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INDIANAPOLIS -- With all the media attention related to the transformative role that digital, mobile and social platforms are having on consumers today, convenience retailers need to consider several factors when before taking the next step.
David Bishop, managing partner of Balvor LLC, and Greg Ehrlich, president of Convevo Partners discussed this issue during a presentation March 15 at the 2012 Midwest Petroleum and Convenience Tradeshow (M-PACT).
The session showcased new insights based on the Balvor/Convevo/CSN Electronic Marketing Survey that examined how convenience retailers view and use platforms like Facebook and text marketing as well as perspectives based on their experience working with retailers in these areas.
Kicking off the session, Bishop talked about Facebook sharing figures on current retail practices. During that portion, he highlighted several key themes:
- Facebook isn't for every company just as not all consumers are interested in signing up. The implication is that retailers would benefit by determining first whether it's a good fit for their company as opposed to setting up a page because other retailers are doing so.
- It's vital to recognize that using Facebook is a combination of art and science. Bishop underscored that it's important for retailers to think creatively about how they engage consumers and develop goals, key metrics, and monitor performance on a routine basis.
- Take a balanced and consistent approach to building connections. Just as offering deals is important to attracting fans, engaging through polls, questions, and non-price promotions is key to staying relevant and retaining those fans.
Bishop wrapped up his portion on Facebook by encouraging retailers to look at what others are doing for ideas, discuss and share information with industry peers as everyone is in a learning mode, and test various tactics to learn what works for them.
The second half of the session focused on text marketing programs. Throughout this segment, Ehrlich's shared survey results as well as best practices for using text marketing to grow sales and build customer loyalty. Ehrlich gave several key takeaways:
- Text messaging is the simplest and most cost effective marketing technology that convenience retailers can use for connecting with their customers. For smaller retailers, he suggests mastering text marketing before trying other tools like Facebook, websites or mobile application.
- For text marketing to be successful, it is critical to have attractive and compelling point of purchase signs communicating the program to customers. Furthermore, employee engagement, training and incentives are a must to fully realize the potential benefits.
- Test promotions with your customers to see which drive the most redemption. If redemption rates are low, consider making richer offers for more limited periods or offer free product on occasion to all or some of your text club members.
Ehrlich also presented a technology adoption model, starting with text and POP signs, then adding Facebook and finally a website. He warned marketers to avoid the allure to do too much at once, and stressed it's better to build expertise with one technology than to poorly implement multiple technology marketing tools at once.
In addition, he introduced "Facebook as a Hub" marketing for larger retailers, in which all marketing activities are integrated with Facebook serving as the hub to communicate all programs in one place where their fans are more apt to engage and spread the word to their friends and families.
Convenience Store News will feature additional insights and perspective on this topic in an upcoming article in the April issue.