Marketing Retail Strategy: 15 Tips & Tactics for 2024

October 18, 2023 (Updated) | By Sam Pelton
Woman shopping for clothes

Marketing is the cornerstone of any retail business.

Without an effective marketing strategy, it can be difficult to attract new customers and repeat business.

In today's digital age, retailers have a wide variety of marketing channels to choose from, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Here we'll explore 15 tips and tactics for creating a comprehensive marketing retail strategy that can help drive traffic, increase sales, and grow your business.

SMS as a Marketing Retail Strategy

SMS helps retailers engage with their customers in a more personal and immediate way than many other marketing channels.

With SMS marketing, retailers can send targeted messages to customers' mobile phones, including special offers, exclusive discounts, event invitations, and anything else. SMS marketing has a high open rate (as high as 98%!) and response rate, making it an effective way to reach customers.

After all, think about it… How often do you ignore a text on your phone? Probably never.

And how often do you ignore an email in your inbox? Probably… most of the time.

Here are a few things you should know about SMS marketing…

  • It’s a simple and highly effective, yet underutilized marketing strategy
  • Some email marketing platforms include SMS capabilities, but it’s often easier to use an SMS-specific platform
  • It’s recommended to use short messages when sending SMS (but not required)
  • You’ll need an effective way to get people to subscribe to your text list—a simple incentive such as a free or discounted item can go a long way toward getting people to subscribe
  • Automation can help you really take full advantage of SMS as a marketing tactic
  • Although it costs more per message than, say, email marketing, it has much higher engagement rates so it doesn’t need as wide of an audience in order to make an impact, so the ROI can be significant

Some examples of SMS you can send as a part of your marketing retail strategy:

Take an additional 25% off all clearance items TODAY ONLY! Stop on by or shop online here: [link]

New! Scarf line & men’s and women’s graphic tees. Check ‘em out here before they’re snatched up: [link]

How was your recent experience at Hadley’s? We’d love to hear from you! Click here to take a brief survey: [link]

Email as a Marketing Retail Strategy

The first marketing email was sent in 1971 to 400 recipients—and things have only ramped up since then.

Email marketing is the classic digital marketing method. And with good reason!

It’s been a tried and true marketing method now for decades, and now people receive marketing emails each and every day.

With email marketing, retailers can send promotional messages, newsletters, and other updates directly to their customers' inboxes. Although the open rate hovers around 20% (which is quite small compared to the numbers of SMS mentioned above), email marketing costs only a pittance. So it’s a cost-effective way to stay in touch with customers and promote new products and services.

To create effective email campaigns, you should segment you customer lists based on demographics, purchase history, and other factors. You should also create compelling subject lines and use eye-catching visuals to make your emails stand out.

Here are some elements of email marketing to consider…

  • It’s a science… and an art—there’s no sure-fire way to be successful, but you can test and compare your different campaigns to determine what best resonates with the audience you’re trying to reach
  • A/B testing is particularly helpful, because it allows you to do a more direct comparison between 2 contrasting elements, so that you can be more confident in your conclusions
  • Most email marketing platforms will have A/B testing capabilities, so you can easily set up regular tests
  • Some important metrics to consider…
    • Open rate, which can give you insight into the success of elements such as:
      • Subject line
      • Sender name
      • “Preview” text (this is a line of text that appears right after the subject line)
    • Click-to-open rate, which can give you insight into the success of elements such as:
      • Body copy
      • Graphics
      • Email layout
    • Conversion rate, which can give you insight into the overall success of your email

Content Marketing as a Marketing Retail Strategy

Content marketing is a strategy that involves creating and sharing valuable content to engage customers.

With content marketing, you as a retailer can establish yourself as an authority in your industry and build a loyal following of customers.

Content marketing can take many forms, such as blog posts, videos, infographics, and social media posts.

For example, today, Instagram has become an integral platform for many businesses in regards to content content marketing due to its visual-centric approach. To concisely deliver your message and engage with the audience, the use of an editable Instagram post template can be an effective strategy. Websites like Wepik offer a variety of these templates that can be customized to suit your brand's aesthetics and narrative.

To create effective content marketing campaigns, retailers should identify the platforms, topics and formats that resonate with your target audience. You should create content that really appeals to the people you’re trying to reach.

This form of marketing is less salesy and more value-driven. The idea is that when you create content that actually helps people (rather than just promotes yourself), people will be more likely to want to read it (and share it).

