8 Retail Advertising and Marketing Tips That Can Drive Traffic and Sales

This is a post by Abby Heugel.

Bringing in more traffic and sales is something that every retailer thinks about. But the questions remain: How do you get shoppers to come by and entice them to buy more from your store? What are the triggers that will get people to purchase from you and not your competition? How do you get out of a slump if you’re not getting that valuable foot traffic?

Answer: Marketing and advertising.

Whatever your goal may be as a retailer, here are simple advertising tips that will not only help drive sales, but help grow your business long-term.

Promotional pricing

It’s not a newsflash that discounting products helps to increase demand, but there’s a fine line between a promotion and simply pricing yourself into a deficit.

It makes sense to go this route if the plan is to bring a large number of people into your store with the hope that customers will not only buy more because of the deals, but will return again and again because of the excellent service.

That’s why if you’re planning to advertise promotional pricing, you have to ensure that you have some something in your store that will get people to stick around and buy.

Gymboree, a retail chain that sells kids apparel, does this well. Gymboree likes to run huge sales both online and offline to draw people, but they also do a good job of delighting customers once they in the shop. The staff also encourages people to sign up for Gymboree’s loyalty program, which helps drive repeat visits.

Promotional pricing has a strong psychological pull for consumers, as well. A simple red or yellow sale tag on a product causes customers to assume a product has a better value proposition than they could get somewhere else. And ending a price in the number “9” has been shown to increase sales — even if the two prices in question are $39 and a cheaper price point of $34, for example.

And don’t forget about running a promotion with the word “free” in it, such as “Buy one, get one free” or offering free shipping. This promotional tactic is effective because the consumer feels like they’re truly getting something for nothing, when in reality it’s the same thing as offering “50% off,” for example. The word “free” is universally known, whereas consumers often have trouble interpreting the meaning of percentage discounts.

Target runs “free” deals regularly, but does it in a strategic way. Check out the example below, where they give away a gree $15 gift card if the shopper spends $75 or more on baby products.

See if you can emulate this strategy. If you want to encourage sales in a particular department (apparel, baby, kitchen, etc.) run a “free gift card” promotion with a spending threshold for that specific category.

Store events

You have to give people a strong reason to visit your store, and having good products often isn’t enough. People can order anything online these days — and hopefully even from your own online marketplace — but what brings them through your doors?

Incentivize shoppers to come into the store for a free and on-brand event where they will not only be surrounded by tempting limited and “only available in stores” items, but also things like product demonstrations and services.

Take a look at what Birchbox in SoHo did earlier this year. To celebrate the unveiling of a new product, Birchbox had a launch event where shoppers can get free hair styling and 15% off when they spend $35 or more.

To drive store traffic, Birchbox set up a huge sign by the door advertising the event and their offers.

If you’re looking to attract online shoppers into your location, offer coupons that can only be used in-store. Once you get them through your doors, knock their socks off with personalized service and fun events.

It never hurts to offer snacks, either. Again, Birchbox serves as a wonderful example here. In that same event we mentioned above, Birchbox served champagne so customers can enjoy while shopping and getting a makeover.

Point-of-purchase displays

Research has shown that more than 6o% of all decisions to buy something are made while people are shopping in a store, with more than 50% of those decisions considered an impulse buy. What that tells you is that point-of-purchase (POP) displays — those well-designed displays placed throughout the store — are an effective marketing tool.

Just think about walking through your grocery store checkout line and seeing all the magazines, candy, and other cheaper items just waiting to get thrown in your cart. You weren’t planning on purchasing them, but since they’re there and so reasonably priced, you figure, “Why not?” Strategically place your own POP displays throughout your store and along the path to checkout to encourage these impulse buys.

Once again, Target does an excellent job implementing this tactic. Scattered throughout its stores are big, attractive POP displays that you just can’t help but check out.

Take advantage of Facebook

Got a digital advertising budget? Consider Facebook. Aside from having colossal user base (i.e., 2 billion monthly active users), research has found that 29% of online shoppers would be likely to follow a brand on Facebook.

