Pay).  Consumers are more comfortable than ever using secure mobile payment options. By setting your business up to accept mobile payment for your goods and services, you’re creating a simple, seamless shopping/payment experience for the consumer and not falling behind the competition in terms of providing what consumers want. Square provides an easy, affordable solution to get businesses set-up with accepting Apple Pay.

– Market your business where your audience is – on social media. If you don’t have a social media presence, you’re losing a lot of potential customers. Mobile-only social apps continue to rise in popularity (like Snapchat, Instagram etc.) and being on these platforms makes sense as part of your mobile marketing strategy, if that is where your target audience spends their online time. Social media isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it solution. Constantly monitor your presence and adapt your message accordingly.

The modern consumer is busy, on the go, often buying items when time permits, and multi-tasking at the same time, whether that’s outside school at pick up time, while watching TV in the evening, or while in transit. A decade ago, this wasn’t even possible, but now we are spoiled with computers in the palms of our hands – we want a more integrated experience, where researching and buying, price comparing and reading reviews are all done at the point of purchase. Successful businesses are the ones that adapt to the changes in consumer behaviour rather than resist and stick with the ‘old ways’.

Be the next GetintheLoop success story. Get in touch with us today.

A Greener Year For Small Businesses

January 8th, 2020 Posted by articles, BUSINESS, resources No Comment yet

Climate change and environmentally friendliness has never been more top of mind for consumers and businesses alike. Consumers are increasingly more likely to support brands that take their environmental footprint seriously. Almost 66 per cent of consumers are willing to pay extra for products and services that come from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact. If all consumers want to see more environmentally responsible businesses, it’s up to businesses to deliver. Meeting increased expectations will not only drive more customers, but contribute to long-term efforts to protect the environment for future generations.

Here are a few ways that small businesses can do their part to be more environmentally responsible and communicate these actions to consumers.

First, assess where you create waste:

  1. Are you using plastic bags?
  2. Do you waste electricity with too many lights?
  3. What do you use for take out boxes, cups and straws?
  4. Do you waste a lot of water?
  5. Do you recycle?

Once the key areas of waste have been identified, you can implement a plan for reduction. Get everyone in the company involved. Have a way for employees to suggest ideas to help your business help the environment. Making employees feel involved will make them more inclined to contribute to the programs.

Find out how environmentally friendly the items you buy from suppliers are: do they have excessive packaging? Do they contain substances which are harmful to the environment? Are you suppliers able to reuse any packaging, perhaps at a discount to you? It many cases, it’s better to pay more but source products that are better for the environment. Sustainable purchasing is a great option to show your company is committed to the environment, especially if you’re finding it difficult to implement detailed environmentally responsible programs in your business.

Think about where you can make changed with office supplies and/or stationary:

– Stock the office with reusable pens: ones which simply have their inks refilled
– How necessary are those pads of sticky notes?
– Do you send out a lot of mail? If so, use recycled envelopes and keep packaging to a minimum
– Are people encouraged to recycle non-confidential documents rather than throw them out?
– Introduce a company-wide recycling program for items such as pop bottles and cardboard containers
– Remove paper cups for beverages and encourage people to bring water bottles and travel mugs for coffee from home
– Remove ‘convenience’ coffee from the office – you know, the ones that take pods or capsules of coffee and require one-push to make one cup. Single-use items that end up in the landfill are not good for the environment
– Compost kitchen waste like leftover foods. Most cities have some kind of composting scheme in place.


Save paper!

If you must print, use recycled paper and print on both sides where possible, using eco-mode if quality is not important. Recycle all used ink and toner cartridges. Online marketing is much more environmentally friendly than offline marketing like direct mail or printed ads, and often much cheaper! Online marketing is a low-cost alternative and produces no printed waste. Many businesses, however, rely on printed coupons sent in the mail to drive business. Other options include building a database of emails for a monthly newsletter and sending coupons that way, or look into marketing solutions like an app such as GetintheLoop that takes care of your marketing for you, delivering your marketing message and offers to the palm of people’s hands, on their phones. No printing and no wasted materials!

Save water!

– Install water-efficient taps;
– Fix leaking taps;
– Avoid washing dishes under running taps’
– Install water-efficient dishwasher;
– Wait until you have a full load before washing;
– Scrape, rather than rinse, dishes prior to washing;
– Replace single-flush toilets with dual-flush toilets
– Regularly check for leaks and fix immediately;
– Install rainwater tanks for yard and plant watering’
– Water produce and plants early in the morning or in the evening.

