Retail marketing: a guide to promoting your shop

Learn how to get ahead of the retail business crowd with these useful retail marketing tips

Our experts

We are a team of writers, experimenters and researchers providing you with the best advice with zero bias or partiality.
Written and reviewed by:

Recent studies suggest that the internet will account for around 53% of retail sales by 2028. If these findings are to be believed, bricks-and-mortar shop owners will need to work harder than ever to pry potential customers away from their favourite websites and get them through the door instead. Thankfully, there are all sorts of marketing strategies you can put in place to get yourself that much-wanted footfall.

According to many retail experts, shops should use a blend of both digital and traditional marketing campaigns. While it might be tempting to focus entirely on your online presence, there’s still a place for print in 2020 and beyond, and it remains a useful way to spread word of your brand throughout the local area.

Of course, both approaches come with expenses. You’ll also have to dedicate time and attention to getting on social media, building your website, and working with graphic designers to create eye catching flyers, leaflets, and event posters.

The good news is, you can get started on your digital marketing campaign straight away. You can even get a digital marketing company to put together a digital marketing campaign for you.

We’ve partnered with a number of digital marketing suppliers to make it easy for you to get the digital marketing advice you need. Just tell us a little bit about your business, and they’ll be in touch with tailored quotes.

Retail marketing and the Four Ps

The Four Ps provide the foundation for any successful marketing campaign. But what are they?

Retail marketing product


Your product refers to the items and/or service that you provide.

For a marketing campaign to be successful, you need to identify what makes your products and/or services unique.

You can then advertise that uniqueness in your marketing campaign.

Retail marketing pricing


Before you launch any marketing campaign, you need to have a good grasp of your prices.

Without concrete pricing in place, you won’t know what your profit margins could look like.

And if you don’t know what your profit margins look like, you won’t know what your wiggle room is when it comes to sales and promotions.

retail marketing promotion


Promoting your product is what marketing is all about. 

Marketing comes down to touchpoints. Touchpoints include social media, email, video, and even leaflets and newspaper ads.

Combine these touchpoints with effective branding to promote your product and boost your promotions!

Retail marketing place


Place refers to the location where you’re most likely to convert a browser into a buyer – this could be your shop, your website, or your social media pages. 

If you’re looking to get more people to purchase your products, it’s been proven that you’re more likely to persuade them on your website or social media pages.

However, you shouldn’t overlook direct in-store marketing, either.

Goals of retail marketing

So why should you pour so much precious time and profit into marketing your shop?

  • Increase sales and revenue – without those sales, you won’t have the revenue to keep your retail business afloat
  • Improve brand awareness – your brand is the only way to reach your target market. It creates familiarisation, and you’ll need this to get customers through the door
  • Improve brand loyalty – if you want customers to come back for more, you need to give them something they can connect with. Marketing will help your audience bond with your brand image and values, encouraging loyalty
  • Better customer engagement – customers need to engage with your brand to continue spending with you, whether through Facebook likes or e-newsletter sign-ups
  • New product acceptance – use your marketing campaigns to build a feeling of expectation and excitement around new and unfamiliar product launches. This will help improve their chances of success
  • Creation of brand equity – don’t underestimate the value of a well-known brand name. Even if you don’t become a household name, you should aim to make your name one of the first things people think about when it comes to a certain product
  • Creation of a corporate image – how do you want the public to perceive you? This is tied to your brand identity, the products you stock, and even your PR strategy

Market research for understanding retail consumers

Nayna McIntosh, founder of specialist retail store Hope, says:

“It’s important to conduct thorough and in-depth market research on your core target consumers. Find out what they read, where they shop, and how much they spend on outgoings.”

Without market research, you won’t know anything about your target audience, which means you won’t know how to interact with them. 

You’ll need to use your market research to design marketing campaigns that infiltrate your target market’s preferred channels, and persuade them to visit your shop.

Let’s have a look at the sort of marketing campaigns that different age demographics respond to: 

 The Baby Boomers (55-73 years old) 82% of Baby Boomers use social media

According to marketing blog BeeLiked, more and more Baby Boomers are setting up social media accounts. And because Baby Boomers are an advocate of brand loyalty, you’ll find them on more ‘traditional’ social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter. 

