RICHARDSON, Texas -- It’s no secret. Consumers today are exposed to hundreds of advertisements across all platforms every day. In fact, Media Dynamics found the number to be approximately 362 ads per day. From traditional marketing methods, such as print ads and direct mail, to the multitude of digital options, consumers are accustomed to being bombarded by marketing messages and therefore are learning to tune them out.
This creates a unique opportunity for retailers to get creative in engaging with potential and existing customers. The convenience-store market in particular has the chance to move away from traditional marketing methods and implement more strategic approaches through mobile marketing. Instead of focusing on promoting deals and coupons through radio and billboards, c-stores should consider using the following tools to build and grow a loyal customer base that will, in turn, increase sales.
- Mobile apps. Convenience stores have the option of including themselves in a universal app or developing and deploying their own branded app. Regardless of which path they choose, there are many possibilities for implementing a mobile-app strategy. For example, c-stores can establish loyalty programs with regular patrons to track their visits, purchases and points earned through the app. This would allow customers to earn rewards for reaching a certain number of visits each month or dollar amount spent. Rewarding those loyal to your brand through the app will keep them using the technology more frequently and coming back to fill up at your station.
- Text codes. On the other hand, if you prefer not to develop or use a mobile app, text codes can be a great option as well. Not only are they inexpensive, but they also have a much higher adoption rate. Text codes can be used to enter participants into free giveaways or raffles to create a fun element to engaging with the brand. People love free items, like the chance to win “free drinks for a month” or “a tank of gas on us.” Taking this approach will incentivize guest participation and leave a positive lasting impact. Remember: The better a brand’s reputation, the more frequent the shopper.
- Beacons. Beacons are portable devices that rely on a Bluetooth connection to transmit information directly to a consumer’s smartphone via a compatible app. Because the software management on the back end allows for changes to be made in real time, stores can creatively implement programs beyond simple discounts and promotions. For example, if your store sells lottery tickets, install beacons at each pump that alert customers of the current value of the lottery to remind them to purchase a ticket inside. This is especially valuable when the lottery amount is high. Plus, it further drives in-store traffic and engagement with customers.
- Social media. Finally, social media is essential for any convenience store’s marketing plan. By engaging consumers through channels such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, stores can build a positive brand reputation and build rapport with followers. Let customers know they can contact you through these channels at any time with questions, comments or concerns and be sure respond to their posts in a timely manner. Brands that have the most social media success understand the importance of transparency and acknowledge that both delivering and openly receiving information are crucial to a solid social-media strategy.
To have success in this marketing landscape, convenience stores must remember not only to push sales and promotional content, but also to engage with customers to build a positive brand reputation and generate repeat business. As the store’s reputation increases, so does the likelihood that consumers will begin regularly shopping in store as opposed to only stopping in for gas. Remember that any marketing strategy takes time to build momentum and to see results; however, with a little patience and perseverance, convenience stores are sure to see a return on their efforts through increased customer frequency and spend.
Andrew Levi is the founder, chairman, CEO and chief technology officer of Blue Calypso, which develops and delivers location-enabled mobile engagement solutions. Its cloud-based platform elevates the consumer shopping experience while capturing real-time shopper behavioral analytics. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org