Where possible, source local products

For restaurants, this can increase prices, but depending on your audience, diners may be willing to pay more for locally sourced products that support local growers and producers. Even better, grow your own produce. Order in bulk to cut down on the amount of deliveries you need to receive.

Recycle old furniture, computer equipment etc

Keep as much out of the landfills as possible. According to the Electronics TakeBack Coalition, over two million tons of electronic waste is disposed of every year in the U.S., and only 27 per cent is recycled. Many computer manufacturers like Dell and HP have equipment recycling programs, or you can contact local charities or schools to see if they have any need for the items.

Reduce the amount of electricity you use

Replace all light-bulbs with energy efficient LED bulbs, or even invest in solar panels. Turn off lights, shut down computers, and turn down heat/AC at the end of the day. It may seem like some of these suggestions are very small and won’t have a big impact on the environment. However, if every business took small steps toward being more environmentally friendly, it would add up to a one big step that could really make a difference. Consumers are demanding that businesses assume responsibility for a more positive and sustainable future.


Communicate to your customers how your business is environmentally friendly so they can make an informed decision to choose you over your competitors

– Add messaging to your social channels that talks about your commitment to sustainability. Instagram is a good platform for using imagery to show what your business is doing behind the scenes
– Create a page on your website about your commitment to sustainability.
– Tell stories in your blog. Does your supplier have an interesting story about how they have incorporated sustainability into their products?
– Promote your commitment through your product messaging, whether online, in store, on menus, etc.: “made with 100% locally-sourced ingredients”
– Add signage In the public bathrooms: “save water, don’t flush unless necessary”
– Carry your messaging through into all forms of communications. For example, at the bottom of email signatures you could write, “please do not print this email unless necessary. We are an environmentally friendly business.”

Keeping our planet alive and healthy is everyone’s responsibility and consumers, especially millennials, are becoming more demanding of businesses to be environmentally-friendly. Take steps within your organization to really have an impact on the environment. Decide how you are going to measure the impact and commit to making it an integral part of your business operations. Then, and only then, should you communicate it to consumers.

GetintheLoop for Business makes local marketing easier. Attract and retain more customers with mobile offers, delivered directly to their phones. Keep 100% of your revenue. Get started today!

6 Digital Platforms Your Business Should Add to its Toolbox

October 28th, 2019 Posted by resources No Comment yet

GetintheLoop is riding the digital wave. We created Canada’s leading mobile offers platform to provide businesses with the ultimate digital marketing solution. It makes sense that we would also embrace the use of digital technology in our own workplace.

More and more digital tools to solve business problems or take your business to the next level are available than ever before. Our headquarters team uses numerous digital tools to organize our projects, create marketing materials, reach our target audiences and communicate with our fellow team members.

Here are six digital tools GetintheLoop uses that your business may find value in:


1) Sprout

It can be difficult to effectively manage multiple social media accounts. By using Sprout’s social media management software, businesses can access all their accounts in one place and create content, schedule out posts, view analytics and interact with their audiences. Multiple team members can access the software, which leads to better collaboration. Sprout stands out in the market due to its user-friendly design: each social account is easily accessible from the top navigation pane. Users can also conveniently view analytics without having to download a report.


2) Canva

It’s important for your company to have a professional look. Canva is a simplified graphic-design tool website that allows companies to create visually appealing designs by utilizing a drag-and-drop format and accessing a wide variety of photos, images, graphics and fonts. It’s a great fit for entrepreneurs with no design background, but can also be utilized by professionals who are looking to operate more efficiently. Companies can ensure consistency in their design through Canva by creating brand kits and saving templates in folders.


3) Mailchimp

Email marketing campaigns are effective ways to reach potential customers and engage existing ones. Storing contact lists on spreadsheets and manually sending out emails isn’t practical when managing multiple campaigns. Mailchimp gives businesses the ability to manage all aspects of their email campaigns. Businesses can maintain multiple contact lists and create professional looking emails with a drag-and-drop software and image bank. Mailchimp provides advice on the best time to distribute emails, while the analytics function allows businesses to monitor important stats including the open and click rates.