Their brand loyalty will work for you in other ways, too. Offer them a good product, and they’ll keep coming back. And when they’re at the till, talk to them. Tell them about new lines and alternative products – they love face to face interaction.

 Generation X (39-54 years old) Generation Xers actually use social media 40 minutes more each week than Millenials

Believe it or not, Generation Xers are more attached to their phones than Millenials. This means social media is also a good platform to interact with this age bracket. They aren’t closed off to new platforms either, so you may even catch them on newer channels, such as Snapchat. 

According to research, Generation Xers are the most receptive to email marketing. They’re at the peak of their career – combine that with their attachment to technology, and you have an audience that’s tied to its inbox.

 Millennials (23-38) 95% of 18-34 year olds follow brands through social media

Millennials love to interact with brands over social media. Talk to them directly, and engage them in topics that matter to them. 

Be active on review sites. If someone leaves a bad review on Google, address it and resolve it. That’ll give you more credit among Millennials than brushing it under the carpet, and hoping more good reviews come along to cover it up. 

Millennials also love to feel valued. If you’re sending them emails, include a promotion or voucher, and incentivise them to follow you with rewards and competitions.

 Generation Z (7-22 years old) Generation Z are more likely to hang up if their calls aren’t answered in 45 seconds

Generation Zers are the youngest of the age brackets. They’ve grown up in a world where almost anything can be instant, so bear in mind that these guys aren’t used to waiting. This means that if you are using social media to connect with them, you’ll need to be on the button with your replies. 

Be genuine in all of your communications. These guys won’t fall for the perfection of photoshopped images, nor get carried away with overzealous advertising campaigns. 

Generation Z are all about the experience, rather than the product. So if you want to get them into your shop, shine a spotlight on experiences, such as sample sessions and workshops.

Retail sales promotion strategies

You’ve probably worked out from the previous section that having a social media marketing strategy seems to be the key to interacting with all age ranges. However, there are lots of other things you can do away from the feeds that’ll get people talking about your retail business. 

Online presence – create a retail presence

There’s no point having a social media strategy if you don’t have a website. You’ll want to use social media to filter your target audience through to your website, where they can learn more about your brand and your values. 

Thankfully, it’s super-easy to create a website. Using website builders like Wix and GoDaddy, you can create your website from a template. It’ll be up to you to write the content and source some great images that represent your brand, then it’ll just be a case of dragging and dropping everything into the right place. 

Website builders also make it really easy for you to set up an online store. Having multiple channels through which your audience can make purchases is a great way to get more cash into your account. 

Marketing opportunities through partnerships

A great way to get yourself noticed is to associate yourself with a bigger brand. You can do this by getting involved with local businesses and charities. Perhaps an established business is putting together an event that you could demo at, or perhaps you could partner with a charity to raise money. 

Exclusive or special events

With guaranteed footfall, local events are a great way to get your name out there. Armed with some banners that show your brand in its best light, you can go out and speak to your target market face to face, and even offer them some freebies for good measure. 

Influence marketing

As we mentioned earlier, Millennials and Gen Zers value trust. And because influencers have already earned the trust of their followers, they offer an instant audience for you to connect with. Many influencers accept free products in exchange for a video, so this strategy may not be as pocket-stretching as you think. 

Sponsor local events

Whether it’s the local funrun or a small festival, when you sponsor local events, your logo will be on full display. Not only is this good for building brand awareness, but it’ll also show people that you’re invested in the area, which will build trust and add credibility to your name. 

Email marketing

Thanks to email software like MailChimp, it’s really easy to set up email marketing campaigns. You can get people to sign up to newsletters on your website, or ask whether customers want to receive emails at your physical checkout and at your ecommerce checkout. Use your email campaigns to advertise promotions, events, and news stories that relate to your brand and its values. 

Traditional advertising

You may also want to try your hand at traditional marketing methods. These include magazines, newspapers, and radio commercials. If you are considering these methods, make sure you refer back to your market research: for example, the local radio station may be a great shout for Baby Boomers, but not so much for Generation Zers. 