Facebook Insights allows you to target your ads to specific groups of people in certain locations, and create focused audience segments.

If you’re talented with video, take heart in knowing that Facebook Live videos are viewed 300% more than videos that aren’t live and that Facebook has over 8 billion daily video views. That’s a lot to “like.”

Maximize loyalty programs

It’s a well-known fact that it costs at least five times as much to attract a new customer than it does to retain an old one, and that the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%, while the probability of selling to a new customer is 5-20%. These numbers tell you that maximizing this relationship is one of your biggest marketing tools, and an easy way to do that is through a loyalty program.

The goal of a program is to not only retain those customers, but to make them feel like earning points and reaching the next VIP tier an exciting and exclusive experience. Be creative with the ways customers can earn points, like offering double rewards on their birthday, which has the added advantage of giving them a personalized experience.

Also get creative with the rewards themselves, like that from Sephora’s Beauty Insider program. This world-class rewards program has mobile experiences, VIP tiers, and exclusive rewards. When customers reach VIB Rouge, the top tier of Sephora’s program, they’re given exclusive access to new products. Customers are motivated to become members and spend at Sephora because of that memorable reward.

Create a sense of urgency

Remember those impulse buys we talked about? Most of them are spurred on because of a sense of urgency, like “for a limited time!” or “while supplies last!” When you instill urgency into your marketing messaging, customers feel the pressure and are more likely to impulsively make a purchase.

Be sure customers feel that they are limited by time and inventory, and that if they don’t buy it now, they won’t have the same opportunity again in the future. As long as your brand has a clear message with a clear timeframe, this urgency more often than not gets them to take action.

Check out this email from Lily Lashes, which even has a countdown indicating the amount of time left in the promotion.

Be locally relevant

Around 88% of consumers who search for a type of local business on a mobile device call or go to that business within 24 hours, which tells you that even if you run a mostly online marketplace, you need to focus on what’s right outside your front door. People like a sense of community and belonging, so they’ll be more emotionally drawn to your business if your brand aligns with what they’re looking for.

Getting your name out there can be done through geotargeting on platforms like Google AdWords, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, etc., by delivering content to a user based on his or her geographic location. Also make sure the copy and imaging on your marketing materials reflects the local scene.

For example, feature ads shot in a local park or highlight the fact you’re selling a local product. This creates an emotional tie with the customer, who will then feel right at home in your store.

You should also be locally relevant in your email marketing. New York & Company, for example, displays a map of the closest NY&C stores at the bottom of its emails to remind subscribers where they can find local stores.

Use smart remarketing

So you marketed your products and services to customers and they made a purchase, which is great. But not reaching back out and remarketing your products and services to customers again is simply leaving money on the table. In fact, 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that recognizes them by name, recommends options based on past purchases, or knows their purchase history.

Remarketing allows you to remind customers that they bought your products before, and they should be buying your products again. The problem is people are busy and might forget how positive their experience was with you if you don’t remind them, and reminding them isn’t pushy — it’s profitable. Think of the lifespan of your product and when that consumer would be running out and needing another. If you sell face wash, remind them two months after their purchase. If you sell candles, give it a good month or so.

Also have knowledge of which products complement each other, and upsell based on their past purchases. That customer who purchased a candle might like some scented room spray, or a bottle of lotion to go with that face wash.

Further Reading


If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out Vend’s guide to increasing sales. This handy resource offers 10 proven tactics for boosting retail sales and improving your bottom line.

Specifically, you will:

  • Discover how to turn savvy shoppers into loyal customers
  • Learn how to add real and perceived value to each sale
  • Discover the most effective ways to set yourself apart from your competitors

    Learn More

The bottom line

While these advertising tactics are all well and good, they won’t be effective if you don’t track your efforts and analyze what is and isn’t working. In a perfect retail world, your POS system should allow you to assign tracking and discount codes to certain products. Then you can simply generate a report to see how well you’ve done since first launching the campaign.

Also important is setting a timeline for your campaigns and efforts. This will help you see how effectively your time and efforts are being used — after all, time is money.