In the age of social media and digital technology, the pressure is on for brick-and-mortar retailers to come up with innovative ways to drive foot traffic and differentiate themselves. Positive and memorable in-store experiences have been proven to build brand loyalty and keep shoppers coming back for more. Which is why retailers are putting a new twist on one of the oldest tactics in the book, in-store events.
There is no one way to organize a successful in-store event. It can be anything from an exclusive product launch party, to a cool yoga pop-up class, to a money-raising meetup for a local food bank. What matters is that it engages your target audience and gives them a compelling reason to go to your store. Here are some of the benefits of hosting a targeted in-store event:
- Get customers through your doors, so they can see and touch your cool wares
- Keep your brand top of mind
- Increase word of mouth and engagement
- Create competitive differentiation
- Give consumers an experience that can’t be replicated online
- Get valuable customer data
How to host a successful event that delivers results
Although customer events can be an amazing way to generate excitement, they need to be authentic and purpose-driven in order for you to achieve your goals. Whether you want to drive new prospects through your doors or build an army of loyal customers, here are 4 tips you should follow to optimize your next event concept:
1. Send personal invitations to your customers
It might seem basic, but you need to promote your event and your current customer base is the perfect place to start. An email invitation is a good way to start an interaction with your customers and inform them of the upcoming event. Don’t forget to include quick links, so interested attendees can easily add the date to their calendar or share the news with their friends!
2. Use loyalty rewards to drive referrals
When you make your most valuable customers feel special, you are guaranteed to keep them coming back time and time again.
Exclusive invite-only events, reserved for your best customers, are a great way to make loyal shoppers feel valued and appreciated. You could even add an extra incentive – perhaps a special small gift that only people who took part in the event will have, such as a chocolate bar in an exclusive flavor, or the chance to be the first to buy a limited-time collection. The incentive really depends on your audience, so make sure you do your research and know what motivates them first. If you do your homework and make your customers feel like you know and value them, you can be sure they will spread the word to their friends and family.
When planning events that require registration, make sure you have a system that enables you to offer that easily. You don’t want to start off the wrong foot with a complex, frustrating sign-up process! The best retail management systems offer inbuilt tools that enable you to make bookings, and track reservations and attendance, in the same system you use for managing the rest of your business – sales, inventory, financials, you name it. The best thing about having a unified system that handles events as well as retail sales is that you can offer a smoother experience to your customers. Another plus is that you won’t have to go look for external booking software that must then be integrated (at a cost!) to your current system.
3. Track all channel activity
In addition to email campaigns, social media is important to promote and drive attendance to your events. Every digital channel, from Twitter and Facebook to LinkedIn and Instagram, provides a platform for delivering digital hype and sharing information with different types of audiences. Pick the channel based on the type of people you want to communicate with, as well as the type of materials you have to share. Events often produce great content for visual sites, like Instagram, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experiment with other content, such as short videos, gifs, or even longer form articles. Make sure you stay active throughout the duration of the event and afterwards, and exploit all the possibilities social channels offer: get insights into your audience (as you can easily track your audience reach), expand it (advertise based on location and target group) and start a conversation by responding to comments or inquiries.
4. Send out a post-event email asking for feedback
Surveys might seem old school, but they’re essential to understanding the success of your event and finding out how you can make improvements to the next one. Want to go classic? Send a Survey Monkey link in a follow-up email shortly after the event, thanking the attendees for coming and offering a small incentive for filling out your survey. If you’d rather a fresher approach, you could use tablets at the event itself and ask attendees to fill out a short survey. A further option is to randomly select a few customers and give them a personal call. The purpose is to find out what resonated with your audience, what didn’t, and what you can do better next time. Just remember to keep it short and to the point!
Learn from your events – track, adjust, repeat!
As a global leader in retail business management software solutions, we can say with certainty that the best way to create an experience your customers want is to take advantage of the data you gather and use it as the groundwork for other events. The easiest way to do this is by managing your sales, activities and events all in one platform, so all your information – from customers, to sales, to products, to events – is stored in the same place, allowing you to instantly correlate it and draw insights and lessons. Want to know more? Get in touch with us.