In fact, when it comes to traditional marketing, Richard Taylor, founder of Dusk Lighting, has some wise words:

“I would highly suggest that you have adverts ready, i.e. quarter, half and full-page adverts, because some magazines and newspapers often have last minute deals for approximately £100. By being prepared to take advantage of these deals, you could be saving yourself up to £400.”

Marketing a retail store on social media

What are the best practices when it comes to marketing your store on social media?

Samantha Bullard, Store Manager of Wine Boutique, says:

“The secret to marketing on social media is to keep it engaging. Don’t make it all about the product. Inject personality into your page by posting things that encompass your shop’s personality – posts about your staff, quotes, or even quirky photos.”

So how do you apply this to all social media channels?  

Tips for marketing your shop on Pinterest

pinterest screenshot

Pinterest is a fantastic social media platform for retail businesses. For those who don’t know, Pinterest allows you to save ‘pins’ to different mood boards. These ‘pins’ can contain links to further content, or in this case, your shop website. 

To use it as a marketing platform, you need to rely on users stumbling across the pins you’ve produced, then pinning them to their board. This immediately opens you up to a whole new audience – a user’s own Pinterest followers. 

So how do you go about it? 

  • Set up a business account, which will give you access to Pinterest analytics. You can even convert your personal account to a business account so you don’t lose any of your existing followers
  • When you’re setting up your page, make sure you use your branding throughout. This’ll ensure users have a smooth transition between Pinterest, your website, and eventually, your shop
  • If possible, use the same username as your Facebook and Instagram pages. If that username is already taken, make it as similar as possible
  • Make sure you have ‘featured boards’ toggled on in your settings. This gives users a direction as soon as they land on your Pinterest page
  • You’ll want to target your boards towards terms that people search for on the internet. To avoid competition with other Pinterest users targeting the same search term, make your boards as niche as possible. 
  • Make sure each pin is optimised for a specific search term, as this will increase the chances of your products appearing on the Pinterest search results page. You can even use hashtags in the pin description to make it even more relevant to a search term
  • Post a variety of pins. These could be products, blog posts, videos, or even related infographics
  • And don’t forget the smaller details. Use colour to draw the eye, keep white space to a minimum, and consider keeping faces out of your brand images

You should check out our guide to Pinterest for business for even more tips.

Tips for marketing your shop on Instagram

instagram screenshotAs of June 2018, there were over one billion Instagram users – that’s a huge audience to tap into. But how exactly do you get their attention? 

Well, Instagram is all about visually connecting to your audience. And since 75% of that audience is 18-24 years old, make sure you post authentic images, videos, and stories that mean something to them. 

So how do you use it?

  • Create a business account. This’ll give you more credibility, and grant you access to a host of analytics features that don’t come as part of a regular account. Make sure the name of your account is the same as (or similar to) your other social media accounts
  • With so many users, how do you target your campaigns at a specific bracket? Use a blend of hashtags, mentions, sponsored ads, and stories to target your posts to different audiences
  • Choose your content wisely. The more visually appealing your content is to your target audience, the more they’ll interact with it. Don’t forget to create an element of consistency with your content. For example, use the same filter consistently (if you plan on using one), and ensure your posts are of a similar tone – don’t post a sequence of passive posts, then jar your audience with a loud bolshy one that appears out of character
  • If you’re savvy, you can turn your Instagram stories into 15 second ads for your retail business. You can even add features to your stories, such as polls and sliders, to create engagement. To get the most visibility, you should look to embellish posts with eye catching stickers and emojis, and post at least once a day. 

 Tips for marketing your shop on Facebook

Startups Facebook

According to Social Media Today, there are currently 2.37 billion Facebook users. The great thing about Facebook is that it attracts a wide range of people. The comparison table below shows the percentage of Facebook and Instagram users from each demographic.

Age demographicsFacebook Instagram

As you can see, with its core ages ranging from 18-64, Facebook has a much wider demographic. So how do you market your retail business to all of these people? 