So even if the content in and of itself doesn’t win you any sales, it still helps you build trust with your audience so that they are more likely to discover your business and say “yes” to you in the future.

Here are a few things you should know about content marketing…

  • You won’t see immediate results—it can sometimes take a long time to gain traction
  • It may not be very effective at first, until your audience grows
  • You’ll need a consistent publication strategy and cadence if you want to make the most out of it

Commit to publishing content at least once per week in the channels that you think will be most effective for your audience and see how it helps drive traffic to your business. See what types of content are ranking in the search engines for the type of content you’re wanting to produce, and try to create something even more useful to audiences.

(You can use SEO tools to help determine what kind of content to create—more on that in the next point.)

woman on phone

SEO as a Marketing Retail Strategy

Related to content marketing, SEO (“search engine optimization”) is the process of optimizing a website and its content to improve its search engine rankings… especially with Google.

With SEO, retailers can attract more organic traffic to their website and increase their visibility in search engine results pages. SEO involves many tactics, such as keyword research, on-page optimization, and link building.

(Note that SEO is a long-term strategy and may not see results for several months.)

Keyword Research

You’ll need to do some research to figure out what “keywords” to target as you’re creating SEO-friendly content.

You can use SEO tools such as Moz or Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest to help you see what keywords are getting a lot of traffic in Google related to your industry, and to see how easy or difficult it would be to create a piece of content that ranks highly.

Some keywords may get a lot of searches but have a lot of competition in the search engine results with other companies trying to go after the same keywords.

It’s best, especially if first starting out, to go after keywords that have very low competition—and even better if those keywords have decent search traffic tied to them as well.

Once you decide on a keyword to target, you can look at the search engine results (SERP) that are ranking the highest, and you can try to create content that is similar but more helpful.

On-Page Optimization

Make sure the pages that already exist on your website are as optimized for SEO as possible.

This means that they…

  • are targeted toward a certain topic and keyword
  • are more helpful than other pages currently ranking for the same keyword in Google
  • contain external links to authoritative and relevant sites, when appropriate
  • contain internal links to other relevant pages on your site, when appropriate
  • have titles and meta descriptions that are useful, feature your target keyword, and would entice people to click on them
  • don’t have any page speed issues
  • follow other SEO best practices

Link building means trying to get other relevant (and preferably authoritative) sites to link to your content. Google often sees this as an authority booster for your site.

Link building is time-consuming but can involve a few different tactics, such as reaching out to pages that mention your competitors and asking for a link, guest posting on relevant blogs, and similar link building outreach strategies.

While you don’t want to outright purchase links (particularly if they’re on non-credible and irrelevant sites), you can also partner with companies who can help do some of the outreach for you, such as Point Visible or Neil Patel Digital, although this can be pricey.

Media Buying as a Marketing Retail Strategy

Media buying is the process of purchasing advertising space on websites, social media platforms, and other digital channels. With media buying, you as a retailer can reach your target audience on a large scale and drive traffic to your website or store.

The trick to media buying is finding the right opportunities and the right price points so that you can get the most ROAS (return on advertising spend).

Paying a lot of money to be featured on a site that isn’t relevant to your audience will just be a waste of time and resources. So you’ll want to determine what sites are best to be featured on, and how much you’re willing to spend.

To get started with media buying, you should identify the channels and websites that your target audience frequents. Then you’ll want to set clear goals for your campaigns. Lastly, you’ll need to create compelling ads and then track how they perform, so that you can make adjustments as needed (or pull your ad entirely if it ends up bringing no results).

Although the concept of “media buying” includes avenues such as Google Ads, Microsoft Ads, and social media ads, those will be treated as individual strategies in and of themselves. This point instead focuses on other media buy opportunities, such as:

  • Being featured in an online publication that people in your target audience subscribes to
  • Being featured on websites that your target audience frequents
  • Being featured on podcasts that your target audience might listen to
  • Being featured in sponsored guest posts on blogs that your target audience visits
  • Being featured in email newsletters from companies that share a similar target audience

Some of these kinds of opportunities may make sense for your business; others may not. You’ll just need to find the avenue that works best for you—and this may take some time and research.

Advertisement example

Google Ads is a powerful advertising platform that allows retailers to display their ads on Google search results pages and partner websites. With Google Ads, retailers can reach their target audience at the exact moment they're searching for products or services, making it a highly effective channel for driving traffic and sales.

