While online businesses certainly have their fair share of perks, they have a distinct disadvantage when it comes to customer engagement. After all, the sales staff is not able to meet and greet customers face-to-face, and customers cannot physically see a product until it arrives in the mail.
Retailers know that customer experience is the key to increasing revenue and building lasting loyalty, but creating remarkable and unforgettable experiences for customers across the board, again and again, is much easier said than done. With the influx of online businesses vying for customer attention, especially in the retail industry, many brands have turned to a more unique approach to capture their customer’s attention by taking things offline.
Hosting an event or pop-up shop started off as a major trend that has turned into an incredibly effective tactic for boosting the customer experience. The pop-up business industry has exploded, with a remarkable 65% of companies reporting that this tactic resulted in an increase in revenue.
The key to making an offline event work and generating positive results is to create an extraordinary customer experience that goes beyond what they can get online. Here are four easy steps to ensure that your brand’s offline efforts do justice to your online presence.
Plan out your brand voice
Figuring out your brand voice is one of the most important steps to take when starting any online business that you hope to run for the longer term. But keep in mind, once you take things offline, branding becomes absolutely essential. This becomes all the more important when it’s critical for customers to try your product or service physically.
Say you’re already running an online clothing store – and are venturing into a pop-up shop. This will likely be the first introduction between your company and many new customers – in flesh and blood – so your brand messaging must match up for a consistent experience.
Take the time to plot out your brand into words, colors, and themes that will easily translate into a physical space. Ask your team:
- What words would we like people to use to describe our brand?
- What kind of style does our brand appeal to? Is it trendy? Classic? Fun? Unique? Sophisticated? Sporty? Outdoorsy?
- How do we want our customers to feel when they interact with our brand? Excited? Calm? Intrigued? Inspired? Young?
If these questions are stumping your team, or you need a little inspiration, try out a Personal Brand Workbook to get things going. Or create a visual brand board of pictures, colors, and words that represent the message you are trying to get across. Branding is super-important if your pop-up shop is going to provide an exceptional experience, so your team must define exactly who and what your business is before they take things offline.
Create a unique space
A pop-up shop is a physical representation of your website. Once your brand is defined, your team must figure out how to translate those words appropriately into a design. Everything from the colors on the walls to the product displays must create a consistent message that intrigues customers.
Many brands have created some truly unique offline experiences. For instance, Kylie Jenner hosted a temporary pop-up shop (for her lip kit line) that was created to look like the customers were literally inside of her website. The tubes of lip gloss were the key focal point for most of the displays, which allowed her fans to try out all of the colors that were usually limited to webpages.
This was made possible in close coordination with her ecommerce provider Shopify, so she had that crucial technical and business edge.
Of course, not every brand has a budget as big as Kylie’s Cosmetics did. However, this is by no means a limitation for creativity. One flower delivery service created a pop-up shop out of a classic Italian delivery truck covered in greenery. Nespresso created a temporary café out of an old shipping container. There are numerous other examples – one Japanese clothing store even hosted a pop-up shop in a parking garage.
The great thing about pop-up experiences is that the sky is truly the limit in terms of creativity; some brands have only used small tables or booths within another store as their location, while others have created an entire temporary storefront. Whatever type of location your business decides to go with, make sure that you are making the most of the materials and space for a better experience.
Build up the hype
An empty pop-up shop is every marketer’s and business owner’s worst nightmare. Simply posting about the event on your company’s own social channels and website will likely not be enough to build profitable hype, especially for a small company with few followers.
Many online brands understand the benefits of partnering with relevant influencers and social brands to help advertise to targeted audiences. This strategy is also excellent for pop-up experiences, too, and it can be an effective way to spread the word. By connecting with micro-influencers who are connected to niche audiences or specific locations where the event is being held, your brand can ensure that the pop-up is successfully promoted.
Sites like Klear make it easy to identify the micro-influencers in your brand’s area with overlapping target audiences. The website breaks down important metrics about audience demographics and engagement levels so that your team can be strategic with the outlets they choose to work with. Plus, your team can reach out to influencers through Klear’s site and use the dashboard throughout the campaign for better organization and communication.
Remember, this strategy is not just limited to promotion before the event. Inviting these influencers to the actual event so they can take pictures, record videos, and share their opinions on the products and experience is a great way to build up anticipation for the next offline event.
Make it count
With all of the time, effort, and money that is put into a pop-up or offline experience, it is easy to get caught up in the marketing and branding aspects that your team totally forgets about the lasting effects that an offline event can have. You want your customers to leave the pop-up event with something to talk about and remember for a long time, so reaching out to them after the event has ended is an important way to keep the engagement going.
Additionally, you want to know exactly what went well and what can be improved upon for next time. For this purpose, you need to have a way of collecting key customer data for future use – and identify patterns from interactions at online and offline touchpoints.
The POS system from Shopify is designed specifically to help make integrated transactions and data collection simpler. Every interaction is recorded so that marketing teams have the data they need to provide more personalized content and shopping recommendations. It also helps your team determine the true ROI of an event, both in terms of revenue and consumer data capture.
Using big data to measure your offline campaigns will give you a microscopic view for how effective they are, and allow you to decide if you want to go down that route again. Attempt to answer questions like:
- Exactly how much web traffic did the event bring you?
- What was the new customer vs. returning (online) customer ratio?
- What were the customer acquisition costs? Did they give an indication of rising or falling towards the end of the campaign?
- How much engagement did you receive? What personal data did you collect?
- What parts of the customer journey were impacted the most?
- How was overall revenue affected? How did the average order value compare to your online store?
Pop-up shops should not be intended as a one-off event with short-lived benefits. It is an opportunity to create connections and relationships with customers that may have never found your brand online.
Pop-up shops are fun and exciting, and the process of planning them should be, too. This is a chance to meet with your best customers face-to-face and show them exactly who and what your business is. Make the encounter memorable and unique by defining your brand voice, and constructing a creative physical representation thereof.
Get your audience excited through authentic marketing. Get help of micro-influencers who understand how to build interest with your customers. And finally, make the entire experience worthwhile for you in the long run by capturing key data for future campaigns.
Hosting an offline event is your brand’s chance to make a lasting impression with customers, both new and old. Make sure that your event does so for the right reasons.