  • Make sure your business page is fully optimised. This means having a welcome message for people who’ve landed on the page for the first time, an info section that proudly shows off your company, links to all of your other social media profiles, and details of your location
  • Consider downloading a social media monitoring tool, such as Hootsuite. You can then use the data collected to influence the types of campaigns you run and even the Facebook influencers you want to approach 
  • Use your Facebook profile to launch competitions and polls. This is a good way to get your followers to share your business page. As a result, you can build brand awareness and increase your following
  • Look to join groups that are related to the products you sell. Once you’re in a group, you can post about your brand to an audience that are already aligned with your products
  • Use tech such as Facebook catalogues to optimise your posts. Facebook catalogues will require a bit of coding from a professional developer, but once it’s up and running, you’ll be able to tag your products in posts, and direct people straight to your website to purchase the item

Selling on Etsy

Etsy screenshot

Etsy is the ecommerce home for handmade and vintage goods. The second half of 2019 saw the site garner over 260 million page views worldwide, making it a huge platform on which to advertise your products – and your business. 

It’s possible to get people from your Etsy store to your bricks-and-mortar store via a well thought out profile. When potential customers land on your page, they may want to learn more about you, so ensure that your profile presents you and your business in the best light.

Don’t forget to include links to your website so people can learn more about you if they want to, and tell them where your bricks-and-mortar store is located – just in case they fancy a visit.

When selling on Etsy, you’re charged transaction and processing fees only when you make a sale. You’ll have access to a huge range of tools to grow and develop your page, and you’ll receive support and education from Etsy’s support specialists to help you run a successful shop. 

So what do you need to know about selling on Etsy?

  • It’s super intuitive to open a shop
  • It costs £0.15 to list a product on Etsy
  • There is a 5% transaction fee per sale
  • Use Etsy payments to get paid quickly – just bear in mind that it takes 4% + £0.20 for each transaction 

And how do you get people to visit your online shop? 

  • Promote your items on your social media account 
  • Get in touch with influencers who could promote your products in exchange for samples
  • Join Etsy Teams to get advice from other shop owners
  • Read Etsy’s articles on how to bolster your site’s SEO (i.e. improve where your page ranks on Google’s search pages) optimise your shop (get your page appearing on Google)
  • Make sure your Etsy shop page is in line with your branding

Final retail marketing tips for gaining new customers

It’s important that you make use of your resources closer to home, too. There’s lots you can do in and around your shop to attract customers, and ensure they come back again and again.

  • Look after your store front and curbsides. Use your window to catch the attention of passersby – dedicate displays to your best products, and your newest lines
  • Turn your staff and your customers into brand ambassadors. Treat your staff and customers well, and they’ll be loyal to you
  • Invest in staff training. Ensure your staff are well trained in customer service – this will make them better sellers, as well as improving shoppers’ experiences
  • Use retail psychology to draw people to certain products. Bear in mind that people often walk to the right when they enter the store. You should also put eye catching products at the back of the shop to draw people all the way in
  • Hold product demos and taster sessions. Get people together. Build a sense of community around your shop, and make the locals feel valued

Measuring the results of retail marketing efforts

Measuring the results of retail marketing efforts

You came up with a marketing campaign, and you implemented it – but how do you know whether it’s been a success or not?

When you put together your marketing campaign, make sure you think of some KPIs (key performance indicators) that you can use to measure its success.

This means you’ll have key metrics through which to compare success across all of your marketing campaigns. Marketing can be a little bit like trial and error, so you may find a simple change to your strategy could see big results.

KPIs can be things like:

  • Return on investment – have you seen a percentage increase in sales?
  • Increase in website traffic – are more people discovering your brand? If so, how are they doing it?
  • Cost per sale – although you may not have seen much of a traffic increase, are customers generally spending more?

Retail marketing: conclusion

Yes, there’s a lot to consider. But when done right, a marketing campaign can see you smash through sales targets, reach your business plan goals, and thrive on the high street.

Marketing doesn’t come cheap, so if one thing’s for certain, make sure you carry out thorough market research before you come up with a campaign.

Once you’ve carried out your market research, you’ll be able to aim the right content at the right audience, rather than waste cash on a campaign that doesn’t resonate with anyone.

And when you do have the perfect blend of the right marketing campaign, marketed to the right people, at the right time, there’s nothing to stop you from reaping the rewards!

Read more advice on marketing your business


Written by:
Aimee is Startups' resident expert in business tech, products, and services. She loves a great story and enjoys chatting to the startups and small business community. Starting her own egg delivery business from the age of 12, she has a healthy respect for self-starters and local services.
Back to Top