Google Ads offers many targeting options, including keywords, location, and demographics that help advertisers reach the most relevant audience, so that the ads can be as effective as possible.

To create effective Google Ads campaigns, retailers should conduct thorough keyword research and create compelling ad copy and landing pages.

For researching keywords, Google Keyword Planner is a vital tool that will give you suggestions on keywords to target, as well as tell you information such as how many people regularly search your intended keyword, and how difficult it will be to rank for it within Google.

You should make sure your landing page is highly relevant and matches the language of the copy, so that people know they’re in the right place when they click on the ad within Google. The more relevant your landing page is to the intent of the user who was searching within Google, the more likely the user will be to convert into a customer.

Tracking your ad performance regularly is also key. That way, you can optimize the campaigns often, in order to improve results. You can tweak elements such as:

  • The keywords you’re targeting
  • The demographics of your audience
  • Headline
  • Ad copy

You may be surprised at what you find is effective or ineffective—people may not respond to what you’d think they would respond to. And that’s OK!

Your understanding of your audience will be ever-expanding, and your audience may even change over time. So ads that work for you at one point in your business may not work down the road, and vice-versa.

Microsoft Ads as a Marketing Retail Strategy

Microsoft Ads is a similar platform to Google Ads, but with a smaller audience. However, it can still be an effective channel for retailers looking to expand their reach beyond Google.

With Microsoft Ads, retailers can display their ads on Bing search results pages and partner websites, reaching customers who may not use Google.

The principles of running ads via Microsoft will be similar to the principles of Google Ads mentioned above.

WordStream, however, mentions a few ways in which Microsoft Ads and Google Ads are different. These include:

  • Ad scheduling process—with Google Ads, your ad scheduling is based on the timezone of your Google account, while with Microsoft Ads, your ad scheduling is based on the timezone of the user who’s viewing the ad
  • Search partner targeting options—note that with both Google Ads and Microsoft (Bing) Ads, your ads can show up on partner sites (i.e., YouTube for Google and Yahoo and AOL for Microsoft), and both platforms have different options for how your ads display on their partner sites; you’ll want to pay attention to the different partner site options you have when setting up these two ad platforms
  • In-market audiences—Google Ads and Microsoft Ads both allow you to increase or decrease how much you spend on specific subsets of audiences; however, the types of audiences you’re able to designate are different between each platform

So while Google Ads should probably be your first go-to over Microsoft Ads (considering the domination of Google as a search engine), you can also venture into Microsoft. But since there are a few differences, you can’t simply “copy and paste” every element of your Google Ads campaign. You’ll need to pay attention to the nuances of Microsoft Ads as its own platform.

PPC ads

Organic Social as a Marketing Retail Strategy

“Organic social marketing” refers to the unpaid content that retailers post on their social media channels, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube.

Organic social media efforts are free so there’s minimal risk, and the potential reach is almost limitless. So it can be a powerful tool for retailers to build their brand, engage with their customers, and promote their products and services.

That being said, organic social marketing is something of a hit-or-miss tactic. It relies heavily on social media algorithms, which are ever-changing and don’t tend to favor businesses. It also doesn’t typically make much of an impact unless you already have a decent social media following. You may happen to stumble upon a string of success through viral content that picks up steam, but this isn’t something you can count on.

However, recognizing these qualms doesn’t mean you should shy away from social media; it just means you should be aware that it’s not a sure-fire path to success, so you shouldn’t rely on it too heavily.

To create effective organic social media campaigns, retailers should identify the social media channels that their target audience uses most frequently and focus on those platforms in particular. You should then create high-quality content, including images, videos, and high-quality blog posts, that resonates with their audience and aligns with their brand values.

If you’re already creating that high quality content as a part of your “content marketing strategy” (see “Content Marketing” above), then it doesn’t take a lot of extra effort to share that content organically on your social media profiles.

There are social media posting tools that will allow you to easily post across channels, or if you don’t want to spring for an external tool, you can manually post on your own for a while until you determine if it’s a strategy that you want to fully delve into at a deeper level.

Social Ads as a Marketing Retail Strategy

In contrast to organic social media marketing, social ads involve paying to display ads on social media platforms. Since organic social media posting often doesn’t see much engagement, paid social media may be a more lucrative option for you.