4) G-Suite

It’s important for companies to be able to collaborate digitally and G-Suite makes this process easier for businesses. Team members can connect via Gmail and stay on top of each other’s schedules with Google Calendar. They can create everything from docs to spreadsheets and effortlessly share them with fellow employees. G-Suite allows team members to share large files amongst each other through Google Drive and businesses also have the ability to manage users, devices, and data securely and easily.


5) Slack

The traditional means of workplace communication aren’t effective in today’s digital society, as more employees are working remotely or may not have a traditional office space. Slack is a cloud-based proprietary instant messaging platform that allows team members to message each other in real-time and share files. Businesses create channels with various categories so the appropriate team members can have a digital conversation. Slack enables team members to communicate without breaking up the flow of their work. There is also a comprehensive search function to browse through old threads.


6) Monday

It can be difficult for a company to manage the many projects it has on the go and assign tasks to employees, especially if it’s relying on an old-fashioned method such as a whiteboard. Monday.com is a team management web and mobile application that makes project management a digital process. Businesses can create sections for each project, select a due date, assign team members to a project and keep track of the progress. Team members can collaborate by having digital conversations about projects and accessing files, briefs, checklists and sheets in one place.


In addition to these digital tools, your business will find value in signing on to GetintheLoop to reach mobile customers. 

GetintheLoop business partners can market their unique products, services and experiences to the smartphones of customers. The user-friendly platform allows businesses to effortlessly create new offers on the platform, edit or replace offers and view analytics to see how their offers are performing.

Studies have shown that 95 percent of smartphone owners use their mobile device to search for information on local businesses. Members loves using GetintheLoop because it’s an all-in-one shopping app that contains offers from a wide variety of retailers in their communities.

Add value to your business’ digital marketing efforts by signing onto GetintheLoop. Learn more about the benefit of joining the platform.

 

6 powerful types of offers you can create on GetintheLoop

September 16th, 2019 Posted by blog, resources No Comment yet

Sales promotion offers can be a great way for businesses to drive traffic through the door and stimulate sales. Offers allow companies to provide value to customers, promote special offerings and encourage repeat business. 

Your business can stand out in the crowd by successfully leveraging these different types of offers:

Exclusive

These types of offers are only available to a select group of customers. Companies will often create exclusive offers for customers who have signed up for their loyalty program or to receive their e-newsletter. It’s a satisfying experience for customers to redeem exclusive offers and this encourages customer loyalty. 

GetintheLoop members have access to exclusive offers on the platform. These offers receive higher placement in our daily emails when compared to non-exclusive offers, which are available to any customer. Exclusive offers also receive inclusion in GetintheLoop’s push notification program. 

Limited

If you’ve ever heard “hurry while supplies last” in an ad and been motivated to act fast, you’ve been influenced by a limited offer. Limited offers create a greater sense of urgency by limiting the available supply at the listed price. Offering 30% off purchases for one day only, for example, encourages customers to show up and pull the trigger on purchases.

Restaurants can use limited offers to create a lunch rush by offering a deal to the first x number of customers. The people who miss out on the deal are already in the restaurant and are still likely to place an order.

Percentage Off

Offering customers a percentage off an item or an entire purchase is a great way to get them through the door. While the discount may draw customers in, there’s a chance they’ll also purchase something at full price.

There are strategic ways to deploy percentage off offers, such as Buy One, Get One (BOGO). Customers pay the full price on the first item and either get the second item for free or receive a discount. There can also be a condition put in place where customers have to spend a minimum amount of money to get a percentage off.

Gift With Purchase

Giving customers a gift when they make a purchase is a great way to endear your business to them, because it’s always satisfying to open a present. The gift can be a small item such as a key chain, bookmark or desk calendar and can include your company’s logo.

Gifts can be a great way for a company to launch a new product, effectively creating a sampling campaign. Companies can partner with like-minded businesses or vendors on customer gifts with purchase. Businesses that provide gifts maintain price integrity while providing value to customers. Create, wow and delight while building a deeper relationship and loyalty with your customers by using gift with purchase offers. 

Bundle

A bundle offer allows customers to take home multiple products in a single purchase at a lower cost. Telecommunications companies offer phone/internet/TV bundles at reduced rates to entice customers to purchase multiple services from them.

A bundle is a great way to introduce customers to additional products that they may purchase later on. These offers also enable companies to keep the price integrity in tact for each item because the customer won’t be aware which of the items are being discounted.

Events

One of the unique features of the GetintheLoop platform is that businesses can create offers that exist solely to raise awareness around an event they’re hosting. Event offers can help businesses pack the house, whether it’s for a live music event at a pub or a children’s workshop being held at a library.

