It’s no secret that local brick and mortar stores are expanding to online shops to grow their business, and this is particularly true of sporting goods stores. When you consider it, this is a much more cost-effective form of expansion than opening up an additional physical location, and it opens businesses up to a wider audience. But once you have that online store set up, how do you compete with established chain stores and ecommerce businesses? Should you be selling outside your local area? Should your campaigns focus on getting more store visits or shipping directly to the customer? Both?   

We have helped Rackets and Runners, a local Vancouver store that has been in business for over 40 years, with answering these questions. With the onset of COVID, they decided to take the plunge into the online retail space and created a Shopify store in Spring 2020, and we are thrilled at their growth and online success both locally and nationally over the past year. We work with a lot of small businesses that have expanded to include ecommerce, and here are the top five solutions we use to grow online visibility, customer base and revenue.

5 Part Strategy for Growing an Online Sporting Goods Store

Google Merchant Center

For any ecommerce business, a good place to start is setting up a product feed in Google Merchant Center. Through this feed you can sell your products to a wider audience, even globally. Setting up your product feed in Google Merchant Center gives you access to free product listings on the Google Search index and free local inventory listings for physical locations. It easily integrates with Google Ads so you can advertise specific products to people searching for them online. One of the main marketing advantages of using Google Merchant Center is that images of your products will show up at the top of Google Search results beside the text search results. In our experience, these images can perform up to 100% better than text results in terms of driving traffic to your website. 

Google Shopping Ads

You may already be familiar with Google shopping ads that appear on search results like the ones above. This is an extremely effective marketing channel for physical items, like sporting goods and apparel, where people are attracted by the visual aspect. You can promote a single product, like a model of shoe, or a product type, like all tennis court shoes, to audiences searching in Google. You can also dynamically retarget people who have viewed specific product pages with display ads. This is an excellent strategy when people have added items to checkout but then abandoned the cart. Keeping your brand top of mind and bringing visitors back to the site are key for increasing revenue in an online store. 

Google Search Ads

Like Google Shopping ads, Google Search ads attract low funnel purchasers. In other words, people who are actively looking to purchase or are in the research phase before buying. Having your brand or products show in front of people who are already in the purchase mindset is more likely to lead to a sale. With Google Search, you advertise on key words and phrases that someone might search, like “Yonex tennis racket” or “buy tennis racket online.” Properly configured search ads can put your business ahead of competitors in Google search results, making you the first page they see and click on when they are ready to buy. 

Google My Business

As you can see from the solutions above, Google is an integral part to growing your business online. Not only is it the most popular search engine, with over 85% of the search market share worldwide, they developed Google My Business as a free tool to help businesses connect with customers through search, maps and reviews. We all know that reviews are incredibly important and help to gain the trust of potential customers. The great thing about positive Google My Business reviews is that they can help improve SEO for your site. For an ecommerce site this means you rank better in relevant searches because previous customers have had good experiences with your business. If customers are happy to recommend you, then so is Google.

Custom Audiences on Social Media

Social media is an important aspect of digital marketing, but people don’t like and follow like they used to. Rather than focusing on growing page followers and marketing only to them, you can use platforms like Facebook and Instagram to bring new people into your audience. For example, through Facebook ads you can narrow down a custom audience by age, interests and occupation. If your ideal customer for a new tennis racket is men aged 35 to 50 within Texas then you can promote the product to this audience alone. Not only are custom audiences more accurate in these situations, they are also more cost effective.  

Growing Your Ecommerce Business with RFDM

All five of these solutions combined make for a great digital marketing strategy for beginners in the ecommerce space. Changing the focus from brick and mortar to ecommerce, from local to a bigger audience, can seem daunting at first. With the right tools and strategy in place, you’ll see your business grow. Contact us for a free digital marketing consultation. 

“Rackets & Runners has had a great experience with RFDM Solutions handling our digital marketing for the last 6 months. They created and managed paid campaigns for search, shopping and social media to increase local and national brand awareness for our company. Due to this, we have seen month over month growth in both site visitors and e-commerce results.

“RFDM took care of setting up and testing the tracking in Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics, as well as resolving issues between Shopify and Google Merchant Center. On top of everything else, they provided valuable content insights based on search terms they came across.

“Laura and the team are always happy to answer questions, troubleshoot issues and create custom dashboards on request. We would highly recommend them to others who are looking for digital marketing services and we are confident that they offer the same professionalism and attention to detail in their other service offerings.”

– Vanda Borean, owner of Rackets and Runners

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