Hey there, it’s Avery, Creative Director and head of Managed Services at Material. One of the things I love about my job is getting to work on fun, creative marketing campaigns with our boutiques. Every week, my team tackles new design and marketing challenges for dozens of boutiques across the US. And in this article, I want to share 5 fundamental marketing tips my team uses to get big results for our boutiques.
If you’re already doing some or all of these activities, give yourself a big hug, you’re crushing it! If you’re new to marketing or at a loss for ideas, then grab a pen and paper get ready to take some notes. Here are 5 tips to jumpstart your boutique’s marketing.
1. Create an online destination
If you don’t already have a website, now’s the time to tackle the world of ecommerce. If you do have a website, you’ll want to make sure you’re creating the best possible experience for your customers. This means making it easy to find it online, easy to navigate, pleasing to look at, and designed true to your brand.
Here are some key things to keep in mind as you set up your website:
Make it easy for customers to find your website
Having a website is great, but you want to make sure customers are aware of your website. You can do this using a few different strategies.
- Pick a memorable URL that makes sense for your shop. Something like “yourstorename.com” or “shopyourstorename.com” or “yourstorenameboutique.com”.
- Remind customers about the option to shop online by putting it on things like your receipts, your packaging, your social media accounts, etc. The more they see it, the more they’ll remember it when they’re on their next at-home shopping spree.
- Have strong SEO. When customers search “Clothing Stores Near Me” or “Clothing Boutiques” you don’t want to be buried under the Macy’s and Amazon’s of the world who can afford to spend millions of dollars in ads each year. You’ll want to create a Google My Business account and fill out all the information required and keep it up to date. Google ranks businesses with a complete profile higher in the search algorithm, so this is a great way to get found without having to pay the big bucks for ads.
Make your website navigation simple and intuitive
Once customers are on your website, they need to be able to find what they’re looking for quickly & easily. If customers can’t easily find the product category they’re looking for, they’ll get frustrated & click away before you get the chance to show them everything you have, which is why prioritizing your website navigation and homepage is critical. Every store’s navigation can vary slightly, so here’s some things to keep in mind:
- Make it clear & concise. Customers want the latest & greatest, so make it easy for them to find the newest items in your shop by having a tab for New Arrivals. For the rest of the navigation you’ll want to list your broader departments and use categories to specify the styles of those products.
- For example your navigation would read: New Arrivals, Clothing, Accessories, Shoes, Handbags, etc. Then nested under each of those categories would be your subcategories. So under Clothing you’d have dresses, tops, bottoms, etc. This lets the customer quickly get to exactly what they’re looking for, without having to scroll through tons of products they might not be interested in buying.
- Update your homepage with fresh images and content on a regular basis. If your customer doesn’t quite know what they want to buy, or they’re just browsing, your homepage should convince them to click further into the website. If they don’t immediately click on your navigation, chances are, they’ll scroll down the rest of the page to get a glimpse of what you carry, what you’re promoting, or what you think they need most. We recommend updating your website at least once a month, but ultimately do what feels best for your business. If you’re bringing in 100 new arrivals every week, you may want to update more frequently to showcase those new items.
Think of it like they’re shopping in your physical store. If they walked in as a first time shopper, you’d want to help them navigate through your store & give recommendations about things in your store they can’t live without. You wouldn’t ignore them and make them figure it out on their own!
Make your website visually pleasing
Customers form a first impression about your website almost instantly. In fact, it only takes people about 50 milliseconds to decide whether they like your site or not. You can only make a first impression once, so it’s worth it to invest in the best possible site design available to you.
Luckily, you don’t have to be a pro in photoshop to have a beautiful website. Services like Canva offer thousands of pre-made templates for you to pick from. All you’ll need to do is resize them to fit your website dimensions, and then change the text to reflect what you want your homepage to show.
Once you have your designs ready, put them on a website builder that’s reliable and easy to use, like Material or Shopify. That way you can take your designs and plug them into their designated block and have a beautiful website in a matter of minutes.
Of course, if this all seems like too much, you can always outsource it by using a marketing agency for small businesses, like Material Managed Services. Or, find a graphic design student at a college near you, and pay them a small fee. They’ll be thrilled to gain the experience and make some extra change while doing it.
Prioritize your brand
A pretty website is a must – however, try to keep your designs on brand. Think of your website as an extension of your store (if you have a physical storefront), and if you’re an online only boutique, you want to remain memorable and unique to customers who could potentially be browsing hundreds of sites per month. If your website looks like everyone else’s, it will get lost in the shuffle, so when you’re creating your website, remember what makes your store unique, special, and why customers should pick you over any other store. Identify the core of your brand and refer back to it often, when making design decisions.
You’ll also want to incorporate key factors of your visual brand like:
- Making your logo visible at the top of every page
- Finding ways to incorporate your primary store colors & fonts
Have a clear & visible “About Us” page. You can showcase how you came up with the idea for your store, why you’re passionate about it, and what sets your store apart from others. Let customers know about you and the team that supports you. Your About Us page should capture the charm of your small business and remind customers that they are shopping from an actual person, not a nameless corporation.