These offers can also help businesses show their charitable side by promoting events they’re sponsoring in the community. 

With GetintheLoop, businesses can create compelling offers to highlight their products, services and experiences, and reach customers right on their smartphones. Learn more about the exciting opportunity to sign your business onto the platform

5 tips for creating a great offer

July 10th, 2019 Posted by resources No Comment yet

An important goal of any business should be to create offers that potential customers can’t refuse. Even if your business has the greatest products, services or experiences on the market, it won’t matter if you aren’t driving traffic through the door. Offers are great incentives to attract customers and introduce them to your business.

Quality offers are at the heart of the GetintheLoop platform. We spend a lot of time working with our business partners to craft compelling offers that will engage local consumers. Here are five tips for creating a great offer, including some examples of effective GetintheLoop offers on the platform.

TIP #1 – DRAW CUSTOMERS IN WITH A CATCHY IMAGE AND HEADLINE

In today’s society, people love to scroll rapidly through social channels until something catches their eyes. You want to choose an image and headline that will make users stop in their tracks and examine your offer in more detail.

Your image needs to showcase the brand/product/experience being offered and look professional. With today’s generation of smartphones, you can easily snap a picture that showcases your business. Be creative and people will respond.

The header is equally important. You have only a few words to convince someone to click through and learn more. The offer title should be front-loaded; express exactly what the offer is to engage with consumers.

TIP #2 – SELL THE CUSTOMER ON THE OFFER THROUGH ITS DESCRIPTION 

In case you haven’t completely sold a customer on your offer through the image and header, the description is a great place to close the deal. Create vivid descriptions that allow someone to image redeeming the offer themselves. Include unique and compelling details that would make them want to go to you and not your competition

If the offer is non-exclusive or an experience, it will be important to include a base or starting price point for the offer. This way, members don’t see the offer as an advertisement and are compelled to take action.

TIP #3 – ENSURE THE TERMS OF THE OFFER ARE CRYSTAL CLEAR

While you want to sell a customer on your offer, the last thing you want to do is mislead them. Don’t make potential customers guess or assume anything about the offer. Let customers know if the offer is a discount or sale, an experience, or an upcoming event, as well as whether the offer is exclusive, non-exclusive, or limited use.

To help set expectations, make sure to include any information regarding steps to redeem, the days/hours the offer is relevant and if there are a limited quantity of redemptions for this offer. The member will be ready to abide by the offer and won’t be surprised when they redeem.

TIP #4 – MAKE THE REDEMPTION PROCESS A SMOOTH ONE

Create a seamless transition from potential customer to a customer by having a clear redemption process.

  • Online – If your business has an online landing page to redeem the offer, select the appropriate label to drive the customer there: Order Online, Book Online, Buy Online, Learn More.
  • By Phone – For offers that require customers to call, whether they’re making a reservation or booking an appointment, ensure that customers are aware of this through your label: Call to Book, Call to Order, Call for Info.
  • In-Person – If your offer can only be redeemed in person, then you won’t need to direct customers to a landing page or phone number. You’ll want to select a label like Redeem or Use Now so people won’t click on it until they’re in the store.

TIP #5 – MAKE YOUR OFFER SEASONALLY RELEVANT 

Great offers are always in season. The needs and desires of consumers change each season and crafting your promotions appropriately is a great way to generate new business. 

One example is auto dealers promoting offers on winter tire swaps as the season approaches. When beach season rolls around, clothing store will look to attract customers with deals on swimwear. 

You can tie your promotions into major holidays like Valentine’s Day, annual events like the start of a new school year or even non-official celebration days like National Chocolate Day.

Shop Local Wherever You Are

April 5th, 2019 Posted by resources No Comment yet

In today’s connected world, many say it has become easier to shop online than in our own backyard. The rise of online sales is largely due to improvements in technology that, for the most part, has left many bricks and mortar stores behind.

Every day Amazon and Wayfair compete for the attention of your customers on digital platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Not only do the large, online stores compete for your customer’s attention, they’re simultaneously competing for the ad inventory on these networks, thereby jacking up your price to advertise.

Meanwhile, businesses with a physical location have an opportunity that Amazon and Wayfair don’t, and that’s reaching the people who are closest to them. Small and medium businesses need to amp up their digital game and why not advertise and build an ongoing relationship on a platform that plays to your advantage of having a physical location?

