Why Fuel Retailers Need a Customer Reach Strategy for Digital-first Consumers

As consumers make more purchasing decisions online, fuel retailers must look beyond sign price and traditional marketing. Here’s how to adjust your customer reach strategy.

Many consumers are becoming digital-first buyers. Not just Gen X or Millennials, but Boomers and other late technology adopters, too. That means there is considerable market share up for grabs in an industry with declining demand year-over-year. In this reality, even the competitive businesses that have managed to succeed without a digital footprint to date are all considering new customer reach strategies that prioritize online consumers.

A recent ConnectedEconomy survey by PYMNTS found that in April 2022 alone, 37.7% of participants reported using an app to find the best gas prices. As much as 8% did this daily, while almost 15% did this weekly, directly influencing their gas-buying decisions. This total volume is up from 31% in November 2021. Therefore, it’s imperative for fuel retailers to get in front of these digital-first consumers

Digital customer reach strategy for fuel retailers

Fuel retailers are no longer solely dependent on real estate, traffic patterns, sign prices, or traditional marketing to reach consumers. There is a whole new world of apps, digital tools, and online strategies to help expand reach, but not all of them are created equal. Here are some of the top-performing methods for expanding consumer reach online:

Navigation app SEO

You might already be familiar with search engine optimization (SEO) to improve your website’s online discoverability. Many of these same principles also apply to Google Maps and other navigation apps — even for gas stations. Claiming your business on Google, filling out the profile, adding a website and photos, and allowing consumers to leave reviews, can help your station show up more prominently in searches.

Promotion platforms

Third-party promotion and coupon platforms have their own user bases that are actively searching for the best prices for their everyday purchases. These platforms can leverage special incentives to drive a high volume of new consumers to your location. With other strategies in place, like loyalty programs and remodeled facilities, you can convert one-time visitors into regular consumers. But keep in mind that many of these platforms incentivize purchases with one-size-fits-all or segmented offers that often cannibalize profits.

Mobile geotargeting

Geotargeting solutions track user movement with GPS and offer location-based promotions or incentives. Fuel retailers can expand their reach by sending offers to (or otherwise engage with) consumers whenever they are near a station. This method offers the distinct advantage of reaching consumers that can’t physically see the sign price, but who are still close enough to change their route. And it’ll keep them coming back in the future.

Social media

Social media profiles have become part of every customer reach strategy, but fuel retailers have been slow to adopt. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and now TikTok can be useful platforms for announcing sales, listing new merchandise, or giving general business updates, even if not a lot of consumers are engaging with your posts. Social media is most effective as a customer reach strategy when businesses pay for ads and promotions that leverage deep consumer data for the highest ratio of conversions. Platforms like Instagram can even enable geotargeting.

How fuel retailers can sustainably expand consumer reach online

All of these strategies can be used to increase consumer reach, but they can be challenging, resource intensive, and expensive to implement effectively. What you really need from a digital solution is a way to target only new or infrequent consumers, box out competition, and personalize incentives to ensure profit from every purchase. That’s where Upside comes in.

Upside’s dedicated user base relies on the free mobile app to make everyday purchasing decisions. Those users only see retailers that are listed on the platform, which maximizes your business’s exposure. Incentives are generated based on each user’s purchasing history at your location across a number of purchasing methods, and they are personalized for each user so you offer customers exactly what they need to change their behavior. Best of all, gallons driven from the app are fully attributable and provide a proven lift in sales volume.

Read our new eBook to learn more about how Upside works as a customer reach strategy for fuel retailers.