Singapore’s retail sector has been slowing down in the past two years. We hear of brands like British fashion store New Look and French menswear chain Celio exiting Singapore amid a weak retail scene. As a small business retail owner, it can be easy to hit a slump and feel demoralized following these high-profile closures – even more so when your store is just not getting enough foot traffic.

Instead of just rushing to cut costs, why not kick-start a digital marketing plan? Driving traffic to websites can seem like an important focus for e-tailers and out of your domain, but did you know these could push storefront sales as well. Digital marketing is more than just setting up a Facebook page and creating a website (although those are important aspects!). It’s also a great way to drive traffic to your retail store without breaking the bank. Here are 3 ways on how you can increase your store’s brand awareness with digital marketing:


1. Integrate search and social

According to the Consumer Barometer Report (2015), the most commonly used source of online information for Singapore consumers are search engines. The same report stated that 86% of Singapore shoppers research before they buy. It is no wonder that search engine marketing has been popular with small businesses.

Social media has also been increasing in importance as a digital marketing platform. No matter the size of your retail store, you need to be engaging your customers through social media. Being active on social media feeds such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest is a great way to promote interaction with customers.

As more businesses use the same tactic and as shoppers today get way savvier than ever before, it is increasingly difficult to generate more performance and get higher returns by using just paid search or social in solus. The important distinction to make is that search and social are not competitive forces. Instead, understand the links between consumer activity on social and paid search and how they can work together to amplify each other’s results. By creating social content that attracts an audience, you can craft targeted paid search campaigns to ensure that regardless how or where people are searching, they’ll find, engage and convert with your retail brand.

To cater to these empowered shoppers, remember to leverage on the strengths of social media and search instead of trying to get them to deliver results that aren’t suited to the medium.


2. Email marketing campaigns

Want an easy way to stay connected with your customers who visit your store? Give email marketing a shot. Email is one of the most forgotten forms of marketing there is. Not to be confused with spamming your customers’ inboxes, a robust email marketing campaign is used to direct and inform subscribers of the latest updates and offers, keep shopper’s up-to-date and build a brand identity and relationship.

Give your customers the option to opt-in to ensure that customers are keen to start a dialogue with your business, meaning you have to be careful to only send items relevant to them. This could involve online exclusive offers for discounts that can be redeemable in-store, or invites to exclusive events.

To reach customers offline, maintain a sign up form at your point of sales — use a tablet or smartphone with a mobile email sign up app, or go old school with a “pen and paper” form!


3. Start a blog

Blogging is a great way to build your audience and generate more traffic and sales for your business. It lets you tell stories that could convert visitors to customers. It also helps increases engagement opportunities, not just on social media but also on traditional media.

A well-maintained blog can show that you’re up-to-date with the latest trends especially if you are in fashion retail, to showcase how your collection fits in with the industry. Work towards creating a trustworthy brand by creating content that helps your customers improve their lives while remaining relevant to your retail brand and industry. Show that you want to do more than close a deal as you develop a deeper connection with your audience. Be personable when you write blog posts – don’t sound like a salesperson!

Digital marketing has emerged out as a powerful tool for promoting small retail businesses in Singapore. Connecting shoppers with your stores digitally is a powerful thing to be able to do. If you are a small retail owner, these 3 ways should get you started on your digital marketing journey.

Ready to take some action? Let us know which of the methods most resonated with you in the comments section below.

Christmas is drawing near and as it does, our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kinship. The excitement of Christmas is not exclusive to those who still believe in Santa Claus and perhaps, we all eagerly anticipate the holidays because once a year, we all get to become children again. Along with the fairy lights and Christmas trees that seemingly appear overnight, festive advertisements are another common sight that make us look forward to the holiday season.

Despite the religious origins of Christmas, festive advertising campaigns draw on the warm and tingly feelings that we associate with the holiday. Companies can tap on these innate and inevitable emotions that people associate with family and ultimately, Christmas. In this regard, festive advertising can be a way for faceless companies to become more humanised to consumers when they draw the implicit link between a company’s advertisements and the warmth and familiarity of their own relationships.

Advertising becomes less about the actual products, but aims to invoke the sensation of special and familiar family moments. Advertisements thus stop selling products but rather, start selling more intangible (and arguably, more powerful) aspects of the company such as their beliefs and values. Even though there is a step away from product pushing, it is still important to maintain relevance to the target audience. The key here, would then be to create some kind of association between Christmas and what the company is selling. For instance, a restaurant can market itself as a place with the perfect ambience for a heartwarming family dinner while a shipping company could market itself as the fail-proof method to get your Christmas gifts delivered on time.

A major feature of effective Christmas advertising is having a strong narrative. A simple story with a consistent core message makes it easy for consumers to relate the advertisement to their own personal experiences. Like how we can become children again during the festive period. The stories used in advertisements tend to be magical and imaginative and appeal to the kids in all of us. And as long as the fundamental message and associated feelings of these stories are universally relatable, a connection with the consumer can be established regardless their age. This, after all, is what every successful brand campaign should and need to do: Push not products but an emotional connection.

Here are 3 of my favourite Christmas brand campaigns that I think have gotten it right. They establish a strong emotional connection with audiences, by reminding us of our childhood and reconnecting us to long forgotten feelings of wonder and magic, propelled by a strong narrative core, urging us that this is as good a time as any to make a wish and make-believe:


1. Marks & Spencer’s #MagicandSparkle

The campaign takes on a fantastical fairytale theme and demonstrates how a brand uses fairy tales to remind adults about their childhood – a time of wonder and magic.


2. Samsung’s #HolidayDreams

Samsung Mobile built a synchronised dreamscape out of 74 different devices to tell the story of a young girl’s holiday dream. It takes the viewer on a journey through magical worlds.


3. John Lewis’s #MontythePenguin

The story of magic and love, following a little boy and his pet penguin Monty’s fantasy relationship that allows us to indulge in the magic of make-believe through a child’s eyes. Absolutely heartwarming and makes me look forward to celebrating the festive season with my loved ones!

We all had that one comfort toy with knotty fur and a quirky smell; we all remember a Monty. But how many inspirational non-holiday campaigns can you recall in recent years? Perhaps brands should consider injecting a little more magic into advertising, not just once during the festive season, but throughout the year. After all, all of us can do with a little wonder and magic throughout our lives. Happy holidays, everyone!