Location, location, location

For businesses that rely on a lot of foot traffic, it makes sense to be located in a high foot traffic area, such as the downtown core. However, even being one-block off the main drag can mean the difference between your business being successful and not. Simply put, if people don’t know your business is there, they can’t visit.

Nearby search has fundamentally changed the behaviour of local shoppers and there’s a significant benefit to retailers of using geo-technology to advertise hyper-locally as a means to drive more traffic to their businesses. Incorporating geographic proximity technology into advertising means businesses that are not located on the busy routes remain visible to customers who use “near me” functions on their smartphones. Near me searches have strong commercial intentpeople are looking to solve a problem, or fulfill a need right now. Google’s Consumer Insights has reported a 900%+ increase in “near me tonight/today” searches in the past two years.

According to Google, “People now expect search technology to find the places in their area where they can get what they need. This more-informed shopper no longer has to waste precious time driving around town to multiple stores.”

Imagine you own a restaurant and place a sandwich board outside advertising a great meal deal. Your restaurant might just be around the block from where someone is currently standing, trying to decide where to eat, but you might as well be in another town for all the good the sandwich board does to capture that person’s attention. If they don’t see the message, they can’t act. Now imagine that same message appearing on someone’s smartphone as they search for restaurants nearby!

Restaurant activity is locally driven with 65% of smartphone users looking for a restaurant within walking or driving distance. Proximity and location are key selection criteria, before price and reviews. This can be seen by the fact that the time between searching and purchasing at a restaurant is immediate—47% of purchases happen within one hour.

In a study titled “Location, Location, Location: Repetition and Proximity Increase Advertising Effectiveness”, it was found that there was a higher return on advertising spend when advertising was directed towards people within 1 mile of a business, and in a mobile advertising experiment, there were more coupon redemptions at a store among consumers who are geographically close to the advertiser.

While many local retailers worry about increased competition from online retailers, mobile search results are showing the consumers’ need for immediate products and services, something online purchases can’t provide. Proximity advertising is a highly effective means of reaching qualified, localized customers who are steps away from your business! Use your marketing dollars to direct ultra-relevant messaging to geo-targeted mobile users and lead them right to your door.

For consumers, it means being a tourist but shopping like a local

Being a tourist in a new town, but trying to shop locally can certainly be challenging without knowing where to find the local businesses. That’s where our smartphones are an excellent tool to help find local businesses. Using the map tool, you can input your search, such as “Coffee and Tea” or “Restaurants” and see what’s around you.

GetintheLoop’s app uses geo-technology in its “near me” map function to take it one step further and also show you specific offers and exclusive experiences available at that location. At the tap of a button, you can see all of the local businesses on an interactive map that have offers and unique experiences on GetintheLoop, making it much easier to shop locally, wherever you are:

A click on any of the icons will bring up the business name, and how many offers they have:

The exact offers can be seen by a quick tap on the name of the business:

Next time you are visiting another town and you are tempted to swing by the big box retailer, consider instead using your smartphone to find a local option. It may not be your local economy that you’re helping, but if everyone has the same mindset, and shop locally wherever they go, all local economies eventually benefit.

The Pros and Cons of 5 Advertising Platforms for Local Business

March 27th, 2019 Posted by resources No Comment yet

Local businesses have two main options when it comes to advertising: offline advertising (often referred to as traditional media), such as print and radio ads, and online advertising, on platforms such as Facebook and Google.

Each of these advertising mediums have their respective pros and cons, which we explore in more detail below, but to summarize, traditional local advertising mediums such as print and radio are local. However, the audiences for print advertising are declining, radio listeners are distracted and tune out ads, and traditional advertising can be costly, and cannot be accurately measured.

Online advertising brings with it entirely different challenges. The concern for many local businesses is that, while the audience size nationally is potentially vast, the cost to reach targeted local audiences can be complicated and is increasingly expensive. There is increased pressure from the likes of Amazon, Wayfair, Walmart etc. who advertise heavily online, driving up advertising costs, and making it more difficult  for small, local businesses to compete.

What is the solution?

GetintheLoop combines  the benefits of online and mobile advertising with the convenience and care of support provided by local franchise owners. GetintheLoop is more cost effective than Google and Facebook ads, without the competition and pressure from the online retail giants, and encourages customers to shop local.