2. Leverage email marketing
Keeping in touch with your customers is essential. Since they are the lifeblood of your business.
You’ll want to keep them up to date with everything happening in-store and online. This means things like letting them know about store sales where they can save big, showing off new merchandise, or just sending them a small “hi” every few weeks to remind them that you’re still there.
Luckily, there are lots of tools that make email marketing easier. For example, make sure your tool of choice has a visual template builder so you can drag and drop your content right into your email & send.
3. Make a dent in the social media landscape
Your customers are on social media and you should be too. Not to mention, social media is a powerful tool to build your brand awareness and grow sales. With so many different platforms & options it can be overwhelming to know how to get started, and how to maintain a consistent cadence of updates. Here’s some important things to consider when engaging on social media.
- Choose the right platforms for you. Since social media is a big undertaking, we recommend starting with one platform at a time and really perfecting it before adding others. Once you’ve dialed in your content and voice on one platform, it will be easier to branch out to the others. The big 4 social media platforms for shopping & engagement are:
- Facebook: Users are typically 27+ years old so if you focused on an older customer, this might be your best shot at growing your engagement right off the bat. Facebook has been around a long time, so there’s a ton of features within facebook (free & paid) that you can take advantage of. You can schedule posts in advance, set up automated responses for customers messaging you, sell your product seamlessly, and view post performance, giving you powerful insights you can use to boost your organic reach and engagement.
- Instagram: Users range in age, so you can really interact with everyone. This platform is great for visual brands selling things like clothing, art, home goods, beauty, etc. It also has a shopping feature tied to your Facebook account, so tagging products is easy. Try not to be strictly promotional on this channel. You want to offer substance and inspiration to your followers. You can also create video content easily on Instagram using their Reels tool.
- Pinterest: Users range in age, and typically use it for inspiration or aspirational goals. You can create boards for different categories in your shop, and link all pins back to your website for a seamless checkout for customers to purchase from you. This channel is more about engagement & reach than sales—like an extra catalog for customers.
- TikTok: These days, almost everyone is using TikTok in some capacity. We recommend perfecting your Instagram Reels, then transferring to TikTok using the same style of posts. Posting daily is key and using the right promoted hashtags can help you reach customers around the world.
- Keep up on community engagement. Customers might comment on posts or slide into your DMs asking questions about a product or your business. Treat these like any other customer service tasks and answer them promptly and clearly. This will make your fans feel valued and seen by you!
- Be authentic in your posts. If you’re constantly pushing product, it becomes inauthentic and predictable for the customer, and frankly a little boring. Your followers will lose interest and not stick around for long. Instead, you’ll want to create a lifestyle around your brand and your page, sprinkling in promotional posts but also sharing information about your community, your customers, behind the scenes moments at your store, things that inspire you, polls and user-generated content.
- Use effective hashtags & keywords. This is especially important for channels like Instagram and TikTok. Start by researching popular hashtags in your industry and avoid generic hashtags like #love and #clothing – they’re too vague to really boost your post’s visibility. Make sure not to #hashtag #every #word #in #your #caption because that is also hard for customers to read and isn’t an effective use of hashtags.
- Have fun with it! Get your followers involved and engaged as much as possible by showing them exactly who you and your shop are. This will help convert those followers into lifelong customers.
4. Work with brand ambassadors
Starting a brand ambassador program is a great way to get your customers more involved in the shop, and grow brand awareness through your community. You’ll gain access to customers, friends of customers, friends of friends of customers and so on.
Brand ambassador programs don’t have to be costly
Give your original brand ambassadors a shopping budget to pick out what they like from the store – typically 2-3 outfits and decide beforehand what you expect from them in return. Maybe you ask for 3 instagram posts, 2 stories, and a TikTok in exchange. Give each ambassador a unique promo code to share with their friends so that any purchases can be attributed back to the ambassador.
To get more people into the program, create an easy-to-access Google form or other intake form that makes signing up and getting started easy, and without needing any back-and-forth.
As the program grows, you’ll not only have a ton of great content for your website, social media, and more, but you’ll have more sales, more reach, and more customers. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.
5. Delegate, when you can
Trust us, we know all of this sounds like a huge undertaking, but don’t feel like you need to tackle this all on your own. You can strategically hire employees that have a passion for social media or graphic design, and add that to their daily duties in addition to selling on the sales floor. We’ll be sharing more information on how to look for and hire these employees in a future blog post.
If you don’t have room to hire more employees right now, delegate tasks to them when it’s quiet at the shop! You can create a task list for employees to tackle when they’re not selling and you have the opportunity to teach them something new!
Effective marketing machines don’t happen overnight!
Take it slow, and start off by trying to do one small marketing task every day. You’ll start seeing a return after just a month of implementing these strategies. If something isn’t working for you, don’t be afraid to pivot or ask for help!