Like Google Ads and Microsoft Ads (see the respective sections above), paid social media advertising allows for advanced targeting options, such as interests, demographics, and behaviors, making it easy to reach specific groups of customers.

Since it involves real financial costs, you’ll want to start on the channels that you know your audience best connects with.

For example, if your audience is primarily made of people aged 50+, TikTok is probably not the way to go. On the other hand, if your audience is primarily Gen Z-ers, you may not gain much traction with Facebook.

Select the platform(s) that your target audience spends most of their time, and then make sure you have ad copy and visuals that really appeal to that target audience.

Like other ad campaigns, you’ll need to make sure you track your campaign performance and optimize different elements of your campaigns regularly to improve results.

HootSuite lists several potential goals for social ads, including:

  • Awareness
  • Traffic
  • Engagement
  • Leads
  • App promotion
  • Sales

HootSuite also has several guides for how to track social advertising by platform so that you can measure your success:

social media

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Referral Programs as a Marketing Retail Strategy

Referral programs as a marketing retail strategy take advantage of the power of “word of mouth” by incentivizing customers to refer their friends, family, and audiences to their business.

After all, by some reports, “23% of people talk about their favorite products with friends and family every day,” and “90% of people are much more likely to trust a recommended brand (even from strangers).”

Retailers can tap into this powerful potential as a marketing retail strategy for the success of their business.

With a referral program, retailers can offer rewards, such as discounts or free products, to customers who refer new customers to their business. People who already like your brand can be rewarded just for sharing their positive experiences with others.

Your already happy customer becomes even happier because they get a reward. The person they referred gets to experience the benefits of your products. And you get a new customer.

It’s a win all around!

Referral programs can therefore be a cost-effective way to both acquire new customers and build brand loyalty.

To create an effective referral program for your retail business…

  1. Identify the rewards you want to offer (a gift card? A free item? A discount on your customer’s next purchase?)
    • The reward you offer should be something that’s desirable to your target audience
    • You may want to do some surveys or other research ahead of time to determine what would best appeal to your customers
  2. Set clear guidelines for how customers can refer others to your business (for example, a link that they can share or a referral promo code)
  3. Set up the referral program so that it’s functional and trackable (this may include building out your own tracking system from scratch or using referral tracking software)
  4. Promote your referral program on your website, social media channels, email newsletters, SMS blasts, or any other appropriate marketing channel

Partnerships & Sponsorships as a Marketing Retail Strategy

Although this is more of a subset of “Media Buying” (see above), partnerships and sponsorships allow retail businesses to expand their reach to relevant audiences and build brand awareness.

With partnerships and sponsorships, retailers can team up with other businesses or organizations to promote their products and services. This partnership could include an exchange of guest posts, links, or could simply be purchased for a set fee.

To identify potential partnership and sponsorship opportunities, retailers should consider businesses or organizations that share your values and target audience. Many businesses have sponsorship packages listed on their website, or you can reach out to ask about a potential collaboration.

If you know that a business or non-profit organization has a similar customer base, you could offer to sponsor a blog article, a newsletter, an event, or a podcast. The partnership benefits both parties—because the business you’re partnering with receives the fee you’re paying (in many cases), and you get exposure to their fresh audience.

Although this can be a beneficial marketing retail strategy, you want to make sure you choose the right sponsorship opportunities. You don’t want to connect your brand to another brand whose values don’t align with yours, or find out that the numbers they promised for their audience don’t hold water.

You also want to do a cost-benefit analysis to see if the sponsorship fee they’re asking is worth the potential return. You can also consider negotiating on the fee, particularly if you feel it’s too high for the value your business will receive.

Or, as mentioned above, you could work out an exchange of “sponsorships” rather than a cash fee, which could also be beneficial to both parties.


Influencer Marketing as a Marketing Retail Strategy

Influencer marketing is a specific type of partnership that involves partnering with social media influencers to promote your retail business’s products or services.

With influencer marketing, retailers can take advantage of the influence and reach of social media influencers to connect with their target audience and drive traffic and sales.

To get started with influencer marketing, retailers should…

  • Identify the target audience you want to reach
  • Identify the social platforms that audience is most active on
  • Identify influencers on those platforms who have a lot of followers in your target audience
  • Reach out to those influencers with a partnership offer

Your partnership offer will have to be mutually beneficial and enticing enough that the influencer will be attracted to it. At the same time, you’ll need to evaluate what the potential return on investment will look like, so that you can determine if the partnership will actually make sense for your business.