We’ve outlined the pros and cons of each of the major advertising channels available to local businesses, to help you decide: Online advertising or traditional media: which is the right choice for my business?

GetintheLoop

GetintheLoop is a locally owned and operated digital advertising platform that makes it easier for people to shop local, and for more local businesses to go digital.

Pros:

  • Cost effective – with one low monthly price it’s easy to budget for and you keep all the profits.
  • Promotes local shopping – GetintheLoop provides local customers with local offers in the palm of their hands, keeping their money in the local economy.
  • Keeps you aligned with changing consumer behaviours – people are using their smartphones for everything, so it’s the best way to get your business in front of them especially when they are nearby.
  • Drives customer loyalty keeps customers connected and coming back with offers and special events
  • Real-time dashboard – see how the audience is responding to your offers and ability to quickly and easily adjust offers on the fly.
  • Intent to purchase – unlike Facebook, GetintheLoop members are looking for something to do or buy with a high intent to purchase.

Cons:

  • Requires in-store employee training – While GetintheLoop’s dashboard provides analytics around the reach, response and actions of your offers within the app, attribution to actual in store sales is not available and requires effort from employees to keep track of GetintheLoop offer redemptions.

Facebook

Pros:

  • Wide audience – about half the population of Canada is on Facebook
  • Targeting options – only spend your advertising budget on reaching those who fit with your ideal customer. With Facebook, you can target by location, age group, gender, hobbies and interests, marital status and much more.

Cons:

  • Competition – the likes of Amazon and Wayfair advertise on Facebook, so right off the bat you’re competing with giants of the retail industry, with deep advertising pockets.
  • Price – yes,  Facebook has historically provided extremely strong value, however their prices have gone up 100% over the past year and as they throttle your post exposure back with algorithm changes you can expect ad prices on Facebook to continue to rise.
  • Time consuming – while advertising on Facebook is relatively easy, it still requires a time commitment, especially in the early days. You can’t just set-it-and-forget-it. Instead, you should be monitoring your account regularly, seeing what engagement levels are like, adjusting spend, introducing more ads etc.
  • Shrinking audience. Facebook’s audience is now primarily 35+. If you want to reach the under 35s you’ll need another platform.

Google AdWords

Pros:

  • Large, intent-driven audience – Google’s power is in its ability to target consumers who are searching online for the exact product you sell.
  • Demographic targeting – you can use Google’s demographic targeting options (such as age, gender, device, location etc) to ensure your ads show up for people in your target audience.

Cons:

  • Hard to manage – knowing the basics will only get you so far. Some small business owners learn the hard way, spending huge amounts of time and money with little to no results. Unlike Facebook, Google’s ad platform isn’t something you can learn in a day.  
  • Lack of trust in Google Ads – Google ads can be a great way to get your brand in front of people for keywords that you’d have a hard time ranking for with SEO, however people have more trust in the organic search results.
  • High competition / expensive – companies big and small are all vying for attention from consumers, and if your business is trying to target the same keywords as the likes of Amazon, Wayfair, Walmart etc. you’re not going to see great success with Google Ads. You’ll have to consider very carefully the keywords you are targeting, check out the competition and search volume, and maybe consider less competitive keywords that are not as close to the intent of your customers.

Print advertising

Pros:

  • Loyal readership – those who like to read magazines and newspapers are loyal to their publication
  • Geographical area targeting – for local businesses, a local publication can be an effective way of getting in front of local customers

Cons:

  • Decline in readership – more people get their information and advertising from online sources.
  • Long lead times – your message cannot be delivered as quickly as with other media.
  • Limited shelf-life – a newspaper ad is usually only relevant for a day.
  • Limited reach, targeting, and reporting options – targeting is limited to readership demographics, and ultimately, the only way of measuring success is an increase in store visits.
  • Lack of flexibility to make changes – once the ads is published, it cannot be changed.

Radio advertising

Pros:

  • Intrusive – radio reaches people even when they’re not paying attention
  • Builds brands – radio works best at the top of the funnel, making people aware and conveying emotion about the brand

Cons:

  • Expensive: The cost of ads vary greatly by location. High frequency is required for radio to work and generally it takes 3-9 months before results are evident.
  • Unmeasurable – as with print advertising, the only way of truly measuring success is an increase in store visits.

