3 Easy Ways to Bring In-Person Customers Online

Teacher and students in computer classIt’s all well and good for marketers to talk about driving search traffic to a website or running campaigns on social media—but all of those digital marketing tactics take place 100-percent online. When it comes to turning real-world, in-person interactions into digital relationships, most businesses just aren’t sure how to integrate the online with the offline effectively. But by not inviting these in-store customers to join you online, you’re missing out on the opportunity to further a relationship with someone who is obviously already a fan.

More and more companies, however, are coming up with creative tactics to add every brick-and-mortar customer they can to their online audiences, and their initiatives are simple enough to be imitated by anyone. Take a look at these three ways to integrate your real world with your digital one.

1. Emailing receipts

You’ve probably experienced this one yourself recently, as a few different retailers are now offering this option at checkout. When customers swipe their credit or debit cards (hopefully with a MasterCard logo!), they are asked right there at the point of sale whether they’d prefer their receipt to be emailed to them, printed, or both. If they choose email, then they are prompted to enter their email address, and invited to opt in to the company’s marketing emails, as well. This is an intuitive way to gather email addresses that feels more like a convenience to a customer than a sales tactic.

One company getting it right with this method is Macy’s. When customers choose to have their receipt emailed, it’s not only greener, it also makes hunting for a paper receipt in order to make a return or exchange a thing of the past. Add to that the fact that it also gives Macy’s the data they need to customize their marketing emails to correspond with purchases a customer makes in-store, and you have marketing gold.

2. Offering discounts or loyalty programs

How many mini-cards for store loyalty programs do you have dangling from your keychain? As consumers, we’re much more willing to give stores our personal information when there’s something in it for us, like special discounts or free products. Asking in-store customers to share their email addresses in order to join a rewards program or get exclusive deals emailed to them is another effective way to turn an offline relationship into an online one.

Which Wich is a restaurant that has the right idea here. Customers ordering a sandwich are prompted by signs and displays to fill out a small form in order to join their “Vibe Club,” and receive emails containing deals and special announcements as well as a coupon for a free sandwich every year on their birthday. In this way, Which Wich brings customers full circle— from in-store to online and right back in-store again.

3. Encouraging social engagement in-store

Telling a customer to go online when they get home can be iffy: How many will really remember, and take the time to do so? But ask them to engage with your company on social media while they’re still in-store, and you’ll get a much higher success rate. That connection on social media can then lead to more online engagement later.

Great Clips has an innovative campaign running right now that asks customers to use their new online check-in app, take a selfie with their new haircut while still in-store, and then share it on social media using the hashtag #MoreMinutes, along with a brief description of what they’d do with more time; large signs by the cash register explain the entire process. The benefit to the customer? A few lucky winners will actually get their wishes, as Great Clips will pay for them to do whatever it is they say they’d do with more minutes.

Any one of these methods would be an effective way to start developing digital relationships with your in-person customers today. Talk about having the best of both worlds: When the online and the offline combine, marketing magic happens. Having the ability to reach out regularly and encourage an existing customer through email or social to go ahead and make more purchases? Now that’s priceless.


Shama Hyder is founder and CEO of the award-winning Marketing Zen Group, an integrated online marketing and digital PR firm. She is also an international speaker, bestselling author, and a regular media correspondent. She was recently named to the Forbes “30 Under 30” list of movers and shakers.

Ajeet Khurana
Ajeet Khurana
Ajeet Khurana wears many hats: author, angel investor, mentor, TEDx speaker, steering committee of the NASSCOM Start-Up Warehouse, Director of Founder Institute, Venture Partner with the seed initiative of a top Venture Capital firm, and former CEO of IIT Bombay’s business incubator, among others. Before all this, he was entrepreneurial twice in the field of education and web publishing. As a lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin, he taught e-commerce back in 1993, when the term "e-commerce" had not yet been coined. An undergrad in computer engineering from the University of Mumbai, and an MBA from the University of Texas, Ajeet is presently an active name in the startup ecosystem. From starting two ventures as a solopreneur, to helping a large number of startups with their go-to-market, he has never shied from getting his hands dirty. At the same time he has helped dozens of startups raise investment. He truly believes that small business owners are driving change in the world, and need to be facilitated as much as possible. Innumerable small businesses have gained from his attitude, vast professional networks, financial acumen and digital mindset.

See all posts by Ajeet Khurana
  • All views expressed on the published articles at https://www.mastercardbiz.com are those of each of the authors, and do not in any way represent the opinions of Mastercard International Incorporated or any of its affiliates (“Mastercard”). Mastercard is not responsible of the information contained in these articles.