Tuesday, 26 July 2016

How Keyword Research can Help High Street Retailers

I strongly believe that the death of the high street has been greatly exaggerated, and that online retail in many segments isn’t going to kill it just yet.

There are, of course exceptions.

Independent bookshops, for example, as well as larger well-known high street bookstores have felt the pinch and, in many cases, closed down. The recent demise of BHS can partially be attributed to a lack of online presence at a time when competition via the likes of Amazon, arguably a virtual departments store, is increasing daily.

On the other hand, there’s a social aspect to shopping in the high street that cannot easily be replicated online. There are novel combinations of online and offline -- which I call hybrid retailing -- that mix up the offering so that it feels modern, has the convenience of modern online retail, but benefits the high street.

Then there are those services that can not be delivered online -- beauty treatments, for example -- where the physical presence of the customer is a requirement.

However, at the same time, all retailers, be they online, high street, or hybrid, need to make keyword research part of their competitive advantage in order to succeed.

Here’s a nightmare scenario: a street with two or three salons, each offering similar treatments, within walking distance -- natural retail clustering -- being compared by a gaggle of young, image conscious, Instagramming ladies, all with smartphones.

Where just a few short years ago, the conversation might have included phrases such as “This place looks nice”, or “My friend got her nails done here”, these days it’s much more likely that the internet is used as the sole point of reference when deciding which salon to favour with their business.

Restaurants are in the same boat. As are fashion outlets. Or, in fact, any retailer in a price-sensitive market where online comparison is quick and easy. Just ask your local bookshop; except you can’t, because they have probably gone the way of the dodo.

I’m not going to say that all of the above can be avoided just by adding keyword research to your weekly task list; but it might just help you to stay ahead of the competition long enough to start to let it really help you develop a business that the market wants.

That’s the key to retail: delivering quality products to a hungry market.

Picking the market’s hive mind has never been easier. You no longer have to go out into the street with a clipboard to find out what’s hot; these days you can just go online.

There’s social media, there are blogs, and even forums where both customers and fellow retailers meet up to discuss the products and services that will shape tomorrow.

Platforms like Quora, Yahoo Answers, and even Amazon’s review and feedback system can all be used to fuel your money making machine. You just have to know how to mine that information, arrange it appropriately for analysis, and spot the outliers.

(If you sign up for my valuable mailing list, which delivers quality tutorials, recommendations, reviews and other stuff that I don’t share with just anyone, I’ll give you my eBook “The Keyword Research Blueprint Cheatsheet” for free, which will give you a head start!)

The key to unlocking the value that your market is sharing with each other -- and hence you -- on an hourly basis is ...wait for it... keyword research.

Humans are a communicative bunch. We’re also very fond of sharing -- usually marketing courses point out that we prefer to complain than praise, but the principle remains the same -- and because we like to share, we tend to already think in terms of keywords.

It’s natural: if you go to the library and ask for a book, you use specific words that convey what you want. The more accurate you are, the better the choices the librarian makes for you, and the more chance you have of getting a book that you will enjoy and find useful.

Keyword research also works across locations and languages. If you want to know the top three Chinese language searches in the UK related to restaurants; keyword research will tell you.

(By the way, they are “Michelin restaurant”, “working!!!” and “Shanghai Restaurant Week”, but in Chinese of course... If you’re in that business, there were 480 searches, 491K results almost none of the first page local to the UK, despite the searches having been conducted there. Let me know if you’re interested in a full report, when you sign up for your free eBook!)

Once you’ve saved your retail business, you can then use ongoing keyword research to grow it; participating in your market’s ongoing conversations using terms they’re already familiar with, and associating those terms with actions to improve conversion, and retention rates, as well as increasing average customer value.

All this is possible, and more, once you have an understanding of keyword research, and a blueprint to follow...