Ultimately, where a local business decides to advertise is going to depend on budget, target market, the industry they are in, and so many more factors. While it may appear that there are two distinct options (local, traditional offline media vs. online, global media), you don’t necessarily have to choose one or the other. GetintheLoop proves that you can have the best of both worlds. Local businesses can advertise online (and more importantly, on mobile) to a very definite local audience with the purpose of driving these people into their local business, thus keeping all of the advertising dollars in the local economy.

What can retailers do to keep customers coming through their doors in this age of online shopping?

March 15th, 2019 Posted by resources No Comment yet

In an earlier post, we looked at the impact that online shopping is having on local retailers and the wider local community. Local retailers are struggling as they have to compete not only with big-box stores that can offer lower prices, but also with online giants such as Amazon. The impact of the “Amazon effect” is very real, and businesses are having to think outside the box and be more creative when it comes to keeping existing customers, and encouraging more to start shopping locally.

There are a few things that retailers can do:

  1. Use brick-and-mortar locations to support online stores.

Are you able to move with the trend and offer online shopping, with your physical store there to support online sales? There are undeniable benefits like being able to accept orders 24/7 and increasing your overall sales volume. However, this might not be feasible for small, local stores. You’d need to be able to catalogue your entire inventory and get it online. This would work if your inventory is largely consistent, but for lots of small retailers, products change regularly.  Are you able to handle orders and ship products? Do you have inventory tracking capabilities.

Starting an online store is a big step, but it’s not impossible, and retail survival requires transformation to new paradigms. There are other options, however:

  • Start small with a click-and-collect service that lets shopper buy online and pick-up in-store—it’s convenient for customers, and it also drives traffic and sales in your physical stores.
  • Another option is to use sites like Etsy to sell your unique, hand-crafted, quality products. It is more important to be where your customers are, than to be on sites or in stores with the most traffic.

  1. Understand what your core customers want and build a strategy around it

If your retail store is just the same as anyone else’s, or you can buy the exact same products online at half the price, then it will be tough to stay in business. What makes your business different is your Unique Selling Proposition—your differentiator from your competition, online and offline. And you must have one.

To survive, you need to do something that the giants of Walmart, Amazon, Wayfair, etc. are not doing, or are not doing well. What can you offer your customers that they can’t? You probably can’t offer the lowest prices, but you might have more unique, one-of-a-kind products. Quality. Locally-made. What can you say about your products that the online stores can’t say about theirs? This becomes your USP, and you build your marketing strategy around this.

  1. Create an in-store experience that drives traffic and sales

Think of Costco and IKEA—huge stores with just about everything you could ever need for your home! But what else do they have? Quick, convenient, and cheap food! We all know people who go to Costco just for the cheap hot dogs, or to IKEA for the restaurant. Although never the core of the retailer’s business, this part of the shopping experience has become so popular that people visit (and therefore shop) just to have that experience.

Smaller businesses can use these brands as as inspiration for creating their own customer experience that keeps customers coming back. For example, The Workroom is a craft and sewing store in Toronto that regularly holds sewing classes and workshops which not only help to bring a sense of community to local people, but also provides an experience they can’t get online. It keeps them coming back.

  1.  Offer customers a technology-driven experience

Mobile-technology has widespread potential among offline retailers. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to go out and invest thousands and thousands of dollars into building a mobile app. It simply means you, as a retailer, need to recognize the enormous role that mobile plays in consumers lives, and work it into your marketing strategy.

Customer behaviour is changing, and to remain competitive, retailers must change too. Read more about how retailers can take advantage of the mobile experience to drive more customers in store.

While many retailers are falling victim to the likes of Amazon, Wayfair, and Walmart, it’s not a fate that is set in stone. Retailers must step up their game, and compete in areas that the big names in online retail can’t. Many customers are embracing the “shop local” movement, and are willing to pay a little more for the retail experience, and the sense of community that comes from shopping in brick-and-mortar stores.

Online shopping creates disconnect between local shops and their community

March 14th, 2019 Posted by resources No Comment yet

What an exciting world we live in with the Internet—an unlimited source of information at our fingertips on our smartphones. Do you even remember what it was like when you weren’t able to find out the answer to literally anything you wanted to know, whenever you wanted to know it?! It’s great right?

Well, yes and no. There is so much that is positive about the advancements in Internet technology over the last 20 years, but as with most positive things, there will always be some negative. The impact of the Internet on retailers, the shopping experience, and the social community is one such example.

Let’s dig a bit deeper.

