Graham Soult

Online marketing basics for independent retailers

Bdaily is looking at Online Marketing in this, our latest focus week. Here, Graham Soult, a retail and online marketing consultant at, assesses the online marketing basics for independent retailers.

Whether you’re selling on the high street, the Internet or both, there are plenty of inventive and effective ways in which you can promote your retail business online.

As long as you’ve got some creative ideas – and are willing to invest a bit of time on a regular basis - you can soon start making an impact.

Create a buzz via Twitter and Facebook

While the ultimate goal of any marketing is for customers to buy your products, Twitter and Facebook users tend not to like the hard sell. Instead, social networks are about building a rapport with your customers, and making them passionate about your store.

So, while it’s fine to share details of your latest offers and new products, mix it up with other content such as links to your blog or news of instore events. And whatever you’re saying, make sure it comes across as chatty and natural – customers using social media want to engage with real people, not robots.

Meanwhile, let visitors to your website know that you’re well connected by linking to your social media profiles. Embedding your latest tweets on the homepage, using a readily available widget from Twitter, is a very simple way to help keep your site fresh and interesting.

Communicate with images

Whether you’re selling a product or showcasing a store, nothing communicates it better than a bold, eyecatching, original photograph. Nowhere is this more important than on your website homepage: your shop window, and the first thing potential customers see.

Images are also a key feature of many social networks. Instagram, which is now owned by Facebook, is ideal for creating and sharing striking photographs of products or instore events. As you’d expect, the Instagram app lets you easily share these images on Facebook, though the integration with Twitter is less effective.

Pinterest, too, is another powerful image-based community. If you’re a furniture retailer, for example, create boards where you share examples of fabulous lighting or quirky decorating ideas: giving your customers inspiration, but also demonstrating your credibility as a specialist in that sector.

Add sparkle with video

These days, more and more retailers are using video to engage with customers online, creating lively, interesting and low-cost content that can be shared via YouTube, social media or blogs.

For instance, if your business is a deli or grocer, creating your own recipe videos is a great way to demonstrate your products’ appeal. For others, a virtual tour of your shop can be a fun and appealing way to grab people’s attention.

Reap the rewards

Whatever marketing methods you choose, the rule of thumb is to be eyecatching, interesting and authentic. Stick at it over time, and your customers will recognise your efforts: engaging more with your business, buying more of your products, and spreading the word on your behalf.

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