GRIN lists some of the popular retail social media influencers today.

Third-Party Selling as a Marketing Retail Strategy

Third-party selling involves selling products on third-party marketplaces, such as Amazon, eBay, and Walmart.

Third-party selling can be an effective way for retailers to reach a large audience and drive sales. However, it can also be challenging to compete with other sellers on these marketplaces and maintain profitability.

To succeed with third-party selling, you should optimize your product listings and pricing to stand out from other sellers and track their performance regularly.

The process for selling on third-party sites may look different depending on the site you pursue. You’ll need to decide which of these will yield the best results for your business—or try them all!


For Amazon, it’s easy to get started with selling. You can choose either an “Individual” plan, in which you pay Amazon $.99 for each item you sell, or you can choose a “Professional” plan, in which you pay $39.99 per month regardless of how many units you sell. (The “Professional” plan also gives access to advertising and analytics tools.)

Whenever you’re ready to get started, you can simply create a seller account and start selling.


With eBay, you can set up an online eBay store and start selling right away.

There is a tier of plans starting at $4.95 per month going all the way to $2,995.95 per month, depending on how much selling you’ll want to do.


Walmart’s marketplace seller application takes only about 15 minutes, so it’s not difficult to get started there either.

In regards to fees, they’ll receive commission from your sales ranging from 8%–20%. (You can view the full list of commission percentages here.)

Other Marketplaces

Other marketplaces you could consider are Etsy and social media marketplaces. Shopify is a popular e-commerce platform—but it's more of a “platform” rather than a “marketplace” per se.

shopping online

Review Campaigns as a Marketing Retail Strategy

Review campaigns involve encouraging customers to leave reviews of your retail business’s products on review websites, such as Yelp or Google Reviews.

Reviews help build trust and credibility with potential customers, driving traffic and sales for your business. According to one statistic regarding reviews of local businesses, 93% of customers read reviews to help determine the business’s quality.

Reviews—assuming they’re positive reviews—also give you good fuel for your other marketing campaigns. You can use the comments in reviews within your marketing copy, and you can use your high ratings as social proof to help encourage people to shop with your business.

For example, if you can show people with specific examples why shopping at your store is a great experience for customers, that can be a powerful testimony to help convince people to choose your business.

To create an effective review campaign, you can encourage their customers to leave reviews on review websites and respond to any negative reviews promptly and professionally. You should also monitor reviews regularly for useful feedback that can help you improve your products and processes.

And this should go without saying, but you should first make sure you’ve worked out any kinks in your business’s operations that might hinder the customer experience before you move forward with a review campaign.

You don’t want to make a big push for reviews only to find that your customers are not happy campers!

Traditional Local Marketing as a Marketing Retail Strategy

Don’t forget about good ol’ classic marketing.

Though digital marketing is vital in our modern technology age, traditional marketing seems to be on the rise.

Traditional local marketing for retail involves using classic marketing strategies to promote your products to customers in your local area.

To create effective local marketing campaigns, retailers should identify the most effective channels for reaching your own audience. Some of these tactics would include:

  • Billboards
  • Flyers
  • Newspaper ads
  • Local business directories
  • Coupon mailings
  • Employees who stand on crosswalks and hold signs
  • Magazine ads
  • Local TV ads
  • Local radio ads

Depending on your target audience and the type of product you sell, some of these tactics may be more effective than others.

For example, since most young people don’t have cable, TV ads may not be effective if your target audience is primarily young people. On the other hand, if your target audience is primarily older people, TV ads could be very effective.

The key is to know your audience, know your options, and figure out what works best for your own situation.

Give Your Marketing Retail Strategy a Boost

There are so many ways to go about a marketing retail strategy. Where do you start?

Odds are that you’re already engaged in several of these—so keep trying those. And pick a handful of other tactics to hone in on.

Select tactics that you think would resonate well with your audience and that seem doable for your situation.

Then plan. Execute. Monitor. Adjust.

The world of marketing is an ever-changing whirlwind of adjusting and re-adjusting. Don’t lose heart and view each attempt, whether successful or not, as a learning opportunity. The more you do, the more you’ll learn.

Give your marketing retail strategy a boost by expanding your SMS marketing outreach today. Try the Mobile Text Alerts SMS marketing platform 14 days for free.

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