It’s no secret that people are spending more and more time online. It’s also no secret that people are spending money—billions and billions of dollars—online every year. In fact, as of 2018, e-commerce retail trade sales in Canada amounted to almost 1.6 billion Canadian dollars, and revenue generated within the retail e-commerce market is expected to surpass 55 billion Canadian dollars by 2023, up from 40 billion in 2018. Online shopping is big business.

The problem is, much of this money used to go to brick-and-mortar businesses, including small, locally-owned stores. These local retailers have always had to try and compete with big-box stores like Walmart, which could offer similar products at much lower prices. Now local businesses have a new foe that they are facing—online giants like Amazon and Wayfair that, once again, can offer more competitive prices. Plus, the customer doesn’t even have to leave the comfort of their own home to make purchases.

The impact of the “Amazon effect”—redefining and revolutionizing the concept of shopping—is very real, with more and more retail stores closing every year as it simply becomes unsustainable for them to compete. This is an unfortunate by-product of progress.

However, it’s more than just the loss of physical stores that impacts people. There’s a loss to the community every time a local store goes out of business. That store made contributions to local taxes. That store had local owners, local employees, and local customers —many of whom probably still enjoy shopping there, just not enough to keep it profitable. There was a social aspect to shopping in an actual store. People spoke to each other.

Yes, one store closing might not seem that big of a deal, but imagine walking around your downtown core and seeing endless boarded up store windows. Restaurants, entertainment, and retail stores are what local communities have been built around for hundreds of years. What happens to that community when the businesses start to disappear?

What can you do to support retailers in your community?

For some, the shrinking retail core of most cities is seen as a by-product of the age we live in. While they may think it’s unfortunate, they are not prepared to change their shopping habits to keep local businesses alive.

On the other hand, there are community members who are deeply passionate about keeping small, local retailers in business, and are prepared to make personal changes to support them. The “shop local” movement has really taken off in recent years, and local retailers are getting the support from the community, and cities themselves, in promoting the benefits to everyone of buying local.

Small Business Marketing Challenges: Reaching and Keeping Local Customers

March 5th, 2019 Posted by resources No Comment yet

Through my experience, and learning from others, I’ve identified three key challenges that face all new business owners, large or small.

Determine your positioning

All businesses, large or small, have to have a position. Your position is who you target, the category you fall into, and the main benefits of your product or service. It’s what makes people choose you over your competitors, and will impact everything you do from a marketing perspective.

Whatever it is, this will be what sets your business apart from others. The position you choose will determine your advertising campaigns – where you advertise, who to, and what the messaging will be etc.

Decide where to focus your marketing and advertising efforts

When it comes to advertising options there are so many, it can be overwhelming. From online to offline, print to digital, radio to TV, desktop to mobile, static to video…which is right for your business? While I can’t answer that for you, what I can do is tell you what I’ve seen from my experience.

The majority of small businesses have an advertising mix that is constantly evolving, based on testing, new technologies, and trends. Not all advertising channels work for every business, or provide the return on investment to be worth the expense. Whereas a national retailer can justify the cost of a TV campaign, that won’t be feasible for a small business with a much more limited budget. Their advertising will be solely local – radio, billboards, online advertising, and mobile.

Consumer behaviour has changed dramatically over the last decade, and it’s important to pay attention to where your customers are spending their time. The answer is probably “on their phone”, and if you aren’t there with them, you’re missing out on reaching new customers who wouldn’t otherwise have heard of you. It’s important to ensure your marketing plan is constantly evolving with your customers.

Keep your customers coming back for more

Positioning and advertising are great if they work to bring in new customers. However, it’s down to you to keep them coming back for more by delivering what you promised, and meeting customer expectations. If you’ve positioned and advertised yourself as a high-end nail salon, you’ll probably get customers through the door who are expecting that experience. When you only provide a mediocre experience and don’t live up to your promises, those customers a) won’t come back, and b) might tell their friends (and worse, their social media network) how bad the experience was, compared to their expectations (which you controlled).

Unless you sell online, your customer base is limited by the size of your community and how well you promote your business to visitors to the area. Success is aligned with being able to engage local customers and encourage repeat visits.

At the end of the day, how you choose to position yourself, advertise your business, and keep your customers coming back for more is going to be unique to your situation. It will, however, be constantly changing. Nothing stands still, and with every new generation comes an entirely new way of doing things. Don’t be afraid to test something new. You never know, it could be the missing piece in your marketing puzzle.

-Matt